New York Folklore’s Year in Review

by Dec 27, 2023Blog0 comments

As we close out our 79th year, we at New York Folklore give thanks for all of our supporters who have made our programming initiatives possible with your donations and partnerships.  We strive to work with, and in support for, New York’s diverse communities,  and we have much to be thankful for in 2023.  We eagerly look forward to celebrating our 80th year in 2024 with a continuation of many of our projects alongside the inauguration of new initiatives.  Here are a few of the highlights of 2023….

New York Folklore’s support for artists continued in 2023. We were pleased to sponsor 19 artists for NYSCA-supported individual artist or apprenticeship grants for 2023 and look forward to supporting 18 artists through grants from the New York State Council on the Arts in 2024. As always, New York Folklore continues to support artists for short-term mentoring and professional development through our ongoing technical assistance programs, providing skills-training and information for artists to build their capacity. A Critical Folklife Forum on copyright and intellectual property took place in December 2023.





2023 saw an expansion of New York Folklore’s role as a leader in folk arts education. With support from the Our Town Program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Schenectady Foundation, and in partnership with the City of Schenectady School District, New York Folklore began two initiatives for the Schenectady City School System. The first is ongoing instruction by Ghanaian drummer, Zorkie Nelson, and members of the ensemble Gballoi, to teach the instruments and skills for the introduction of a city-wide Pan African Youth Orchestra. Ghanaian drummers have been working twice a week within Schenectady’s elementary school to teach drumming, dance, and flutes with the intention to forge a lasting ensemble serving the youth and families of the Capital District. A second folk arts education initiative was initiated by North Indian classical musicians Veena and Devesh Chandra, to perform and present North Indian classical music on the sitar and tabla in each of Schenectady’s schools. Workshops and presentations began in September 2023 for the 2023-2024 school year and will continue until July 1st. In addition to this immersion into Indian classical music, the project is supporting a community mural, and programming highlighting Guyanese cultural traditions and their connections to India.
New York Folklore’s exploration of foodways traditions continued throughout 2023, with support from NY Humanities, the New York State Council on the Arts, and from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation’s Initiative for Columbia County. Local community chefs representing Costa Rican, Bangladeshi, Afghan, rural, Czech, Congolese, Jamaican, and Albanian foodways traditions presented as part of our ongoing “Cooking up Community” series at the Hudson Library, at the 2023 Mohawk Hudson Folklife Festival, and in partnership with the West Hill Refugee Welcome Center.   Maria wear a red apron holding a plate. Her image is imposed on background of pupusas



Community cultural documentation continued, with the involvement of community fieldworkers Akilah Briggs-Melvin in Binghamton, Ladan Nikravan in the Capital District and Utica, and folklorists Anne Rappaport Berliner (Capital District and Mohawk Valley) and Edgar Betelu (Capital District and Hudson Valley).   a man looks away fom the camera showing off his braids

We continue to expand this program through support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ralph Wilson Foundation, to include community documentation in Allegany, Chautauqua, and Cattaraugus Counties in partnership with Tri-County Arts Council. Nada Odeh will be providing documentation and programming for this project and New York Folklore plans to engage one other community fieldworker to reach populations in this region.

Our gallery hosted several exhibitions in 2023.  We began the year showcasing the work of quilter Beth Taylor.  In March we partnered with Lifeworks Community Action of Saratoga for a community documentary photography project, “Estamos Aqui: We are Here” with an exhibition focused on photographs taken by Latino workers within Saratoga’s resort industries.   A man stands behind a horse affectionally petting it. Thanks to board member, Vicie Rolling, and the professional expertise of Jill Breit of Traditional Arts of Upstate New York, we were able to host “Hattitude: the Hats of Louise Hughes Rolling” for several months during the summer months.  With a nod towards the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos, our gallery hosted the cartoneria of Aurelia Fernandez Murare of Yonkers in October and November.

We ended the year with our current exhibit, “Cuts Across Cultures: Jewish and Chinese Papercutting”.

When possible, New York Folklore provides companion programming to our exhibitions.  In 2023, our gallery hosted workshops in making sachets, “cocktail” hats, hip hop clothing design,and the decorated sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos.






New York Folklore continues to forge new ground and to work with new partners.  Arising from a planning meeting supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Conservation Fund, New York Folklore launched a watershed “place marking” project in 2023.  Community advocate and Seneca artist, Bill Crouse, developed artwork based upon oral historical interviews that he held with Seneca elders to ascertain places of significance within the Allegany River Watershed.  This project will continue in 2024 and will expand to the Mohawk and Schoharie Watersheds, through support from the Mohawk Basin Grants Program of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Humanities NY, working with community partners to accomplish the documentation.  

Throughout the year, we hosted hundreds of people at our programming, through our online discussion forums, at workshops, and at the third annual Mohawk Hudson Folklife Festival at Albany’s Washington Park Lakehouse.  If you missed any of this, we encourage you to attend our events in 2024.  Throughout our 80th Anniversary Year, we look forward to expanding our reach through receptions, programs, and projects in every region in New York State.  Come join us in our work!