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January 2013

the latest from Suite 603

January 23, 2013

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities has just published A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana
Two poems
"How can we model the behavior we seek to inspire?"
African-American railroad workers created community in Portland, Oregon
Mardi Gras Indians
Sweet grass, bison, civil rights: small traveling exhibitions available from "NEH On the Road"

Proposals for the 2013 National Humanities Conference are due January 25. For more information go to www.statehumanities.org. The conference theme is "Lifting Us Up: Reflection, Reconciliation and Renewal."

 

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Two poems

Poem #1

On Monday, Richard Blanco read his poem "One Day" at President Obama's Inauguration. Virginia G. Carter, executive director of the Kentucky Humanities Council, wrote on Facebook that, "If I could describe this poem in only one word, it would be American."

Here is one stanza:

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

Poem #2

The Vermont Humanities Council, as part of its Thursday Thoughts initiative carried out in partnership with the Vermont Arts Council, shares Billy Collins' "Introduction to Poetry," a poem that is all about creativity as it should be.

"How can we model the behavior we seek to inspire?"
 -BRIGHT IDEA- BY SKIP HUNT, from Nonprofit Quarterly, Winter 2012
PHOTOGRAPH: “BRIGHT IDEA” BY SKIP HUNT, from Nonprofit Quarterly, Winter 2012
 

One of the sets of questions posed in the thematic description of the 2013 National Humanities Conference is, "How can we model the behavior we seek to inspire? Do our boards, staff and volunteers reflect the diversity of the communities we serve? How can we be more inclusive?”

In the months leading up to the November 7-10 conference in Birmingham, the Federal/State Partnership "Working Together" newsletter will explore issues of diversity and service as they relate to state humanities councils. We will look at demographics around the country, taking into consideration not only census data but also how councils describe the context in which they work in their self-assessment reports. We will look at race, gender, age, urban/rural, and education. Individual councils know the data from their own state or jurisdiction, but they may well not know it nationally except in general terms.

As we are doing this month, we will also draw your attention to articles and other materials that pertain to this topic. We invite you to read Nonprofit Quarterly's article, "The Road Less Traveled: Establishing the Link Between Nonprofit Governance and Democracy." It is available in the Resource Library of the Federal/State Partnership website.

We welcome your bright ideas of the best ways to approach this endeavor as well of your suggestions for material and examples to be included.

African-American railroad workers created community in Portland, Oregon
"All Aboard" at the Oregon Historical Society is supported by Oregon Humanities. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society
"All Aboard" at the Oregon Historical Society is supported by Oregon Humanities. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society

A new exhibition at the Oregon Historical Society, created in partnership with the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers and supported by Oregon Humanities, focuses on the work and lives of African American railroad workers in Portland and the community that grew up around Union Station from the mid-19th century to 1940s.

Resources for this interactive exhibit include former railroad workers, children of railroad workers, and local historians. It features period uniforms and articles from historical black newspapers, placing the stories of Portland’s railroad workers within the context of Oregon’s racial history. The Oregon Historical Society is proud that this exhibition coincides with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and National Black History Month. See it through April 21st.

Mardi Gras Indians
Allison "Tootie" Montana, Big Chief, Yellow Pocahontas. Photo by Michael P. Smith, copyright The Historic New Orleans Collection, 2007.0103.2.122
Allison "Tootie" Montana, Big Chief, Yellow Pocahontas. Photo by Michael P. Smith, copyright The Historic New Orleans Collection, 2007.0103.2.122
 

Mardi Gras is officially February 12th this year, but it is far more than just the last day before the beginning of Lent. One of the unique and distinctive elements of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, a city known to many as embodying Mardi Gras, is the tradition of Mardi Gras Indians.

KnowLA, the online encyclopedia of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, introduces you to Mardi Gras Indians and provides a photo gallery: “Mardi Gras Indians are African Americans who form ‘tribes’ that hold weekly practices in bars throughout New Orleans and then march through the streets on Mardi Gras Day and other recurring dates, when they wear elaborately hand-beaded and feathered costumes known as ‘suits.’ In these public ceremonies, the Indians sing chants as they travel in search of rival tribes. When two tribes meet, the chiefs ritualistically compete with one another by shouting boasts and insults and displaying their individually styled suits. The Mardi Gras Indians, their suits, and their songs have all become recognizable symbols of New Orleans’s unique vernacular culture.” An Indian's suit can cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to make.

Allison “Tootie” Montana (1922-2005), a famous Indian, was designated a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1987. “His individual artistry is recognized by all; he is a gifted costume designer, a brilliant dancer and song leader, and an eloquent artistic director of his group.” His story—actually the story of his wife, Joyce Montana—and those of eight other New Orleanians, is told in Dan Baum’s Nine Lives. Death and Life in New Orleans (New York, 2009).

Sweet grass, bison, civil rights: small traveling exhibitions available from "NEH On the Road"
 E.G. Schempf
Sweet Grass Mix. A variety of African and American baskets from the exhibition Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art, 2007. Photo: E.G. Schempf

The "NEH On the Road" exhibition Grass Roots opens January 28 at the Phillip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art in Collegeville, Pennsylvania and runs through March 16. Grass Roots is one of eight exhibitions currently touring the country.

House & Home, an exhibition organized by the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, has been added to the roster as the newest "NEH on the Road" offering. Featuring a wide array of photographs, domestic objects, toys, architectural models, interactive components, and video resources, it explores and challenges our notions of what it means to be “at home” in America. House & Home is in production now, and will open at its first venue in September 2013.

To date, the states without a booking are: Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. If you are aware of a small museum or cultural center interested in hosting an "NEH On the Road" exhibition, please direct its staff to contact Dana Knapp, Director of Programs at the Mid-America Arts Alliance, 816.421.1388 x 220, dana@maaa.org. Mid-America Arts Alliance manages NEH On the Road.


FEDERAL/STATE PARTNERSHIP
National Endowment for the Humanities
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 603
Washington, DC 20506
202.606.8254, main number
202.606.8365, fax

Edie Manza, director [ about ]
202.606.8257
Kathleen Mitchell, senior program officer [ about ]
202.606.8302
Meg Ferris, program analyst [ about ]
202.208.7100
Shirley Newman, program assistant [ about ]
202.606.8254

directions to the National Endowment for the Humanities and Federal/State Partnership

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National Endowment for the Humanities

Federal/State Partnership is the liaison between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the nonprofit network of 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils
 
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