Through a series of residencies, exhibitions, and publications, Folklore & Collage considers the role artists play in activating, transmitting, and celebrating folklore in communities as a form of cultural expression and a strategy for community resilience.


Folklore is the imagination of the past as it is understood in the present. More importantly, folklore is how a community expresses itself to one another. In order for folklore to be transmitted over time, it must be nurtured. During a time when folklore is devalued by economic systems and dismissed by political power, artists play an important role in calling attention to and celebrating these important elements that shape community identity and reinforce communal ties. In times of crisis and collective trauma, these stories can be key to a community’s sense of resilience and ultimate survival.

“Folklore is how we communicate to each other our morals, ideals, hopes, and fears. It’s how we make meaning or sense of the world around us,” said Christopher Kurts. “Maybe this is true of stories in general, but folklore are the stories that hold enough water with a community to keep being passed down. They have momentum and so they change from being these ephemeral tales and solidify into a kind of mythology or foundation.” By engaging with these stories, artists can play a role in activating folklore for a community and facilitating their transmission.

Past Activities


Word of Mouth: Folklore, Collage, & Community

at A’ the Airts in Sanquhar, Scotland, United Kingdom

September 2023

In response to the “Mythical Landscape” exhibition, a group of artists made artwork about folklore that was important to them. This work is on view at A’ the Airts in Sanquhar during the month of September 2023. Curator Ric Kasini Kadour said, “In sharing this artwork, our hope is that viewers will develop a sense of how folklore moves through the world and the role it plays in building and maintaining communities. While the art on view is not about Sanquhar, our hope is that by exhibiting the artwork in Sanquhar we can put the rich folklore of Sanquhar in conversation with folklore from around the world.”


Folklore of the Upper Nithsdale

Thirty-three collage artists illustrate stories of witches, ghosts, and other spirits from Sanquhar, Scotland. Using stories collected from William Wilson’s 1904 book, artists reimagine these tales in a 21st Century context and invite us to see folklore as the imagination of the past, understood in the present.


Folklore & Collage Virtual Residency

June & July 2023

A virtual residency centered on collage artists who want to incorporate history and folklore into their artist practice. Residents will make artwork for an exhibition at MERZ Gallery in Scotland and a book published by Kolaj Institute.

Image: Raking Over the Bones by Frances Ryan (12″x16.5″; collage of magazine cut-outs and printed photographs with pencil and tissue on paper; 2022.)


Mythical Landscape: Secrets of the Vale

at the Knoxville Museum of Art in Tennessee, USA
March & May 2023

Image: Sanctuary by Leanne Poellinger
(8″x10″; paper collage on cradled wood panel; 2020. Courtesy of the artist.)


Folklore & Collage Residency at the Knoxville Museum of Art

March 2023

During the Folklore & Collage Residency: Knoxville, ten artists from Canada and across the United States will identify stories from communities and make art which activates these stories. The artists will hear from guest artists and folklore specialists. Faculty will make presentations about place in art and strategies for incorporating folklore into one’s practice. Residents will make artwork (a collage or series of collages) which will be shown in exhibition at MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar, Scotland in September 2023 as part of the Celebration of Folklore. Artists will also be invited to present their work at a panel at Kolaj Fest New Orleans in June 2023. After the residency, artists will be invited to submit 3-5 collages and a statement for inclusion in a book about folklore that will be published by Kolaj Institute in 2024.

Explore Folklore from
Kolaj Magazine

Image: Beyond Reproach by Michael Madzo from his 2014 exhibition at Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles

Explore Folklore in the Kolaj Magazine Artist Directory

Image: Mushroom Patch by Amy Ross
20″x20″; collage on paper; 2017

Image: Apparitions Near Sanquhar Manse by Anna Innocenti
(18.5”x25.5”; cut photographs on cardboard; 2022)


Collage Artist Residency: Scotland

September 2022

Held over three weeks in September 2022, Collage Artist Residency: Scotland-September 2022 was an in-person residency at MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar, Scotland centered on collage artists who want to incorporate history and folklore into their artist practice. Residents made artwork for an exhibition and book.