Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim was Awarded Her National Heritage Fellowship at Our Nation’s Capitol

By, Emily West Hartlerode

Palestinian embroiderer, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (middle), received one of the 2018 National Heritage Fellowship Awards.

September 26, 2018 marked an important event for OFN and for the state of Oregon, as one of our most talented culture keepers, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, was awarded her National Heritage Fellowship at our nation’s Capitol. Abbasi-Ghnaim received the highest award the U.S. bestows upon traditional artists for her dedication to Palestinian Embroidery. Beyond being a master of this art form, Abbasi-Ghnaim is also dedicated to teaching and mentoring younger generations, including her own daughters, passing along not only the artistic knowledge, but also the stories and history behind the patterns, colors, and designs. After decades of engagement with OFN and the former Oregon Folklife Program at the Oregon Historical Society, we nominated Feryal for this distinction in a massive team effort coordinated by talented Folkore graduate intern Hillary Tully, and keenly guided by our executive director, Riki Saltzman. We pulled in letters of support from as far away as Paris and London, and engaged the invaluable assistance of Feryal’s daughter Wafa Ghnaim, whose photos and stories of her mother’s work aided tremendously.

 

Accompanied by her sister, three daughters (one coming from as far as Germany), and three grandchildren, Abbasi-Ghnaim accepted her medal from NEA acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter and Folk Arts director, Cliff Murphy. You can watch her heartfelt acceptance speech [here]. A reception and banquet followed in the Library of Congress’s ornate Great Hall where one of Governor Kate Brown’s staff came to personally congratulate Abbasi-Ghnaim. Two nights later, Abbasi-Ghnaim took her turn on stage among the other nine awardees from around the nation to explain her tradition in her own words, to show samples of her work, and to describe the way Palestinian embroidery has functioned as a communication device, conveying meaning through image from woman to woman. It was an honor to witness Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim share her tradition and to thank the American people for valuing the diversity of cultures that make us unique as individuals, and bring us together as a rich nation of people from around the world. We are proud of Oregon’s NHF awardee, grateful for the opportunity to nominate her for this recognition, and overjoyed by the outpouring of support that rained down upon Abbasi-Ghnaim: from the Governor to the President.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim’s family celebrating the honor with her.

Letter of congratulations from Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown.

FY19 Funding: NEA Folk & Traditional Arts Partnership Award to OFN with additional funding from the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Community Foundation’s Fred W. Fields Fund, and the Oregon Historical Society

OFN is thrilled to announce that the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded $40,000 to the Oregon Folklife Network for FY19 to support our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, Culture Fest, and partnerships with Oregon cultural organizations. Additional funding from the Oregon Arts Commission ($35,000), Oregon Cultural Trust ($20,000), and the Oregon Community Foundation’s Fred W. Fields Fund ($20,000) as well as the Oregon Historical Society ($15,000) makes it possible for us to support 8 TAAP teams, 6 Culture Fests in regions where we’ve been conducting our statewide folklife survey, and a spring 2019 gathering of Oregon’s TAAP masters. This support also helps us to support the ever-growing Culture Keepers Roster, and an ongoing partnership with eastern Oregon’s Four Rivers Cultural Center.

 

We’ll be announcing our FY19 TAAP teams soon along with our call for new applications for FY20!

Community Scholars in the Portland Metro at IRCO

Thanks to the diligent fieldwork of folklorists Nancy Nusz, Douglas Manger, and Makaela Kroin, OFN was able to invite several recommended community scholars from the Portland Metro for our first training workshop of its kind. Twelve of us gathered on Sunday, June 3, 2018 to talk about our traditions, our cultures, and how to document them. We learned about Asian Indian fashion and henna, Mexican ballet folklórico, and more.  After introductions and some pointers about ethnography, we paired off to interview each other about the meaningful objects everyone was asked to bring. After much intense conversation, curious questions, and laughter, the group created a wonderful collective pop-up exhibit, complete with labels. Sushmita Podar took charge of creating an aesthetically pleasing arrangement that showcased the diversity of backgrounds and the many things we all value.

