Latino Folk Tales at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts

Latino Folk Tales:
Cuentos Populares
Art by Latino Artists
March 26 through June 9, 2013
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts in Amherst

Folk tale literature throughout the world encompasses both magic and symbolism, comprised in stories of saints, gods, myths, and legends. The motifs, characters and plots are often ancient in origin and initially passed by word of mouth. These repeated and recorded stories transcend various national and cultural boundaries. Multiple influences that reach back through the centuries can be discovered in the stories and art in this exhibition, which will open March 26 and run through June 9, 2013.

Even though the world is filled with hundreds of cultures, each sharing unique traditions and language, folk tales remain a constant around the globe. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA is showing an exhibit filled with illustrations from Latino folktales published for children. Latino Folk Tales: Cuentos Populares Art by Latino Artists by Latino Artists contains over 60 works of art from twelve different Latino artists and illustrators, showcasing a variety of artistic styles and folktales whose roots can be traced from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and other Spanish-speaking parts of the world to ancient day Persia, India, and China (the oldest version of Cinderella, for example, has been traced back to as long ago as 850 AD!).

The exhibit, which opens on March 26th, 2013, presents an opportunity for families to view and learn about the showcased artwork and to find the story thread that weaves not only in these images but also in folk stories found in other cultures too. When visiting the exhibit, discuss how each piece conveys an important part of the story it illustrates. Students can learn about the art of illustration by pairing the images to familiar stories – think about the clues given in each piece that help you to link it to a common folktale!

Cuentos Populares will be shown through June 9th, 2013. The Carle is open Tuesday-Friday from 10am-4pm, Saturday from 10am-5pm, and Sunday from 12noon-5pm. For more information, call the museum at 413-658-1105.

Related Upcoming Programing at The Carle:

CactusHead Puppets presents: The Tale of Juan Bobo
Wednesday, April 17 – Saturday, April 20 (11am & 2pm)
Meet Juan Bobo! He always tries to do the right thing, but often makes mistakes. For Juan even the smallest task can lead to the silliest of results. But can Juan Bobo’s seemingly foolish actions end up saving the day? Join CactusHead Puppets as they bring this classic Puerto Rican folktale to life and decide for yourself. (>$)

Five-College Musicians at The Carle
Saturday, April 20 (1pm)
Celebrate the Museum’s exhibition, Latino Folk Tales: Cuentos Populares, with a reading with musical accompaniment of Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand followed by a musical medley of Latin American songs. ($)

Learn How to Make Pisanski Eggs in Western MA

The Tradition of Pisanski Eggs

We all know about the American tradition of Easter eggs – the three dimensional ovals that come in many varieties, from jelly beans to hard boiled.  They’re no match, however, for Pisanski eggs.  These eggs – that you would never dream of eating – are beautifully decorated using beeswax and vibrant (yet non-edible) dyes.  A tradition from eastern Poland and Ukraine, rich in history, Pisanski eggs are usually decorated with intricate patterns, and are made using hollowed out eggs!

The word Pisanski comes from the Polish verb “pisac,” meaning to write  – an accurate description of the process! Check out this simple tutorial on making pisanki- wax and dye decorated Easter eggs from

Easter is coming – it’s on March 31st this year!  Introduce a new tradition to your family while exploring the customs of another culture.  Instead of plastic candy-filled eggs, make your own Pisanski eggs.  Your beautiful eggs will become beloved family treasures.  Families hoping to find help in learning to make Pisanski are in luck!  Check out these Western MA classes and workshops taking place before Easter Sunday:

  • Hampden County: On Saturday, March 2nd the Wistariahurst Museum hosts a hands-on demonstration of making pisanki with local artist Carol Kostecki.  Ages 12+, registration required.  413-322-5660.  Holyoke, MA.  ($$)
  • Franklin County: The Deerfield Spring Sampler, held at the Eastern States Exposition, will offer Ukrainian Egg Workshops on Sunday, March 9th at 12noon. 413-774-7476.  West Springfield, MA.  ($)
  • Berkshire County: Ventfort Hall Gilded Age Museum will offer two workshops, taught by Tjasa Sprague.  Classes will take place at 10am and another at 12:30pm on Saturday, March 23rd, with lots of demonstration.  413-637-3206.  Lenox, MA.  ($$)
  • Hampshire County: Marion Abrams will be leading two Family Batik Ukrainian Egg Workshops.  The first one take place on Saturday March 16th from 12noon-2pm at the Whately Library (FREE) and on Saturday, March 23rd from 1-3pm at the Forbes Library (>$) in Northampton. Marion will teach basic skills for beautiful traditional Ukrainian Pysanky. Children ages 8yo+ are welcomed. For info contact Marion at 413-247-9807. Whately, MA & Northampton, MA. (Free/>$)

