August 7-9, 2009

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Programs & Activities: Folk Arts Marketplace


glff 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, 12 noon-8 p.m., and Sunday, 12 noon-6 p.m. Some artists will also demonstrate making their hand-made goods in their booths.


Artists and Craftspeople Participating in 2009 (updated 6/28/09)

Pierre Adjibogoun
Benin woodcarving
Lansing, Michigan

"When I was eight years old, I started to learn to carve in wood by helping my father who did woodcarving for pleasure," says Benin native Pierre Adjibogoun. He has been carving ever since and his sculptural creations reflect the history and culture of West Africa, but particularly that of his home country of Benin. His work displays the styles that have become traditional for sale to the tourist market and are sought after for use in Afro-centric interior decoration here in the United States.

"I carve with many woods, but prefer to carve ebony wood because it is considered black gold in Africa. I carve big and small statues of animals and people, doors, wooden trunks, and, from one piece of wood, chairs." He also sometimes uses animal bone and horns for his carving materials. For many years he operated a gallery in Cotonou, Benin where he showed and sold his artwork as well as taught others. In Lansing, he had a show at, the now defunct, Dancing Crane Gallery.
Pierre is fluent in his native languages of Benin and French, the language of the colonial government of Benin, as well as several other African languages he learned while traveling in Africa. In 2001, he came to Lansing, Michigan and is now learning yet another language-English.



Julie Sullivan
Braided Rugs
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.

Lilyana Cabscango
Ecuador textiles and jewelry
Rolando Cabscango
Ecuador flute making
Chicago, Illinois

Lilyana Cabascango hails from Olavalo, Ecuador, a small town located hours north of Quito, the Latin American nation's capitol. As Lilyana says, "There I have learned everything I know from my parents and my parents from theirs." One of the things she learned and became a specialist in was making textile items from the wool of the sheep her family kept. "When the sheep are big enough, we sheave them, take the wool to the river and wash it. After two days of washing it, we let it dry. Then we boil the wool with plants to color it. Then they knit and weave the wool into colorful sweaters, ponchos, scarves, hats, and bags. This is all family work that takes us about 3-4 days work just to make one sweater."
Now Lilyana lives in Chicago but she continues her traditional textile work with wool that her family sends to her from their sheep in Ecuador. When they do not send her enough wool she supplements it with wool she gets from Amish farmers in Shipshewana, Indiana.
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In Ecuador, making musical instruments out of bamboo is an art done primarily by men. Chicago resident Rolando Cabascango is a native of Ecuador who hails from a family of instrument makers, dancers, and musicians. Even though he now lives far from his birthplace, he continues to make flutes as well as jewelry out of bamboo that his family sends north to him.

 

Dave Downing
(Mason, Michigan)

Mountain Bow

The mountain bow is an instrument of African origin. This is not to say they were exclusive to that culture, only that the appearance of these instruments in North America does not seem to predate the importation of African slaves.

Sometime during the 19th century the mountain bow transitioned from the black slave into the Anglo mountain culture. It was also known as a "tangbow" or "songbow". Because of its ease of construction, modest volume, and unobtrusive playing style, it found a home with ballad singers in the secluded hollows of the southern Appalachian Mountains. It also, no doubt, migrated to the west with the mountain folks that were beginning to feel a little bit crowded by the influx of civilization (i.e., being able to see the smoke from their neighbor's cook fire).

Two hundred years ago, horsetail hair, flax fiber, gut or sinew was used for strings on mountain bows. The bow material was usually a soft wood. Most of the originals Dave Dowing has seen are cedar but he has found sassafras to work very well. The length, width, thickness, shape and density of the wood and the size and tension of the string determine the basic pitch of the bow.

Dowing first encountered the mountain bow several years ago while attending the Ozark Music Festival in Missouri. A performer playing a bow agreed to show him how they are made, and some of the possible variations. In subsequent years, he has learned more about the bow from various performers in the Ozark region.


Ia Her (Lansing, Michigan)
Hmong Needlework

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. Ia Her has participated in MSU Museum programs (exhibitions, festivals, films) for over 20 years.

Ia Moua Yang (Warren, Michigan)
Hmong Needlework

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.
In 2005 Ia Moua Yang was honored with a Michigan Heritage Award as an artist, teacher and preserver of Hmong textile traditions.

