Contemporary Folk Painting in Appalachia


Researching folk painting in the Appalachian Region is difficult. Most of the published material is part of the larger subject of folk art and includes sculpture, carving, basketry, and other forms of artistic interpretation. Moreover, the definition of folk art is obscure. Often indexed under other terms, such as outsider art or self-taught artists, information about folk painting appears in bits and pieces--on web sites, in newspaper and magazine articles, or in books about folk art in general. Introductions to the topic can be found in guides for collectors, in museum catalogs, and in books about folk art in the South or folk painting in America, but little has been written about folk painting as a separate art form. This pathfinder will be a guide for the researcher who wants to investigate folk painting and the contribution that it has made to the culture and history of the Appalachian region.

Introductory Text: 

Rosenak, Chuck. Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth-century American Folk Art and Artists . New York: Abbeville P, c1990. ASU REFERENCE NK808 .R6 1990. Extensive bibliography.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Folk Art -- Appalachian Region, Southern
  • African American folk art, Southern States
  • Outsider Art -- United States
  • Primitivism in art -- United States
  • Art, American -- Appalachian Region -- Exhibitions
  • African American painters -- North Carolina

Also Relevant:

  • Folk artists -- United States
  • Folk art -- United States
  • Arts -- Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Art, modern -- 20th century -- Southern States
  • African American folk art
  • Finster, Howard, 1916-
  • Evans, Minnie, 1892 - 1987
  • O’Kelley, Mattie Lou,

More General:

  • Art, American -- 20th Century
  • Religion in art
  • Christian art and symbolism -- United States


  • Artisans - United States
  • Art brut
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Arts - Study and Teaching
  • Manners and Customs
  • Mountain Whites (Southern States) -- Appalachian Region
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Art
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • N 6512.5 .P7
  • NK 808
  • NK 805
  • NK 811
  • NX 506
  • N 6537 .F464 (Finster)
  • ND 237 .O515 (O’Kelley)
  • ND 237 .S794 (Stovall)
  • N 6520
  • N 6512
  • N 6530
  • N 6538
  • N 5312
  • N 7432.5
  • Z 5956
  • N 7432.5

Johnson, Jay. American Folk Art of the Twentieth Century . New York: Rizzoli, c1983. WCU General N6512.5 .P7 J6 1983. Excellent overview and includes many painters from the Appalachian region.

Rosenak, Chuck and Jan. Contemporary American Folk Art: A Collector’s Guide. New York: Abbeville P, 1996. ASU Reference NK808 .R59 1996. Section on Appalachia: pp. 70 - 111.

Sellen, Betty-Carol, and Cynthia J. Johanson. Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art: A Guide to American Artists, Locations, and Resources . Jefferson, NC: McFarland, c2000. ASU APP COLL NK805 .S46 2000. Most comprehensive source available.

Finster, Howard. Howard Finster, Stranger from Another World : Man of Visions Now on This Earth. New York : Abbeville Press, c1989. ASU App Coll Stack N6537.F464 A2 1989.

Finster, Howard. Man of Visions . New York: Knopf, 1989. ASU App Coll Stack N6537 .F464 A2 1989.

Lyons, Mary E. Painting Dreams: Minnie Evans, Visionary Artist . Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996. ASU IMC Stacks 92 E92ly.

O’Kelley, Mattie Lou. From the Hills of Georgia: An Autobiography in Paintings . Boston: Little, Brown, c1983. ASU App Coll Stack ND237 .O515 A2 1983.

O’Kelley, Mattie Lou. Mattie Lou O’Kelley, Folk Artist . Boston: Little, Brown, c1989. ASU APP COLL OVSZ ND237.O515 A4 1989.

Weatherford, Claudine. The Art of Queena Stovall: Images of Country Life . Ann Arbor: UMI Research P, c1986. ASU App Coll Stack ND237 .S794 W43 1986.

Baking in the Sun: Visionary Images from the South . Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, c1989. UNCA General N6512.5 .P7 B34 1987.

Delehanty, Randolph. Art in the American South: Works from the Ogden Collection . Baton Rouge: Louisiana State U P, 1996. ASU Main Oversize N6520 .D46 1996.

Longhauser, Elsa Weiner, Harald Szeemann, and Lee Kogan. Self-taught Artists of the 20th Century: An American Anthology. New York: Museum of American Folk Art, c1998. ASU Main Stacks N6512 .S35 1998.

