I've been excavating culture in spaces I refer to as "fallen heritage sites". I've composed many memorials to these fallen sites since the 2008 flood. One of these sites is a neighborhood called "The Flats". It was home to the first wave of immigrants from Bohemia, 1852...sadly, we are loosing this era of history in Cedar Rapids, but heritage can lie in other spaces that define our cultural landscape.
One of the last remaining homes in "The Flats" will hopefully be saved from demolition. I will be creating a storyline with this heritage space before it leaves its location...
For me, it can be emotionally difficult to deal with these fallen heritage spaces. The name of this project came from these difficult experiences, most of which occured during/after the 2008 floods. The name "Stezky" means pathways /// Czechs created pathways to each settlement both cognitively and physically, but somewhere along the way they became broken - the span of time from the original settlers grew further away, so we are at a cross-roads with our cultural heritage. It is a goal of this project to reconnect these pathways through different forms of engagement and understanding about our current state of heritage.
Last week, I documented Marj Nejdl's egg decorating class at the National Czech & Slovak Museum - Marj is one of my mentors and folk art heroes ))) Getting a hug from Marj is like getting one from Czech culture itself ;)
Marj gave me rags from her workshops to use for my project ))
I'm working on a collaborative piece along with recording a conversation between two makers/cultural practitioners: Marj + myself.
Guess what?!? I'm the Grand Marshal of the Houby Days parade!!! )))
if you're interested in taking part in the parade, please contact me: email@example.com.
Commercial entries: $15
Non-Profit entries: No Entry Fee
I would like to involve all the Czech communities across Iowa to take part in celebrating our cultural heritage...
Join artist, Sonya Darrow for a presentation
about her Czech heritage project: Stezky/Pathways
11:00AM on April 23rd at the Presbyterian Church near Ely,
11100 Spanish Road
Ely, Iowa 52227
Do you have a story to share? The artist is seeking materials to complete the art inspired by Czech settlements & their cultural heritage. These donated materials can represent your Czech identity; ranging from textiles to everyday objects. Sonya will also record stories about Czech heritage and those who still speak the Czech language. Please come to the event in Ely to take part in the Stezky/Pathways project!
This piece of wood is connected to the heart of the "Bohemie Alps" near Vining, Iowa. I used the wood to create a sound capsule for the landscape of this region, which inspired Czech settlers to begin their life in the 'new world'.
Over the next few months, I will collect field recordings around farms and along the Turkey River. These recordings will become one of my sound compositions along with being part of a sound archive at the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library. This wood piece will be used in the project's exhibition to present a different format in the way we might think about our soundscape - how does it impact us or in this case, how did it impact Czech settlers?
The Czech composer Dvorak was often seen sitting along the Turkey River near Spillville; writing about the sounds he heard and conversations with other Czech settlers about their experiences in the 'new world'. Iowa's landscape and bird sounds were a great inspiration for his compositions such as String Quartet in F Major and String Quartet in E Flat - much controversy surrounds whether or not it was his stay in Iowa that Dvorak created all or some of the famous "New World" symphony. Either way, Dvorak felt at home in Iowa - his spouts of homesickness were quickly cured when he visited other Czech communities across Iowa.
If you have any field recordings or would like to take part in the project, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org - I'm looking for more farms to document along with any personal stories about Czech heritage.
This is a shoe stand. Now, it is a 'keeper of tradition'.
I've been working in studio on an instrument, which will hold the sounds of a headdress. The sound portion of my project will be displayed mostly in the library and media rooms at the National Czech & Slovak Museum; interacting with the archive and preserving new source material for future generations. Some of these source materials include collecting the Czech dialect in Iowa - if you know someone, who still speaks Czech please contact me. I feel it is important to capture the current state of the language, which is unique - often, it is an old form of the present-day language.
The Stezky/Pathways project has officially started with meetings in Clutier & Vining....
More info soon about events and exhibitions across Czech-American communities in Iowa ))
At the St. Joseph's Day parade, I wore a headdress made within 72hrs of being back in Cedar Rapids. It is composed of items collected on the ground along with items from interactions with people. One of the items is connected to the first sound for my Stezky/Pathways project: Jan from Czech Village Antiques, who counts in Czech while she walks the mall for exercise - it is her way to connect with the culture...So, later in the project you will hear what a headdress sounds like... ;)
artist-teacher/heirloom caretaker/community organizer