Traditional Artist Spotlight: Nisha Joshi

by Josh Ehlers

Nisha Joshi’s love for music is a bond forged through family and community. Joshi, a Rajastani Folk and Classical musician, teaches the craft at her own school, The Swaranjali Academy of Indian Music in Portland, Oregon. Joshi teaches vocals, harmonium, and the tabla. Rajastani songs describe the daily life of the villagers and incorporate aspects of nature, religion, festivals, and important life events such as childbirth. Being relatively simple to learn, Rajastani music encourages group participation and dancing.

Rajastani folk music is traditional music from Rajasthan, a region located in the northwestern part of India. Instruments such as harmonium, dholak, manjeera, and ravanhatha traditionally accompany the vocalist in Rajastani music. Under the guide of her father, who stressed discipline in her music studies, Joshi gradually learned Rajastani music as her siblings, relatives and neighbors passed down songs to her.

Joshi performs both classical and folk repertoire, as well as sitar, at numerous community events, festivals, and concerts in the Northwest. As a result of her work with the Jack Straw Productions’ Traditional Artist Support Program, Joshi performed at the Seattle Folk Festival in 1996. Joshi’s time with this program also allowed her to professionally record Rajastani music. Joshi holds a Doctorate of Philosophy and Masters in Indian Classical Music from University of Delhi, India and also holds a position on the concert committee for the Society for the Performing Arts of India.

The Swaranjali Academy of Indian Music website:

Arts in the Parks

Five of Oregon’s fabulous state parks were host to six of our state’s master folk & traditional artists during the month of June. From the Cascades, to the high desert, to the Willamette Valley, Oregon State Park visitors had the chance to learn about Wasco sally bags, Karuk basket making, fly tying, Coos and Kalapuya storytelling, old time music making, and a whole lot more. Park guests got to meet the artists, learn how traditions mesh with heritage, and spend one-on-one time with some of Oregon’s most interesting people.

Look for more Art in the Parks

Thanks to Mark Ross, Wilverna Reece, Lena Hurd, Sherry Steele, Pat Courtney Gold, and Esther Stutzman as well as the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon State Parks and Recreation, and all the local parks and arts services organizations that made 2013 Art in the Parks possible.

Upcoming Diversity Exhibit

An exhibit showcasing the various cultural groups OFN involves themselves with is currently in development. The exhibit will go up in the Knight Libraries’ East and West display areas in mid-September. The four cases will have panels focusing on specific aspects and people involved in Telling Our Stories, the Traditional Arts Program, the Grand Ronde Native Language Arts Apprenticeship Project, the Warm Springs Sound Preservation Program, and the Culture and Education Alliance. OFN is collaborating with the Library Diversity Committee, as well as Mandi Garcia and Cristian Boboia from the Image and Exhibit Services department to put on the exhibit.

Art in the Parks 2013

Celebrating folk art in Oregon with special presentations at state parks throughout the month of June.

Five Oregon artists will deliver special presentations about the history and cultural significance of their craft at state parks across Oregon during the month of June. “Art in the Parks” is sponsored by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) along with the University of Oregon’s Oregon Folklife Network (OFN), the Oregon Arts Commission, and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Each artist will appear with a folklorist from the OFN, the state’s designated folk and traditional arts program, in collaboration with a local arts organization.

All events are free and open to the public, and all ages are welcome—no registration is required. One-time day-use parking permits at Silver Falls State Park and Smith Rock State Park cost $5. For more information about the Oregon Folklife Network, visit For directions to the parks, visit

Visit our website for more information about the programs happening throughout Oregon’s state parks in June!

Confluence Project & TEDx Talk

What is Confluence Project?

At seven points along the Columbia River Basin, an unprecedented endeavor continues to unfold. Here, where rivers meet and indigenous people once gathered, the Confluence Project explores the intersection of environment, cultures and a regional history that reaches back many hundreds of years.

Confluence Project is a collaborative effort of Pacific Northwest tribes, renowned artist Maya Lin, civic groups from Washington and Oregon and other artists, architects and landscape designers. The project stretches more than 300 miles from where the Columbia River flows into the Pacific Ocean, to Clarkston, WA, with sites in both Oregon and Washington. Each of its seven sites features an art installation by Ms. Lin that interprets the area’s ecology and history, encouraging the visitor to reflect on how the surroundings have changed over time. Each references a passage from the Lewis and Clark journals.

