Suzanne (Suzy) Seriff, Director, Gallery of Conscience, Museum of International Folk Art (2010-present); Sr. Lecturer Anthropology/Folklore, University of Texas/Austin (1996-present). Education and Accomplishments: PhD and MA Folklore, UT Austin (1989); Honors BA Anthropology, Swarthmore College (1978); Major traveling exhibits curated: Recycled Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap (1988- 1996); Forgotten Gateway; Coming to America Through Galveston Island (2009); Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities (2010). Member, AFS (since 1982); elected AFS Nominating Committee (2009-2012); appointed Cultural Diversity Committee (Jan, 2016-present); Section Member: Women’s, Jewish Folklore, Independent Folklore, Social Justice, Museums and Folklore, Folklore and Education; Co-founder, Experiments in Exhibition Workshops (2014-present); appointed AFS Folklore and Museums Working Group (2013-2015); recipient Elli Köngäs-Miranda Prize, HM; JAF editorial assistant (1982-1984).
“Folk art must speak to the people,” South African beadworker and AIDS activist Lulama Sihlabeni, told me. “That’s what puts the folk in folk arts!” My commitment to “speaking to the people” started as a young folklorist working with traditional toymakers who use their arts to speak out against injustices. As educator, curator, public folklorist and AFS member for over three decades, I have continued to work to affect positive social change within our communities, our discipline, and our world. If elected to our Society’s Executive Board, I will focus on two issues most important to our members: increasing the connections between public life and the work of folklorists, and addressing the lack of cultural diversity in our profession and our membership. Diversity is about creating an engaged and accountable community of practice among folklorists and across communities. It is nurtured by catalyzing public conversations about issues of conscience in our classrooms, boardrooms, town halls, and at our annual meetings. It is mirrored through the composition of a more diverse executive board, something I worked on while chair of the AFS nominating committee. It will be seeded through our Society’s presidential initiative to build a critical race, queer and feminist theory for an upcoming generation of folklore scholars and public sector workers. Beginning this year in Miami, we will also explore new and creative options for more fully collaborating and allying ourselves with diverse local leaders and culture workers at our meeting sites around pressing issues. The voice of our Society should be heard on issues of global concern as well. The time is now to “speak to the people” to build a more equitable and accountable future together.
12/17/2016 » 12/20/2016
The 2016 IASTE Conference: Legitimating Tradition