Kentucky Folklife Program Assists Latino Community in Presenting Traditions
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Among the many sights and sounds of Louisville’s successful WorldFest this past September 1 and 2, were representations of Mexican and Guatemalan folk traditions. A “Day of the Dead” altar made by Miguel Lagunez and piñata making by Maria del Valle are Mexican traditional art forms that were presented. Anna Larios presented Guatemalan textiles and an Alfombra (temporary carpet of dyed sawdust for use in Holy Week worship) was made by a team of Guatemalan artists led by Jose Neil Donis. The strolling mariachi band Mariachi Zeleya also delighted festival attendees.
The difference between these cultural representations and the myriad of other wonderful cultural experiences was in the presentation. The Kentucky Folklife Program, an interagency program of the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Historical Society, helped the artists from these communities present their traditions in a way that led to a richer understanding of the cultures and traditions for those attending the festival. A total of six informal narrative stages were used to interview the artists in-depth about the reasons for the traditions, their life experiences with the traditions, the materials or instruments used for the various art forms and how the traditions may or may not change as they come with the people to Kentucky. Audience members were also encouraged to ask questions about anything that may have aroused their interest during the interviews or while viewing or listening to the particular art form.
The Kentucky Folklife Program identifies, documents and strives to conserve and increase the public awareness of the state’s diverse cultural traditions, generally referred to as folklife. Through community partnerships, the Folklife Program helps local organizations research regional traditions, write grants, and organize concerts, exhibits and festivals. The Kentucky Folklife Program also produces the biennial Kentucky Folklife Festival in Frankfort, which attracts over 30,000 people including 10,000 students, from across the commonwealth. The next Kentucky Folklife Festival will be September 20-22, 2007.
NOTE TO EDITORS: High resolution, print quality photos available at
1. Jose Neil Donis leads Pablo Reyboso, Marcial Corado, Berner Donis, Clare Wukusick and Jenny Donis in preparing the Alfombra at the WorldFest.
2. Jose Neil Donis conducts an interview with members of Mariachi Zeleya during an informal narrative stage at the WorldFest.
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The Kentucky Arts Council is a state agency in the Commerce Cabinet. Working in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts Council 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.
An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the Kentucky Historical Society, since 1836, has provided connections to the past, perspective on the present and inspiration for the future. KHS operates the Old State Capitol, Kentucky Military History Museum and its headquarters, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Since 1999, the thirty-million-dollar Center has welcomed more than one million visitors.