Amy Ray on Howard Finster

July 11, 20140 Comments

Amy Ray Interview Group ShotThe Paradise Garden crew was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Amy Ray. Amy Ray is a musician, and member of the Folk Rock duo, The Indigo Girls. Her interview will be featured in the documentary film, Paradise Garden: Howard Finster’s Legacy. Ray weighs in on her experience visiting Paradise Garden and meeting Howard Finster in the early nineteen eighties. Amy Ray was a student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia at the time she met him, when there was an iconic artistic movement in the South, which included Howard Finster. Ray took the pilgrimage, as she remembers many young artists did, and met the grandfather of Southern Folk Art.

She says of the visit, “It was a journey that you had to make to Finster’s place, it went along with thrift store shopping, it was just something everyone did.” Ray is now an avid collector of Folk Art, but only collects pieces because of their significance to her. She says of collecting, “In my life, I have been in at a junction, and I will pick up piece of art. I now realize that it is a type of Folk Art, someone might come in and say it is Edna whoever, and I will be like I got that at the thrift store for a couple of bucks. It is different levels of what you consider, I think it is what moves you, what is in your house, what you have on your wall, and some of it is not worth a lot, but spiritually.” Ray gave us an interesting perspective about her experience with Howard Finster and Southern Art for the film.

Visiting Paradise Garden helped her to understand Folk Art in a different way. She remembers, “It was more of a journey in a personal way, of like this Southern artist that was spiritual, and this relationship he had to the creator in this bizarre way. Growing up in such a religious family was more the in road for me, I understood Folk Art in that way.” Ray shared with us some thoughts about the tradition of Southern Folk Art, she said, “I guess I feel like Southern Folk Art is a valid tradition. It is kind of like certain American iconic things, the blues, jazz, and certain kinds of Art in the South. I guess bluegrass, folk, and certain kinds of music, all the field recordings of Alan Lomax, those things are so organic and so of the community, that I think the are important. I don’t know much about art, I am not an art critic, to me I look at it like this documentation of the way that people relate to their environment which is very unschooled and unfiltered. And it touches people, Art is about what touches you, you can take it apart and critique it and stuff. That is probably it’s own little school, but the other side of it is that it is really making you feel something. Not because you know it is important in an intellectual way, but just because you come across it on an organic level.”

To see the rest of her interview and find out more about the film, check out our Facebook/paradisegardenfilm page. We will post updates about upcoming screening in film festivals and theaters in 2014.

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