Awarded since 2013
Kibibi Ajanku has been part of the Common Ground on the Hill family since 1995. She is broadly recognized as the founder and artistic director of Sankofa Dance Theater. She is the costume master, performer, dancer, storyteller, leading Sankofa to perform in venues throughout the United States, South Africa, Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Netherlands, France, and the Caribbean since 1989. With this award, we recognize Kibibi for her tireless pursuit of excellence in creating a body of visual art spanning indigo and fiber arts, jewelry and metalsmithing, sculpture, and instrument making. Kibibi makes and presents ethnically charged art. Her passion embodies the thrust of the African diaspora and her creativity is at the center of her ongoing and ever-evolving life journey. She attended Morgan State University, received an MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and is a professor in the College of Arts and Science and Education at Coppin State University. Kibibi believes that, when presented properly, art is the perfect vehicle to move forward into great intercultural awareness for the local community. In the last decade, Kibibi has participated in solo and group exhibitions with her art at MICA, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Reginald Lewis Museum, and the Tejadillo Gallery in Havana, Cuba. She has curated over a dozen shows focusing on indigo, African traditions, and social justice. A constant student of art as well as an arts educator, Kibibi has participated and presented residencies in fiber and stained glass, mosaics, indigo and mixed media from Florida to Cuba, from South Carolina to West Africa. Kibibi exercises her considerable communication skills and creativity as Equity and Inclusion Director at the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, and is the resident artist researcher in the Fibers Departments at MICA. Receiving many grants and awards throughout her career, Kibibi received the 2021 Maryland Citizen for the Arts Sue Hess Legacy Advocate of the Year Award. Kibibi Ajanku is a multi-talented treasure. We are proud to honor her with the 2021 Common Ground on the Hill Fine Arts and Crafts Award for Excellence in the Traditional Arts.
Janet Kozachek is selected as a recipient in our year of 2020 Vision for her Renaissance approach to visual arts, writing and social justice. The regional, national and international scope of her excellence in each area is truly exemplary. A mosaic artist and poet-painter, Janet’s work concerns itself with vast arcs of history and trans-national issues of representation, posing questions at once localized in time and space yet resistant to easy categorization. Living in Orangeburg, South Carolina, she makes mosaics, poems, paintings, and musical instruments that speak to multicultural traditions of creative expression, that memorialize past events and stories, and that comment on contemporary issues of social justice. Janet has led an eclectic career as both a visual artist and writer, pursuing education and work in Europe, China and the United States. Following undergraduate studies in New Jersey, she was the first American to matriculate at the Beijing Central Art Academy (CAFA). At CAFA, she found that poetry was an integral part of painting. These Asian art forms have had a lasting impact on her work. Janet later taught in the Netherlands for the University of Maryland overseas division where she translated poetry and researched ancient Chinese scripts, while also studying ceramic art in Maastricht. Upon her return to the U.S., she entered the M.F.A. program in painting at the Parsons School of Design. In South Carolina, Janet embarked on a peripatetic career as an occasional adjunct professor and as an artist-in-residence teaching Chinese art and mosaics. Inspired by her study of mosaic art in Ravenna, Italy, she was a co-founder and the first president of the Society of American Mosaic Artists. She wrote for and assisted with editing the society’s quarterly publication, Groutline, and co-authored the catalogue for the first national exhibition of mosaics in the United States. In response to 2017 political challenges, environmental law rollbacks, threats to freedom of assembly, threats to civil rights, threats to climate science, Janet began making “Liberty Snakes.” These large fabric snakes were emblazoned with the Gadsdon flag “Don’t Tread on Me” motto. On each snake, Janet inserted a specific human right or environmental protection that the new administration threatened. For example: “Don’t Tread on Climate Science,” “Don’t Tread on Reproductive Rights,” “Don’t Tread on Black Lives,” etc. One snake was part of the March for the Arts in Columbia, SC. Many more were placed upon the State House steps during the March for Science. One was even shipped to a sister march in Sarasota. Janet also wrote for Evening Reader Magazine, publishing essays on art and social issues. Her series of one hundred and thirteen small, square figurative paintings became the basis for Moments in Light and Shadow (currently in manuscript). Selected poems from Moments in Light and Shadow have been published in Undefined and Ekphrasis magazines. Ms. Kozachek has published The Book of Marvelous Cats, a collection of poems and illustrations with feline content, and My Women My Monsters, an illustrated chapbook of poetry. After a long hiatus, we enthusiastically welcome Janet Kozachek back to Traditions Week 2 where students will be able to explore the Imperial Style of Chinese calligraphic painting.
