October 24, 2016

Our continuing statewide Roundtable Series brought together our ACTA board of directors, staff and a host of artists, cultural activists, and colleagues for a program on October 5th, 2016 which we named: Oakland! Traditional Artists’ Creative Collaboration with the World.

Acknowledging the vitality of the East Bay as a place that nurtures traditional arts practices and supports many culture-bearers, we visited with friends and colleagues over food, conversation and art-sharing. Our artists included members of the African-American Quilt Guild of Oakland, who displayed Oakland landmarks rendered through textiles; the songs and praises from Griot (storyteller and historian) Ousseynou Kouyate from Senegal, accompanied by Muhamed Kouyate on the balafon (xylophone). Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto-Wong, koto master artist, accompanied by her son Brian Wong, reminded us that the transmission of traditional practices are often picked up by generations removed from historical trauma. It was American-born Shirley whose interest in Japanese culture grew in contrast to the generations that suffered through internment camps and vowed to assimilate into American culture, thereby giving up all things ‘Japanese’.  We ended the presentations with Balkan Romani music artist Rumen Sali Shopov, originally from Bulgaria but now a new citizen of the United States, who brought his ensemble of students to share two songs with us, highlighting the Turkish influences of the music. We ended the evening with a participatory and lively line dance led by Rumen’s granddaughter, Stefka and her mother, Erolina. The set gave life to the cultural treasures of the Rom people who have been persecuted over centuries yet continue to be the innovative artists that they are.

ACTA wishes to thank our hosts at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, our guest artists, and all of those who partiipated in this wonderful event!

You can capture some of the highlights in the video below. Stay tuned for more Roundtable events throughout the State!