Sixth annual Migrations Festival in Turners Falls to celebrate diversity

  • Art curated by GuateMaya Art and Culture Connection. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

  • Art curated by GuateMaya Art and Culture Connection. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

  • Art curated by GuateMaya Art and Culture Connection. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

  • A mariachi band performs at the 2021 Migrations Festival at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls. The event returns on Saturday. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

  • Colorful art on display at the 2021 Migrations Festival at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls. The event returns on Saturday. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

  • Colorful art on display at the 2021 Migrations Festival at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls. The event returns on Saturday. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/6/2022 3:03:53 PM

TURNERS FALLS — In anticipation of Indigenous Peoples Day, roughly 15 Mayan artists will see their work travel north for Turners Falls’ sixth annual Migrations Festival on Saturday.

Described by RiverCulture, Montague’s arts and business organization, as “a celebration of human and natural diversity,” the festival will exhibit artwork courtesy of the GuateMaya Art and Culture Connection in the Great Falls Discovery Center’s Great Hall. The event, to be held from 1 to 4 p.m., will also feature refreshments, children’s activities, children’s book giveaways, an art raffle and a live performance from Latin American music group MarKamusic. Those attending will have an opportunity to appreciate the culture through the art on display, as well as bring it into their own homes by purchasing wares.

RiverCulture Director Suzanne LoManto said this year’s festival hones the same focus as in previous years.

“It’s just about celebrating migration,” she explained. “It’s this time of year now where birds are leaving and things are changing. Harvest is over and this time of year is a real point of celebration all over the world.”

GuateMaya Art and Culture Connection founder Imre Kepes said Turners Falls is a fitting place to celebrate this theme considering its relatively large Hispanic/Latinx population. Here, people of Central and South American descent have overwhelmingly praised the festival’s positive representation of their cultures, according to Kepes.

“I know that it means a lot to them,” Kepes said, “when it shows them reminders of where they’re from and their culture.”

“We want them here … so part of my job is always to make them feel like they belong here,” LoManto added.

Kepes said the art on display at the Migrations Festival can “foster a greater appreciation and cooperation across the borders.” The art that will be exhibited is more diverse in perspective this year than in prior years in terms of the featured artists’ ages, he noted. In addition to the festival’s usual showcase of Guatemala’s “ancient roots,” this year’s exhibit will include work from younger artists that embrace contemporary expressions. For example, he said one artist draws from “very modern hip-hop culture” with a medley of graffiti-style composition and more traditional techniques.

“We try to show a range of themes, which are the themes the artists from Guatemala really focus on,” Kepes said.

LoManto said this year’s musical guests cohere with the diversification of the festival. While last year’s featured act, Connecticut-based Mexican mariachi band Fiesta del Norte, played largely one musical genre, MarKamusic is expected to perform a variety of Latin American styles. The band begins at 1:30 p.m.

Proceeds from art sold at the festival will directly benefit the artists. This is also the case for the art raffle, for which a winner will be drawn at 3:30 p.m.

“These people are now able to change their quality of life because they’re selling art in the United States,” LoManto said of the artists.

The event is sponsored by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, RiverCulture, the Nolumbeka Project, Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center, the GuateMaya Art and Culture Connection and residents of Turners Falls.

Reach Julian Mendoza
at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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