Jon Kay on August 2, 2016

It has been a while since my last post to the Artisan Ancestors Podcast website, but it has been a very busy year. Anyway, as of today, my book Folk Art and Aging:Life-Story Objects and Their Makers is officially out. The book is about the creative practices of older adults., and is published with Indiana […]

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Jon Kay on February 13, 2015

Here at Indiana University, several historic houses are being relocated to make room for a new building. It is a shame to see the houses moved from the sites where they were built more than a century ago, but the community thought this to be the best compromise.  While everyone gawks at the spectacle of […]

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Jon Kay on January 10, 2014 Download (67.0MB) In this episode, I talk with my good friend Jason Baird Jackson about his new book Yuchi Folklore:Cultural Expression in a Southeastern Native American Community. Jason tells us about the diverse cultural expressions of this often overlooked community. He talks about his collaborative research with the Yuchi, a native people of the […]

Continue reading about Episode 40: Yuchi Folklore with Jason Baird Jackson

Jon Kay on August 30, 2013 Download () In this episode I talk with Carl Lounsbury an Architectural historian who has worked in the Research Department at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation since 1982. He and noted material culture scholar Cary Carson are the editors of a new book that has been more than thirty years in the making, The Chesapeake […]

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Jon Kay on April 16, 2013

I stumbled on this YouTube video that aired in 1979 on WTTV show 4 Thought.  This segment features John Smith a fiddler and fiddle maker from Tunnelton, Indiana. He plays Old Dan Tucker and other old tunes, and talks about playing for square dance when he was ten years old and the process of making […]

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Jon Kay on April 12, 2013

I will be teaching Indiana Folklore and Folklife this summer at Indiana University and am enjoying putting together the Syllabus for the course.  This course explores the folklore and traditional arts of Indiana. First,we survey the oral traditions of our state. From local legends and ghost stories to jokes and personal experience narratives, we probe […]

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Jon Kay on April 8, 2013 Download (23.8MB) No cultural expression is more synonymous with American traditional arts than quilt making. In this episode, I talk with SouthArts folklorist and senior program director Teresa Hollingsworth  about The Sum of Many Parts, a large exhibit of quilts made by 25 contemporary America artisans. Katy Malone joins the interview and explains her […]

Continue reading about Episode 37: American Quilts in China Download (36.6MB) Carol Edison tells us about her work with  Navajo basket makers in Utah, including Mary Holiday Black the legendary matriarch of the basket tradition.  An ancient artform, the Black and other families have both continued and revitalized a beautiful type of basket that is both ceremonially and economically important to their community.  […]

Continue reading about Episode 36: Researching Navajo Basketry with Carol Edison Download (27.3MB) In this episode I talk with Brent Bjorkman, the new director of the Kentucky Folklife Program. Brent shares his vision for this organization which recently moved to Western Kentucky University. We also discuss his research with the basketmakers along US 31W, an old tourist route where the old folk tradition of making […]

Continue reading about Episode 35: The Kentucky Folklife Program (and more white oak baskets)

Jon Kay on February 18, 2013 Download (55.8MB) Tennessee and baskets seem to go together, but their relationship probably is not at all what you think. In this episode, I talk with folklorist Roby Cogswell, the director of Folklife at the Tennessee Arts Commission, about his research of the basket making tradition in Cannon County, TN.  This amazing craft has […]

Continue reading about Episode 34: Cannon County Baskets a Tennessee Tradition Download (32.9MB) In today’s podcast we talk with folklorist Daniel Patterson who is a professor Emeritus of English and former chair of the Curriculum in Folklore at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a Fellow of the American Folklore Society. Dr. Patterson has recently written a monumental work on early […]

Continue reading about Episode 33: Carolina Gravestones and Daniel Patterson’s The True Image

Jon Kay on February 6, 2013–episode31SouthCarolinasDigitalTraditions/AA-Episode32-SouthCarolinaDigitalTraditions.mp3Podcast: Download (26.2MB) In this episode I talk with my old friend Saddler Taylor, the Chief Curator of folklife and fieldwork at the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.  He has researched the traditional arts and culture of the American South, and helped produce the Digital Traditions website, an online repository of resources […]

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Jon Kay on January 29, 2013

I am planning a new podcast series about the history of folk arts in Indiana tentatively titled Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Arts and Crafts in the Hoosier State. The aim is to identify 200 folk artists and objects for our state’s bicentennial in 2016. I will feature one artist for each year of […]

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Jon Kay on January 28, 2013

In a small country cemetery just outside Dugger, Indiana is a remarkable double treestump tombstone. These stones tend to be very biographical; the motifs carved into them often reveal information about the deceased, or at least how their family or community wanted to remember them. The spinning wheel is a common symbol for women who […]

