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New CAM exhibit showcases artists, traditions, culture and community

by jmaloni

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Wed, Jan 29th 2014 07:00 am

"Extraordinary Ordinary People: American Masters of Traditional Arts" presents a journey across America through the lives of individuals whose creativity is rooted in their cultural identity and community.

Around the world, programs honor individuals who have made signature contributions to their communities and to their countries. In America, the National Endowment for the Arts established the National Heritage Fellowship Program in 1982 to recognize individuals "for their artistic excellence and their efforts to conserve America's many cultures for future generations."

Created by curator Marsha MacDowell (Michigan State Museum) and photographer Alan Govenar (Documentary Arts Inc.), "Extraordinary Ordinary People: American Masters of Traditional Arts" presents National Heritage Fellows from all over the country through human-size portraits, artworks and audio-visual materials. The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University is proud to bring a little of the nation's diverse artistic traditions to Western New York by showcasing these award-winning individuals, whose creativity is rooted in their cultural identity and community.

The CAM exhibition (Feb. 2 - June 20) features numerous art forms and cultural groups that contribute to the vibrancy of American life, including Byzantine (Greek) icon woodcarving, Peruvian retablos (personal altars), Native American basketry, Eastern European lacemaking, African-American quiltmaking, and a vast array of musical and performing traditions from Chinese Beijing opera to Guinean drumming.

Throughout the spring, the folk arts program of the Castellani Art Museum will host a series of public lectures, demonstrations and workshops that further explore the legacy of National Heritage Fellows, and that highlight some exceptional traditional artists living and working in Western New York. For more information, contact Dr. Carrie Hertz, curator of folk arts at 716-286-8290.

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