Extraordinary Ordinary People: American Masters of Traditional Arts

Qi Shu Fang (Chinese American Beijing opera performer). Photo by Alan Govenar.

Exhibit:  February 2, 2014 – June 20, 2014

Overview

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 (NEA) 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 exhibition 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.

This exhibition was made possible by the financial and in-kind support of the National Endowment for the Arts, Documentary Arts, Inc. and the Michigan State University Museum / Traditional Arts Exhibition Endowment, MSU Museum Great Lakes Tradition Endowment and a grant from the MSU Federal Credit Union.  

Bringing Extraordinary Ordinary People to the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.