Sundogs and Sunflowers art exhibit at MMCC

What do Monster Fish, Haunted Houses, Duck Decoys and Sunflower Pie have in common?

Posted on 3/1/14

By Lee Coleman

They all represent folk art and folklore that is part of the rich history of the Northern Great Plains.

Sponsored by the Northern Lights Arts Council, an art exhibit of the book showcasing this history opened Monday at the Maple Manor Care facility.

The Sundogs and Sunflowers exhibition is based on the book, Sundogs and Sunflowers: Folklore and Folk Art of the Northern Great Plains. This groundbreaking compilation, thirty years in the making, celebrates the proud folk heritage of the Northern Great Plains.

Published by the North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA), the book was compiled and edited by North Dakota State University Professor Emeritus Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz and NDCA folklorist Troy A. Geist.

The book has received great praise and recently won first place in the North Dakota Library Association’s 2011 Notable Document Awards.

“It is based on the book published by the North Dakota Council of the Arts,” said Carol Hart, executive director of NLAC.

“It is an exhibit of prints from the book based on North Dakota folklore and North Dakota mythology.”

The exhibit will run through March 18 and visitors can view the exhibit by entering the east door of Maple Manor.

“We are hoping schools will bring students out not only for the art but also to create interesting writing topics.” Hart said.

The exhibit is part of the Art of Life program started in 2009.

“The purpose is to alleviate loneliness, depression and the feeling of helplessness for long term residents,” Hart added.

Maple Manor Activity Director Vicky Steen sees the book and exhibit as a source for residents to recall their own lives.

“It is meant to bring back memories,” she said. “There are a lot of stories about the olden days and I hope it will give them a chance to reminisce and be able to tell their own stories.”

One story centered around the blizzard of March 1944 when several people lost their lives in North Dakota.

“It was like a bulldozer hitting your house it hit so hard,” Steen recalled one resident’s story.

During that same storm, a resident recalled how her husband went to the barn and she thought he was spending some time with the cattle.

Later that night, she thought she heard a tree scraping against her bedroom window. The next morning, her husband hadn’t returned.

Later that spring, they found him in a snow mound outside the bedroom window.

In 2014, the program will be working with about 14 elder care facilities in 11 communities including Ellendale, Enderlin, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Langdon, New Rockford, New Town, Pekin (with McVille and Lakota) and Wahpeton.

In 2013, recognized as a leader in this effort of combining the areas of art, health and aging, the NDCA was asked to participate in a national ‘best practices’ effort involving 13 states.

This “Communities of Practice” project is supported in partnership between the National Center for Creative Aging and the national Endowment for the Arts.