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Courtesy Museum of Int’l Folk Art

The Toys from Brazil

New exhibit has gostoso written all over it

November 13, 2013, 12:00 am

Caipirinhas, the g-string, Pelé. The list of things that Brazil has given the world goes on and on. On Sunday, the Museum of International Folk Art celebrates all things Brazilian with Brasil & Arte Popular—an exhibit encompassing everything from religious art to puppets.  

“Much of the folk art in this show portrays the Brazilians themselves—it’s very self-reflective. More so than I see in folk art from other countries in Latin America,” Barbara Mauldin, the museum’s curator of Latin American art tells SFR. “I think that is an interesting and important aspect of the general personality of Brazilians.”

Choosing the particular pieces that encapsulate that spirit, Mauldin says, was particularly challenging. 

“I went through our collection of about 600 pieces and narrowed it down to a little over 300,” she says. “I selected the strongest pieces in the categories I was working with—prints, ceramic and wood figural sculpture, festival costumes and videos, religious folk art, and puppets and dolls—then I put together groupings that worked well together.”

Born from the clash between Portuguese colonists, indigenous inhabitants and African slaves, the country’s history is laced with several unique cultural and artistic movements. Mauldin hopes the show does them justice. 

“Eventually merging traditions created the dynamic cultural fusion that is so uniquely Brazilian,” she says.  

Most of the pieces are from the 20th century, Mauldin advances, when the remaining vestiges of colonialism started to fade. Honoring those artists who paved the way and made folk art a way of life, the curator is sure visitors will leave with a newfound sense of what Brazil represents in the general, world artscape.

“I hope our visitors are surprised to see the variety of folk art that is made in different regions of Brazil,” Mauldin says. “I also hope they are impressed with our collection, which is probably the best collection of Brazilian folk art in the US.” (Enrique Limón)

Brasil & Arte Popular
1-4 pm, Sunday, Nov. 17
Museum of International Folk Art 
706 Camino Lejo,


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