Conversations on Culture is a podcast series of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, and is made possible with support from Indiana Humanities. Listen as Jon Kay, the MMWC's Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage, interviews museum professionals and culture workers.
In the premiere episode of Conversations on Culture, Jon speaks with Dr. Candace Greene, who directs the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) for the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. She's an ethnologist at the Smithsonian with an adjunct appointment at the George Washington University Department of Anthropology, where she teaches graduate students how to apply anthropological understandings to museum practice. SIMA is research training program that aims to encourage and advance the use of museum collections in anthropological research by providing material culture training to graduate students. This four-week intensive workshop admits 12-14 students to further their understanding of museum research by introducing them to collections, methods, and theories that can help answer their research questions. Listen now.
Jon's conversation with SouthArts folklorist and senior program director Teresa Hollingsworth focuses on The Sum of Many Parts, a large exhibit of quilts made by 25 contemporary America artisans. Katy Malone joins the interview and explains her work overseeing and designing this exhibition, which opened in Shanghai in September 2012. Teresa and Katy tell how the program came into being and some of the unforeseen benefits of sharing this traditional art of quilt making with Chinese museum-goers, including several workshops for Chinese audiences led by U.S. quilters and arts professionals, which offered meaningful cross cultural exchanges. Listen now.
Nicholas R. Bell, from the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, discusses his work as curator of A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets. The exhibit was on display at the Renwick in the fall of 2013, and featured a beautiful catalog with essays by Nicholas, as well as a forward by folklorist Henry Glassie. Jon's conversation with Nicholas covers a range of topics, including the nature of revival and revitalization of traditional crafts, and the threats facing the future of basketmaking in the United States today. Listen now.
Jon's talk with Saddler Taylor, the Chief Curator of folklife and fieldwork at the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, explores Saddler's research on the traditional arts and culture of the American South. His public outreach initiatives helped produce the Digital Traditions website, an online repository of resources pertaining to the folk and traditional arts of South Carolina. Listen now.