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Expressive Idaho

Expressive Idaho

Folk art is found in everyday objects and expressions: it tells us a bit about who we are and where we came from.

In Idaho, the twirling and tapping of of traditional dance is connecting young Latinos and Latinas to each other and their ancestors, the rhythmic and athletic taiko drumming helps war vets heal from battle wounds, and the ability to scribe illustrations into silver and personalize your own firearm may not be around forever.

"Expressive Idaho" features master folk artists and apprentices who make their art right here in the Gem State.

This award-winning series is produced in partnership with the Idaho Commission on the Arts’ Folk and Traditional Arts Program, with funding support from Jennifer Dickey and Andy Huang, Dr. Suzanne Allen, MD and the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Boise Circus performer Cuream Jackson is taking a very old art and using it to contemplate race and gender identity. He comes to the circus as an aerialist, performing with silks, hoops, trapeze and his favorite, straps, considered the most difficult of the aerial disciplines.
  • Tejanos have been around Paul, Idaho for as long as Damian Rodriguez can remember. The agricultural community saw an influx of the population each summer as migrant workers arrived to tend the fields.
  • Linda Morton-Keithley sits at her largest loom in her home studio in Melba, Idaho. This is her largest loom and she’s weaving a pattern to be installed on a handmade leather purse. She pulls a shuttle through the strings, known as warp thread, and then uses a comb to bunch the yarn together creating a bright triangle of yarn before her in red, blue, green and gray.
  • When musician Gary Eller first moved to Pickle’s Butte, Idaho, in 2006, he began playing in bluegrass and oldtime music groups and getting to know Idaho musicians. Having grown up in rural West Virginia, he carried on a proud tradition of historic, regional roots music from his childhood home. He wanted to learn more about his new home and wondered, ‘What were Idaho’s historic songs?’
  • A cacophony of hammering and a roaring forge bounce off the high metal walls of a small warehouse in Garden City, Idaho. Bouquets of steel scraps line the edges of the space. Anvils, clamps and tongs decorate each surface. The art studio of Idaho blacksmith Susan Madacsi closely resembles her blue collar industrial workshop neighbors. She turns down a blaring radio to tour the place where she turns out large-scale public art sculptures.
  • On the fifth floor of JUMP in downtown Boise, Megan Brandel gathers with her dance group weekly to practice movement and develop a new dance for the coming season. Young and old bodies, and wheelchairs, glide and swirl above the city skyline, circling up and pulling tighter to touch hands.
  • Poet CMarie Fuhrman is Idaho's current Writer in Residence. She uses nature soundscapes to inspire her writing that often focuses on issues affecting native people in the West.
  • Rosemaling is a decorative painting that adds colorful embellishments to wooden platters, containers and furniture of Norwegian homes. Immigrants came to the U.S. with their most precious possessions stored in hand-painted trunks. In Boise, Idaho artist Joanne Hultstrand is carrying on the tradition of rosemaling.
  • The art of hunting demands close attention to wildlife. In the fall, waterfowl hunters lure their pretty through mimicking calls and setting out decoy birds.
  • Boise author Malia Collins recently collaborated on a new book featuring story quilts made by artisan refugees who have resettled in Boise. In 2020, Collins was named the Idaho Writer in Residence by the Idaho Commission on the Arts. She recently spent time helping new community members tell their stories through quilting.