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Katherine Dunham Artisinal Village Hut Blitz Build

October 23, 1998

Over 100 volunteers converged on the grounds of the Katherine Dunham Museum on Friday, October 23rd through Sunday, October 25th to construct six thatch huts and pavilions as part of the development of the African Artisinal Village Landscaping Project. Volunteers from across the region, local residents and students from the University of Illinois united to help revitalize the grounds of the Katherine Dunham Museum.

Starting on Friday, October 23rd at 8:30AM volunteers began site preparation and construction of the huts. A representative of "Safari Thatch and Bamboo" trained the volunteer crew on the proper construction techniques, and Craig Miller, NTAC community design specialist, supervised the construction. Craig Miller said, "The creation of an African environment in the center of a culturally rich neighborhood like Olivette Park is an inspiring process both from a design and community perspective." The heroic efforts of all those involved in the project was a remarkable showing of commitment to the community, the arts and the Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities mission.

The Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities was founded by Miss Katherine Dunham in 1969. Through the arts, the Dunham Centers seek to achieve the "humanization and socialization of the individual and of the community as a whole." The Centers seek to guide and encourage residents toward a fuller awareness of themselves and their potential cultural contributions to society, while enabling them to develop a greater understanding of the cultural dynamic of others.

The Katherine Dunham Dynamic Museum houses an outstanding collection of symbolic and functional art from Africa, South America and the Pacific. The Museum has more than two hundred and fifty African and Caribbean art objects from more than fifty countries. Tapestries, paintings, sculpture, musical instruments, and ceremonial costumes from these and other areas of the world celebrate the human spirit. The Museum also displays costumes, photographs, programs, letters, and awards from Miss Dunham's long career as a dancer, choreographer, writer, teacher and dance company director. Fashion and set designs from John Pratt's illustrious theatrical career are also on display. Documents describing Miss Dunham's thirty years of art education and community-building activities in East St. Louis are also represented in the Museum's collection.

See Photos from the Blitz Build

Document author(s) : Patricia Nolan
Last modified: 23 November 1998, Deanna Koenigs