StoryFUSION Returns (posted for our friends at Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild)

Northampton Community College and the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild are pleased to announce the 2nd Annual StoryFUSION Festival celebrating “So Many Ways a Story Can Be Told.” StoryFUSION explores the many ways a story can be told through four days of storytelling, theater, film, dance, and much more on March 29th thru April 1st, 2012. All events are being held at NCC’s main-campus on Green Pond Rd. Many of the weekend events are free. For detailed information go to

This year’s featured presenter is Elizabeth Ellis, recognized as one of America’s great living storytellers. Elizabeth will deliver Friday’s Keynote Address (“Stories in Financially Hard Times”) and Saturday Evening Concert (with opener Larry Sceurman), and will conduct a workshop on the use of storytelling in education as well as a master-class for storytellers and other performers.

Another high-light of the weekend will be the workshop presentation by award winning documentarian Shanti Thakur on film-making. Her workshop is sponsored by the SouthSide Film Institute.

Those interested in family history and geneology will also have a chance to explore their interests with a morning workshop with public history professor Kim Carrell-Smith and an afternoon follow-up workshop exploring on-line geneology resources.

Similar to Story-Corp, Portraits of Life will give participants an opportunity to bring in someone from their family or community, and record their stories.

You can hear and see storytellers: your favorite local storytellers, tellers from the region and at the national level.

Some featured events are:
“American Tales” Performances of NCC student works of American Folk Tales through the disciplines of dance, theater, multi-media and the spoken word.
“Google This”, an excerpt from the larger performance piece, TITANIC 2000: The Convergence of It All; recounts the now mythic fatal voyage of April 1912, with sound, images, and a text drawn entirely from an internet search of quotation data bases.

Children’s Shows
“Dear Mr. Lincoln” Twelve-year-old Abigail feels President Lincoln will understand her worries, and begins an imaginary correspondence with him. Her “letters” give a clear picture of the history and the society in which the Civil War took place.

Interactive Folktale Theatre with Kristin Pedemonti; everyone gets into the act and helps to tell multicultural tales from all over the globe. Together let’s connect cultures and build bridges through story. This performance is fun for all ages.

To make reservations for workshops, performances and meals go to Saturday workshops have limits on number of participants. Shows and workshops scheduled on Thursday, Friday afternoon, and Sunday morning are free. On Saturday, a buffet lunch and dinner is available on location.

The members of the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild are a mix of professional and amateur storytellers whose pleasure it is to practice this ancient art. The Guild was started in 1998 to promote the art of storytelling in the Lehigh Valley. For more information about the festival, go to

Mary Wright

Storyteller, Writer, Theater Artist, Consultant


Artist of the Day #59: Lori Nix

There is something playful about the work of Lori Nix that reminds viewers of 6th grade dioramas, but then there is certainly something sinister about the work that feels like it has slinked out of an episode of The Twilight Zone. With these two elements being so prevalent in her work, we are left with some interesting paradoxes. There is something precious and fragile about a tiny translucent deer sipping from a pond. Then you see that it is clear, not out of a touch of magic, but because it has been drinking from toxic waste infected waters, you begin to think twice about the meaning of the piece.

Throughout the body of Nix’s work she is dealing with some darker themes. One series The City, she imagines New York in a post natural disaster future. She shows natures triumph over our modern way of living. Perhaps it is a reminder that we don’t really need to watch our careless habits regarding the environment for nature’s sake, nature will be just fine, but if we’re not careful, we are the ones that are going to feel the whiplash.

One could definitely draw some parallels to another artist I wrote about a few weeks back, Slinkachu, as they are both dealing with a miniature world, but there are certainly some differences. Slinkachu deals with the relationship of a small world within a large one, Nix is attempting to create a small world all in its own right. She is creating every aspect of her photographs from the light source to the infinite backgrounds. Her pieces have a cinematic feel that instantly have one thinking about entire plots and the characters within it. Also, her work is different in that it can be enjoyed more easily in both the finished photograph and the finished installation. With Slinkachu, to see the original installation would be very difficult. Whether or not that makes the work of one more appealing than another might be more specific to the viewer.

Nix’s pieces have a cinematic feel that instantly have one thinking about entire plots and the characters within it. It makes you wonder if she wanted to be a set designer but just didn’t have the budget to work that big. It might seem tedious to work with a T-Rex skeleton that’s only 3 inches tall, but it would be just as tedious to come up with the several million it would cost to work with the real thing.

ArtsEngine at University of Michigan

In may of 2011, a significant meeting occurred at the University of Michigan. The program, “ArtsEngine” convened a number of leaders in higher education to discuss, “The Role of Art-Making and the Arts in the Research University.” It was held May 4–6, 2011, in Ann Arbor. Attendance was by invitation. (Most of the content of this post was slightly adapted for verb tense from the ArtsEngine website.)


[Their] purpose in hosting this meeting was to recognize and advance research university support for art-making and the arts as a matter of great cultural significance. University sponsorship affects not only the nature, quality, and definition of the arts in society, but the intellectual and creative capacity of its faculty, students, staff, and ultimately of the general populace.

Many research universities are devoting considerable resources to building the arts and art-making into the life of the university. All of these institutions are grappling with attendant administrative and conceptual challenges, including curricular impact, funding mechanisms, and theoretical justification. This meeting was meant to address both these philosophical and practical questions.

To learn more about the impetus and goals for the meeting, read this recent Q&A with ArtsEngine’s Executive Director, Theresa Reid.


Provosts, deans, directors, faculty, and graduate students from 50 peer institutions across the U.S. were invited to participate in the meeting. A full participant list is published online.

National Task Forces

ArtsEngine established national task forces to advance the work begun by working groups during the Michigan Meeting.  Task forces were convened on the following topics:

    • Advocacy structures and strategies:  To compile information on current advocacy structures and arguments for integrating art-making into Research I institutions, and to propose stronger arguments and structures.
    • Co-curricular programming:  To compile information on how co-curricular programming is currently being used in support of arts-integration in the research university, and to explore new co-curricular strategies.
    • Curricular strategies:  To compile information on courses and curricula that currently support the integration of art-making in the research university, and to explore new, potentially scalable  strategies.
    • Research agenda:  To compile information about what we know about the impact of art-making on undergraduates, university communities, and university functioning, and to articulate an agenda for research to expand that knowledge.

Original vision and background statements for Michigan Meeting working groups, and preliminary plans that emerged from the May meeting, can be reviewed here. Immediate action steps recommended by the working groups are summarized here. A summary of short-term goals to support task force work can be viewed here.

ArtsEngine does a spectacular job documenting the meeting; curating the video presentations by the keynote speakers, as well as the full proceedings by the task forces listed above.

I urge everyone who involved in art making, and arts related research in higher education to consider reading the interim report which was just released last week. It contains great advocacy statements and guidance for those of us in this field to re-consider our best practices and metrics for reaching outside “the choir.” Thanks so much to the tireless efforts of our colleagues at ArtsEngine. Additionally, check out the list of reports and articles a source for strategies, research, policy and news. This should be bookmarked and referenced frequently.