He too has spent his life not merely preserving folk art, but creating opportunities for it to thrive. As it turns out, this was a lesson Al Head had learned from his mentor, Bess Lomax Hawes herself. [1:09]
Al Head: When I first got to know Bess -- and she taught me a lot, I sat and listened to her on many occasions -- but she would emphasize that the folk and traditional arts are not static, they are always evolving and there is a contemporary side to traditional expression. But it evolves over time and it needs to continue to evolve and be relevant and speak to young people and speak to individuals of different backgrounds. I mean, we preserve that which has been around a long time but we also nurture it in a way where it can continue to grow and be relevant and be part of an active community experience. And coming together in a community is so important. We, in our culture, have done a lot of things to separate people into different parts of neighborhoods or a community or whatever. But you need activities, programs, and places where people come together and celebrate a sense of community. And the arts do that well. The folk arts do that especially well.