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Jon Kay on January 23, 2013

I learned that Milan Opacich, tamburitza musician and luthier passed away Monday morning (January 21, 2013) at his home in Schererville, Indiana. Many folklorists who worked in Indiana will be familiar with his work, he was a key collaborator in the Gary Project and was featured by Richard Dorson in his classic Land of the […]

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Jon Kay on December 18, 2012 Download (55.1MB) I know it has been a while since I made a podcast post. I thought I would share a 7-minute piece/talk I gave as part of the American Folklore Society Meeting in New Orleans this past fall.  I focus on the work of John Schoolman, a friend of mine who made beautiful […]

Continue reading about Episode 31: A Video- The Colorful Canes of John Schoolman

Jon Kay on October 20, 2012

  I thought folks would love to see this documentary from the 1950s about Sam Rodia’s towers in Watts. I have recently been thinking a lot about art and aging. This video is a classic. I hope to have a new podcast up next week, but busy getting ready for the American Folklore Society Meeting […]

Continue reading about Sam Rodia’s Towers Download (38.5MB) Look who is 30 episodes old! We are excited to reach this milestone, but are continuing to move forward at Artisan Ancestors. In this  episode we talk with the new Executive Director of the Alabama Folklife Association, Mary Allison Haynie, who has just released into the world a traveling exhibit that focuses […]

Continue reading about Episode 30: Alabama in the Making and the Alabama Folklife Association

Jon Kay on October 8, 2012

I work with a lot of elderly artists. As such, death and dying unfortunately are an ever present part of my life. I don’t think that I will ever get use to loosing people who have shared their stories and talents with me…I guess that is the way it should be. While looking up his […]

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Jon Kay on September 29, 2012 Download (17.6MB) In this episode, we talk about the the diverse meaning of objects. From Civil Rights quilts to Amish buggies, we explore how objects communicate various meanings. Using a semiotics approach we explore the difference between the various ways that objects serve as signs:icon, index and symbol. I share some observations from Peter […]

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Jon Kay on September 21, 2012 Download (29.3MB) In this episode, I talk with Folk Art Curator Carrie Hertz about her work at the Castellani Art Museum, where she has just opened an exhibition about Irish Lace making traditions. We talk about her collaboration with Molly Carroll, a lace collector and restorer to produce this beautiful exhibit and discuss how […]

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Jon Kay on September 17, 2012

This past weekend I got to try my hand at stone carving. It reaffirmed my belief that one of the most powerful research methods in historical craft is the hands-on approach. It is amazing how much a you can learn just by trying your hand at making a quilt, building a banjo or baking bread. […]

Continue reading about Learning from Doing Download (32.2MB) A ton of information is embedded in historic photographs, especially when the images include artisans and handmade objects. In this episode of the Artisan Ancestors, I talk about my work identifying, organizing, and analyzing historic photograms. Focusing on my work with pictures of oak rod baskets from Southern Indiana,  I share how […]

Continue reading about Episode 27: Historic Photographs and Material Culture Research

Jon Kay on September 4, 2012

The National Endowment for the Humanities just announced their Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections (SCHC) grants, which aim to help cultural institutions preserve their humanities holdings.  This program supports “preventive conservation measures that mitigate deterioration and prolong the useful life of collections,” so that future generations can make use of these resources. I want to encourage […]

Continue reading about Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Download (29.3MB) In this episode of Artisan Ancestors, I talk with Dr. Candace Greene, who directs the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology or SIMA for he National Museum of Natural History, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution. She is an ethnologist at the Smithsonian and has an adjunct appointment with George Washington University […]

Continue reading about Episode 26: SIMA-Summer Institue of Museum Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution

Jon Kay on August 24, 2012

A couple of months ago, I met  Marian Sykes, a native of Chicago, who makes rugs that tell the stories about her life and her family. Using a process known as rug hooking, she recycles wool that she gets from unraveling garments that she buys at area thrift stores. An amazing and talented artist, she […]

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A wordpress site for a great oral history project focused on the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.  Looking for a way to build an online presence or community? WordPress has emerged as the leading tool for building blogs and websites on the internet. As a way to encourage folks to take the plunge, I am […]

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Jon Kay on May 14, 2012

I was saddened to hear of the passing of old-time fiddler Joe Dawson of Bloomington. He grew up in Axsom Branch, a region in Brown County, which is now nearly forgotten, since it was cleared to build the Monroe Reservoir. While Joe first learned to play tunes in this rural community, it was later in […]

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Jon Kay on May 1, 2012

My family and I went to visit some friends down near Murphysboro, TN a few weeks ago. While there we searched for some seed for our garden, after looking several places, we visited Pearcy’s General Store in the little town of Lascasses. The small building packed with the gardening and home repair supplies that the […]

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Jon Kay on April 24, 2012

In a few weeks, I will be teaching a course on one of my favorite topics, Indiana Folklife. The course Indiana Folk Craft & Architecture (F360),  blends both the ideas of researching the expressive culture of the Hoosier state, with the hands on methods and techniques. I thought I would put it out there in […]

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