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VHP Unites with Veteran Artists for PTS Awareness Month

“From Conflict to Creativity: Veteran Artists Showcase” ~ June 28-30, 2022

From Conflict to Creativity: Veteran Artists Showcase event announcement

From Conflict to Creativity: Veteran Artists Showcase event announcement. Images courtesy of Uniting US.

Join the Veterans History Project (VHP) as we recognize Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) Awareness Month with a three-day Veteran Artists Showcase focused on living with, managing and raising awareness of PTS and Military Sexual Trauma. Hosted in collaboration with Uniting US, this series of creative demonstrations and *conversations will cover a wide range of artistic disciplines, including acrylic painting, fiber arts, quilting, collage, water color painting, pottery, woodworking, jewelry making, metal craft, comedy and poetry writing.

“From Conflict to Creativity: Veteran Artists Showcase” will feature two live sessions per day at the Library of Congress Jefferson Building, Room LJ-119, located at 10 First Street, SE, Washington DC. Veteran artist demonstrations and lectures will simultaneously premiere with closed captioning and remain accessible on VHP’s Facebook page, and later on the Library of Congress’ YouTube channel and website. Each session is free and open to the public; however, onsite attendance requires advance registration. View the full schedule, then click the link below each session you plan to attend in-person.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Morning Session: 10am

Silhouette image of the side profile of a veteran's face with their mouth open and yelling

“Bursting Out of Silence” by Bethany Ryan. Image courtesy of Uniting US.

Watch live demonstrations of various forms of painting, writing, pottery and collage by veteran artists Alicia Christy, Bob Cortez, Sue Decker, Christina Helferich-Polosky, Jara Fatout Lang and Ted Berkowitz. At 11:30am, Alicia Christy and Steve Kost will share their experiences and answer questions.

Register to attend this session in-person.

Afternoon Session: 1pm

A wood-carved image of a face with a collection of long, bent nails piercing through its eye and bridge of its nose to depict the pain of a migraine.

“Migraine” by Michael Higgs. Image courtesy of Uniting US.

Watch live demonstrations of writing and various forms of painting by veteran artists Maria Carrion, April Goodwin-Gil, Phyllis Thomas Miller, Ryan Smithson and Miquel Chavez. At 2:30pm, Bob Cortez and Jara Fatout Lang will share their experiences and answer questions.

Register to attend this session in-person.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Morning Session: 10am

A painting of an African-American service woman in uniform

“Faces of the Fallen-Honoring Women Who Have Served: LTC Karen Wagner” by Alicia Christy. Image courtesy of Uniting US.

Watch live demonstrations of fiber art, painting, metal work and photography by veteran artists Gail Belmont, Mary “Tayliegh” Lopez De Morales, Leigh Cortez, Lewis Howard, Steve Kost and Wayne Williams. At 11:30am, Gail Belmont and Lewis Howard will share their experiences and answer questions.

Register to attend this session in-person.

Afternoon Session: 1pm

A collage of images including a male service member wearing a combat helmet and pieces of the U.S. flag

“Everyday Superhero” by Mark Tobin. Image courtesy of Uniting US.

Watch live demonstrations of writing, painting, photography and woodworking by veteran artists Cyrus Quadland, Erin Colson, Kimberly Johnson, Margaret Ann Viboolsittiseri and Michael Higgs. At 2:30pm, Miguel Chavez and Phyllis Thomas Miller will share their experiences and answer questions.

Register to attend this session in-person.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Morning Session: 10am

“A Journey Home: Service” by Mary Lopez De Morales. Image courtesy of Uniting US.

Watch live demonstrations of glass art, photography, painting, pottery, blacksmithing and singing by veteran artists Lisa Firmin, Terri Souder, Clem Danish, Ehren Tool, Edith Disler and Matthew Gill. At 11:30am, Terri Souder and Lisa Firmin will share their experiences and answer questions.

Register to attend this session in-person.

Afternoon Session/Closing Ceremony: 1pm

A pair of hands holding blooming white rose with a U.S. flag in the background.

“Hands of Hope” by Kimberly Johnson. Image courtesy of Uniting US.

Join us in the Library of Congress’ historic Coolidge Auditorium as we ceremoniously culminate this rich series of events and PTS Awareness Month with a special program during which Uniting US will donate more than 100 veterans’ oral history interviews to VHP, where they will be archived and made accessible for future generations. The closing ceremony will also feature a stand-up comedy performance, musical selections and veteran tributes. Louis Celli, host of “Policy Vets” podcast and Uniting US board member, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Register to attend this session in-person.

The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves and makes accessible the personal remembrances of U.S. military veterans, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand what they did, saw and felt. Visit //loc.gov/vets for more information about VHP. Uniting US is a nonprofit organization with the mission to inspire, empower and unite military, veterans, their families and the communities in which they live through the arts. Visit //unitingus.org/ for more information about Uniting US.

*Descriptions of combat, trauma and sexual assault may be distressing to some. VA Medical Center staff will be onsite to support anyone who may need assistance, or you may call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, and then press 1.

