Sunday, September 28th was Community Day on campus. The museum held an entertaining event with many different activities. My first role of the night was to assist the Griot Drum Ensemble as they began to set up. Komoyaka King and Amawa Artis, the drummers, are two wonderful people to talk to. They were very enthusiastic and had a great time playing in the museum. King played on a djembe drum during the performance, a large and booming African drum.
The Griot Drum Ensemble played before and after the remarks as well as during, playing a short drum beat to accompany the applause or laughter. Interim Director Carl Schafer; Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora; Ball State students Joshua Vance and Reanna Miller; Executive Director of Motivate Our Minds Inc. Monique Armstrong; Ball Brothers Foundation President Jud Fisher; and Ball State University Board of Trustees president Hollis Hughes all gave their remarks at the bottom of the stairs at the Riverside entrance before cutting the ribbon and being lead by the Griot Drum Ensemble through the museum.
The music performed during the event was beautiful and diverse. Somehow, the acoustics in the galleries resonated well. When visitors moved from the gallery one musician was playing in to the gallery of another, the transition was smooth and one could not hear the other music anymore. Mundo Beat set up in the Sculpture Court and Garret Uyeno in the Japanese gallery. Garret Uyeno’s koto was soft and quiet, while Mundo Beat had multiple instruments, a vocalist, and the large sculpture court to play to.
I was also able to speak with Andre Artis, drummer of Mundo Beat and son of Amawa Artis of the Griot Drum Ensemble. He said he has worked with Arts for Learning, the organization that books the artists featured at Community Day, for 15 years and has been playing drums for 20, almost his whole life. I wish I had had the time to speak with the other two, Stacy Sandoval and Isaac Salazar to learn a bit about them as well.
Deborah Asante, with her beautiful Nigerian wedding dress and voice, spoke to those in the African gallery. She started by talking about how she became so interested in storytelling and that her grandmother would read to her and her siblings. She would, in turn, tell stories to her four younger siblings, even in exchange for doing her chores about the house. She loved the stories of princesses but always felt disappointed when she was told the description of the princesses because she wanted a princess that looked like her. This is when she became interested in African folktales. Her first story was an old folktale from West Africa about a beautiful girl named Abana. My little sister arrived just as this story began and did not leave until it was complete, which is quite impressive for a five year old. Adults and children, like my sister, felt just as emotionally interested in the story and Deborah Asante was while she acted out her stories.
With the approximately 500 people admiring the museum, the time flew by rather quickly.
[All photos from thestarpress.com.]