I am happy to share with you that the Kentucky Folklife Program has recently begun work on a new traveling exhibit panel series that will feature the White Oak Basketmaking tradition!
Scott Gilbert at the Kentucky Folklife Festival
Funded by a recently awarded NEA ArtWorks grant, these free-standing retractable panels will incorporate images of basketmakers, their work, and the life narratives of these artists to help contextualize this important local tradition for a wide audience. The panels will begin their journey traveling to six libraries located in the home counties of the artists beginning this summer. To enhance the project and provide an even greater understanding of this important regional tradition we have written additional funding into the grant to bring basketmakers into each library location for hands-on demonstrations and discussion about their work. In addition to documenting and presenting the rich traditions of the state the idea of validating and celebrating the individual creators of this regional art form remains central to our mission.
Leona Waddell white oak basket. Photo by Beth Hester and Scott Gilbert.
Leona Waddell making a basket
Strength in Numbers – Our Partners
I would be remiss to not mention all the important partners who are helping to make this project take shape. Our new home at WKU gives us the opportunity to work directly with Folk Studies students and our university colleagues. As part of their Museums course led by Michael Ann Williams, the Folk Studies graduate students will begin crafting the initial design layout incorporating appropriate text and images for each themed panel. WKU’s University Publications led by Tom Meacham will be assisting as the project’s final design and printing partner and the Department of Library Technical Services headed by Dean of WKU Libraries Connie Foster has agreed to coordinate and underwrite the shipping of panels from library to library for the duration of the project. University photographer Clinton Lewis and his staff have been enlisted to shoot additional images of baskets and basketmakers as needed. I cannot thank these individuals and partners enough for their gracious assistance.
Be looking back for updates on this project as it takes shape.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.
We have officially completed four weeks of the Community Scholars training in Allen County! The 12 soon-to-be Community Scholars have been hard at work interviewing family and community members and developing projects. Since the program’s kick-off in August, Mark Brown of Kentucky Arts Council and the staff of the Kentucky Folklife Program have been meeting with the participants every-other week to delve into the worlds of folklore, oral history, and community research.
Kentucky Folklife Program staff is honored to be working with the African American Museum of the Bowling Green Area. Last night KFP staff met with some of the AAMBG Board members for an oral history workshop, interview practice and equipment tutorials. We are expecting great things from this new local non-profit museum! Check back here for updates on our work with the AAMBG and visit the AAMBG facebook page to learn more about the museum and to keep up to date with the continuing preparations for the museum opening.
Brent and Maxine Ray test out the new equipment.
John Hardin records the Oral History workshop
John Long does a practice interview with Brent Bjorkman.
Lilli and John Long test out the new audio equipment during the Oral History Workshop.
Over the course of the last 20 years the Kentucky Folklife Program has collaborated with both National and State Parks on various projects and presentations and beginning this summer, KFP’s relationship with the parks will take a new form.
Kentucky Folklife Program Director, Brent Björkman and Traditional Art Indiana Director, Jon Kay have been awarded the 2013 Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. This fellowship is awarded each year to select projects dedicated to occupational folklore research. Brent and Jon’s project, Ranger Lore: The Occupational Folklife of Parks will focus on the lives and work of National and State Park rangers in Indiana and Kentucky.
This month the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Folklife Program launched the next step of the 2-year Allen County Folklife and Oral History Project, a Community Scholars program in Allen County. For the next few months KFP and KAC will be training community members to collect, interpret, preserve, and share the culture and traditions of their communities.
On Saturday, June 15th KFP staff and WKU Professors and graduate students headed out to the Martin Homeplace near Allegre, KY to celebrate 18th annual Odell Martin Day.
This annual event is a day for thumbpickers to gather in honor of Kentucky thumbpicker Odell Martin. Martin, who was inducted into the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame posthumously in 1999, was a well-known thumbpicker who played with Hank Thompson, Jerry Reed, Eddie Pennington, Paul Yandell, and many others.
In these first few weeks of summer Kentucky Folklife Program has been busy packing, cleaning, and organizing to make the move into the Pioneer Log Cabin at WKU. Take a moment to look at the photos from the move. See the full photo album on facebook.