Kentucky Folklife Program, 2009
My internship for the summer of 2009 was one of the most professionally and personally rewarding experiences that I have had during my time here at Western Kentucky University. The internship was fundamentally a two part process wherein I acted as an assistant in the design, transportation, and installation of the "Made to be Played: Traditional Art of Kentucky Luthiers" exhibit at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, Kentucky, a joint venture made by the National Endowment of the Arts, the generosity of Dupree family in honor of Clara Galtney Dupree, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Historical Society. The exhibit and its associated programming highlights the very best of the stringed instrument builders and the community of musicians that they help sustain within Kentucky. Under the supervision Bob Gates, the Folklife Program Director, Mark Brown, a Folklife Specialist, and Sarah Schmitt, the Arts Access Director of the Kentucky Arts Council, I was able to not only learn, but also experience what it takes to produce the best in public folklore and folklife programing and to gain a deeper appreciation of Kentucky Lutherie.
Though the exhibit itself is certainly something to be marveled at, the real keystone of the showcase resides in the performative and interactive activities which made the art and craft of Lutherie an experiential event. For the final portion of my internship, I was given the task of filmically documenting each of the three Master Series Concerts held in conjunction with the exhibit, creating an online video archive of all of the completed works, producing a thirty second "teaser" advertisement of the exhibit's culminating event, and many other tasks which not only challenge me but made me realize why I loved the study of expressive culture in the first place.
In the end, my summer internship has had an incredible effect who I am and who I will become within the field. My experiences while working at the Kentucky Historical Society have allowed me to make amazing social and professional networks, provided a forum for practical and theoretical application of ethnographic skills and concepts, and offered me a chance to work with some of the finest examples of traditional, postwar instruments and artisans that Kentucky has to offer. My involvement in the "Made to be Played; Traditional Art of Kentucky Luthiers" exhibit and my time spent at the Kentucky Historical Society has and will continue to be a huge asset within my both professional and personal, post-graduation goals.