Folk Artists Benefit from Individual Artists’ Grants from the New York State Council on the Arts

Folk Artists Benefit from Individual Artists’ Grants from the New York State Council on the Arts

Folk and Traditional Artists pursue an art form or activity that is rooted within their community, family, and/or heritage. This form of artistic expression is often learned over time through repeated experience and purposeful or informal teaching. These one-on-one or apprentice-style relationships are how traditional arts thrive over generations. Apprenticeship Grants through the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) are one of the foundational tools in the field of folklore and folk arts in New York State.  Through this program, “master” artists take on one or more apprentices to pass on their skills and knowledge. Apprentices can be other community members or a member of their own family.

Another avenue of support via the New York State Council on the Arts are grants for artists to pursue their own projects and initiatives.  This category was new in 2022 for the Folk and Traditional Arts Category of NYSCA.  Folk and Traditional artist grants are allowing artists to execute programs, pieces, performances, workshops, etc. on their own.

Following New York State’s $105 million investment in the arts for FY2022, NYSCA has awarded more than $80 million in arts grants to organizations and individual artists since June 2021. Of that over $250,000 has been awarded directly to folk and traditional artists via Individual Artist and Apprenticeship Grants. Over 30 Folk and Traditional Artists in New York State received an apprenticeship or Individual Artist grant for 2022.

Recipients and art forms are various and include:

Apprenticeships 

Luis Cordero, Rosa and Felix Reyes and Edy Cordero, Bachata and Merengue via Long Island Traditions 

Juan José Gutiérrez  and Juan Gerena, Bomba y Plena  via LOS PLENEROS DE LA 21 

Clarence “Bucky” Geter and John Walton, Gospel Music via The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes

Richard Koski with Michael Ludgate and Katrina Mackey, Finnish American Dance Music via the The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes

Hayden Haynes and Darelyn Spruce, Seneca Bone Carving via The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes

Victor Manuel Garcia Gonzalez  AKA Dindy and Gomany Norales, drum making via HEDco; Bronx Music Heritage Center

Tashi Sharzur (Techung) with Mia and Jasmin Eames, Tibetan music and dance via New York Folklore  

Muhammad Ismail Durdi with Muhammad Yousaf and Muhammad Ayoob, Turkmen rug weaving via New York Folklore

Peniel Guerrier with Kayenne Charles-Pierre, Haitian traditional dance via the Center for Traditional Music and Dance   

Salieu Suso with Fode Diop, kora West African harp via the Center for Traditional Music and Dance   

Individual Artist Grants include the following:

Beareather Reddy for In My Soul 

Bonnie Gale for Exploring Willow Casket Making

Altin Stoja for Shining a Light, A Public Art Project in Greek Orthodox iconography. 

Nada Odeh for Arabic Calligraphy Workshop and Mural

Melvis Santa for Women Akpwon: Afro-Cuban Percussion and Song Workshops and Performances

Gretchen Koehler for Fiddling with Tradition

Esraa Warda for Rani Mrida Music and Dance Initiative

This is just a sampling of the many traditional arts activities and artists supported in 2022 through the New York State Council on the Arts.

North Country Folklorist, Varick Chittenden Receives the Prestigious Benjamin A Botkin Award from the American Folklore Society

North Country Folklorist, Varick Chittenden Receives the Prestigious Benjamin A Botkin Award from the American Folklore Society

Each year, the Public Programs Section of the American Folklore Society joins with the AFS Executive Board to award the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize.  This annual award honors an individual for significant lifetime achievement in public folklore.  New York Folklore joins with the folklore community in congratulating North Country folklorist, Varick Chittenden, for receiving this highest honor at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society, held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

This prize is given in recognition of the work of Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975). An eminent New Deal-era folklorist, national folklore editor of the Federal Writers’ Project in 1938-1939, advocate for the public responsibilities of folklorists, author and compiler of many publications on American folklore for general audiences, and head of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress from 1942 to 1945, Botkin had a major impact on the field of public folklore and on the public understanding of folklore.

