2021 NY Showcase

Nov 11, 2021

Culture, Community, and the Classroom Showcase:
A New York Folklore and Education Network Event

November 20, 2021 | 10:00 am-Noon | FREE to attend
Roberson Museum and Science Center | 30 Front St, Binghamton, NY

You are invited to a special event at the Roberson Museum & Science Center on Saturday, November 20, 2021 to experience important local artforms and to learn what happened when educators included guest artists in their classrooms this past fall. Find out what students learned and enjoy artists’ sharing.

Meet the Artists

Akilah Briggs-Melvin As a child, dance wasn’t an art to me. It was more of a natural way of living, like breathing. In my household, we danced to express ourselves, to celebrate, to give thanks, and so much more. I began teaching step-dance in the summer of 2020. I developed my first team in Binghamton N.Y. I teach to all students, both boys and girls ranging from the age of six to eighteen. Each member of the team is also assigned a mentor to work with. The mentor is responsible for working with the child outside of the dance studio installing some of the very skills that were installed in me when I was a student on a step team. I am very passionate about stepping and even more passionate about teaching it to children. Amanda Shoemaker at Apalachin Elementary School was her teacher partner.

Afua Baidoo-Davis I grew up in a small, underdeveloped country in West Africa called Ghana. As a child I faced many hardships, including walking many miles to and from school, but I was happy because of my loving extended family. This tradition of an extended family living together and sharing activities such as child rearing, meal preparation, “breaking bread together” (literally eating from the same bowl) is still the norm. I cherish memories of running around outside, barefooted, playing with my beloved siblings and cousins. Hospitality and respectability are highly valued Ghanian practices. Andrea Gresko at RTS Middle School (SV District – Conklin, NY) and Steffaney Wilcox at Johnson City Schools were her teacher partners.

Tony Gonyea I’m from the Onondaga Nation, Beaver clan. I’m an artist of many medias. I do beadwork, including replica belts. I even have two belts that are a part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s collection. These artforms show that we are still here. I also do NAGPRA [Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act]. We went to a museum one time, and all the writing about Natives was in past tense! It is important to me that I point this out—we are here and we are still a vibrant community. Next time I went to the museum they had the tenses all corrected—now it is we DO and we ARE. Katherine Gould was his partner teacher.

Cheryl Dutko I was born in a small town in Pennsylvania but grew up in Western New York.  I have lived in Binghamton for over 40 years.  My grandparents immigrated to the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s from a region in Eastern Europe known as Rus in the Carpathian Mountains. The traditions handed down to me came mostly from my grandmothers to my mother, then to me and now my children and grandchildren.  Although my grandparents came from different villages, they all came from the same area.  It was often told to me that they lived in many countries but never left their village.  The Carpathian Mountains are a crossroad in Europe and the land was constantly under various rulers.  My “Baba” was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire which turned into Czechoslovakia which is today, Slovakia and Ukraine.  Because of this, many of the traditions that were passed on to me are a blend of cultures.  Food, embroidery, dance and pisanki (decorated eggs) are a blend of these cultures but are also unique to Carpatho-Rusyns. Yvonne Phinney of Deposit CSD was her partner teacher.

Luigi Gobbo is a mosaic artist who immigrated to Binghamton from Italy in 1965. Gobbo has extensive experience working with tile and has a mosaic/tile contracting business in Endicott and there are many examples of his work throughout the Southern Tier, including St. John’s Ukrainian Church in Johnson City and Visions Federal Credit Union in Watkins Glen. He loves to share his art and Italian Traditions with others. It takes a lot of patience, but he loves to teach and wants to pass this art form along to others. Christine Crossgrove of Broome-Tioga BOCES – Evertech Academy was his partner teacher.

Maria Castaňon Hall I am the founder and owner of Boricua Soul Catering and Sweets. I specialize in cooking and catering Puerto Rican cuisine as well as some American soul food classics. I was born and raised in Brooklyn NY, but my parents were born in Puerto Rico. My earliest memory of cooking is from when I was 8 years old and being in the kitchen with my grandmother learning how to make Sofrito. It’s the basis of most of our dishes and contains includes some vegetables and herbs like cilantro, onions and peppers. As the years went on, my mother continued to teach me some of our family’s traditional dishes, from Arroz con Gandules (rice and peas), Pollo Guisado (chicken stew), Pasteles (a wrapped savory dish), and Pernil (roast pork) just to name a few.  I started making custom cakes for others. Just like the food, it is yet another opportunity for me to create some art. Diane Chianis of Homer Brink Elementary School was her teacher partner.

Shailesh Upreti We are fortunate of to have mother Earth as our Goddess, which provides us with oxygen and food to enjoy this beautiful human life, and my way to express my gratitude to mother Earth is to contribute in any which way possible. Folk song and folk dances are one means because both of them originated from the nature and are the purest form of music and dance. As a profession, I work as an entrepreneur to contribute towards building a greener earth. I left my full time job 10 years ago and started my own venture in green technologies, and today we are building North America’s largest home grown Gigafactory for lithium ion batteries. This linkage between of my profession and passion is my way of remaining connected to mother earth. Folk music keeps me connected and full of positive energy even while I am surrounded by noise, pollution or highly busy society we live in today. Shailesh Upreti and wife Bindia are pictured with a folk instrument of Uttarakhand called Hudka. Brenda Keeler at Harpursville Jr/Sr High School was his partner teacher.

About the project

20 teachers in school districts around the region participated in a summer workshop with nationally recognized faculty from Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education. Eight educators were then selected to host artists in their schools. Learn from these local teachers and traditional artists who participated in a national initiative to incorporate diverse cultural arts and knowledge into school classrooms in a lively showcase.

Thank you to these funders who made it possible to offer this as a free professional development opportunity for teachers and artists: The National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, The Hoyt Foundation, The Roger Kresge Foundation, and individual donors to Local Learning.

We are grateful to our local colleagues Jackie Thompson, Christina Mack, George Zavala, Karen Canning, T.C. Owens, and Ellen McHale for their help in planning this professional development series. We want to acknowledge the support of New York Folklore, Go-ART!/GLOW Traditions, The Roberson Museum & Science Center, The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, and Nicole N. Waskie-Laura and  Kerri Bullock at the Broome-Tioga BOCES.