National Museum of American Art (U.S.). Made With Passion . Washington: Smithsonian Institution P, c1990. ASU Main Stacks. NK805 .N35 1990.

Spriggs, Lynne E., et al. Let It Shine: Self-taught Art from the T. Marshall Hahn Collection . Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2001. ASU Main Stacks N6512.5 .L47 2001.

Trechsel, Gail Andrews. Pictured in My Mind: Contemporary American Self-taught Art from the Collection of Kurt Gitter and Alice Rae Yelen . Birmingham: Birmingham Museum of Art, c1995. WCU General N6512.5 .P7 P5 1995.


Appalachian Folk Culture and Regional History: A Guide to Audio and Video Recordings Available from the Archives of Appalachia. Johnson City, TN: Sherrod Library at East Tennessee State University, 1981. ASU APP COLL STACKS: Z5984. A6 A6.

Meyer, George H., Ed. Folk Artists Biographical Index . Detroit: Gale, c1987. WCU Reference NK805 .F63 1987.

Bronner, Simon J., Ed. American Folk Art: A Guide to Sources . New York: Garland, 1984. ASU APP COLL STACK Z5956 .F6 A53 1984.

Abstracts and Indices: 

Art Full Text, 1984-present (updated monthly). Available on & off campus.
Indexes more than 271 English and foreign language periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins.

Art Index , 1929-1998
ASU Reference N1 .A77
The print version of Art Index (listed above) going back to 1929.

Arts & Humanities Search , 1980-present (updated weekly). Available on & off campus.
Provides indexing to more than 1,300 arts and humanities journals and selected articles from 5,800 more social science and science journals.

Academic Search Elite , 1984-present; Full Text: 1990-present (updated daily). Available on & off campus. Provides abstracts and indexing for over 3,200 scholarly journals and popular magazines including full text for over 1,000 journals and coverage of over 1,700 peer-reviewed journals.

InfoTrac OneFile , 1980-present, Full Text (updated daily). Available on & off campus.
Provides citations with abstracts to more than 6,000 general interest magazines, academic journals, business and technology publications, law journals, health care sources, and more. Includes more than 2,500 full text titles.

ingenta (formerly UnCover). Current article information taken from over 20,000 multidisciplinary journals, with coverage starting in 1988. Articles that are less than $30, and from journals not held by ASU, UNC-A, and WCU, may be ordered by Faculty and Graduate students.

America: History and Life. A guide to the periodical literature in the American Studies field, including History, Folklore, and the Humanities. Updated three times a year.


Art in America . New York: Brandt Art Publications. v. 27, 1937-present. ASU PERIODICALS . Also available full-text from InfoTrac OneFile from 1993-present.

Atlanta Journal and Constitution . Atlanta: Constitution Pub. Co., 1881-present. ASU NEWSPAPERS, current issues only. ASU MICROFORM, Sept. 15, 1881- present. Also available full-text from Academic Search Elite from 1991 to the present.

ARTnews . New York: ARTnews Associates. Bound: v.53- 1954-present. ASU PERIODICALS Microfilm: v.22, 1923-v.52, 1954. ASU MICROFORM. Also online at .

Art Papers . Atlanta: Atlanta Art Papers. Bound: v.18, 1994-v.22, 1998. ASU PERIODICALS.

ArtForum International . New York: Artforum International Magazine. Bound: v.20- 1982-present. ASU PERIODICALS. Also available full-text from Infotrac Onefile from 1993-present.

The Folk Art Messenger
Journal featuring articles about self-taught artists, exhibitions, reviews, events, and more. Online at .

New York Times . N.Y. : H.J. Raymond & Co. Microfilm: 1857-present. ASU MICROFORM. Current issues: ASU NEWSPAPERS (until microfilm arrives). Also online at with searchable archive.

Raw Vision . London: Raw Vision, 1989-present. ASU PERIODICALS. Also online at .

Washington Post . Washington: Washington Post Co., 1877-present. ASU MICROFORM. Current issues: ASU NEWSPAPERS (until microfilm arrives). Also online at / with searchable archives.

Audio and Video Sources: 

Elizabeth Fine, Producer. Well Known Stranger: Howard Finster’s Workout . Videorecording. Directed, Photographed and Edited by Robert Walker. Univ of MS: Southern Culture Catalog, 1990. Originally released as a motion picture in 1988. ASU APP COLL Video VC 140.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Elizabeth M. Williams, 1 November 2001