Prize recipients are nominated by their peers with the following criteria:

  • Engagement of a broad public audience in the materials of folklore
  • Impact on the field of public folklore: development of models, methodology, visibility, advocacy
  •  Impact on communities/constituents and their traditional culture
  • Contributions to the body of materials of folklore/public folklore
  • Quality of their scholarship
  • Quality of their public programming and presentations
  • Their impact on the discipline of folklore

Varick Chittenden aptly deserves this honor.  Here is some of the nomination that was submitted to the American Folklore Society for consideration:

“Varick was born and raised in Northern New York.  As a native New Yorker, he has devoted his life’s work to raising the value and understanding of the traditional culture of New York’s North Country.  He made his first career as a professor of American Studies and Folklore at the State University of New York at Canton, a school that attracts rural students, those who are first generation college students, and students that are largely from the Adirondack or North Country region.  As a professor, he encouraged folklore collecting by his students and focused the lens of folklore and folklore scholarship on his own community.  After obtaining a degree from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Folk Culture (1976), Varick created the Center for North Country Folklife, and the following year he organized the first Festival of North Country Folklife.

Expanding his vision ever wider, Varick founded the non-profit Traditional Arts of Upstate New York (TAUNY) in 1986, as a collecting and presenting organization that now serves as an important cultural organization for the region and for the state.  There is no other folklore or folk arts organization that so completely serves the North Country of New York.  Today, through his vision, TAUNY is a vibrant arts center that offers folklore and folklife research, exhibitions, ongoing programming, and collections preservation and maintenance.  Housed in a former Woolworth’s Five and Dime, the TAUNY Center serves as an important economic driver for the small city of Canton. To read more about their work, visit their website https://tauny.org/

From 2000 until 2020, Varick served as a columnist for the New York Folklore Society’s publication, Voices: the Journal of New York Folklore.  In keeping with the original format of the journal and its original column of Upstate/Downstate (for which Benjamin Botkin was the “Downstate” writer), I asked Varick in 1999 to be our “Upstate” columnist (opposite Steve Zeitlin’s “Downstate).  For twenty years, Varick graced our journal with his illuminating writing about the North Country, its communities, and its folklore and folk arts.

Varick is an innovator who is a leader for the field of folklore.  He has worked to create curriculum connections for North Country folklore with k-12 educators; he has trained folk artists to be better entrepreneurs in a partnership with then- NY Senator Hilary Clinton; and he has created two programs for public recognition of North Country people and landmarks: The North Country Heritage Award and The Register of Very Special Places (RSVP).  RSVP has been an influencer for the current Legends and Lore Program of the Pomeroy Foundation, a program that began in New York State but went national in 2019.  From its beginning, Varick served as an advisor to this program that provides cast iron “markers” for locations that are connected to local historical and contemporary legend.”

Varick was one of the nation’s pioneers in the movement of focusing on the folklore of one’s own area. In 1979 he wrote that one of the goals of the Center for North Country Folklife was to foster this new movement – “to collect and record the experiences and folk traditions of the North Country; not just for future generations, but for the enjoyment and enrichment of those living here now.”  New York State and its North Country have benefited from the visionary leadership of Varick Chittenden.  The next time you see him on the streets of St. Lawrence County, give him your congratulations.

 

 

Welcome to Mira Johnson as the New York Folklore in Education Network Coordinator

Welcome to Mira Johnson as the New York Folklore in Education Network Coordinator

Felix Nelson, conducting a dance lesson as part of a Ghanaian drumming and dance residency

as part of the Schoharie River Center’s  Middleburgh, NY Advantage Afterschool Program in 2021.  Photo by Ellen McHale

 

Local Learning and New York Folklore are pleased to welcome Mira Johnson to the role of New York State Folklore in Education Network Coordinator. With a doctorate in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning from Penn State University and an M.A. in folklore from the University of Oregon, Mira is excited to bring her expertise from both the fields to the New York Folklore in Education Network.

