Artists weave diversity pattern at Heritage Festival

March 08, 2004|EMILY BURTON

Sweet testimonial harmonies from the First Baptist Church Adult Choir floated out of the cafeteria doors at Danville High School Saturday, weaving a rhythm that enticed the Heritage Festival crowd to draw closer.

The musical artistry of the 10 singers beckoned to an audience who couldn't sit still. Feet tapped, hands waved, and children in hand-made feathered masks danced in the isles.

Members of the community clapped in syncopation, woven into one body by the compelling gospel music. As the color lines and ethnic borders were obscured through music, food, and art, festival organizers say they had come closer to accomplishing their goal of interweaving the variety of cultures in the community.

"It's just all about getting to know folks," said Artie Atkins, corresponding secretary for the festival sponsors, Citizens Concerned for Human Relations. "A lot of times it's a matter of one or two little words that you don't say or do that will make things (in the community) more harmonious."


"Danville's very diverse in cultures. They want everybody to know where everyone comes from, and it shows that everybody's not the same, but you should treat everyone equal," said Bate Middle school student Edith Mattingly.

The various choirs were not the only "weavers" at the festival. Young children, middle school students and doctors alike attended an ethnic weaving session in the art room. Nimble fingers wove small bunches of yarn over rectangles of cardboard, cut and strung to form makeshift looms. This process involved warping, weaving and wefting.

Helping to teach weaving to help pay for field trip

"There's a lot of 'w' words in weaving," joked class leader Deborah Peckler. She and the Junior Kentucky Historical Society chapter at Woodlawn Elementary were helping to teach weaving while running a refreshment stand to help pay for a field trip to the Cincinnati Natural Museum of History. According to Peckler, multi-cultural art projects, like weaving, and historic crafts were an important part of the learning process in her fifth-grade classroom.

"It points out to kids how things have changed over time," said Peckler. Weaving has been a staple of family life in every culture and decade, said Peckler, and its importance to those cultures is a valuable lesson, even today.

"Weaving is one of those things that hasn't changed over time, whether it's on looms in a big factory or by hand," said Peckler. "They put us down as ethnic weaving, but I'd say that weaving is weaving no matter what part of the country you're from."

Weaving and other forms of art are an important tie between cultures, said Doug Smith, a Versailles artist and exhibitor.

"Art tells a story. Each heritage has a story and each story is never told the same," said Smith. "And it should be told all year long."

Others agreed that the festival, in its eleventh year, was a great way to tell the story of the community to its diverse members and looked forward to next year's celebration.

"It really brings people together in the community, you get to hang loose. It's a learning experience too," said Joseph Cook, a member of the tech and sound crew. "It's really good to see black and white people get together. All colors are very important. Just imagine seeing one color. It would be boring."

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