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The Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies

The following is a report on The Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies (第七届中美民俗学与非物质文化遗产论坛: 博物馆民俗与遗产研究的协作工作). The version of record appears on the website of the American Folklore Society. This version adds more images. You can find a copy of the conference program here. –Jason Baird Jackson (杰森. 拜尔德. 杰克逊)

During three beautiful spring days in Beijing, a group of Chinese and American scholars and cultural workers gathered to discuss practices of collaboration in folklore studies and intangible cultural heritage work, with a focus on collaborations between ethnographic museums and between such museums and other groups in society. Held on May 19-22, 2019, this was the Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage, one of a long-running series of conferences organized cooperatively by the China Folklore Society (CFS) and the American Folklore Society (AFS), as part of a broader binational collaboration begun in 2007. These forums have explored various aspects of cultural heritage policy, practice, and theory, giving US and Chinese participants an opportunity to learn about the state of the field as pursued in the national context that is not their own (Lloyd 2017).

This Seventh Forum, focusing on Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies, was held at the Indiana University China Gateway office in Beijing. Meeting under the auspices of the CFS and the AFS, the conference’s program was organized by the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi (Guangxi Museum of Nationalities), with extensive logistical and practical support provided by the two societies and the gateway office staff. Generous financial support was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs at Indiana University.

Delegates to the forum came from a diversity of American and Chinese museums and universities. Chinese institutions represented included the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi, the Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum, Beijing Normal University, the Sanjiang Dong Ecomuseum, East China Normal University, Fudan University, the Guizhou Nationalities Museum, Minzu University of China, Shandong University, and the Yunnan Nationalities Museum. American institutions represented included the Michigan State University Museum, the Museum of International Folk Art, Texas Tech University, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures (Indiana University), History Miami, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (University of Oklahoma), and the American Folklore Society (Figure 1).

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Figure 1. Delegates to the Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage held at the Indiana University Gateway Office in Beijing, May 19, 2019. Shu Caiqian (Guizhou Nationalities Museum), Zhang Yibing (Guizhou Nationalities Museum, Zhu Gang (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Li Mingjie (East China Normal University), Wang Wei (Shandong University), Jessica Anderson Turner (American Folklore Society), An Deming (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Luo Wenhong (Fudan University), Marsha MacDowell (Michigan State University Museum), Surna (Minzu University of China), Kristin Otto (Mathers Museum of World Cultures), Felicia Katz-Harris (Museum of International Folk Art), Sarah Hatcher (Mathers Museum of World Cultures), Yang Lihui (Beijing Normal University), Lu Chaoming (Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum), Jason Baird Jackson (Mathers Museum of World Cultures), Chen Xi (Sun Yet-sen University), Carrie Hertz (Museum of International Folk Art), Chao Gejin (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Wuerxiya (Mathers Museum of World Cultures), Fan Miaomiao (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi), C. Kurt Dewhurst (Michigan State University Museum), Yang Quanzhong (Sanjang Dong Ecomuseum), He Chun (Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum), Michael Paul Jordan (Texas Tech University), Wu Dawei (Sanjang Dong Ecomuseum), Ou Bo (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi), Michael Knoll (History Miami), Lan Yuanyuan (Sanjang Dong Ecomuseum), Gong Shiyang (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi), Jon Kay (Mathers Museum of World Cultures), Luo Yong (Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum), Mai Xi (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi), Zhao Fei (Yunnan Nationalities Museum), Wang Yucheng (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi).

