We attended the Festival of Nations last Saturday and were overwhelmed by the number of cultures represented. It was amazing the number of passionate people that you could speak with at the event.
One artist I spoke with at length was Gary Mason, who specializes in creating beautiful Lakota jewelry as well as paintings and other Lakota artifacts. In fact, the official poster for the Festival of Nations 2007 had a shield created by Gary with a showing of hands representing the races of the world.
In our conversation he talked about how he had been making jewelry for the last five years. Each creation for him is a very spiritual process, and it becomes more difficult with each creation as he pours more of himself into each work. His openness about the artistic process and knowledge of various beads really impressed me.
His website www.touchoflakota.com will be active in two or three weeks at which time, I’ll probably talk more about him. Mason was one of the many artists represented in the market or bazaar section of the festival.
On the second floor, the various ethnic groups had booths where they answered questions and had games or sporting events from each nation on display. We learned about everything from a Hmong sport involving tops called tujlub to a variety of Turkish sports including Cirit (Jereed), a traditional Turkish equestrian sport and Yağh Gűreş, grease wrestling.
On that same floor was a booth representing Somali represented by two students. I really liked the paintings in the background which portrayed scenes from daily life in Somalia.