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Reflecting on a year of festivals

In October, 2015, the Puyallup School District, Broadway Center for Performing Arts, and the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture and Arts presented Dia de la Raza: A Festival of Latino Cultures.  Dia de la Raza means “Day of the People,” and nearly 500 visitors enjoyed the free family festival.

Instructors from Bailadores de Bronce, Washington’s premier company of Mexican dance, taught families authentic ballet folklorico.  Wearing brightly colored skirts on loan from Puyallup School District’s Ballet Folklorico program, all dancers earned enthusiastic applause from onlookers.

Two concerts were performed by Pachanga Alert! a lively quintet who performed music from a variety of Latin American countries featuring guitars, bass, strings, and percussion.  The festive atmosphere featured the music of Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina.

Children used their creative skills for art projects such as amate bark painting and papel picado paper cut banners.  Local food vendor, Los Tres Hermanos kept the place smelling great.

Special visitor, Pat Graham, from Urban Sketchers of Tacoma captured children learning the scarf dance in her sketch book, and stayed long enough to listen to Pachanga Alert! perform.

In November, hundreds came to participate in a Tour of Asia.  The Puyallup School District was proud to partner with the Asia Pacific Cultural Center of Tacoma, whose mission is to bridge communities and generations through art, culture, education and business.

The Karshner Center was alive with activity as four performing groups and two visual artists, representing six cultures provided nearly non-stop music and dancing.

The afternoon began with Hawaiian music and dance including ukuleles, guitars, and percussion sticks.  Traditional costumes were adorned with beautiful flowers, both complimenting the graceful movements.  The Korean drumming group “Sounds of the Earth” kept participants alert and engaged. 

The Great Hall provided the perfect performing area for Korean and Okinawa drummers and dancers; dancers from the Federal Way High School Pacific Islanders Club performed danced representing Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga.

Visitors young and old learned Korean calligraphy, Japanese name-writing, Mongolian art and games, and Cambodian art and history.  The entertainment was varied an educational.

Children were drawn to the lively and colorful dancing, but they also loved the many art projects representing Asian and Pacific Islander culture.  Students made red paper lanterns and Tapa cloth designs, and dragon puppets in the Karshner Center’s classroom.  They learned the art of shadow puppetry, made their own puppets, and told stories together.

Families enjoyed a full afternoon of activities and entertainment and had the chance to sample a lunch from The Filipino Kitchen, a local food vendor. The exciting flavors and delicious smells of Philippine cuisine filled the Karshner Center and added to a wonder cultural experience.

Throughout the day, participants were encouraged to make masks in the art classroom. The Karshner Center's day of drama wouldn't be complete without time for creative make believe. The art room was buzzing with activity as children designed and crafted their own masks.

In March, over 23 Native American Tribes were represented at the Karshner Center for the first ever Gathering of Families: A Celebration of Indigenous Culture and Art.  Over 300 visitors attended the festival.

The opening ceremony featured student performers from the Chief Leschi Schools Drum & Dance Group led by culture teacher Teresa Harvey.

Puyallup Tribal Culture Director Connie McCloud and culture teacher Lyle Dorman joined Harvey in leading several students in song and dance. Some noted this as one the group’s finest performances.

Following the performance, Chief Leschi Schools Superintendent Amy Eveskcige honored Karshner Museum’s Culture and Arts Festival Coordinator Lynda Belt with the Puyallup Tribe’s signature Pendleton blanket in appreciation for her work to honor Native American heritage, culture, arts, and people.

Talented storytellers kept visitors entertained with simple legends and oral history, providing some of the teachings of Native American culture.  Animated performers such as Harvest Moon, Roger Fernandes, and Paul Wagner joined musicians and dancers in a day of celebration, song, and dance.

Naturally, crafts were designed with a native focus.  Children learned to soften cedar bark, weave headbands, and carve into scratchboards covered with sand.

Friends from the Samish Tribe of Indians provided the closing song after Coastal Salish carver and artist Bill Bailey shared comments about his artwork. 

The four panels Bailey designed were installed at the Karshner Museum in the summer of 2015 and are a beautiful representation of the partnership Puyallup School District enjoys with the Samish people.

During the dedication of the artwork, a contingency from the Samish Tribe sang songs, gave gifts, and honored individuals from the Puyallup district and community.  Special blessings were given to younger and older guests.

At the Karshner Center, we are grateful for the new art installation and the many new artifact provided by the Samish.  As a school district, we are honored by the lasting friendship and mutually respectful relationship we have with Samish elders and tribal members.

In April, wildlife artist Becci Crowe was featured in a free event designed for families who wanted to explore endangered species, conservationism, and related art projects.

Specializing in wildlife and tribal portrait art, Becci Crowe’s desire to study both in their natural world has led to adventurous travel across six continents and over 45 countries including Antarctica, The Amazon, China, India, Nepal, Thailand, Borneo, Russia, and many countries on the African continent.

Visitors met the artist and learned about her adventures with endangered wildlife, including her work with the renowned conservationist Jane Goodall.  Crowe shared her latest adventures with Goodall in the Congo and Polar Bears in the Arctic.

Families learned to draw animals realistically, and learned the techniques of pointillism. They also made animal masks.

During each of the culture and arts festivals, visitors were surrounded by Legacy Washington exhibits on loan to the Puyallup School District from Secretary of State Kim Wyman.  In the fall, the exhibit Washington 1889: Blazes, Rails, and the Year of Statehood was installed in the Great Hall. 

Designed by Secretary Wyman’s staff, and using the Washington State archives for all of their primary source research, this exhibit was installed in Olympia as part of the celebration of Washington State’s 125th birthday.  Later, at the Karshner Center, it provided a great compliment to the re-opening of the Pioneer Room and remained on display until the end of January.

Beginning in February, the exhibit We’re Still Here: The Survival of Washington Indians filled the walls of the Great Hall.

This exhibit, vetted by many Washington Indians, acknowledges the early and continuing story of Native Americans and complements the Coastal Salish exhibit of artifacts on display at the Karshner Center as part of the third-grade literacy unit and fieldtrip. 

From the Salish Sea to Mount Tacobet: Culture and Artifacts of the Native People was researched and designed as a culminating experience for 1,600 third-grade students in Puyallup schools who visit the museum for a three-hour field trip each winter.

At the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture and Art we are committed to creating exhibitions and learning experiences which will help visitors make connections between themselves and the world in which we live. 

This past year, thousands of visitors have experienced the joy and wonder of the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture and Art.  We hope to see you sometime soon!