On the afternoon of May 19, the conference began with warm words of welcome from AFS Executive Director Jessica Turner and CFS Past President Chao Gajin (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), standing in for current CFS President Ye Tao (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) who was unable to attend (Figure 2). Also offering brief opening remarks on behalf of the program committee were Jason Baird Jackson (Mathers Museum of World Cultures) and Gong Shiyang (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi) (Figure 3). These remarks preceded the forum’s keynote address by C. Kurt Dewhurst (Michigan State University Museum). Extending an earlier discussion of principles for museum collaboration (Dewhurt and MacDowell 2015), Dewhurt reflected on a range of museum collaborations in which he and the MSU Museum have participated. Among the collaborations that Dewhurst addressed were earlier phases of the AFS-CFS partnership, which has included two museum sub-projects (2013-2016; 2017-2019). The first of these encompassed the Fifth and Sixth forum events, the traveling exhibition and bilingual catalogue Quilts of Southwest China (MacDowell and Zhang 2015), and numerous other elements (Lloyd 2017). In this phase, three Chinese museums and three US museums partnered together (Dewhurst and Lloyd 2019). In the more recent phase, collaborators from the three U.S. museums have joined with the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi for a program of joint research focused on textiles and intangible cultural heritage policy in two northern counties of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Central to this new phase of work are the Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum and the Sanjiang Dong Ecomuseum. Thus, while Dewhurst’s keynote was a general reflection on museum collaboration, his presentation also served to orient conferees to the specific joint AFS-CFS supported projects that gave the forum its organizational context.

The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion in which representatives from the Sanjiang Dong Ecomuseum and Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum described their work and the community and organizational collaborations in which they participate (Figure 4). American participants appreciated this opportunity to learn about the innovative work of these ecomuseums first-hand and drew comparisons to various kind of community-based museums in the US. While Chinese delegates were more knowledgeable about the form that ecomuseums take in China, they also appreciated the chance to engage with the ecomuseum leaders directly in a comparative scholarly context.

It was an honor that many Beijing-based leaders in the CFS and in Chinese folklore studies overall could attend these opening events, which also included a welcoming banquet generously hosted by the CFS. This gathering was enlivened further when the leaders of the Sanjiang Dong Ecomuseum introduced both Dong flute music and toasting songs to the group. For many American delegates, this was a memorable first experience with the richness of Chinese banquet customs and the beauty of Dong music (Figure 5).

The second day of the conference was a full day featuring presentations from Chinese and American delegates. In line with the goals of the forum, the presenters described specific museum collaboration projects, using them as the basis for broader reflections on the work of museum ethnography and heritage studies today. Translation for most conference presentations was very ably done by Chen Xi (Sun Yat-sen University) and Luo Wenhong (Fudan University) (Figure 6). A number of themes emerged through the juxtaposition of presentations throughout the conference. These included: (1) the nature of museum-based ethnographic and exhibition projects in urban contexts, (2) the dynamics unique to heritage-oriented fieldwork pursued across differences of language, culture, and institutional context, (3) the place of objects and material culture studies within museum collaborations, (4) the use of exhibitions as catalysts for broader collaborations and relationship building, (5) the value of older museum collections for contemporary communities and craftspeople, (6) the place of documentary video in museum ethnography, and (7) the special importance that attaches to national folk costume in diverse museum and local cultural contexts in the current era (Figure 7).

The conference’s third day featured a morning of additional presentations followed by a special outing in which conferees visited Beijing’s Shichahai historic area to learn about cultural preservation and heritage tourism activities centered there (Figures 8-9). Participants enjoyed a hutong tour and a visit to the Drum Towner of Beijing (Gulou). While she could not attend the forum, this outing was curated by Zhang Lijun (George Mason University) and drew upon her folklore research interpreting the narrative performances of hutong tour guides (Zhang 2016, 2019). The conference concluded with a banquet, hosted by AFS and featuring Yunnan cuisine. Highpoints of this concluding gathering were many individual expressions of friendship and goodwill as well as a vigorous singing competition staged between the binational groups gathered around two large banquet tables. Heartfelt singing in Dong, Yao, Mandarin, Mongolian and English brought the seventh forum to a joyful close.

References Cited

Dewhurst, C. Kurt, and Timothy Lloyd. 2019. “The American Folklore Society-China Folklore Society Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project, 2013-2016.” Museum Anthropology Review 13 (1): 59-68. https://doi.org/10.14434/mar.v13i1.25405

Dewhurst, C. Kurt, and Marsha MacDowell. 2015. “Strategies for Creating and Sustaining Museum-Based International Collaborative Partnerships.” Practicing Anthropology 37 (3): 54–55. https://doi.org/10.17730/0888-4552-37.3.54

Lloyd, Tim. 2017 “The Inside Story of the AFS China-US Project.” https://www.afsnet.org/news/349609/The-Inside-Story-of-the-AFS-China-US-Project.htm, accessed June 12, 2019.

