The Philadelphia Folklore Project (PFP) celebrated its 26th year with a Birthday Bash on Saturday, June 1, 2013 at the Painted Bride Art Center. It was a wonderful and meaningful evening of performances, awards, delectable food, and drink. View images from the celebration on PFP's Facebook page.
PFP has been cultivating folk arts and social change since 1987. The annual benefit is an opportunity to celebrate the importance of local communities and cultural traditions that matter. And it is a chance to support and advance PFP's work in this area.
This year, PFP presented the 2013 Folk Arts and Social Change Awards to storyteller Linda Goss and artist/activist Eric Joselyn. Honoring people who have drawn on the power of community-based folk arts and cultural tradition to advance social change in our region (and beyond), the 2013 Folk Arts and Social Change Awards recognize how decades of work have built new futures for all of us: creating community well-being, disturbing the peace of racism and injustice, building self-determination, equity and power.
Linda Goss has been "waking up the people" for more than 50 years. Bringing her African American Appalachian family storytelling traditions into the Black Arts and Black Power movements, Linda insisted on (and made room for) the power and validity of folk culture. A pioneer of the storytelling movement, she was the first storyteller to perform at the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife. Addressing racism and exclusion, she organized other African American tellers, co-founding the National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference, the National Association of Black Storytellers, and Keepers of the Culture: enduring resources that have opened the way for countless people. Linda's lifetime work has been to connect ordinary people caught in oppressive situations - people who don't see themselves as storytellers or performers - to African American traditions of survival, resistance, and struggle. Linda received the 2013 Kathryn Morgan Award for Folk Arts and Social Justice. (Click the image to the right to see a brief video about her).
About the award: Kathryn Morgan (1919-1910) was a native Philadelphian, the first African American woman to get a Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania, and the first Black woman to be on the faculty of Swarthmore College. A pioneering folklorist, she opened the field of family folklore, paying attention to African American and women's experiences, showing how family stories were "antidotes to racism." As a board member in the 1990s, Kathryn built PFP's commitment to "disturbing the peace of racism."
Rarely credited publicly, Eric Joselyn is a prolific working artist who has been turning peoples' demands and dreams into eye-catching (and conscience-catching) expressions for decades. Without recognizing it, you may have seen his work displayed street-side: at local demonstrations for immigrant rights, antiwar protests, or street theater against racism. Thousands of Chinatown residents and allies fighting to stop city plans for a stadium in Chinatown wore t-shirts Eric designed. He crafted cardboard bulldozers, puppets, costumes, and signs that activists carried to protest the city's use of eminent domain to displace poor and working families from their homes. Aiming to even the odds for social justice movements, Eric shapes "good tools" for popular struggle, inside the classroom as the Art Teacher and Folk Arts Coordinator at the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures School, and outside the classroom, in his work with community members. He democratizes art-making, showing us how to exercise power. Eric received the 2013 Rosemary Cubas Award for Folk Arts and Activism. (Click the image to the right to see a brief video about him).
About the award: Activist and community organizer, Rosemary Cubas (1943-2005) was involved in countless campaigns for human rights - locally and globally. PFP worked with Rosemary to develop the documentary "I choose to stay here," supporting the struggle of people in her lower North Philadelphia neighborhood to fight the city's abuse of eminent domain and the taking of people's homes. Rosemary taught PFP (and many others) how community is knit and rebuilt when people listen to one another, and act collectively for justice, no matter what the odds.
PFP inaugurated the first Folk Arts and Social Change Awards in 2012, naming them after people who have been important in shaping PFP's path, and as a means of extending their legacies: activist Rosemary Cubas, artist Channavy Lenora Koung, eminent folklorist Dr. Kathryn Morgan, and arts advocate and administrator Ella King Torrey. Recipients of these awards were Lois Fernandez, Germaine Ingram, Louis Massiah, and Debbie Wei. Read more about 2012 awards and awardees here.
Photo above courtesy Thomas B. Morton. Videos were produced by Barry Dornfeld and Debora Kodish, with the help of interviewees from Keepers of the Culture and Asian Americans United, and video footage from Jos Duncan and Media Mobilizing Project. Thank you to all!