Katy does | Arts and culture | Weekly style
The daughter of a Foreign Service father, the new Virginia state folklorist grew up in remote areas like Indonesia, France and the Bahamas. “My experiences as a minority in other cultures have prepared me to be open, curious, and driven to try to better understand differences,” says Katy Clune, Virginia Humanities’ new Virginia Folklife program director and key programmer at This year’s Richmond Folk Festival.
The state’s third chief folklorist in 33 years, Clune received his Master of Arts in Folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and succeeds Jon Lohman, who left the VFH last year to lead his own non-profit organization, the Centre. for cultural dynamism (CCV). CCV will sponsor this year’s Virginia Folklife Stage at the Richmond Folk Festival and collaborate with Clune and Virginia Humanities on programming for the Virginia Folklife area, which has moved to a new festival venue on the Upper Canal, off 5th Street. .
Style recently spoke with Katy Clune about her long-term goals as Virginia’s new Chief Folklorist, and the State of Origin’s offerings at this year’s folk festival, including a spotlight on musical traditions and Latin American dance shows, and an epic instrument-making demonstration and workshop.
Style Weekly: Virginia Folklife Area programming will be a collaboration this year. How will this work?
Katy Clune: I say it’s like double the folk power. Jon Lohman now runs his own non-profit organization and that expands the kind of resources available for what we hope to do. He will continue to program and animate the festival music scene and I will oversee the craft demonstration area. But there is one stage event that I oversee, a Saturday performance featuring Tata Cepeda, one of Puerto Rico’s most famous bomba dancers, with the nonprofit cultural group Semilla, led by Isha M Renta Lopez of Fredericksburg. Tata Cepeda is a kind of Bomba royalty in Puerto Rico, his grandfather is considered a patriarch of the form, and the Cepeda family are widely known as cultural ambassadors of bomba. She and Lopez are currently apprenticeship participants of the Virginia Folklife Program. This is the program’s first transoceanic apprenticeship.
There will also be an exhibition featuring luthiers and instrument makers showcasing their craft. What will he understand?
In addition to the instruments you’d expect, such as mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, etc., we’re especially thrilled to have a wife from Orange, Virginia, Dena Jennings, who makes contemporary string instruments from calabashes on which she grows her property. And then we have two excellent luthiers, Daniel Smith and Richard Maxham, and Smith is going to demonstrate how to carve a violin roll. Lisa Ring will demonstrate side bending the guitar and Chris Testerman from Independence, Va. will be there. He trained [in instrument making] with Albert Hash’s daughter, Audrey Hash Ham. Albert Hash is this legendary luthier from Grayson County and made many of his own tools in his workshop, which he called “the lab”. Chris brings two of Albert Ham’s tools, and we’re going to demonstrate how to shape fiddle tops with the Hash Duplicator.
What do you hope to focus on as Virginia’s newest folklorist?
There is foundational work to be done regarding our archives, some of our administrative processes, and expanding the resources we generate for traditional arts in Virginia. I take a strong program and make it even stronger. Looking outward, however, I am excited to launch new grassroots initiatives around climate change, reparation and faith and to develop new paid opportunities for emerging documentarians to tell stories about the cultures of Virginia.
What about Virginia Folklife’s vaunted apprenticeship program, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year?
I’ve assessed the work the program has done to date and will say that in mapping the locations of the apprenticeships, we really haven’t served southern Virginia well and there are big gaps in central Virginia. It’s a clear invitation to dive a little deeper into these parts of the state.
Overall, how will you be different from Jon Lohman as a folklorist from the state of Virginia? Will there be less focus on the music?
I have a background in food, material culture and skilled trades – you may see less emphasis on music in the future, but of course music will always be a part of it. key to what we do because it’s a key part of Virginia folk life.
For more information about the Virginia Folklife Program, visit virginiafolklife.org. For a full schedule of the Virginia Folklife Area and Center For Cultural Vibrancy Virginia Folklife Stage at the Virginia Folk Festival, October 7-9, visit richmondfolkfestival.org.