MacDowell, Marsha, and Lijun Zhang, eds. 2016. 中国西南拼布 | Quilts of Southwest China. Nanning: Guangxi Museum of Nationalities. [Distributed in the United States by Indiana University Press.]

Zhang, Lijun. 2016. “Performing Locality and Identity: Rickshaw Driver, Narratives, and Tourism.” Cambridge Journal of China Studies 11 (1): 88-104. https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/260292

Zhang, Lijun. 2019. “A Brief Guide to Shichahai.” Video Presentation Prepared for The Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies, Beijing, China.

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Figure 2. Figure 2. Chao Gajin welcomes delegates to the Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies. May 19, 2019. Photograph by Jon Kay.

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Figure 3. Figure 3. Gong Shiyang addresses delegates to the Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage. May 19, 2019. Photograph by Jon Kay.

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Figure 4. Wu Dawei offers remarks on the work of the Sanjang Dong Ecomuseum during the ecomuseum panel discussion. Left to Right: Lu Chaoming, He Chun, Lan Yuanyuan, Yang Quanzhong, Wu Dawei, Luo Wenhong (translating), Jason Baird Jackson. May 19, 2019. Photograph by Jon Kay.

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Figure 5. Wu Dawei performs Dong flute music at the opening banquet. May 19, 2019. Photograph by C. Kurt Dewhurst.

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Figure 6. Zhang Yibing discusses the work of the Guizhou Nationalities Museum with Luo Wenhong providing English translation.. May 20, 2019. Photograph by Jon Kay.

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Figure 7. Carrie Hertz discusses research related to the exhibition Dressing with Purpose. May 20, 2019. Photograph by Jon Kay.

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Figure 8. Surna discusses her research on Mongol national dress. May 21, 2019. Photograph by Jon Kay.

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Figure 9. Lan Yuanyuan and He Chun begin a rickshaw tour of the Shichahai neighborhood in Beijing. May 21, 2019. Photography by Jason Baird Jackson.

CFP: Quilt and Textile Studies for Uncoverings 2020

Mathers Museum of World Cultures Research Associate Janice Frisch, who is editor of Uncoverings, shares the following call for papers.

Call for Papers
Quilt and Textile Studies
Uncoverings 2020

The American Quilt Study Group is looking for papers for the 2020 issue of their research journal, Uncoverings, edited by Dr. Janice E. Frisch.

The American Quilt Study group establishes and promotes the highest standards for interdisciplinary quilt-related studies, providing opportunities for study, research, and the publication of works that advance the knowledge of quilts and related subjects.

We are interested in papers that explore global patchwork and quilting traditions, both historical and modern. Papers that explore topics that influenced the global production of patchwork and quilting are also welcome, such as those that focus on technological changes, influences from other mediums, and impacts of historical and contemporary events. Ethnographic and historic research are both welcome.

Submissions should be complete papers with abstract and end notes (the journal uses the Chicago Note system and no bibliography). Papers should be between 4,500 and 9,000 words, inclusive of notes and must be submitted by June 1, 2019.

You do not have to be a member of the American Quilt Study Group to submit a paper, but you will have to join if your paper is selected. Authors of selected papers will also need to be able to attend the 2020 AQSG Seminar in Harrisonburg, VA (Sept. 9-14, 2020) to present their work. Paper presenters usually receive grants to offset registration, hotel, and travel costs for attending seminar.

Additional information on the submission process and the journal can be found here: https://americanquiltstudygroup.org/manuscript-guidelines/

If you have questions please contact the American Quilt Study Group at: aqsg2@americanquiltstudygroup.org

The journal welcomes paper submissions by June 1 of each year, so please consider submitting next year if you are unable to meet this year’s deadline.

The following image is my own selection–Jason.

A array of small pieces of Florida Seminole patchwork in many colors and designs.

