Press Release

For immediate release : Give these photos a good home!
Contact: Debora Kodish
Philadelphia Folklore Project: 215.726.1106

Announcing a contest: Share your story of ODUNDE and win a matted and framed photograph by noted photographer Tom Morton

Most gallery exhibitions, like the show by West Philadelphia photographer Thomas B. Morton currently on display in the Philadelphia Folklore Project's new building at 735 S. 50th Street, are traveled, sold, or returned to a museum's collection when the show is over.

But the Philadelphia Folklore Project is planning to give away 35 beautiful matted and framed photographs about the city's ODUNDE festival, for free, to people who are willing to share powerful and true stories about what a picture (and the ODUNDE festival) means to them. This storytelling project is a contest, with a deadline of March 31st for receiving peoples' written or emailed stories. Download pdf poster (1 MB)

Two events - the opening artist salon featuring ODUNDE founder Lois Fernandez, and a closing open mike photo distribution day - will be times for people to tell their story live and in person, with a video preserving the record. (Details follow).

The project launches at the Folklore Project on February 19 at 3 PM, when ODUNDE founder Lois Fernandez will be the featured speaker at an artist salon. She will give a tour of the exhibition, share her own recollections, and encourage the stories of those attending. Attendees will be able to enter the contest, simply by talking about the pictures! The program with Ms. Fernandez is free and open to all.

A project grand finale is scheduled for April 1, from 1 PM - 3 PM, also at the Folklore Project. Previously submitted stories will be read, and attendees will be able to add their spoken words and stories at an Open Mike & Storytelling Contest. Lois Fernandez and others will make selections of the best stories and accounts shared, and the photographs will be distributed and dispersed. The program is free and open to all. (PFP will be open from 10 AM - 3 PM on the 1st of April, to give people more time to look at pictures and to share their stories).

All are invited to add their voices, recollections and stories to the mix, and to enter the contest. There are many ways to participate. You can write a letter (to PFP, 735 S. 50th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19143), by March 31st. Or, you can attend the opening or closing events, at which your story will be recorded. You can email Unsure of what to write? Share your memories. Share your knowledge of (and stories about) people pictured. Tell what is happening in each picture. Tell about a particular day at ODUNDE, about what ODUNDE has meant to you, and about the people with whom you have shared ODUNDE. Share stories of your own journey in freedom of expression, in cultural self-determination.

Everyone participating will receive a free copy of the ODUNDE calendar with Tom Morton's images (while supplies last).

Letters and documentation will be preserved as a record at the Folklore Project and ODUNDE. For more information, call PFP (215.726.1106) or ODUNDE (215.732.8510). The contest deadline for mailing in submission is March 31st, when the exhibition closes. Photographs will be distributed on April 1st, between 11 AM and 1 PM, when there is a final chance for people to share spoken recollections.

Lois Fernandez, ODUNDE founder, has long wanted to do an oral history of the event to let people know what ODUNDE means. She says, "I want to make a record to show what ODUNDE has done for our people in the city. Folks in ‘75 after the Black Power movement were saying ‘We're black.' And we were saying, ‘No, we're African people. Black is a color not a people.' So we had to come up under that. To be able to tell people that you are African people, as my father told me as a child. And I hope we can move for our people to be able to claim, ‘I am of Yoruba stock, or from Ghana, or Cape Verde.' ODUNDE has contributed to that learning process of our people, to know what it is to be of African descent, that we are Africans here in America. This is the peoples' festival. The people made it. We could not have done it without the people. Make no mistake about it. Now that we are thirty years old, it is time to create a peoples' history of ODUNDE. This photo project is a way to begin to gather peoples' stories, and we urge public participation.

Debora Kodish, PFP director, got the idea for this giveaway at the opening reception for Morton's show documenting 30 years of ODUNDE, when people gravitated to pictures of themselves and their families and friends, pointing people out, sharing stories and recollections, often unable to tear themselves away from the images. Kodish says,  “Tom Morton's photos are a remarkable family album. Photos trace peoples' lives over time and mark passing generations of participants. These are precious photos, preserving images of an event that has become a central annual observance for many, fixing in our minds' eyes people who were important in crafting rituals with meaning, keeping memories vivid. Morton's photographs are loved and valued within the community partly because he helps people see who they know themselves to be. He gives people unparalleled images of their most free, engaged, and deepest selves, images rarely captured elsewhere. We began thinking about where these pictures best belong, and how to 'return' them to people and places where they can continue to be most deeply appreciated (and can continue to stimulate recollections), on a daily basis, after this exhibition ends."

This effort to trade pictures for stories is an effort to gather a record of community captions and stories for photographs about 30 years of this significant festival. It is a way to begin to gather something of a peoples' version of ODUNDE's history.

You can view the photographs at the Folklore Project office at 735 S. 50th Street through March 31st, view them online, or call the PFP office (215.726.1106) for a flyer showing all images.


We shall not be moved: Thomas B. Morton's photos of ODUNDE. On display at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, 735 S. 50th St., Philadelphia, PA 19143 (215,726.1106). By appointment, and first Saturdays 10 AM - 1 PM. Photos can also be viewed at online.

Lois Fernandez: Artist Salon & Storytelling
February 12. 3 PM. Philadelphia Folklore Project, 735 S. 50th St., Philadelphia, PA 19143 (215.726.1106). Fernandez will be the featured speaker. Attendees will be able to enter the contest to win a matted and framed photograph by Tom Morton, simply sharing their recollections and stories. Free and open to all.

Project finale: Open Mike & Storytelling Contest
April 1, from 11 AM - 1 PM. Philadelphia Folklore Project, 735 S. 50th St., Philadelphia, PA 19143 (215.726.1106). Attendees will be able to share stories and recollections at an open mike. Lois Fernandez and others will make selections of the best stories and accounts shared, and the photographs will be distributed and dispersed. Free and open to all.