Lithuanian Folk Art is Alive and Well!

Become a member and discover your inner artisan…

The Lithuanian Folk Art Institute may be familiar to some readers as the organization established by artists Antanas and Anastazija Tamošaitis in 1977. It flourished for several decades, as did many other Lithuanian groups, while their participants, creative and talented post-war émigrés, were in their prime. With time, their numbers dwindled, but the spirit of the LTFAI (Lietuvių tautodailės institutas – LTI) is being nurtured by a new generation of folk artists and aficionados who honour the work done by their elders.

Founders’ Meeting, May 14, 1977, Gananoque, Ontario

Over the decades, creative efforts continued in many locations in North America, mostly in larger Lithuanian communities, with concentration on weaving. After the death of its founders, younger members, in particular, long-term president Birute Dilkutė-Batraks, ensured the continuation of the organization itself, although fewer exhibitions took place due to the declining numbers of artisans. The board of directors was always Canadian, with some members in the US.

Antanas Tamošaitis

The past six years have brought about many changes, such as the website, which contains information about the Institute and its work, as well as an archive of Lithuanian folk costumes woven in the diaspora. A Facebook page is also active at this time, created by Donna Druchunas, under the name Lithuanian Folk Art Institute. Board members are currently Diana Bubulis-Wiese (President), Ramune Jonaitis (Secretary), Sebastian Grinham (Webmaster), past president Birute Batraks, Danguole Breen, and Christine Pavilanis.

Other changes and methods of communication were adopted even before the pandemic, with meetings taking place online, and, most recently, workshops demonstrating various crafts such as straw ornaments (šiaudinukai). More of these are scheduled for this year.

Although members can no longer meet at the founders‘ traditional Lithuanian homestead in Gananoque, Ontario, the annual general meeting has also been held online for several years, featuring additional presentations for members and non-members on flax (Danute Mileikiene of Boston, 2020) and knitting (Donna Druchunas of Vermont, 2019).

Joana Adamonis Teaching Straw Art Online

This year, the AGM will be held on April 17th at 1:30 pm (ET). Although there will be no folk art presentation, it will be an important meeting for anyone interested in becoming a member, with information on past activities and future plans. Members are eligible for discounts on workshops and books, access to exclusive material on the website (digital publications) and voting rights at annual meetings. Membership fees are $10 per year (USD in USA, CDN funds in Canada), payable via PayPal (on the website under Membership) or by cheque mailed to the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute, 1 Resurrection Rd., Toronto, ON M9A 5G1. Membership is valid as of the date of the current year‘s AGM up to the following year‘s AGM.  After payment has been received, send your name, email and telephone number to [email protected]. RJ