Thanks to all who took part, including folklorist Tiffany Purn; OFN intern Brandie Roberts; historian Nikki Mandell;  business owner, Bollywood dancer,  and henna expert Sushmita Podar; librarian and community worker Rita Martinez-Salas; folklórico dancers Kenya Marquez, Gloria Vilchis, and Kelly Cowan; and Washington Co. Cultural Coalition members Sharon Morgan and Nancy Schick. This workshop was funded in part by a Folk & Traditional Arts grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Attendees group photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional artist Esther Stutzman receives 2017 Governor’s Art Award

Alina Mansfield

(left to right), Oregon Arts Commission Chair, Christopher Acebo; Esther Stutzman; Governor Kate Brown (photo, courtesy of the Oregon Arts Commission, ©2017)

 OFN is pleased to announce that Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (2013) master artist Esther Stutzman received a prestigious 2017 Lifetime Achievement Governor’s Art Award for her work in Oregon as a traditional Kalapuya/Coos storyteller. OFN nominated her for the 2017 Governor’s Art Awards, Oregon’s highest honor for exemplary service to the arts, which Gov. Brown revitalized after a 10-year hiatus. Ms. Stutzman was recognized during a ceremony that preceded the 2017 Oregon Arts Summit on Oct. 6, in Portland.

In addition to being a 2012 Oregon Folklife Network TAAP awardee, Esther Stutzman (Kalapuya/Coos) is the primary storyteller for Mother Earth’s Children, an American Indian theatre group that has performed for school assemblies and a variety of events and conferences for the past 42 years. Stutzman also works with Title VII Indian Education programs and Arts in Education Programs throughout the state of Oregon as a cultural resource specialist with children as well as with teacher in-service programs. She has been a long-time presenter for the Oregon Chautauqua History Series and is a recipient of several folklife awards formerly administered by the Oregon Historical Society. She recently shared her Tribes’ Mother Wolf and Coyote stories at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene for their Wolf Talks celebration.

 

2017 Warm Springs Folklife Field School Highlights

Jennie Flinspach and Brad McMullen

The 2017 Warm Springs Folklife Field School engaged rising eighth graders from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs K-8 Academy in a week-long adventure to explore their heritage and document their cultural traditions.

Students learned fieldwork skills by interviewing each other. Using OFN’s recording equipment, students questioned each other about treasured family objects.

Students worked in groups to conduct interviews with tribal elders. We were honored to hear the elders’ share moving accounts of their heritage and traditions.

On Wednesday, students and staff took a field trip to the Warm Springs Culture and Heritage Department. Tribal archivist, Creston (Dana) Smith, one of our on-site teachers, showed us how he preserves the recorded history and culture of Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

After their interviews, students learned to process and analyze audio clips from their audio recordings. They wrote reflections, recorded narration, and assembled clips into a group presentation.

One of the special highlights of the week was Thursday’s visit to the Warm Springs radio station, KWSO 91.9 FM, where Marge Kalama, local radio personality, conducted a live on-air interview with the students.

At the end of the week, the students presented their research to the Warm Springs community. It was the perfect way to end a great week of cultural documentation! But there was still more in store for these young folklorists…

Two weeks later, the students traveled to the University of Oregon for an overnight campus visit. They visited Special Collections, where Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist Jennifer O’Neal showed them the Edward Curtis photographic collection, an invaluable collection of late 19th-century Native American portraits and images of traditional occupations and lifeways.

At the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Curator Cheryl Hartup gave a tour of “Conversations in the Round House: Roots, Roads, and Remembrances,” an exhibit of native works including one from Warm Springs elder, Lillian Pitt.

A stop at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History included a tour of the new Cultural Wing, which includes exhibits and short documentaries about Oregon’s native Tribes, past and present.

Our guests enjoyed a backstage tour of Matthew Knight Arena, where they got to “throw their O” at center court. Capping off the afternoon was a walk through Kalapuya Ilihi Hall, the newest residence hall on campus and home to the new Native American and Indigenous Studies academic residential community.

The next morning, Warm Springs students presented their research at the Many Nations Longhouse to UO Native students, faculty, and staff. At a special luncheon that followed, audience members reciprocated and shared with students the many opportunities and resources available to them as future UO Ducks.

Before heading back to Warm Springs, students had some fun with Professor Kirby Brown (English Department, Native literature), who taught them how to play sjima. Sjima, also known as Shinny Ball, is a traditional game with similarities to hockey and lacrosse and is specific to Oregon’s Klamath tribes.

TAAP Master Artists Recognized at Legislative Event

On Monday November 13th, state officials recognized Oregon’s 2016-2018 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program master artists at the State Library in Salem, Oregon.

The ceremony opened with words of welcome from MaryKay Dahlgreen (State Librarian), Riki Saltzman (Executive Director, Oregon Folklife Network), Brian Rogers (Executive Director, Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust), and Beth Dehn, newly appointed Manager, Oregon Heritage Commission. Brian Rogers and state legislators, Representative Margaret Doherty (District 35), Representative Cliff Bentz (District 60), Representative Andrea Salinas (District 38), and Greg Mintz, Legislative Director for Senator Ken Helm (District 34), presented commemorative certificates to master artists (pictured R-L) Tonya Rosebrook, Hossein Salehi, Azar Salehi, Marjan Anvari, Jack Armstrong, Sara Siestreem, Anita Menon, and Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim. Apprentice Miguel Ruiz and his son Miguel Jr. accepted the award on behalf of his mentor, Antonio Huerta. Representative Cliff Bentz and Brian Rogers presented a certificate to Roberta Kirk in absentia. The ceremony, which recognized the artistic excellence of these exemplary culture keepers, featured virtuosic performances by Azar Salehi (Persian storytelling) and Hossein Salehi (Persian santoor, a trapezoidal-shaped stringed instrument similar to the hammered dulcimer).