Nicole Saylor Is the New AFC Director

The American Folklife Center is delighted to announce that Nicole “Nicki” Saylor has been appointed the fourth Director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, effective May 22, 2022. Followers of the American Folklife Center will remember Nicki as the head, and then director, of the Archive of Folk Culture, which is AFC’s archive, from 2012 to 2021. “The Center’s work of preserving and presenting stories, songs and living traditions from all over the world is more important than ever,” Nicki says. “The staff is so innovative and committed to the work. It’s a dream job and I am excited!”

AFC Director Betsy Peterson Has Retired After 10 Years

The American Folklife Center is bidding a fond farewell to Elizabeth “Betsy” Peterson, who has retired from the position of Director after ten years in that role.  Her leadership engaged all facets of the Center’s activity–from stewardship of the collections to expansion of public programming and outreach–and she routinely anchored that leadership in an ethos […]

Homegrown Plus Premiere: Ukrainian American Bandura Master Julian Kytasty

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with Julian Kytasty, a third generation player of the bandura, a Ukrainian stringed instrument with similarities to the lute and the zither. Julian also sings beautifully and composes for the bandura and other instruments. In this blog you’ll find an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore!

AFC Welcomes a New Director of Archives!

Please join the American Folklife Center in welcoming our new Director of Archives, Michael Pahn! He’s only just started with us in this position—his official first day was May 9—but has a long relationship with the Center, going all the way back to an internship he held in the 1990s! He’s also worked with many AFC staff over the years in his capacity as Head of Archives and Digitization at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the position he held prior to joining the Library of Congress.

Caught My Eye: Working the Port of Houston Collection

As shipping delays persist, even if Ever Given and Ever Forward are both free to forge on, I am reminded of the AFC’s Working the Port of Houston Collection, and the insights it offers into the global shipping industry from the perspective of one of the world’s busiest ports. Focused on the history and importance […]

Homegrown Plus: Traditional Dance from American Samoa

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus series with a very special presentation of Samoan dance. In addition to the dance video, the blog features an interview with Eti Eti, one of the members of the dance group. The dance video was created by the Student Association For Fa’asamoa, a program of the Samoan Studies Institute at American Samoa Community College. The Samoan Studies Institute’s mission is to ensure and promote the continuity of Samoan culture, traditions, language, and heritage. Since its inception, SAFF has been active in performing the Siva Samoa (traditional Samoan dance), and in teaching and practicing old Samoan customs. For their Homegrown video, the SAFF dancers performed a 30-minute program of traditional dances in several locales at the college, under the direction of Molitogi Lemana. See the video right here in the blog!

ETL: Searching the Lomax family papers through the magic of crowdsourcing

“ETL” is a wonderful acronym, a non-word, a nickname for a phrase by which insiders describe a complex process. ETL in the context of digital collections at the Library of Congress is short for “extract, transform, and load.” To a curator working with crowdsourced archival material. “ETL” in an email subject line signals the final step in a process by which an archival collection becomes full-text searchable, the gold standard for access to manuscript materials. In this post we look at the ways in which crowdsourced transcriptions add depth to our understanding of our rich fieldwork collections. We look at a variety of materials, including Alan Lomax’s trips to collect traditional songs and music in Florida and Haiti. We show how Zora Neale Hurston’s fieldwork informed her brilliant novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” providing excerpts from fieldnotes that comport with descriptions in the novel.

More About “Hal An Tow”: Early Evidence of a May Song.

In this post we examine some of the earliest evidence of the Cornish May Song, also known as “Hal An Tow.” A version of this song was recorded from Lillian Short in Missouri by Vance Randolph in 1941. By that time, the melody to the song had changed in oral tradition, but this early evidence, a written transcription by Edward Jones from 1802, shows that the song was formerly sung to the same melody retained by Lillian Short. The post includes Jones’s 1802 passage describing the May 8 observances in Helston, Cornwall, which include the “Hal An Tow” song, the “Furry Dance” or “Flora Dance,” and other events; the sheet music as he published it; and a discussion of Jones’s interpretations of the Helston song in relation to AFC’s field recording.

Homegrown Plus Premiere: ‘Ukulele Master Herb Ohta, Jr.

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with international recording artist Herb Ohta, Jr., who is one of today’s most prolific ʻukulele masters. In this blog you’ll find an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore! We’re very excited to present Herb Ohta, Jr. in the series. Influenced by jazz, R&B, Latin and Brazilian music, as well as traditional Hawaiian sounds, he puts his stamp on Hawaiian music by pushing the limits of tone and technique on this beautiful instrument. The son of ʻukulele legend “Ohta-san,” he started playing at the age of three, and began teaching at the age of nine. Based in Honolulu, he shares the music of Hawaiʻi and the beauty of the ʻukulele with people around the world, performing concerts and conducting instructional workshops. As a special treat, Herb asked his good friend Jake Shimabukuro to join him for a medley of traditional Hawaiian songs. Shimabukuro, also a Honolulu native, is one of the most highly acclaimed ʻukulele players in the world, and has collaborated with many great musicians, including Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Loggins, and Amy Mills. He’s never forgotten his roots in Hawaiian music, though, and was kind enough to join Herb in his Homegrown concert.