A blog sponsored by the Michigan State University Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program, a partnership with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Sharing news and information about the Great Lakes Folk Festival, Quilt Index, the MSU Museum's traditional arts activities, Great Lakes traditional artists and arts resources, and much more. Development of content for this blog supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Great Lakes Folk Festival Redux: Capturing Living Traditions

How do you capture the spirit and energy of the Great Lakes Folk Festival?  Our visitors usually report special moments during and after the festival…if not in person in e-mail messages.  I am struck every year by the lasting impact the festival has on our community as folks stop me months after the festival to tell me about an encounter they had with an artist or traditions that expanded their personal worldview or enriched their understanding of other cultures.

Creating a Visual Record of the Festival

Every year the Great Lakes Folk Festival relies on over 400 volunteers to make the festival possible. One of the most visible records of the festival has been the extensive photographic documentation of our festival by both long-standing volunteer photographers Raymond Holt and Patrick T. Power and our MSU Museum staff photographer, Pearl Yee Wong. Their photographs --and other forms of research and documentation-- are added every year to the Traditional Arts Archival Collections of the MSU Museum for scholarly and public use. These collections provide a rich resource for understanding living cultural traditions in our state, the Great Lakes region, nationally, and globally.

An Annual Photographic Exhibition as Capsule View of the Festival

GLFF - Dance Tent
Photo by Ray Holt
For the past three years, we have mounted a small photographic exhibition with selected favorite photos chosen by each of these photographers. The photographers capture the stirring moments as well as the intimate encounters that make our festival one of our most valued university/community partnerships. This year is no exception as you can visit the MSU Museum now through the end of August to see the exhibition, 2011 Great Lakes Folk Festival Redux: Photos by Raymond Holt, Patrick T. Power, and Pearl Yee Wong. The exhibit was initially showcased at the Public Art Gallery at the East Lansing Hannah Center—a partnership that we plan to continue in the coming year so the exhibition can be seen both in our community and on campus annually.

Share your Experience—Help us Document the Festival

Come by the museum and select your favorite photos in the current photographic exhibit. The exhibition helps convey the deep engagement our community has in the Great Lakes Folk Festival that is now in its 26th year. It is worth noting that, while the festival can feel like an ephemeral experience, the festival lives on through the research and documentation of festival experience—and in the hearts and minds of those who participate in the festival very year. I invite you to share your favorite festival moments…and your photos…with us once again this year. See you at the festival!

C. Kurt Dewhurst
Founding Director
Great Lakes Folk Festival