Dave Kober (Tustin, Michigan)

1990 Michigan Heritage awardee, Wooden Ice Fishing Decoys

Ice fishing is a well-established activity in Michigan. Dave Kober represents one of four generations of his family's passion for fishing and for making distinctive ice-fishing decoys. Born in 1938, Dave was introduced to ice fishing by his grandfather, Lester Ballard, and by his uncle, Myron Ballard. His memories of his grandfather and ice fishing are strong: "Whenever I pick up a piece of wood or set out across a frozen lake, I can't help but remember him." (1) "Uncle Mike" nurtured Dave's carving by giving him his first equipment; Dave was nine years old when he made his first decoy. Both men were instrumental not only in showing him the finer points of fishing and carving but in passing along many family fishing stories.

Ice-fishing decoys vary dramatically in appearance, use of materials, and theory. Dave has developed a visual style that utilizes the natural grain of the wood to replicate the look of the fish. He applies acrylic paint over the grain of the wood and then sands and waxes the decoys, which allows the wood grain to show through the paint. In addition to this painting technique, Dave developed a tradition of creating decoys that position the carved fins so the decoy "stands" on these fins when out of the water. Whereas most carvers choose not to place the fins below the fish in the natural position, Dave insists on this practice.

Dave took an early retirement, as a construction foreman to do what he likes best: make decoys. Working out of a studio next to his house located at Bear Lake, Dave's decoy making has become a full-time business known as The Wooden Fish. He makes 45 species of inland fish, carving a total of about 250 a year. Dave now sells his decoys at wildlife art shows around the country and was even twice featured on the HGTV network. His decoys can be found in numerous public and private collections around the world.

Like his grandfather and uncle, Dave also loves to share his carvings and his stories with others. He takes special pride in the fact that his son, Travis, also makes fish decoys and ice-fishing jig-sticks.


Elderly Instruments (Lansing, Michigan)
Musical Instruments

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.

Bruno & Maria Ras (Chicago, Illinois)
Polish Blown Glass
Kalos Colors/Glass Europa

Representing three artists located in Poland, Bruno & Maria Ras bring traditional mouth blown glass ornaments to America. Each ornament is individually hand painted. This is a family owned business and has operated for over 50 years. Like all of their products, the vases and bowls are from fine artisans and individually made by skilled glass blowers whose craftsmanship has been handed down from generation to generation. Each piece is unique and these wares are never sold to large department stores; rather, Bruno & Maria choose to sell at outlet booths where they can present and represent the items.


Anshu Varma (Okemos, Michigan)
Meh'ndi (Henna painting) artist

Anshu Varma was born in north India and grew up in Calcutta and New Delhi. As a child she was fascinated by the tradition of meh'ndi, a paste of henna used to decorate the hands and feet with ornate patterns, the result being like a temporary tattoo. Greatly inspired by her mother's artistic creations meh'ndi, Anshu learned the art of meh'ndi, sometimes simply called henna, at home.

Henna plays an important role in maintaining cultural and traditional identity in India. The tradition in India is associated especially with wedding ceremonies where putting henna on the bride's palms and feet represents "dressing" the bride. It is, however, appropriate to be decorated with henna at all festive events. It is the first thing a woman is adorned with in preparation for a special occasion. Being dressed in henna sets the celebratory mood of the community.

Today, Anshu is a master of the art. Now living in Michigan, she is sought by many to “dress” them and to teach them the art. She was a recipient of a Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship award in 2002 and 2003. She is a regular participant at the Great Lakes Folk Festival where, for a small fee, she “dresses” visitors with meh’ndi, then generously donates these fees to the Michigan State University Museum to support the Great Lakes Folk Festival.

 

Lula Williams (Detroit, Michigan)
Quilts

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.

Eugenia Worobkevich (Warren, Mich.)
Ukrainian Embroidery and Gerdans

Traditional embroidery plays an important part in public events, celebrations, and special occasions of Ukrainian-American communities. For festive events, women may wear embroidered blouses and men wear embroidered ties. Embroidery appears on pillows, table linens, cloths placed near household religious icons, and in Easter baskets.
Eugenia M. Worobkevich is a master artist of Ukrainian embroidery. She became a citizen of the United States in 1955 after emigrating from Lviv, Ukraine. In 1973 her favorite aunt sparked Eugenia's desire to learn traditional embroidery. In 1985, she met Oksana Tkachuck, a master designer in Ukrainian nyzynka technique, and became her apprentice. In 1988 Eugenia also learned to make gerdan collars, because they share similar elements of color, texture, and form with traditional embroider. In 1996, Eugenia was granted a Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship award to teach traditional embroidery to other Ukrainian women.