Programs & Activities
Folk Arts Marketplace
Festival Marketplace Participants
Vendors invited to participate in the Great Lakes Folk Festival's "Folk
Arts Marketplace" sell authentic traditional arts or related items rarely
available in any stores or other festivals. Vendors include past participants
in state and regional folklife festivals, apprenticeship and award programs,
and other activities of the Smithsonian, Michigan State University Museum,
and upper Midwest regional state-funded folk arts programs. The
Folk Arts Marketplace is open Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon-6 p.m.
Artists and Craftspeople Participating in 2005 (updated 6/17/05)
Kelly Church and Cherish Nebeshanze Parrish (Hopkins, Michigan)
Woodlands Indian black ash basketry
Kelly Church (Grand Traverse Bay Band of Chippewa and Ottawa), born
1967, and her daughter Cherish Nebeshanze Parrish (Gun Lake Band of
Pottawatomi), born 1989, weave out of black ash splints into a
variety of creative items, and in doing so perpetuate both a family
and a community art form historically important to their indigenous
culture. Though raised around weavers and holding art degrees from
University of Michigan and the Institute of American Indian Arts,
Kelly did not start weaving until she was in her early thirties,
learning primarily from her father Bill Church and her cousin, John
Pigeon and, having mastered the form, taught her daughter. Today,
both Kelly and Cherish sell their work in a number of galleries;
demonstrate and teach basketweaving to a variety of audiences; and
are the recipients of several awards. In 2004 Cherish was one of
three youth awarded a Youth Fellowship for the Santa Fe Indian
Market. Kelly and Cherish are best known for their black ash
bracelets, market baskets, and strawberry baskets but they also make
checker games, chess games, and baby cradles. The emerald ash borer
has destroyed thousands of Michigan black ash trees thus endangering
the continuation of this art form in this region.
Elderly Instruments (Lansing, Michigan)
Elderly Instruments first opened for business in 1972 in a basement location on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing and moved in 1983 to their current location at 1100 N. Washington in Lansing. Elderly features vintage and new instruments, such as button accordions, fiddles, dulcimers, harmonicas, and bodhrans, and specializes in fretted instruments, such as guitars and banjos. With their extensive inventory of instructional books and hard-to-find CD's and cassettes, sold both at their Lansing store and through widely distributed mail-order catalogs, Elderly Instruments has established itself as an important local business with a national reputation.
Ia Her (Lansing, Michigan)
Ia Moua Yang (Warren, Michigan)
Like their relatives in their homeland of Laos and in communities scattered throughout the world, Hmong-Americans begin to learn how to make paj ntaub (flower cloth) at a very young age. A variety of patterns, motifs, and needlework techniques, including appliqué, reverse appliqué, and embroidery, are used in creating the colorful textiles. Mastery of the techniques and expansion of the repertoire of designs and motifs usually takes years, and expert craftsmanship is valued within the community.
While certain types of paj ntaub are still made for traditional uses such as baby carriers, baby hats, funeral collars, and wedding apparel, most paj ntaub made in the United States today are sold to non-Hmong. Bedspreads, purses, eyeglass cases, pillow covers, wall hangings, and articles of decorated clothing are among the items now produced.
Nokomis Learning Center (Okemos, Michigan
Native American Traditional Arts
The Nokomis Learning Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and presentation of the culture and tradition of the People of the Three Fires (Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibwa). The Nokomis Learning Center offers a wide variety of exhibitions, educational programs, special events, and publications. Recent activities have included, in partnership with the MSU Museum, exhibitions and publications on Great Lakes Indian women artists, dance regalia makers, basket makers, and quill-box makers. The Nokomis Learning Center gift shop specializes in selling crafts made by Native artists from the Great Lakes region.
Krystyna Rosas (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Krystyna Rosas' parents were born and raised in Poland, but Krystyna was born in England and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 5. Her father was a potter, woodcarver, painter, and sculptor. Their home was decorated with many beautiful Polish objects: pottery, amber, weavings, carvings, and, of course, wycinanki (paper cuttings). Krystyna's father taught her how to duplicate and design wycinanki when she was a child; at an early age she recognized that these pieces were a special part of the way she thought of herself and her heritage.
Wycinanki originally decorated walls, ceilings, beams, and furniture in rural homes. The brilliant colors, traditional themes, and beautiful designs of the paper cuttings symbolize Polish folk art, and today, different regions of Poland produce distinct styles of wycinanki.
