Through fascinating profiles of five National Heritage Fellows, folklorist
Alan Govenar celebrates the cultural democracy that is America -- and
honors the endurance of traditional crafts and methods.
In bustling midtown Manhattan, Qi Shu Fang applies the elaborate makeup and headwear required for her role as a Chinese opera singer,
an impressive art she learned in her native Beijing. Overlooking a quiet
little garden in Nyssa, Oregon, Eva Castellanoz starts her day as a maker
of paper-and-wax coronas, delicate tissue-paper flower wreaths she
learned to make in Mexico, her childhood home. Meanwhile, Ralph W.
Stanley keeps the craft of boat building alive in his coastal Maine town,
and Dorothy Trumpold carries on the rug-weaving technique her grandfather taught her in Amana, Iowa. And for fifty-two years, the late
Allison "Tootie" Montana designed magnificent beaded-and-feathered
regalia to show off as Mardi Gras Indian suits.
Each of these artists is a recipient of a prestigious National Heritage Fellowship bestowed by the National Endowment for the Arts. And all come wonderfully alive through candid interviews with renowned folklorist Alan Govenar and captivating full-color photographs, highlighting their life stories, their art forms, their culture, their individuality, and their inspiration. These people may be ordinary in that they remind us of our neighbors, our families, or our friends. Yet all are extraordinary in their passion for their work and in their commitment to artistic excellence and to its importance in all of our lives.