Cultural Studies: Christian Folk Art from India at UMass

Christian Folk Art from India
Dec. 12th-16th, 2011
Augusta Savage Gallery at UMass

An exhibit from the collection of local, 83 year-old independent scholar of South Asian Studies Georgana Falb Foster at the UMass Augusta Savage Gallery in Amherst, MA. This exhibit features paintings of Christian stories by artists who come from Hindu hereditary castes of story teller/painters (Chitrakars) in Bengal province. Show runs Dec. 12th-16th with an opening reception on Monday, Dec. 12th from 5-7pm

The Augusta Savage Gallery at the University of Massachusetts’ Fine Arts Center will be hosting a show of Christian Folk Art from India opening with a reception on Monday, December 12th from 5-7pm and running through December 16th.

Each piece in the collection is a painted cloth scroll depicting a Christian story or concept- the scrolls were used by Chitrakars, traveling painters/storytellers in the Bengal province of India, and the scrolls were used to help illustrate the stories that the Chitrakars shared with communities.

Also included in the show are works by Christian Indian artist Frank Wesley, as well as other Christian artworks and artifacts.

A visit to the gallery can help students become aware of how Christianity influences and differs within various cultures worldwide, and thinking about this specific art show is a great way to segue into a broader dialogue on religion and cultures.

Discover Russian Culture Through Matryoshka Dolls

by Sienna Wildfield

(cc) Jeff Belmonte

“Mommy, where did I come from?”

By the time my daughter asked me this question, she was four and I had been preparing for a couple of years by collecting Russian nesting dolls. I had been picking them up at tag sales and white elephant sales and they’ve become one of my favorite tools for addressing this simple yet complex question. I start with the big doll, her Great Great Grandmother, open her up and pull out her Great Grandmother, open her up and pull out her Grandmother, open her up and pull out her mother, open her up and pull out, well, her. It has proven to be an effective illustration.

“The name [Matryoshka] wasn’t chosen by accident… Matryona (lovingly Matryosha, Matryoshenka) was a very popular and common Russian name for a woman. Also, the word was derived from the Latin “mater” (mother) which was perfectly suited for the toy. “* The first time I demonstrated the concept of maternal lineage to my daughter she stared at the dolls, the little gears turning inside her head… “How did I get in there?” I then did it backwards, replacing the dolls, working back in lineage: this is you, you came from me, I came from Gram, and so on. It was the backwards method that got her engine going and put the concept of lineage into form, and gave me some more time to figure out how to answer THAT question.


(cc) yasmapazMATRYOSHKA MADNESS: Discovering World Cultures in the Hilltowns

Not only can this traditional Russian icon be used to educate your kids about fertility and motherhood, it can also be used to teach them about world culture and customs too. As with our Sand Mandala Workshop that offers explorations of Tibetan culture, Hilltown Families and CAM will be offering a workshop for families to discover Russian culture through the traditional Russian Folk Art of painted Matryoshka Dolls: Matryoshka Madness.

On Sunday, February 10th from 10am-12:30pm, families are welcome to come spend the morning making a family heirloom by painting your own Matryoshka Doll. Stories about the Matryoshka Doll will be read and kids can discover Russian tradition and customs while learning about this traditional Russian Folk Art at the Children’s Art Museum in Shelburne Falls, MA. All ages are welcome. Pre-registration is required by JANUARY 20TH, 2008 ($). Click here to reserve your spot, or call 413.625.2030.


Russia Today did a short piece during Moscow’s International Craft Fair on the Matryoshka Doll that takes a look at the dolls history and origin:

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: