Down Jersey Folklife Program

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About the Folklife Program

The Down Jersey Folklife Center was initiated 1995, in conjunction with a major NJSCA initiative to create a state-wide Folklife Infrastructure. The Center has presented programming to diverse audiences at WheatonArts, in area schools, and at other sites. Public programs include exhibitions, demonstrations by artists/tradition bearers, performances, festivals, classes, training for educators and interns, lectures and seminars. While many presenting artists have come from eight southern New Jersey counties, the DJFC has also welcomes presenters from out of the area in an effort to give breadth and context to the programming presented, and to engage the ethnic groups and communities with whom we partner as audiences. Research and ongoing fieldwork projects provide the basis of virtually all programming.

Activities at the Center have ranged from Pinelands basketry and Native American drum making to Japanese origami and Ukrainian pysanky; from African American doll making to Palestinian embroidery and Guatemalan weaving. Performances have included Japanese drumming/dancing, jibaro music, Estonian dancing, and an Oaxacan-style “Castillo” fireworks display accompanied by a traditional “Fire Dance.” Classes have been offered in a wide range of both visual and performing arts including Indian mehendi and rangoli, Philippine paper-cutting and eggshell mosaics; Cambodian court dances, Bulgarian, Albanian, Greek, Romanian and Turkish folk dances.

Please check back for more information on upcoming programs and events.

Creative Community Connections Series


Near and Far: Arts and Cultures of East Asia

Near and Far: Arts and Cultures of East Asia addresses the history and cultural heritage of the East Asian communities through a multi-faceted project that includes exhibitions, educational programs, and performances featuring Asian visual arts, music and dance. It is planned in the context of the WheatonArts’ Creative Community Connections initiative, a series of programs inaugurated in 2004 to raise awareness of cultural heritages and to create a welcoming community setting for understanding, appreciating, and sharing the arts and cultures of our region’s extraordinarily diverse population.

Over the years, we have engaged artists and audiences of various cultural groups in a profoundly meaningful conversations about perceptions of the past and challenges of the present; notions of life, aesthetics and spirituality – all interpreted though arts. It is our goal to continue this dialogue, while broadening and deepening our partnerships with the local communities.

This project will address the cultural heritage of the Asian communities residing in our region. We will present a variety of artists working in both traditional and contemporary art forms, whose artworks can once again engage our audiences in conversations about cultural heritage and shared humanity. Our major focus is to be on East Asian arts and cultures associated with Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar (former Burma), Tibet, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Major art forms to be featured will include: traditional printing and brush painting, palm weaving, wood carving, leaf carving, puppetry and puppets making, paper cutting and paper folding, sand mandala, embroidery on silk or other fabrics, brocade and other forms of weaving, calligraphy, jewelry, paper lanterns, knotting, culinary arts, storytelling as well as various forms of music, theater, opera and dance.

Voices & Colors: Vietnamese Dong Ho Paintings
May 11 through July 22, 2018

Transformations & Reflections: Chinese Paper Arts
October 5 through December 30, 2018

Chinese Art Demonstrations at the Festival of Fine Craft
From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Folklife Center
October 6, Puppetry Art and Calligraphy Painting
October 7, Paper Cutting and Woodcarving

The Flowers of Legend: A Night of Chinese Huangmei Opera, Qipao Dance & Fashion Show
Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.wheel of life sand mandala

Wheel of Life: Tibetan Sand Mandala by Losang Samten
November 13 through November 17, 2018, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Mandala Dismantling Ceremony
Saturday, November 17 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
During this special 5-day residency, visitors are invited to observe Tibetan master artist, Losang Samten, as he works and to discuss with him the creative process while learning about the meanings behind the mandala elements. A special station will be available for those wanting to try the technique themselves.

The “Near and Far: Arts and Cultures of East Asia” project is presented in partnership with Cumberland County Cultural and Heritage Commission and Atlantic County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs. Major support for this partnership project has been provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.