“Stories from the Woods,” a new exhibit on the storytelling traditions of the Upper Peninsula and the many folklorists who have studied these traditions, will open on Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University. An opening reception will be held at 7 p.m. in the center, located in 105 Cohodas Hall. Admission is free. The exhibition begins with the Anishinaabeg traditions and ends with contemporary storytellers such as Oren Tikkanen of Calumet and the late Fred Rydholm of Marquette. Along the way, it highlights the work of ethnographers and folklorists including Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, Frances Densmore, Ivan Walton, Alan Lomax, Earl Clifton Beck, Franz Rickaby, Harry B. Welliver, Aili Kolehmainen Johnson and Richard Dorson. It was Dorson's book, "Bloodstoppers and Bearwalkers," that was the inspiration for this exhibition. The multi-media experience features 19 narrative text panels, five audio stations with recordings collected by many of these folklorists—some of which have never been heard by the general public—and video clips taken by Alan Lomax during his visit to the Upper Peninsula in 1938. When it closes at the U.P. Heritage Center on May 1, 2010, the exhibit will tour Upper Peninsula historical societies, libraries and community centers through 2013. The goal is for it to visit each U.P. county. “Stories from the Woods” is funded in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The narrative committee for the exhibition included Troy Henderson from Loyola University, James Leary and Hilary Virtanen from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Yvonne Lockwood from Michigan State University Museum, Michael Loukinen and Russell Magnaghi from NMU and Kate Remlinger from Grand Valley State University. Students from the Northern Michigan Constructors organization are building the audio stations as a volunteer project for the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center.
September 16, 2009