Due to the growing interest and need to support authentic pathways between diverse tradition bearers and both formal and informal learning spaces, in 2021 Local Learning and New York Folklore partnered to hire a shared staff position at .5 fte who could engage and coordinate our growing folklore education network. We continue to invest in this position to connect and coordinate between sites where Culture, Community, and the Classroom programs have happened, as well as other arts, humanities, and culture activities of New York Folklore. In a recent survey of program participants in Local Learning and educational folklore programs, 84% of the respondents ranked their interest in participating in the New York Folklore in Education Network at the highest level, including participating in hybrid, face to face, and zoom gatherings. Mira will help conceptualize network activities to engage artists and educators from across the state.

As a regional culture specialist for Pennsylvania’s state folklife program, Mira conducted fieldwork with rural and urban folk artists and tradition bearers, and served as the program coordinator at FolkArtPA, Pennsylvania’s statewide folklife program. She later served as the Folk Arts and Education Coordinator at the Pelham Arts Center in Pelham, New York, where she oversaw the folk art performance and workshop series and worked to integrate folk art education into the center’s studio art curriculum.

Mira is also an adjunct assistant professor at Bronx Community College in the English Department and the First Year Seminar Program. She is currently board member and board secretary for New York Folklore. Her research addresses the role of traditional knowledge and ecological relationships in community-based education, as well as regional belief practices.

Mira started in this role September 1, 2021. She will be available at [email protected]

New York Folklore Adds New Staff and Board

New York Folklore Adds New Staff and Board

Here we grow again! 

As we look towards new projects and programs for 2021 and in the future, New York Folklore is growing  – with new leadership and members for the Board of Directors, and with the addition of several new staff members and partnerships.

In partnership with Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education, we are pleased to announce a shared position of Outreach Coordinator to the Folk Arts in Education Network in New York State.  Suzanne Kolodziej is an arts educator who brings vast experience to the role.  She holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Arts Education and she worked previously as the outreach coordinator for Cornell University’s East Asia Program.  Concurrent with her work at Local Learning/New York Folklore, Suzanne also works at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, where she is a Teaching Artist, Museum Educator, and Program Assessor in the Expanded Learning Collaboration with the Rochester City School District.

Due to the concerns with the spread of COVID-19, New York Folklore’s NYSCA Upstate Regional Initiative has gone through some revisions, rendering the ongoing project to be stronger and more connected to community.  Because of delays caused by the pandemic, we are also working concurrently to document and conduct folklore fieldwork in more than one region of the state.  We are pleased to welcome Anne Rappaport as a full-time staff folklorist to the New York Folklore staff, working within the Mohawk Valley communities of Montgomery, Fulton, Southern Herkimer, Oswego and Southern Hamilton Counties.  New York Folklore also welcomes three part-time community fieldworkers to work within Albany and Rensselaer Counties: Ladan Alomar, Khizra Awan, and Edgar Betelu.   These talented individuals have complementary skills and interests and they are working together to provide a better portrait of the cultural traditions found within the greater Capital District. New York Folklore will also have an intern beginning in May 2021. 

Reyers Brusoe, a graduate student at the University of Kentucky in the department of ethnomusicology/musicology will be interning with New York Folklore during the summer months. New York Folklore’s reach has expanded and we look forward to continuing to serve folk and traditional arts in New York State. Photo of a performance of the Jamestown Swedish Dancers with members of the Allegheny Dancers as part of a program of the Upstate Regional Initiative, 2015. Photo by Ellen McHale

New York Folklore Annual Meeting and Election on January 16, 2021

New York Folklore Annual Meeting and Election on January 16, 2021

The Board of Directors of New York Folklore requests your presence at the Annual Meeting of New York Folklore, to take place on Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. via Zoom.

The link to attend can be found here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-york-folklore-annual-meeting-and-election-tickets-135346584277

The meeting agenda will include remarks from outgoing President, Tom van Buren and President-elect Maria Kennedy; a report from Executive Director Ellen McHale; and opportunities to interact with other members and attendees.

Please plan to join us for this celebratory event!

