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Floats, friendship and fun: Exploring motivations for community art engagement

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This article addresses parade floats as a form of community art and explores float builders’ artistic motivations and their interactions within the context of collaborative float building. Distilled from the author’s ethnographic study of three groups of folk artists who build Labor Day parade floats in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the United States, and a material culture analysis of their parade entries, the research indicates that the float builders engaged in art making primarily to meet their social needs, which include motives regarding group solidarity and civic obligations. This examination expands our understanding of community art by elucidating how the presence of a public audience, maintaining local traditions and opportunities for friendly competition, play and social bonding motivate community art engagement.
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Keywords: community art; folk art; motivation; parade floats

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, USA

Publication date: 25 October 2012

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.

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