Kentucky Folklife Festival Portrait Exhibit Demonstrates the Diversity of Kentuckians
What does a Kentuckian look like?
The Kentucky Arts Council has commissioned photographers Carol Shutt, Roea Wallace and Jack Norris to photograph and interview Kentuckians in various parts of the state. More to the point -- Kentuckians that show that diversity is not always readily apparent or Kentuckians that may be thought of as foreign when in fact they have lived in Kentucky for most or all of their life. The exhibit, “I am a Kentuckian” will be on display at this week’s Kentucky Folklife Festival in historic downtown Frankfort, September 15-17.
“I think I found a new love for documentary photography,” said Shutt when asked about this project. “When I started my photography I was working as a social worker after a long career as an RN. I did landscapes as an escape from those demanding jobs. Now, last year I did follow two farmers in the whole process of raising tobacco from seed to market. Their stories were fascinating; it opened my eyes to tobacco being about families and community, not just cigarettes. So by not photographing people very much, this project was a challenge to me. But it was great for my husband and I to go around and meet people, because we do love people and it was great to see so many folks from different backgrounds. They were so free in sharing their backgrounds and their feelings about being Kentuckians.”
For Norris, the experiences made him want to spend more time with the people he photographed. “I didn’t realize how all these cultures came to be in Kentucky,” said Norris. “It was enlightening. Everyone I talked with was just great. I’d like to spend more time with them. In fact, in talking with Carlos Garcia, I found out we have some friends in common. I think we will be spending more time together.”
Subjects of the photographs belong to a variety of ethnic, occupational and recreational folk groups. They are Martha Ford, Louisville; Carlos and Nery Garcia, Louisvile; Kozy Hamilton, Morehead; Armin Hasanagic, Bowling Green; Ellen Kesler, Frankfort; Benny Massey, Lynch; Yu Meng, Bowling Green; John Rosenberg, Prestonsburg; Adam Ruiz, Shelbyville; Mamadou Savane, Lexington; and Mohammad Siddiqui, Morehead.
Visitors to the Kentucky Folklife Festival will also have a chance to experience the music, dance, storytelling, games and foodways of many diverse groups who call Kentucky home. Featured communities of this year’s festival include African American, Bosnian, Chinese, Cuban, Guatemalan, Irish, and Mexican as well as river workers and the Deaf and hard of hearing.
Admission to all three days of festival activities, concerts and Kentucky Historical Society exhibits and sites are included with the purchase of a $4 Kentucky Folklife Festival collectible pin. Pins are available on site, or may be purchased in advance at the Kentucky Historical Society, 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort or Poor Richard’s Books, 423 W. Broadway, Frankfort.
For more information, call 502-564-1792 or visit the Kentucky Folklife Festival website at http://folklife.ky.gov. The Kentucky Folklife Festival is presented in joint partnership with the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Arts Council, agencies of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet.
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The Kentucky Folklife Festival is presented in joint partnership with the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Arts Council, agencies of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet. Dedicated to educational programming based on documentation and conservation of Kentucky folk groups, the Folklife Program seeks to advance our understanding of the breadth, diversity, and significance of our living cultural heritage.
The Kentucky Arts Council is a state agency in the Commerce Cabinet that invests in programs that develop vibrant communities, provide lifelong education in the arts and support arts participation. Every $1 in grant funds awarded by the Kentucky Arts Council helps grantees secure $15 in earned income and matching funds from individuals, philanthropic sources and other levels of government. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.