Kokayi: “Only” at 2019 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Role: Video Editor
Read the Full Article at Smithsonian Folklife Festival Blog

Woo Won-Jae: Anxiety

Role: Video Editor
Original footage from AOMG

As one of the most versatile innovators of his generation of interdisciplinary artists, Kokayi forges new ground yearning to create all things new and different. The Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, MC producer, and educator continues to make music that is often described as outside the box.

With his exploration of soundscapes, his work has ranged from the interpretation of social subtexts surrounding, race, religion, and patriotism and their effects on the human psyche. Kokayi has been a featured speaker and panelist for events presented by the State Department, Music Cities Conference, DCTV, and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Woo Won-Jae, who received the spotlight in the hip-hop survival TV show, 'Show Me The Money 6' with his honest lyrics and smooth flow, won several music charts immediately through releasing the single [We Are]. Since then, he has been working as an artist who has garnered sympathy and great expectations by presenting works with his own thoughts through the single [Anxiety] and [Nostalgia].

Feed the “Bird of 400 Voices”

Role: Storyteller & Video Editor
Read the Full Article at Smithsonian Folklife Festival Blog

Find Voice Through Puppets

Role: Videographer
Read the Full Article at Smithsonian Folklife Festival Blog

A few blocks off the I-80 Freeway in the East Bay area of California, tucked in the middle of a small, ordinary-looking shopping center with an auto parts store, pizza place, grocery store, and Indian restaurant, is a nonprofit arts organization which is anything but ordinary.

Founded in 1994, Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy took over the site of a former liquor store and turned it into what an NPR Morning Edition report called a “factory of culture.”

Why is it extraordinary? The story goes back to 1989, when Mexican American guitarist Eugene Rodríguez teamed up with Gilberto Gutiérrez of Veracruz, Mexico, to teach the son jarocho music and dance traditions of rural Veracruz. Gilberto was the unrelenting spark plug of a movement that combined documentation, performance, and cultural activism to return a once vigorous “people’s music” to new generations. He traveled the rural roads to find musical elders who languished in the shadow of pop culture. He learned from them and reconnected those artists in a public way to people in the region. Then he took them on tour to places further afield in Mexico and the United States.

The earliest record of Karagöz—meaning “black eye” in Turkish, a reference to the namesake dark-eyed puppet protagonist—dates back to the fourteenth century. Anatolian shadow puppetry developed during the early days of the Ottoman Empire, long before the Republic of Turkey was established in 1922.

Karagöz is performed with two-dimensional puppets cut out of polished and painted animal hide. The puppeteer stands behind a white, translucent cloth screen and manipulates the figures using wooden rods. A light (once an oil lamp, now an electric bulb) illuminates the figures for the audience from behind the screen, casting their shadows in full color, while the puppeteer switches out characters and voices, shakes his tambourine, blows his kazoo, and sometimes uses the shadow of his own hand as part of the show.