Sample Florida Seminole patchwork strips from the William C. Sturtevant Collection at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

CFP: Studying Traditional Crafts: Goals and Methods in Higher Education

Here is a call for papers for an exciting conference in Estonia. The hosts are wonderful colleagues whom I met while visiting Viljandi last fall. Their call is quoted below. –Jason

Studying Traditional Crafts: Goals and Methods in Higher Education

Viljandi, Estonia, November 12–14, 2019

OPEN CALL!

The academisation of traditional crafts means studying traditional handicraft techniques, carrying out high-quality research in the field and being involved in creative activities. It requires developing new teaching and research methods by combining and integrating specialized expertise in different fields within natural science, humanities and social sciences. However, it brings along many challenges such as balancing between theoretical research and practical training; balancing between tradition and innovation; economic pressure to adapt to large groups with less contact time; high teachings costs and need for well-equipped labs, etc.

Estonian Native Craft Department at University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy celebrates its 25th anniversary with an international conference dedicated to different topics that explore the role of craft studies in higher education. Higher education on traditional crafts provides a framework for discussing tradition as a dynamic cultural process and describing heritage as environmental, cultural and societal assets for the continued development of society in local, national and global perspectives. It empowers people to make intentional decisions about their environment and material culture.

At the conference we would like to discuss inter alia the following topics:

  • teaching/learning approaches; changes in the educational models
  • definition of traditional crafts in different countries and contexts
  • social responsibility and knowledge transfer: what we do and what is expected of us
  • integration between science, technology, entrepreneurship and traditional crafts
  • the process of creating a new professional tradition
  • research methods and sources (museum repositories and documenting crafts)
  • diversity and potential of traditional ways of production in the contemporary society
  • professional development opportunities and increasing the level of competence
  • philosophy for the reconstruction and preservation
  • building local identities and doing international cooperation between HEIs

We invite to participate scholars, teachers, students, and practitioners. We welcome proposals for individual presentations reflecting the themes proposed above (20 minutes), and for poster presentations. Proposals should include title, name of presenter/co-presenters, name of institution/organization, email address, technological needs, and a 300-word abstract describing your proposed presentation. The conference language is English.

Please submit a proposal by e-mail to the address: craftconference2019@ut.eeThe deadline for the abstracts is May 20, 2019.

More information is available on https://sisu.ut.ee/craftconference2019

I am very thankful if you can spread the information to all whom it may concern.

All the best,

Ave Matsin

University of Tartu Viljandi  Culture Academy
Vice Director for Academic Affairs, MA
Head of Department of Estonian Native Crafts
Posti 1, Viljandi 71004
Estonia

 

Help! Really. The Mathers Museum of World Cultures Needs You!

An Indiana University event known as #IUDay is nearly here. Scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, 2019, #IUDay is a celebration of Indiana University. It is a day of special events, of sharing stories of the university, and for gathering together friends and supporters to work together to achieve special goals. Last year, in the days right before, and on, #IUDay, sixty-one friends donated to the Mathers Museum’s first #IUDay crowdfunding campaign. Working together, they contributed funds to enable us to launch Traditional Arts Indiana’s Indiana Heritage Fellowship program. Ours was a successful first effort. It was so successful that the Indiana University Foundation encouraged us to take on two campaigns this year, a fact that means that we are seeking to raise more than double the level of funding we received last year. This is an exciting prospect, but it is also daunting. I hope that everyone who reads this post can help us meet our goals. They are good goals. Let me describe them.

Building on the success of last year’s effort launching the Indiana Heritage Fellowship program, we are this year seeking support for its companion program, also new. This is the TAI Master-Apprentice program. The goal here is $2500 and, as of the moment that I am writing this, we have raised $567 from 11 generous donors. With two days to go, we really need your help. Please consider making a gift large or small. Last year 61 donors supported our efforts and we are eager to (=need to) increase this number this year. The good news is that, when successful, this effort will do great work across Indiana communities, providing resources and support for diverse tradition bearers to transmit their skills and knowledge to eager apprentices. This work benefits Indiana communities, the state and ultimately the whole country. If you would like to learn about the first class of TAI masters and apprentices, check out this year’s booklet and learn about the beadwork artists, netmakers, drummakers, ironsmiths, and ballet folklórico performers working together this year.

