Victor, NY— Visitors to Friends of Ganondagan’s 2019 Native American Winter Arts Festival on Saturday, December 7 will experience the wide array of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) living culture, but with a new and unusual twist, literally.
From 10 am - 4 pm, Ganondagan’s Seneca Art & Culture Center will host performances by Iroquois Social Dancers in regalia, storytelling, traditional foods, a silent auction, and a Native American artisan gift market. However, a new collaboration with Airigami—the artists who create large-scale installations entirely of balloons—will provide a unique visual, educational, and participatory storytelling addition to the day.
For the very first time, Friends of Ganondagan is collaborating with Airigami’s Founder and Creative Director Larry Moss and Artistic Director Kelly Cheatle who will be building and installing a large balloon creation to visually capture the essence of the Iroquois Creation Story, particularly Skywoman and the story of how Turtle Island came to be.
“When thinking of Native Americans, balloons are not something that comes to mind,” notes Friends of Ganondagan Program Director Jeanette Miller. “But it is when you think creatively and know how much children love balloons and storytelling. We challenged Airigami to create a balloon realization of the Iroquois Creation Story, and they stepped right up to the plate. We can’t wait to see the end result and combine it with one of Ganondagan’s premier storytellers—Tonia Loran (Mohawk)—to add the words to the images.”
Utilizing over 600 balloons, the Skywoman sculpture is a “representation of the story that unfolds over the span of the sculpture,” said Cheatle. When completed, the piece will reach 18-20 feet to the ceiling of the Seneca Art & Culture Center auditorium where the work will be created. “We are excited to collaborate with Ganondagan and visually interpret the Haudenosaunee creation story using our unique medium,” added Cheatle. “Storytelling is an integral part of our work at Airigami that we share with Native American culture—and Ganondagan.”
Additionally, visitors to the Native American Winter Arts Festival have the opportunity to create balloons that will become part of the Skywoman sculpture.
In keeping with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Seventh Generation principle in which decisions are made based on how they affect seven generations out, Airigami partners with Impact Earth to reduce its environmental footprint. Once the sculpture exhibition has ended, all of the natural latex rubber balloons from the piece will be composted.
All events are free and open to the public. The festival was made possible by the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Bureau of Historic Sites NYS Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation. For more information, visit https://ganondagan.org/Events-Programs or call (585) 742-1690.