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Bramham/Collins Lecture Series 2012

Laura Marcus Green & Amy Skillman
September 27 & 28, 2012

Lecture: Thursday, September 27

Morgan Seminar Room (248 FAC)

12:30          Pizza Reception with Faculty and Students

1:45 - 4:30  Presentation and Discussion
                    "The Art of Community: Folklorists Working with Newcomer Arts and Culture"

Public folklorists Amy Skillman and Laura Marcus Green share about their work with immigrants and refugees, in classroom with WKU students.

Laura Marcus Green and Amy Skillman visited Bowling Green to discuss their partnership, "Building Cultural Bridges." This effort leads workshops and other programs around the country, offering resources and building collaborations between immigrant/refugee communities, artists from those communities, immigrant service workers, arts organizations, and other community groups. These leading Public Folklorists presented their work to current students and the larger community. They were not only informative, but also welcomed questions and provided tips for individuals interested in similar projects. 

The discussion highlighted their work with immigrant and refugee groups, but Green and Skillman encouraged students to think creatively about their own future careers as cultural workers. Together they wrote the Newcomer Arts Manual to help social workers and case workers grow an awareness for the cultural resources and arts they likely see and hear during many of their appointments and visits with immigrants and refugees. Green and Skillman stressed the importance of cooperative efforts between social workers and cultural workers or arts professionals. Both fields often experience low budgets and heavy workloads, but their skills can and should complement each other for more effective service of newcomers. 


Community Workshop:  Friday, September 28
The WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships (1818 31W Bypass)

This event was free and open to the public.

Laura Marcus Green and Amy Skillman presented their work with immigrants and refugees to the workshop attendees. The afternoon offered cultural workers and social workers a hands-on opportunity to brainstorm together and plan activities or initiatives to embrace newcomer arts in the local area. 

Laura Marcus Green speaks with WKU students Rebecca and Lilli.

These events are funded by the Bramham/Collins fund, the ALIVE Center, and the American Folklore Society.

About Laura Marcus Green:

Laura Marcus Green holds a Ph.D. in Folklore and Anthropology from Indiana University, an M.A. in Folklore and Cultural Geography from the University of Texas at Austin, and a TESOL certificate from the School of International Training. She is an independent folklorist, writer, and consultant, whose work includes community-based research, publications, exhibits, and teaching. With colleague Amy Skillman, she co-directs Building Cultural Bridges, a national initiative encouraging interdisciplinary support for refugee and immigrant arts and heritage through publications, presentations, and community-based workshops.

She recently conducted a folklife survey of immigrant cultural organizations and traditional artists in northern Louisiana for the Louisiana Division of the Arts and is working with the Iowa Arts Council on a folklife survey of southeastern Iowa. Previously, she founded the Arts for New Immigrants Program at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) in Portland, Oregon and was Program Associate at the Fund for Folk Culture. Recent work focusing on refugee and immigrant arts and heritage includes curating the exhibit, The Comforts of Home: Crafting a New Life in the Treasure Valley at the Idaho State Historical Museum, in collaboration with the Idaho Arts Commission and the Idaho Office for refugees.

Recent publications include "The Best of Everything: A Collaborative Approach to Refugee and Immigrant Traditional Arts," in Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore and The Art of Community: Creativity at the Crossroads of Immigrant Cultures and Social Services.

She has presented her work with refugee and immigrant traditional arts at various professional meetings, including those of the Association of Western States Folklorists, Folklorists in the South, the Society for Applied Anthropology, the American Folklore Society, Grantmakers in the Arts, the Council on Foundations, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and Americans for the Arts. She has worked with state folk arts programs of Oregon, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Other professional experiences include research on Navajo trading and art, teaching folklore and ethnography-related courses, facilitating creative writing workshops in underserved
communities, as well as diverse publications, exhibits, and presentations.

About Amy Skillman:

Amy Skillman holds an M.A. in Folklore from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. from St. Lawrence University in a self-designed major in cultural minorities and the immigrant experience. As a Folklorist, Skillman advises artists and community-based organizations on the implementation of programs that honor and conserve cultural traditions, guides them to potential resources, and develops programs that help build their capacity to sustain these initiatives. Drawing on extensive research and documentation in traditional cultures, Skillman has developed a variety of public programs to honor and bring attention to the issues of importance to these communities. Her work has included an oral history/leadership empowerment initiative with immigrant and refugee women in central Pennsylvania, including an exhibit, theatrical production, and curricular materials.

Previous refugee and immigrant arts projects include developing refugee cultural profiles for a Pennsylvania Department of Education-funded CD-rom for teachers; an interactive website for youth featuring the folk arts of newcomers; a national interdisciplinary conference on refugee and immigrant arts; and numerous other exhibits, publications and documentary films. Under contract with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Skillman currently serves as Manager of the Pennsylvania Folklife Archive and Director of the Folk Arts Initiative Program. A widely recognized authority on immigrant/refugee arts, Skillman's work has been a model for work around the United States, and she was the recipient in 2011 of the prestigious Benjamin Botkin Award from the American Folklore Society, for lifetime achievement in Public Folklore.

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 Last Modified 9/24/14