During a reception in their honor, TAAP master artists had the opportunity to interact with each other as well as elected officials, state government representatives, OFN staff, and members of the Oregon Arts Commission and Cultural Trust boards. Many brought examples of their works to share, demonstrate, and display their artistry. Charrería apprentice, Miguel Ruiz, treated everyone to an impromptu display of the roping skills required for Mexican rodeo.

Congratulations again to all of the 2016-18 TAAP master artists. We also extend our appreciation to all who were able to attend and honor those artists and their contributions to Oregon’s living cultural heritage.

More Than $82 Million Awarded for Arts Projects Nationwide – Includes $80,000 awarded to the Oregon Folklife Network

[Eugene]—National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $80,000 to the Oregon Folklife Network to support Oregon’s folk and traditional arts programming and research. The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and will make 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the Oregon Folklife Network in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”

“We are thrilled to have the NEA’s funding and endorsement of our efforts to engage with communities, organizations, and Tribes to document, preserve, and celebrate Oregon’s living cultural heritage,” commented Riki Saltzman, OFN’s executive director. “We are also pleased to have additional funding from the Oregon Arts Commission for this important cultural work.”

NEA and OAC funding supports OFN’s  Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, our statewide multi-year folklife survey, and our Regional Collaborative Partnerships. Since 2012, OFN has supported over 30 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship teams to teach and make public presentations. Master artists mentor apprentices from the same cultural community or Tribe in a chosen traditional art form such as rawhide braiding, Coos basket weaving, and Persian storytelling.

Our next and 5th region of our statewide folklife survey will be the Willamette Valley; during 2018 we’ll be out and about to interview river guides, musicians, storytellers, quilters, and more. Previous surveys have identified and documented hundreds of traditional artists in communities and Tribes in southern and eastern Oregon, the Gorge, and the Portland Metro.

Following each region’s folklife survey, OFN staff provides support to create or supplement projects that focus on and documented artists from that region. For 2017-18, we’ll be partnering with cultural organizations and Tribes in eastern Oregon for our next round of Regional Collaborative Partnerships.

Check out our ever-growing Culture Keepers Roster to discover and hire Oregon folk artists.  Many of those culture keepers have performed in Oregon parks, taken part in festivals, conducted public workshops, and been featured in exhibits.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEASpring17, #Oregonfolk, and #thisisculture. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov.

Follow OFN on Twitter @OregonFolklife and follow us on Facebook at Oregon Folklife Network.

Announcing OFN Book Release: Oregon Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Master Artists: 2012-2016

Alina Mansfield


We are pleased to announce the release of Oregon Folklife Network’s latest publication: Oregon Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Master Artists: 2012-2016, featuring highly skilled traditional artists in Oregon. This publication and the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in Oregon was made possible through grant funds, and so is not for sale.  Instead, we share it for free with cultural organizations, libraries, funding partners, and elected officials. Doing so achieves key parts of our mission: investing in traditional artists, creating new outlets to show Oregon’s traditional arts, and providing public access to information about traditional ways being practiced in Oregon today.

This book highlights the cultural traditions of those master artists who received TAAP awards from 2012-2016. Each awardee mentored at least one apprentice in an art form significant to their shared community, and all allowed us to document their processes. The book provides a glimpse into just a few of Oregon’s cultural traditions, ranging from Umatilla dentalium piecework and Palestinian embroidery to Czech and Slovak egg decoration and Plateau shell dress making. Included are western occupational art forms such as silversmithing, saddle making, and rawhide braiding, which speak to Oregon’s ranching heritage. Among the featured multicultural performance forms are Chinese rod puppetry, hip hop and rap, old time banjo, Guinean drumming, Indian Bharatha Natyam dance, and Mexican ballet folklórico. Throughout the pages, you will read the artists and culture keepers’ own words about their commitment to preserving and passing on their heritage.

We share this book to honor Oregon’s diverse cultural heritage while raising public appreciation for traditional arts and artists. The Oregon Folklife Network, in association with our funding partners, is proud to present the master artists who keep Oregon’s traditional arts a vital and living expression of Oregon’s cultural heritage. Contact us for copies.