Thursday, February 28, 2008

Book Review: Faith and Transformation

Journal of Folklore Research (Reviewed by William Hansen, Indiana University)

I've included this more for curiosity than anything else. It may be of interest to those who are studying amulets in Egypt due to the nature of the discussion about the nature of amulets in general:

Faith and Transformation: Votive Offerings and Amulets from the Alexander Girard Collection. Edited by Doris Francis. 2007. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press. Published in Association with the Museum of International Folk Art.

Alexander Girard (1907-1993) was a graphic designer whose artistic productions were much influenced by folk art, which he collected enthusiastically from the 1930s to the 1970s. He organized his collection in accordance with his own interests, which were those of a professional artist. As he bluntly remarked, “I bought this stuff to spark my creativity” (8). His collection came to include over 100,000 pieces from a hundred countries.

Girard moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1953, the year in which the Museum of International Folk Art opened its doors. In 1978 the Girard Foundation Collection of Folk Art was donated to the state of New Mexico, and a Girard Wing was added to the museum, where Girard himself supervised the installation of a portion of his collection. When new construction was undertaken, the panels devoted to amulets and ex votos were put into storage. They were taken out again in 2007 as a component of the Girard Centennial Celebration, an event that, one assumes, served as the impetus for the making and the timing of the present book. . . .

The contributors’ emphasis throughout is emphatically synchronic, resulting in a certain temporal flatness. Now and then a reference is made to the Old World source of a New World practice or to the long history of a particular tradition. Amulets, for example, are found in the Egypt of today but also in ancient Egypt.

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