Storytelling Festival

story telling festival
Storytelling Festival: Searching for Peace!

Searching for Peace!- February 3-4, 2017


2017 Storytelling Festival Song from Kalamazoo Valley Museum on Vimeo.

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum celebrates their Fifth Annual Storytelling Festival: Searching for Peace! Storytellers from across the United States will come together to explore unity, equity, diversity, and inclusion for all. This two-day event starts with Art Hop Friday night, February 3. Poet Terry Wooten opens the Festival at 6 p.m. Visual artist and speed painter Martina Hahn joins Joe Reilly in concert at 7. A variety of Martina’s paintings will also be on display and for sale.

Michigan author Patricia Polacco opens up the Festival Saturday, February 4, at 10 a.m., followed by Adam Mellema, Mark Binder, Tim Cusack, Noa Baum, Sidney Ellis and Sidney Ellis II, and Judy Sima at the top of every hour until 4 p.m. Authors, educators, and visual artists fill the vendor fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Wizards of Pop exhibit on the Museum’s first floor features pop-up books from Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart. African-American story quilts fill the third floor traveling exhibit space in And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations, showing the history of the civil rights movement in stitches.

Storyteller Terry Wooten

Terry Wooten, author, speaker, educator, and performance poet, combines classic literature, folklore, and daily life into entertaining and uplifting poetry in motion. He is a two-time recipient of the Michigan Creative Artist Award, author of ten books, and winner of the 2013 State History Award in Education from the Historical Society of Michigan for his Elder’s Project. The Elder’s Project guides students on how to interview senior members of the community and put their stories into poetry. He is also the builder of the Stone Circle, a triple ring of 88 large boulders located north of Traverse City. The Stone Circle hosts poets, storytellers, and musicians each summer for community- and family-based stories.

Joe Reily, singer-songwriter and educator from Ann Arbor, Michigan, uses his music as an invitation to heal our relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with the earth. He believes, “we have the power to create peace in ourselves and our world. Of course this is no easy task. It takes diligent effort, resilience, and community support.” A native environmentalist from Kalamazoo, Joe was selected as the official troubadour for the National Get Outdoors Day in 2011. His latest children’s CD, The Circle, “waters seeds of hope and community through messages of friendship, diversity, common good, healing, and gratitude.” Joe Reily will take to the stage at 7 p.m. with a family-friendly performance.

Our visual artist for Art Hop will be Martina Hahn, internationally-known speed painter and motivational speaker. She has a talent for Trompe L’oeil mural paintings and portraitures. Using two hands and all five senses, she creates amazing paintings to music in just six minutes. Her paintings will be on display and for sale during Art Hop. She is also founder of Boyne Arts Collective in Boyne City, Michigan, a cooperative for artists since 2008. Hahn will join Joe Reilly for a live painting during his concert.

Patricia Polacco has a distinguished record as an international advocate for the rights of children. She has written and illustrated 115 books for children, many of which reflect her Russian and Irish background and incorporate problem-solving and learning to get along. She is the winner of two Presidential Commendation Medals, numerous Parents' Choice Gold Awards, and several awards for Children’s Book of the Year. Her stories portray the human experience in an honest and often humorous way. Patricia Polacco opens the morning at 10 a.m., reading several of her stories and sharing the stories behind them.

Adam Mellema, storyteller, producer, and actor, will move you to tears, have you laughing on the floor, and create memories you will not soon forget. He plays each character, from the silly to the aging WWII soldier who transforms right before your eyes. Living in California, he travels throughout the year, telling stories everywhere from libraries and schools to the 2002 Olympics. As a children’s television producer, he has worked with Enthusiastic Productions and the Disney Channel, and is currently producing a show for School Zone Productions. His high-energy performances are chock-full of personality and depth. Adam will perform at 11 a.m.

Mark Binder, author of 20 books and audiobooks, tells stories about peace, tall tales, classics, and original autobiographical lies. All the way from Providence, Rhode Island, Mark surprises his audience with sound effects, audience participation, and lots of character. Hear a variety of stories from his book Stories for Peace and his latest audio book, Transmit Joy, at noon. Transmit Joy was awarded a Parents' Choice Gold Award for Audio Storytelling.

Tim Cusack has been described as a combination of Garrison Keillor, Robin Williams, and the Dalai Lama. Author of Me Too: Extraordinary Everyday Stories That Connect Us, co-host of a morning radio talk show, television and commercial actor, motivational speaker, trainer, and storyteller, Tim brings a list of unique experiences, including time on an Alaskan fishing boat and knowledge that engages his audience in unique and humorous ways. His degree in psychology with training and experience in theater allows Tim the rare ability to relate to large groups of people on a personal level. Tim will take to the stage at 1 p.m., “balancing humor with impact and then inspiring action through engagement.”

Noa Baum, award-winning performance storyteller, author, educator, and keynote presenter, focuses on the power of stories to heal across the divide of identity and build bridges for peace. She has won many awards for storytelling as well has her memoir, A Land Twice Promised: An Israeli Woman’s Quest for Peace. Born and raised in Jerusalem, she has toured in Turkey, Sweden, the UK, and Israel. She currently lives in the Washington D.C. area. Her stories will touch you in a deep way at 2 p.m.

Sidney Ellis and Sidney Ellis II perform together at the Storytelling Festival at 3 p.m. Sidney Ellis has been acting in plays, created a variety show that ran on Cable Access for ten years, and even performed a puppet show at the Museum over twenty years ago. He is noted for his work as executive director of the Black Arts and Culture Center here in Kalamazoo and now as Director of Mission Advancement at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo. He is the recipient of the Regional Gannon Community Arts Award, an award given to individuals who use art and culture to enlighten, inspire, and impact the world around them. Sidney Ellis II, comedian, actor, storyteller, puppeteer, African drummer, singer, and dancer is pursuing a degree in acting and musical theater at Western Michigan University. Sidney II won the Gold Medal in the NAACP-Act-So competition, and 1st and 2nd place at the United Teen Talent Show. He performed at the first Storytelling Festival. We are excited to have father and son unite at this year’s Festival!

Judy Sima, award-winning Michigan storyteller, author, and teaching artist has been delighting audiences since 1987. Judy’s warm, engaging performances combine folk, traditional, and modern tales with humor, song, and loads of audience participation. Well-known for her highly interactive and practical workshops and performances, Judy has been featured at schools, libraries, and storytelling conferences across the nation. With over 20 years’ experience coaching students and adults, she has helped many others become storytellers. Judy will close out the Festival at 4 p.m.