To learn more and to, if you chose, make a contribution, you can find this campaign site here: https://iufoundation.fundly.com/support-the-next-great-folk-artists

Our other campaign aims to fund K-12 field trips to visit the Mathers Museum on campus in Bloomington. Field trips are an impactful highlight for most school students, but they have become increasingly rare for most students, as budget cuts continue to take their toll. Visits to the Mathers Museum introduce students to cultural diversity worldwide and in Indiana and the US. Museum visits also introduce students to the commonalities of the human experience and to the disciplines–folklore studies, anthropology, ethnomusicology, history, etc.–that build up our understandings of human existence, past and present. As of the time of this writing, this campaign has gathered $1220 from 18 friends of the museum. Here too our goal is $2500, thus we need your help in this effort also. (This funding will enable us to provide the funds that schools need in order to come to the museum and engage with our programs and exhibitions.

To learn more and to, if you chose, make a contribution, you can find this campaign site here: https://iufoundation.fundly.com/mathers-museum-of-world-cultures

Thanks to all who have given so far. Thanks to all who will consider giving. Whether you give or do not give, please, please share these links online and urge others to support the museum’s work. When an #IUDay link is shared online it results in an average of $97 dollars in support, so even if you cannot give $10 or more dollars now, you can help the museum and these worthy projects by spreading the word.

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Debra Bolaños (left), a ballet folklórico dancer and instructor in East Chicago, Indiana, and Harold Klosterkemper (right), a fiddle player from Decatur County, Indiana, will soon be honored for their lifetime achievement as Indiana traditional artists. They will be recognized as Indiana Heritage Fellows in a special ceremony on April 27, 2019. Learn more about the event here.

 

 

Museum Anthropology Review is a Teenager Now; New Issue is Now Out

Life got away from me last week and I still have more “Exhibition Week” posts to share, but today I turn attention to the new issue of MAR.

It is hard to believe but Museum Anthropology Review is now in its thirteenth year. If you are interested in a bit of how MAR got to this point and where it will be heading in the near term, you can check out the editorial that I wrote for the new issue, just out. You can find the whole issue, including my piece, online here: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/issue/view/1589. As always, MAR is not just free to readers but open access.

MAR is the journal of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University’s museum of ethnography, ethnology, and cultural history. The new issue is particularly focused on reports recounting projects undertaken at the MMWC and by its partners, friends, and regular collaborators.

Three MMWC colleagues share projects that they led. Jon Kay tells the story of Traditional Arts Indiana’s exhibition for the Indiana Bicentennial, Emily Buhrow Rogers reflects on the Cherokee Craft, 1973 exhibition, and Kristin Otto discusses our museum’s projects relating to so-called Ghanaian fantasy coffins.

MMWC partners C. Kurt Dewhurst and Timothy Lloyd report on the larger Sino-US collaboration project that the MMWC has been an active participant in and Marsha Bol, another participant in that collaboration, shares background on a different project, her recent exhibition on beadwork at the Museum of International Folk Art. Regular MAR contributor Kerim Friedman is joined by his collaborator Gabrielle de Seta for a discussion of the Sensefield exhibition that they organized as a companion to the Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival.

The issue concludes with a book review and an exhibition review by Otto. Both focus on innovative projects of special relevance to museum anthropology in African contexts.

Thanks go to the reviewers and others who helped with this issue behind the scenes. MAR’s transition to teenager status provides an opportunity to thank the librarians and library staff who have worked to support and encourage the journal since its beginnings. Thanks also to all of the graduate assistants who have worked on the journal over the years.

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A partial view of Museum Anthropology Review 13(1)

Exhibitions Week: Echoes of the Rainforest: The Visual Arts of the Shipibo Indians

The MMWC has a huge amount of exhibition-related news. This week I devote a series of posts to highlighting some of these developments.

