TEACHING: Heritage Storyfilms Presents...

TAUNY's Heritage Award recipient Gretchen Koehler talks about passing on the fiddling tradition. 

GRETCHEN KOEHLER: Fiddler| Educator| Movie Star......? Perhaps that's a bit of a stretch, but TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) partnered with St. Lawrence University to make "Storyfilms" featuring some of their Heritage Award recipients. Students in the SLU Digital Storytelling collected local stories about basket making, blacksmithing, rug braiding, farming, fiddling and the songs of Akwesasne Mohawk women.

Students Fiona Morrisson, Lousia Stancioff and Parker Johnson questioned me as I told them about my life's work of passing on a tradition. The film makers then edited the recorded interview and created a montage with photos I provided. (Thanks to my mom for many of the older pictures!)

  Fiddler/teacher Gretchen Koehler and packbasket maker/singer-storyteller Bill Smith are both featured in Heritage Storyfilms to be screened at The TAUNY Center on Thursday May 5, 2016 at 6:30pm. (Photo by Camilla Ammirati)

Fiddler/teacher Gretchen Koehler and packbasket maker/singer-storyteller Bill Smith are both featured in Heritage Storyfilms to be screened at The TAUNY Center on Thursday May 5, 2016 at 6:30pm. (Photo by Camilla Ammirati)

"The students from the St. Lawrence University Digital Storytelling class are proud to be putting their skills to use in the community," said their professor, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram. "Through this collaboration they've learned a tremendous amount about the invaluable traditions and people that make up the fabric of North Country character."

TAUNY hosted a gala screening for the community to share all of the films. I sat in the audience, trying to look casual,  but I have to confess, I was very anxious waiting to see my film for the 1st time in public. The movies were stunning. So many interesting stories. I definitely had a "This Is Your Life" moment seeing my film. Images of me as a kindergartener in my "pretty princess dress"-- to seeing my students at Apex Elementary/Fine Arts Magnet School in North Carolina -- to videos of my fiddlers in my studio in Potsdam, New York was deeply sentimental. 

Special thanks to the Sweetgrass Foundation, Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, Camilla Ammirati and Lillian-Yvonne Bertram.

 

 

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