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Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities


Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2012



This summer, Iowa State University will join the Smithsonian Institution at the 46th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. From late June to early July, the festival takes over the National Mall in Washington D.C. giving the visitors a culturally experience unlike anywhere else in America.

Established in 1967, the festival celebrates global culture and the arts and humanities that develop from these regions. Each year, a region is selected in conjunction with the additional programs to celebrate its heritage and history. Past regions include Columbia and the Czech Republic. The other programs cover a vast array of exciting topics ranging from the celebration of NASA's 50th anniversary to American trial lawyers. This year, the festival will explore the wealth of this years three programs; Campus and Community: Public and Land-Grant Universities and the USDA at 150, Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding the AIDS Quilt, and Citified: Community Based Arts in Anacostia. Each program will have its own emphasis.

Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding the AIDS Quilt focuses on craft and imagination as a response to grief. The AIDS quilt, its history and its story, will be the emphasis of this program. Portions of the quilt itself will be on display throughout the festival to allow participants to see the grandeur of its message. The quilt, originating in 1987, now weighs over 54 tons. In 1992, the last time the quilt was displayed in its entirety, it covered thirteen acres. Today, the quilt is added to constantly. On average, one panel is added everyday. This program will also feature panel-making groups and the initiation ritual associated with additions to the quilt. Also featured will be other artistic responses to the AIDS crisis, along with multiple discussions about the effects of AIDS on the world from people of wide ranging backgrounds.

In Campus and Community: Public and Land-Grant Universities and the USDA at 150, they will celebrate and explore the 150 years of the United States Department of Agriculture and land-grant universities such as Iowa State. In 1862, land-grant universities and the USDA first became established. The Morrill Act, initiated by then Senator Justin Morrill of Vermont, transformed our budding university and many more like it into land-grant universities (Morrill Hall is named in his honor). This gave these universities financial support from the government as fields as agriculture, mechanics, and military history and strategy. Today, this definition has evolved, but the concentration of agriculture has remained the central point. Modules and hands-on activities will include, but are not limited to: mini-courses of various research fields, learning how modern farmers perpetuate and turn research into everyday practice, and trying a hand in a number of 4-H based activities.

Citified:Community Based Arts in Anacostia will emphasize the local art community of the District of Columbia's Anacostia neighborhood. From photography to painting, to the restored area itself, Anacostia is rich with community based arts and humanities from artists both local and far away. Located a few miles southeast of the National Mall on the Anacostia River in Washington D.C., Anacostia hosts numerous events highlighting local art and promoting the neighborhood's history each year.

The 2012 Smithsonian Institution Folklife Festival will run from June 27 - July 1 and July 4 - 8. The event is free and open to the public. The festival will run from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm each day with special events taking place during some of the evenings.There will also be the festival marketplace, where items from the numerous exhibits and included organizations will be sold. The festival will take place at the National Mall in Washington D.C. For more information, visit the festival's website.