I sure wish I could have taken an anthropology course while in high school! Even better would have been an anthropology course that offered my classmates and I the chance to translate our studies into a public museum exhibition. Thankfully such a course is offered at the International School in Indianapolis, where a group of students have worked closely with faculty members Frédéric and Bernadette Allamel not only to develop their anthropological knowledge but to pursue specific studies of the culture and arts of the Shipibo people of the Peruvian Amazon. One culmination of these studies is the exhibition Echoes of the Rainforest: The Visual Arts of the Shipibo Indians. The exhibition opened to the public today (March 19, 2019) and will be on view at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures through December 22, 2019. The exhibition features ceramics, textiles and other remarkable objects and works of art reflective of Shipibo culture, history, and aesthetics. These works are contextualized with ethnographic photographs drawn from Bernadette and Frédéric’s fieldwork and a well-crafted exhibition script. The exhibition and the objects and images that it contains are visually stunning and the exhibition offers visitors a great deal of knowledge and insight.

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Echoes of the Rainforest: The Visual Arts of the Shipibo Indians on opening day.

I hope that everyone in Bloomington and Southern Indiana will come out for this exhibition. My quick iPhone images do not do the exhibition justice. It is a knock-out. Come see it and marvel at the work that this group of young museum anthropologists has accomplished.

Special thanks to Frédéric and Bernadette Allame and their wonderful students.

 

Exhibitions Week: Quilting Art and Tradition—People, Handcrafts, and Community Life (a.k.a. Quilts of Southwest China)

The MMWC has a huge amount of exhibition related news. This week I devote a series of posts to highlighting some of these developments.

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Huang Biyu introduces her work as a textile artist to visitors to the Yulin Museum, which is hosting the exhibition Quilting Art and Tradition–People, Handcrafts, and Community Life (the Chinese version of Quilts of Southwest China), March 16, 2019. (Photograph courtesy of the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi)

After a U.S. tour that saw the collaboratively curated exhibition Quilts of Southwest China move from the (1) Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan, USA) to the (2) International Quilt Study Center and Museum (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA), (3) the Mathers Museum of World Cultures (Bloomington, Indiana, USA) and the (4) Museum of International Folk Art (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA), the exhibition is now at its third stop in China. Titled in China Quilting Art and Tradition—People, Handcrafts, and Community Life, the exhibition has just opened at the (3) Yulin Museum (Yulin, Guangxi, PRC). It has previously been presented at the (1) Anthropological Museum of Guangxi (Nanning, Guangxi, PRC) and the (2) Yunnan Nationalities Museum (Kunming, Yunnan, PRC). The exhibition is one of several collaborative projects arising out of joint work supported generously by the Henry Luce Foundation and various other American and Chinese funding agencies. The American Folklore Society and the China Folklore Society are coordinating partners for the larger effort that includes the museum partnership linking the Mathers Museum of World Cultures to the MSU Museum, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Yunnan Nationalities Museum, the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi and the and the Guizhou Nationalities Museum (Guiyang, Guixzhou, PRC). The exhibition was jointly produced by the six museum partners and was co-curated by Lijun Zhang and Marsha MacDowell.

Colleagues from the three Chinese partner museums (AMGX, YNNM, GZMN) attended the exhibition opening in Yunlin as did featured textile artist Huang Biyu, who did an artist’s demonstration and worked with a large group of local students in an exploration of Chinese quilting design. Photographs from the opening events taken by Chu Chu and Li Jie of the AMGX are shared here.

Did you miss the exhibition or would you like to do a deeper dive into the world of minority textiles in Southwest China? The bilingual catalogue edited by Marsha MacDowell and Lijun Zhang is available from Indiana University Press. Find it on the press website here: http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?products_id=808361

Thanks to our friends at the AMGX for managing the Chinese tour of the jointly produced exhibition and thanks to the staff of the Yulin Museum for hosting it. It is tremendous to think that a jointly produced exhibition that first opened at the MSUM in 2015 is still traveling and reaching new audiences.

