OFN Artist Panel Discussion Report

by: Adrian Engstrom von Alten, OFN Undergraduate Intern

In conjunction with its Open House, the Oregon Folklife Network hosted an Artist Panel Discussion on April 18, 2013. OFN invited three Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (TAAP) awardees to discuss their traditional work with the public. The TAAP program funds master traditional artists and their apprentices in order to carry on Oregon’s cultural traditions. Esther Stutzman, a Native storyteller, Daniela Mahoney, a Slovak/Ukrainian egg decorator, and Mark Ross, an American folk musician discussed their unique cultural traditions and backgrounds. The OFN is proud to support artists who could entertain and educate the public about their art, while helping to preserve and perpetuate Oregon’s traditions bearers’ valuable knowledge.

During the artist panel, Esther Stutzman (Kalapuya/Coos) talked about how her stories create a central activity for social gatherings, and how she grew up in a community where many hours of the day would be occupied by listening to her elders’ tales. She’s tried to reproduce that within her own family and said that her children and grandchildren know all of her stories by heart. Mark Ross talked about his origins in folk music. He said he left home and began busking during what he calls the “Great Folk Music Scare” of the 1960s, and proceeded to recall good times he had playing with various great folk artists like Utah Phillips, David Bromberg, and John Hammond. Mark discussed his experiences in locations like Greenwich Village and Butte, Montana. He talked about the rich and very old roots of the music he played, and how expressive and meaningful its local traditions could be. As a young adult, Daniela Mahoney moved to America from the Czech Republic and has since tried to preserve and perfect the art egg decorating – a popular Eastern European folk art. She has created many innovative decorating techniques, and incorporated disparate designs and color preferences from her native Eastern European aesthetic to modern American motifs.

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