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‘Folklorist in the Park’ working to preserve heritage of region

Kentucky Folklife Program at WKU partnering with Mammoth Cave National Park on summer project to document traditional arts and culture

The Kentucky Folklife Program at WKU is partnering with Mammoth Cave National Park for a special 2015 summer-long, National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored project, titled Folklorist in the Park. The Kentucky Folklife Program has hired Josh Chrysler, a recent graduate from WKU’s Folk Studies master’s program, to work as the Folklorist in the Park.

Josh Chrysler

Josh Chrysler

Since 1989, the mission of the Kentucky Folklife Program has been to engage with Kentucky communities to document, present and conserve the diverse traditional arts and cultural heritage of the entire state. This summer, Chrysler and the Kentucky Folklife Program will be focusing on documenting the traditional culture, arts and music of the Mammoth Cave region.

This will be done through ethnographic interviews, oral histories and photography, which will be placed in the Folklife Archives in the Kentucky Museum at WKU, as well as with the archives at Mammoth Cave National Park. The Kentucky Folklife Program will then be working with Mammoth Cave National Park staff to create special events, such as evening folklife presentations at the Park, to showcase the traditional culture and arts of the region to both park visitors and community members. These programs will be occurring later as the summer progresses.

Brent Bjorkman, director of the Kentucky Folklife Program as well as the Kentucky Museum, emphasized the importance of this project: “This kind of documentation and presentation at the Park really emphasizes the fact that the traditional arts and cultural heritage of the Mammoth Cave region are not just important historically, but they are also dynamically alive today, and vitally important to the community. This project celebrates both the history of the Mammoth Cave region and its future moving forward.”

Chrysler and the Kentucky Folklife Program would also like to ask for help in this project. If you or anybody you know practices a traditional skill or art, including but not limited to basketmaking, quilting, traditional music, hunting practices, traditional food preparation or recipes, contact Josh Chrysler at (270) 791-8653. Chrysler has already begun work on the project, and will continue through the end of August 2015.

Contact: Brent Bjorkman, (270) 745-6261

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