 

 

Material Culture Journalism, 7

The Material Culture students do not know about Material Culture Journalism yet. Maybe this week I’ll mention it to them. Day one was surely an overload as it was…

“450-Year-Old Painting Contains Over 100 Proverbs We Still Use Today” by Jessica Stewart on My Modern Met. (HT/BKG) https://mymodernmet.com/dutch-proverbs-pieter-bruegel #paremiology

“The Era of Easy Recycling Coming to an End” by Maggie Koerth-Baker for FiveThirtyEight. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-era-of-easy-recycling-may-be-coming-to-an-end/ #waste

“China’s Destructive Laser Rifle has a Half-Mile Range” by Jefrey Lin and P.W. Singer for Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/china-laser-rifle-energy-weapon #conflict

“Never mind killer robots—here are six real AI dangers to watch out for in 2019” by Will Knight and Karen Has for MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612689/never-mind-killer-robotshere-are-six-real-ai-dangers-to-watch-out-for-in-2019/ #threats

“Persian Traditional Crafts: Traditional Bookbinding” on YouTube (Seen First on on Facebook). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgQ-x-1hRQ4&vl=en #handcraft

“The Poor Can’t Afford Not to Wear Nice Clothes” by Tressie McMillan Cottom in Medium. (HT/RG) https://medium.com/s/story/the-poor-cant-afford-not-to-wear-nice-clothes-b015f6a79561 #racism #class #inequality

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Picturing Change, Seeing Continuity: Hmong Story Cloths

It is a new year and a new semester at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and that means new exhibitions! There are new exhibitions still to open and other new exhibitions that are now open and worthy of discussion here, but I begin with a note on an small but colorful and (I hope) engaging exhibition that I curated. It is titled Picturing Change, Seeing Continuity: Hmong Story Cloths. In it, we present a new collection that colleagues and I made during October 2017 in St. Paul (Minnesota, USA).* The exhibition explores cultural history and the current state of Hmong American story cloths through the work of two Hmong textile artists living the in the Twin Cities.

The ten embroidered, dyed, and appliqué pieces in the collection and the exhibition were made by Sy Vang Lo or her sister Khang Vang Yang. Both are White Hmong and experienced the dramatic Hmong American history shaped by difficult moves from Laos through Thai refugee camps to the United States. We met and spoke with Mrs. Lo at her excellent shop in the Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul and I here express our thanks for the considerable amount of time that she spent with us educating us about Hmong life in Minnesota and in Southeast Asia as well as about her work as a textile artist and businesswoman.

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Thanks also go to all of the museum staff and students who worked on this exhibition and our other spring 2019 offerings. From registering and cataloging new collections to designing and installing exhibitions to promoting and programming them, there is a lot of behind the scenes work in everything that the museum does.

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If you are curious about the textiles, please come see the exhibition open through July 26, 2019. If you would like a food tour of Hmongtown Market, Saveur Magazine published one in 2015.

*The group that visited Hmongtown Market and met with Mrs. Lo were myself (Jason Jackson), Jon Kay, Lijun Zhang, and Carrie Hertz. We were in Minneapolis for the 2017 American Folklore Society meetings.

 

Material Culture Journalism, 6

The new year has promoted a lot of material culture journalism related to lifestyle changes and consumption habits. Some of the items here fit into this frame, including older stores being recirculated on social media.

“The Norwegian Art of the Packed Lunch” by Zaria Gorvett for BBC. http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20190103-the-norwegian-art-of-the-packed-lunch #foodways #work

“210-Foot Fatberg Blocks Sewers of English Seaside Town” by Iliana Magra in the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/world/europe/uk-fatberg-sidmouth.html #infrastructure #consumption #habits

“The Mysterious, Stubborn Appeal of Mass-Produced Fried Chicken. Why do so many accomplished chefs call Popeyes their favorite fried chicken?” by Adam Clair for Vice. https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/8xppqv/the-mysterious-stubborn-appeal-of-mass-produced-fried-chicken #foodways #industrialprocess

“The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter. A cluttered home can be a stressful home, researchers are learning” by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi for New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/03/well/mind/clutter-stress-procrastination-psychology.html #consumption #psychology

“The Economics of Tidying Up” by Bourree Lam for The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/05/an-economist-reads-marie-kondo/392921/ #consumption #economics

“What We Gain from Keeping Books – and why it Doesn’t Need to be ‘Joy’” by Anakana Schofield for The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/07/what-we-gain-from-keeping-books-and-why-it-doesnt-need-to-be-joy-marie-kondo #consumption #culture

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