Message from the Interim Director (2015)

by Ann Oppenhimer

The Folk Art Society of America has been headquartered in Richmond, Va. for 28 years. Now that the society has become an affiliate of Longwood University, it will be known as FASA@ Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (or FASA@LCVA). The collection of the society’s archives have become the Folk Art Research and Study Center, relocated to 101 North Main Street, Suite #203, Farmville, VA 23901, in the Davenport Building at the corner of Main and High Streets.

Please note, however, that the mailing address will remain the same: P.O. Box 17041, Richmond, VA 23226, for the near future. The email and the website addresses also remain unchanged: fasa@folk art.org and http://www.folkart.org. The telephone number is new: 434-395-2551, and Beverley Roberts will be forwarding messages to us in Richmond.

The Folk Art Society’s new office facilities are bright, airy, safe and conveniently located just at the other end of the block from the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, which will be the society’s actual headquarters from now on.

It required quite an effort to move more than three decades of accumulated collections of archives (yes, we started collecting these items before FASA was founded in 1987). Two moving vans and five dedicated and skilled moving men transported it all from Richmond to Farmville, and we are still sorting out and reorganizing the contents of more than 250 boxes, six large bookcases, 11 filing cabinets, 15 framed posters, desks, chairs, cabinets and miscellaneous items. Not having moved our personal home belongings for 48 years, we didn’t realize what a job this could be!

The archives consist of books and exhibition catalogues (many rare, first editions, out-of-print, autographed copies); journals (Raw Vision, Outsider, ENVISION, Folk Art Finder, Folk Art Magazine, the Clarion, International Journal of African-American Art, Creation Franche, Le Bulletin des Amis de Francois Ozenda, Gazogene, Fascicules of l’Art Brut and many other art and museum publications); videotapes and CDs documenting artists, exhibitions, films, photographs, interviews; actual B/W and color photographs and slides; letters, invitations, documents – and many other important pieces of memorabilia. The photograph albums alone take up 12 feet of bookcase space. I didn’t realize how much material there was until we unpacked it and began to find space for it in its new home.

Plans are underway to apply for grants and other assistance to have these archives digitized, but as you can imagine, this could be a long and complicated process. The books and materials will not be circulating, of course, and the center will eventually be open by appointment. It is our dream that this material will be available to students, scholars and researchers through the Internet, but also by visiting the Folk Art Center.

The Longwood Center for the Visual Arts staff have provided great assistance in this transition that is much appreciated. A part-time assistant will soon be on the job, and everyone at Longwood has been extremely helpful. We will continue to keep the Folk Art Society membership informed, and we hope that you will plan to visit the new office and research center whenever you are in the neighborhood.

Incidentally, if you have archival material looking for a good home, your donation to help preserve the history and scholarship of this field would expand the available information and would be much appreciated.