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Making Home Place: Exhibition opens at the Philadelphia Folklore Project

A new exhibit, Making Home Place begins with a public opening reception on Friday, November 5 from 6 - 8 PM at the Philadelphia Folklore Project (PFP), 735 S. 50th Street. The exhibition explores how local people use folk arts to build and sustain livable communities. You are invited to make your own miniature home place, and to share your thoughts about places and people you value, arts you rely on, and struggles you have faced.

The exhibition explores displacement in a variety of ways. Needlework by artist Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun describes the long history of Hmong people and continuing travels in search of freedom. Paintings by Frito Bastien and Eang Mao keep memories of Haiti and Cambodia close and enlarge Philadelphia public space with immigrant experiences. Constructions by Eric Joselyn playfully object to city "takings" of peoples'; homes. Photographs by Thomas B. Morton and Ahdanah Leticia Nixon of the ODUNDE festival and the Carnaval of San Mateo show the vital community created by annual gatherings, and picture people whose labors bring the community together. Chinatown';s struggles against draconian development schemes, and the work of Rosemary Cubas and the Community Leadership Institute to fight eminent domain abuse are included, along with other video and audio examples.

The exhibition also includes the work of local people who have recently begun using folklife documentation to explore the experiences of their own communities. This past year, Gbahtuo Comgbaye, Ahdanah Leticia Roa Nixon, Jeannine Osayande, and Suzanne Povse participated in PFP's first Community Folklife Documentation Workshop. Apprenticing in the craft of folklore documentation, they paid attention to peoples' experience and recorded stories of art and struggle. Jeannine Osayande asked her neighbors: How, in the face of racism and discrimination, have six generations of African American residents supported and sustained each other by practicing generosity? Suzanne Povse asked: How have women in non-traditional trades created places for themselves in sometimes hostile work sites? Ahdanah Leticia Nixon asked Mexican immigrants: What does the Carnaval of San Mateo mean to you, and how is it connected to your home? Gbahtuo Comgbaye asked Liberian elders: Can you tell me about proverbs and stories? Their words of wisdom opened his eyes to challenges facing the community. Making Home Place encourages the process of exploring folk arts around us, as means for building sustainable places.

PFP director, Debora Kodish says: "Beginning to document community folklife requires figuring out how to ask good questions, how to listen respectfully. It flowers in all of these cases into trust: relationships with people to whom we are accountable. We enlarge and secure our home place through folklife documentation and in folk arts." The exhibit encourages attendees to question what is unfolding around us: What's going on here? What do we need to learn from one another? How do we read the signs? Join in the conversation and learn about new and old community traditions: November 5, 6 - 8 PM or stop by Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-6 PM.

The Philadelphia Folklore Project is a 23-year-old independent public folklife agency that works to sustain vital and diverse living cultural heritage in communities in our region. We document, support, and present Philadelphia-area folk arts and culture - including the arts of people who have been here generations and those who have just arrived. For more information about the Philadelphia Folklore Project visit www.folkloreproject.org or call 215.726.1106.