Art Works Blog

Postcard from NEA National Heritage Fellows Celebration

Here I am with the 2011 NEA Heritage Fellows after the September 21 awards ceremony at the Capitol Visitors Center. (back row, l-r) Me, Yuri Yunakov, Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro, Roy Hirabayashi, Ledward Kaapana, Bo Dollis, Jr. (representing his father Bo Dollis), Jim Griffith, Barry Bergey; (front row, l-r) Warner Williams, P.J. Hirabayashi, Laverne Brackens, Frank Newsome. Photo by Tom Pich

Why in the 21st century should we continue to celebrate these folk and traditional arts? The answer's simple---they’re our history, and they’re quintessentially American. You know, we’re the National Endowment for the Arts of the United States of America, and these art forms are America’s heritage. And if you’re talking about the relation of the arts and community---these people are produced by their native communities. They are a link to the past of those communities, and to the vibrancy that is their present. They should be celebrated by us; this really is our native cultural heritage.

It was great that several members of Congress were able to attend the awards ceremony at the Capitol Visitors Center to help celebrate these master artists, including U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, and U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell,  Zoe Lofgren, Morgan Griffith, Mazie Hirono, and Michael Honda.

Here are a few more photos from the celebratory concert on September 23. You can also watch the concert in full here.

U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, Heritage Fellow Frank Newsome, and me. Photo by Tom Pich

Laverne Brackens demonstrated several types of quilt squares during her chat with concert emcee Nick Spitzer. Photo by Michael G. Stewart

U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka stopped by to congratulate new Heritage Fellow Ledward Kaapana, a master of the slack-key guitar. Photo by Tom Pich

Master of the Piedmont blues Warner Williams was joined during his set at the concert by harmonica player Jay Summerour. Photo by Michael G. Stewart

Saxophonist Yuri Yunakov turned the volume way up during his performance at the 2011 Heritage Fellows concert. Photo by Michael G. Stewart

Do you have a favorite moment from this year's NEA National Heritage Fellows celebration? Let us know in comments. And don't forget that nominations are now open through Monday, October 3, for the 2012 class of Heritage Fellows.




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