Ambassadors of Folk: Connecticut Master Traditional Artists showcased the artistry of Connecticut folk and traditional artists who have achieved recognition on a national or international scale. The exhibit brings to wider attention the mastery of local artists who are highly respected exemplars of ethnic traditions within their communities. The eight visual artists and two performers featured represent a wide variety of artistic genres and ethnicities and share a high degree of technical skill and sophistication. The artists’ accomplishments represent entire lives spent serving their communities through cultural production.
Artists include Aldona Saimininkas, East Hartford; Romulo Chanduvi, East Hartford; Jampa Tsondue, Old Saybrook; Eldrid Arntzen, Watertown; Paul Luniw, Terryville; Valentine and Aili Galasyn, Canterbury; Shengzhu Chen Bernardin, Torrington; Marek Czarnecki, Meriden; Negrura Peruana, East Hartford; and Daniel Boucher, Bristol.
Art forms exhibited have their roots in Lithuania, Peru, Tibet, Norway, Ukraine, Finland, China, and Eastern Europe, but all are made and used here in Connecticut and beyond. One unifying characteristic is that these pieces have been created for use in a community’s traditional practices. For example, the Buddhist thangka paintings and the Byzantine Christian icons encourage active veneration, they serve a purpose beyond being paintings to be viewed. Other forms on display include decorative containers, cloth, commemorative pictures and rugs, wood carvings, and important seasonal decorations such as two types of dyed and etched Easter eggs. Performance traditions originated from African Peru and Québec. All of the art forms are beloved in the artists’ communities in Connecticut, where they serve as important expressions of cultural identity and heritage.
This exhibit celebrated the twenty years that ICR’s Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program has worked with these and other remarkable traditional artists and their communities across our state. Ambassadors of Folk was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Edward C. And Ann T. Roberts Foundation, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism, and the Institute for Community Research.