 

The slate for members and officers of the Board of Directors of New York Folklore is to be presented as follows:

President:  Maria Kennedy

Maria Kennedy is the Administrative Director of the New Jersey Folk Festival at Rutgers University. She is a faculty member in the Department of American Studies, where she teaches classes on folklore, public humanities, and supervises student interns on the folk festival’s staff. She previously served as the Folk Arts Coordinator for The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and worked as a graduate assistant at Traditional Arts Indiana. Her PhD in Folklore at Indiana University examined environmental conservation and agricultural heritage in the United Kingdom, looking at practices of orchard conservation and craft cider making. Maria has lifelong connections to New York state, having grown up visiting her grandparents in the North Country and cousins in the Hudson Valley. She continues her interest in orchards heritage as an avid connoisseur of New York cider.

Treasurer: Jim Hall

Dr. James C. Hall joined RIT in 2014 as the Executive Director for the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, later renamed the School of Individualized Study. Previously, he was director of New College at Alabama and executive director of the Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning. Prior to the University of Alabama, Dr. Hall taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Hall completed his Ph.D. and MA in American studies at the University of Iowa. He has also completed a MA in religion and culture and BA in English at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. His research and professional interests include African-American literature as well as higher education innovation and reform.

 

2021-2023 Directors

Evelyn D’Agostino-Sasso, Rochester/Finger Lakes

Evelyn D’Agostino Sasso, formerly of the Republic of Panama, serves the Xerox Corporation as International Logistics Analyst. She currently is board member of HAPA (Hispanic Association for Professional Advancement at Xerox corporation- Rochester Chapter), Rochester La Voz newspaper advisory board, founder of Grupo Cultural Latinos en Rochester, and Artistic Director for Avenue D Afro-Latino Dance Group.  She is a graduate of the Catholic University Santa Maria La Antigua of Panama.  The organization which Evelyn helped found, Grupo Cultural Latinos En Rochester, was founded in 2013  in the belief that “the arts have a unique power to engage and  maintain our Children’s Cultural Heritage.”

Mackenzie Kwok, New York City

Mackenzie Kwok received her Master’s degree in anthropology at the University of  Cambridge, England, after completing a BA in American Studies and Folklore at UNC Chapel Hill. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on Asian American Foodways in North Carolina and wrote her Master’s dissertation on Confederate monument toppling, and space-making through chanting.  Mackenzie is currently the Community Engagement Director at City Lore in New York City and is a former Bartis Intern for the Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

 

 

Edward Young Jun Millar,  Niagara/Western New York

Edward Y. J. Millar is a native of Northern New Jersey, and grew up in a mixed Scottish, German, and Malay-Chinese household.  Edward enrolled in the Anthropology and University Honors Program at Seton Hall University in 2008, and received his M.A. in Folklore from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2014.   As Curator of Folk Arts at the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University, Edward conducts original fieldwork in the Buffalo-Niagara region, and develops exhibits, programs and initiatives in collaboration with community members and traditional artists.  As a member of a small staff at a university museum, Edward’s skills and responsibilities have grown to include not only fieldwork, program and exhibit development, and content creation typical of the position, but also: audio and video editing, multimedia production, graphic design, preparatory work, framing, lighting, construction, and exhibit installation.

Wilfredo Morel,  Peekskill/Hudson Valley (renewal for a third, two-year term)

Wilfredo Morel is a highly acclaimed artist known for his sculptures utilizing recycled materials, related to the communities where the materials are found. Morel is also a community relations professional at Sun River Health Care, where he assists migrant workers, HIV/AIDS patients and the LGBT population with health care disparities, concerns and needs.

William Walker, Cooperstown/Mohawk Valley

William S. Walker is associate professor of history at the Cooperstown Graduate Program. He is the author of A Living Exhibition: The Smithsonian and the Transformation of the Universal Museum and editor of The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook (inclusivehistorian.com). An active public historian, Professor Walker oversees CGP Community Stories, an ongoing oral history project that uses recorded narratives to initiate public dialogue programs on critical social and environmental issues. His areas of expertise are public history, 20th-century U.S. cultural and intellectual history, and the history of race and ethnicity, especially as related to museums. He is committed to equity and inclusion in the field, and his courses emphasize building anti-racist and anti-oppression knowledge and skills.