Tenets

A tombstone featuring an elaborate tree motif.

Here we present several of the guiding principles that Warren Roberts crafted during his long engagement with Indiana folklife and expounded upon to his students and colleagues, often with considerable passion. They offer a code of the scholar working with folk architecture and material culture: a strong faith in self-sufficient community and a healthy skepticism for official histories.

 “[An understanding of folk art in its cultural context is related to] the artist’s position in relation to society. Is the artist and his work accepted by the people among whom he lives? Does the artist mirror the tastes and aspirations of his culture? Are the artist’s creations regarded as part of everyday life? Answering yes to these questions identifies, for want of a better term, the model of the 'Medieval artist,' for it is widely believed that something like this set of criteria characterized the artist of the Middle ages."

 "Investigating the Tree-Stump Tombstone in Indiana,” in American Material Culture and Folklife: A Prologue and Dialogue, 136.