Americana Culture - Folktales and Legends from N. America

This show comes from deep in my heart - my love for storytelling is growing stronger, as my affinity for my country continues to feel tangled and complicated. I've often been told (by friends / people from other countries) that American has no culture. All they know about the US is hamburgers, pizza, and hot dogs. Oh, and baseball, and the fact that we currently have a Cheetoh for a president. These sentiments are expressed when compared to an older country like South Korea, which dates back to 2333 BC and holds intricate, ancient temples to prove it; or a younger one, like South Africa, which boasts 11 different languages (because although that country is a mess with political and racial issues, they're bursting with diversity and culture.)

Well guess what? So is America.

For "Americana Culture, " I wanted to make art that was lighter, nostalgic, but also inform my viewers about the rich history and folktales from years' past. I'll be working (once again) with my favorite writer, A.C. O'Dell, who will supply poetry and short blurbs about each illustration, to better explain the narrative. (Click on her name to see her website and all her social medias. She's seriously awesome.)

As a little preview, I'm posting 5 of the 15 pieces I'll be showing in Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn. Thanks to the wonderful Loudoun County Arts Council, and Stephanie Pickens for allowing me to use the space for my stories. I'm excited for the opening night show! Since it's local, that means friends and family have a chance to come and enjoy what I've created.

"The Buffalo Dance" follows a band of mice, as they celebrate the summer under a waning moon. Little are they aware of their uninvited feline guest in the shadows and the smoke...

"The Bear" - part of a Triptych (a set of three associated works, meant to be displayed together), and tells the story of a greedy bear who steals honey from a farmer; the guilt that follows and his gift of retribution isn't as welcome as he expected...!

Ah, beautiful "Rainbow Crow"! This folktale comes by way of our Native American ancestors, who tells the origins of fire and why the crow is black.

"Blue Hen" represents Delaware - and this story comes from the times of the Revolutionary War. Delaware men were proud to be strong fighters, just like the fighting roosters they brought for entertainment. These roosters were chicks of one of the man's Blue Hen back home. Thus, the men soon were called this, and Delaware was named the Blue Hen State.

"Babe, the Big Blue" - a beloved, well-known legend from American history. A lumberjack named Paul Bunyan found this little ox frozen in water in the winter. Once he saved her and she was warm again, she never lost the blue hue.

For display, I've done a bit of DIY / upcycling with the framing, in order to keep with the thrifty American spirit. I scoured second-hand stores for decent wood frames (with glass) and was able to locate the perfect sizes and shades. I cleaned up the glass, sanded the rough spots, centered and framed them, and sealed the backs. Part of my personal philosophy is have less, as I'm somewhat of a minimalist / low-waste consumer (I know, a minimalist, low-waste artist is something of an oxymoron...!) I'm very aware of the number of objects I put out into the universe, as well as the amount of materials I purchase to create these pieces. This is another reason I strive to use pre-owned products like frames, and biodegradable "plastic" sleeves. I create art because it is my calling, but I want to do it in a way that brings joy and also doesn't put a strain on resources.

I hope you enjoy this little preview of my folktales and legends show, 'Americana Culture'! Which one is your favorite?

Marni Manning - Artist

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