Roman Seniuk (Detroit, Michigan)
Roman Seniuk's earliest memory of pysanka is seeingintricately decorated eggs in church on Easter Sunday; he considered them the most beautiful things he had ever seen. Under his mother's tutelage, he learned how to make pysanka using various kinds of eggs, bee's wax, a kistka stylus, a candle, and dyes.
The word pysanka stems from the word pysaty, "to write," because the designs are drawn upon the eggs in a prescribed and meaningful manner. Pysanky symbols include geometric motifs, the sun, the cross, the triangle, endless lines, the tree of life, the church, and fish (symbolizing Christianity). The colors of the dyes are also symbolic. The tradition of pysanky precedes Christianity and reflects ancient myths in which the egg symbolizes life, the sun, and the universe. The eggs have been used as talismans to protect against evil, and they serve a variety of social and religious occasions.
Julie Sullivan (Eaton Rapids, Michigan)
Braided rugs are an old American folk art. Made of readily available and often recycled materials, they are both practical and decorative. Because wool is durable and stain resistant and the color variations in the braids hide spills, braided rugs of wool are especially practical and desirable.
Hand-braided rugs are a family tradition for Julie Sullivan, who learned to braid from her grandmother. In 2000 and 2001 Julie was awarded a Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship award to teach her daughters. Using pure wool, needles, and a tool for sewing called a bodkin, they braid strips, lace the braids together, and connect the braid ends to each other, creating a seamless effect. They use the rugs in their own households and as gifts for others.
Taéda (Dublin, Ireland)
Irish musical group
Taéda, a 2005 GLFF performing group, will also be featured in the Folk Arts Marketplace. Read more on their Musical Artists Bio page.
Anshu Varma (Okemos, Michigan)
Meh'ndi (Henna painting) artist
Anshu Varma has been described as a consummate artist who uses the body as her canvas. She was born in 1962 in north India and grew up in Calcutta and New Delhi. She has a degree in economics and works for the State of Michigan. As a child she was fascinated by the tradition of meh'ndi. She was greatly inspired by her mother's artistic creations and began to learn the tradition at home. Today she is a master of her technique.
The tradition of meh'ndi, a paste of henna used to embellish the palms, soles, and fingernails, plays an important role in maintaining cultural identity in Indian as well as other communities. Meh'ndi is appropriate at all festive events. It is the first thing a woman puts on herself to get ready for a special occasion. Being dressed in meh'ndi sets the celebratory mood of the community. The tradition is associated especially with wedding ceremonies where in certain communities putting mehndi on the bride's palms and feet represents "dressing" the bride. Anshu is sought by many in the Indian community to do meh'ndi for them, and many a bride has been adorned by her skillful hands.
She also has demonstrated her artistry at past folklife festivals and other public events. Anshu is gratified by the enjoyment both young and old experience of having their hands adorned and she is dedicated to share the knowledge about this ancient art. She was a recipient of the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in 2002 and 2003, and she participates at the 2003 Great Lakes Folk Festival with her current apprentice, Moushumi Mokherjee.
Lula Williams (Detroit, Michigan)
As a young child, Lula Williams occasionally helped her mother quilt by putting colors together and piecing. However, she only returned to quilting in the late 1970s when her young teenaged son encouraged her to take a course in it at his high school; she remembered her mother's techniques almost immediately and has been quilting ever since.
Lula has made more than 120 quilts and won numerous awards. Her work reflects many traditions . She is a needle worker keenly interested in the latest techniques and patterns; she is an African-American committed to conveying information about her heritage; she is a woman of faith who communicates her beliefs through her quilts; she is an individual proud to be an American. One series of her quilts using African cloth pays homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. Another series is of red, white, and blue fabric with designs of stars and stripes. A special quilt, her original "I Am" design, depicts the times Jesus utters "I am" in the Bible as well as the declarations of "I am" by African-American preachers in their sermons. She is perhaps best known for her baby quilts, of which she has made scores as gifts for family and friends.
Lula's excellent craftsmanship has won her invitations to participate in shows within the African-American community and beyond. In addition she has taught quilting for a number of years at the Evans Recreation Center on Detroit's northeast side, at the Michigan State Fair Senior Center, and at Detroit's Westside Tindal Recreation Center and readily assists those who seek her help. She has been recognized with awards of Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants to teach her skills to other aspiring quilters in her community. In 1997 she was honored with a Michigan Heritage Award.