With distinctive artworks and restored native habitat, the four currently completed sites create new points of contact – confluence – between nature and art; past, present and future; and the enduring communities of the Pacific Northwest-its Native People and more recent visitors and residents.

Confluence Project Artist, Lillian Pitt and her mentee, Toma Villa: TEDx Talk
A recent TEDx ConcordiaUPortland event included accomplished Pacific Northwest Native American artists, Lillian Pitt and Toma Villa. In this video, enjoy Lillian and Toma’s expressions of gratitude for what their ancestors have provided them, their passion for passing the gifts of their ancestors on to the next seven generations, and the ability of art to help them honor and share these gifts.

Watch the video HERE.

Telling Our Stories: Self-Documentation Toolkit

by Sanna Parikka, OFN Intern

This week, the Oregon Folklife Network presented an educational website called “Telling Our Stories” at the annual Latino Roots Celebration of the University of Oregon. The event was hosted by the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies and Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United). “Telling Our Stories” is an interactive website which offers a guide to cultural documentation for anyone who would like to tell stories, whether they are about themselves, their family, or their community. The free and interactive lessons include beginner and advanced photography, video and audio recording, interviewing skills, drawing, community mapping, archiving, and more.

The website is currently in the beta-testing stage, and we welcome comments and questions at
Visit the Toolkit website at

Create! Eugene

Create! Eugene: August 1-31
Workshop Opportunity

Create! Eugene is a month-long creative arts festival of workshops taking place in August that showcases the creative workshops available in Eugene and the surrounding communities.

Anyone is welcome to give a workshop on a specific skill or creative activity. To set up a workshop, contact the artist or organization hosting the space directly using the email link provided within each listing or call by phone.

Some free spaces are available at the Lane Community College in downtown Eugene. Contact Jenette Kane ( to reserve one of these spaces (Free spaces may have limited availability).

Click HERE to list your workshop with Create! Eugene.
Registration is free, but in lieu of a monetary fee, it is asked that you link the website on your website, blog, social network or other form of web media (if applicable). Contact Brent Hanifl at and send the URL address for confirmation.

Create! Eugene’s partner hotels will offer special discounted rates to participating visitors. To take advantage of these deals, contact the property directly by phone or from their website. More information available at:

Contact Brent Hanifl at or (608) 792-5746 for more information.

Traditional Artist Spotlight: Esther Stutzman

by Sanna Parikka, OFN Intern

American Indian Kalapuya and Coos storyteller, Esther Stutzman captivated those lucky enough to be present at the OFN Open House event in April. An enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz, founding member of the Northwest Indian Storyteller’s association, Stutzman is the primary storyteller for the Mother Earth’s Children theatre. Her family members are also involved with drumming and singing at important occasions around the state.

Stutzman learned the tradition of storytelling from her family members and community elders, and has been practicing all her life. Kalapuya and Coos stories often include animal characters to convey cultural values. Some stories are appropriate for any occasion relevant to their theme, while others are meant for particular times of the year. Kalapuya and Coos peoples regard traditional stories and songs as sacred and particular to those who tell them. Stutzman has only thirteen stories that she shares with the public; the rest are exclusively for family and tribal members.

According to Stutzman, the way you tell a story has a crucial role in bringing the story alive. For example, she uses pauses and varies her tone as well as paces her performance to maintain the suspense of a particular story line.

A cultural educator above all, Esther Stutzman is the Founding Director of the American Indian Youth Camp – now in its 37th year of sharing cultural knowledge and Native traditions to school-age youth.

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.

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OFN at Association of Western States Folklorists Annual Meeting

by Lyle Murphy, OFN Intern

The Oregon Folklife Network attended the Association of Western States Folklorists (AWSF) annual meeting in Laramie, WY at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch from April 25-27. The conference included discussion topics such as the navigation of crowd sourced funding, the organizational future of AWSF, and a regional collaboration focusing on riverways. There was a particular emphasis on developing a larger presence of graduate students and younger professionals than in previous years; this would ensure their perspectives and ideas were heard, especially in the future development of AWSF.

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