Since 1967, the Smithsonian has staged their annual Folklife Festival on the National Mall in DC over the two weeks surrounding Independence Day.1 Each year, the event spotlights the arts and culture of various communities from the US and around the world.
This year the exhibits and performances were drawn from the American Ozark region and the many religions represented in this country.
During the 2023 event last month, I made two trips to the Mall to make some images of the many exhibits. A few of them are on this page. If you’d like to get a better view of the festival, my full gallery is here.
At the top, the process of breaking down a log. When he’s finished with it, basketmakers will have hundreds of wooden strips that can be woven by hand into many different forms.
Another use for the woods of the Ozark is building beautiful guitars. In between explaining the craftsmanship involved, this maker also demonstrated his skills with playing the instrument. He was very good.
Calligraphy is an art that is central to many different religions. An artist at the festival talked to us about both the life-time of training needed to master the craft and the process of creating the tools. Some calligraphers even blend their own ink.
In Sikh culture, music is a tool for communicating between mind, body, and spirit. This group of musicians from Raj Academy in Leesburg performed for us and discussed the complexities of playing their instruments. The music was quite soothing.
Cooking is also an art, right? Not the way I do it, but this demonstration of crafting some kind of Ozark chili made the process look both easy and fun.
1. Do I need to add “except during the pandemic” to statements like this?