Power of Culture Blog
Last month, the National Endowment for the Arts honored their 2019 National Heritage Fellows, including traditional artist Balla Kouyaté of Medford, MA.
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Periodically, we pose questions about issues artists face in their work and lives. This month, we asked: Why is it important to you to incorporate real stories or real people into your art?
Margo Guernsey, filmmaker
Storytelling is as old as human beings. For me, telling real stories about real people is a way to ground us in a deeper understanding of who we are in this world. We all tell ourselves stories about who we are as individuals, about our families, and about our people. What are the narratives that define who we are as Americans? What are the narratives that you lean on to understand your place in this world? A lot of those narratives are told by a dominant segment of society at the expense of others. My films tell the stories of liberation fighters who have gone under the radar, but who I believe are on the forefront of creating a society where all human beings can fulfill our vocations and live full lives. Storytelling is delicate, because we are all grounded in time and space, and bring that perspective. Part of my practice is to work in collaboration with voices that reflect the protagonists, or are as close to the protagonists as is possible (the biggest challenge is often the distance of history). What stories do you tell yourself, about your own life, that keep you going each day? What are the narratives you want to shift?