Robin Tillery, of Scots/Cherokee heritage, is a revered maker of traditional Native Woodland flutes. His American cedar and cane instruments have been awarded in our annual awards presentations for twenty years. The recipients, great musicians and artists alike, have received Robin’s perfectly tuned and crafted flutes, sonorous and elegant, yet understated in design. Many Traditions Weeks students have built flutes under Robin’s careful tutelage, returning to their homes with heirloom musical treasures. Most importantly, Robin has taught his students to play their flutes within the tradition. Some, like Jeremy Wright, have not only learned to play the flute, but have gone on to compose music worthy of the tradition. In ceremony, Robin has generously played his flutes in traditional garments, adding gravitas to our gatherings, concerts and festivals. One of Robin's flutes was chosen as a presentation gift for Chief James Billie of the Seminole Nation. Another was selected as a final gift for the funeral of nationally known Native Craftsman Tema Tiger. Robin drove from his home in Florida to play his flute for the memorial service of our beloved mentor, Ira Zepp. Inspired by music all his life, Robin served a year's apprenticeship with Sakim, a traditional flute maker, and was given "the rights" to make instruments for ceremonial use. His flutes are not at all like the commercial grade instruments widely available today. They are soft of voice and gentle to the ear. With these characteristics abiding, each flute Robin builds is unique. His flutes speak to the heart and acknowledge Creator. Soft spoken, full of dry humor, and generous with his time, Robin imparts not only knowledge but also wisdom as he instructs both the building and playing of his instruments. Robin’s artistry is not limited to his elegant flutes; he is an award-winning, full-time classic auto restorer. While we wish him continued great success and pleasure in his work, we hope that he will return to be with us once again. We are grateful for his long, profound and quiet presence in our community. Robin Tillery is part of the heart and soul of Common Ground on the Hill.
A trained "Maker of Medicine," Apalachicola-Creek C. Randall Daniels-Sakim is hereditary tribal town mekko or "king" of the American Indian community Tvlwv Pvlvcekolv, or Pine Arbor Tribal Town. He is a renaissance man in the truest sense of the term. As conveyor of history, story, and ceremony, Sakim has guided his community for several decades. His duties include directing community education initiatives, directing ritual activities, collaborating with local doctors and hospitals as a traditional herbalist, and caring for the elderly and dying. A talented linguist and polyglot, Sakim is one of the last native speakers of the southeastern dialect of Muskogee; Oklahoma-based Muskogee language educators regularly consult with him regarding southeastern variations. He also speaks many other languages, initiating conversations with native speakers of Arabic, Norwegian, Mandarin, and many others—often to the consternation of his companions! He is lead author of the Muskogee Words and Ways series, publications still integral to Creek language and culture curricula today, and is collaborating on a forthcoming book on southeastern Indigenous star lore and cosmology. Sakim has appeared in several publications as a subject, including the influential archaeological monograph Maya Cosmos, and dissertations written by doctoral candidates at UCLA and the University of Virginia. He holds a degree in archaeology and the first MA in ethnomusicology granted by Florida State University. Sakim has played and taught southeastern flute since the 1940s, and played, built, and repaired church organs for decades. Prior to taking over Pvlvcekolv leadership following his father's death, Sakim taught as interim director of the American Indian Studies program at the recently-renamed California State University, East Bay, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also taught science in the Leon County, Florida, public school system; visual arts at Western Maryland—now McDaniel—College; and Indigenous culture, flute, and visual arts at Common Ground on the Hill. Common Ground on the Hill Visual Arts Coordinator Linda Van Hart sums up his career well, noting that teaching is his primary art form: "It is uncommon to encounter a true renaissance man who is as accomplished in science, music, and the visual arts as Sakim. He has taught them all: he is our own Leonardo!"
Linda Van Hart is passionate about creating things of beauty and inspiring others to do the same. She revels in the making, use and modification of hand tools to create body and architectural adornment. Linda has developed and administered the Visual Arts portion of Common Ground on The Hill since its inception. She is a founding member of Carroll County Arts Council, and a founding partner at Off Track Art in Westminster and NOMA in Frederick: both artist cooperatives. Linda shows at a half dozen high end East Coast craft events annually. She teaches Metalsmithing at McDaniel College where she is also Instructor of Record for credit seeking grad students. Linda Van Hart is a total process metalsmith and Heart Armorer. She interprets historically significant botanical symbols with contemporary flair using classic techniques. She exhibits her jewelry, sculpture and mixed media collage in predominantly east coast galleries and high end crafts shows. A world traveler, Linda's work is in many private collections in the USA, Italy, Switzerland, Scotland and Russia.
Richard Anderson began his artistry as a gifted student newspaper photographer, chronicling the tumultuous climate of the late 1960s and early 1970s on the campus of Western Maryland/McDaniel College. He describes himself as “…a long time Baltimore based commercial photographer, turned filmmaker.” This sparse descriptor hardly does justice to Richard’s immense body of work. Richard spent an incredible forty-two years as the production photographer for Baltimore’s Center Stage, a leader in the regional theater movement. His photo work for businesses and institutions has been published in a wide variety of books, magazines, corporate and institutional publications, advertisements, and websites. A partial client list includes The Smithsonian, Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Systems, Dentsply International, SCM Chemicals, Westinghouse, Choice Hotels International, New Enterprise Associates, Ryland Homes, Kaiser Permanente, MedStar Health, The Kennedy Institute for Children and many colleges and universities across the country. Richard served for six years on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Media Photographers. During that crucial time he organized and wrote the Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines (UPDIG.org), was head of the U.S. Library of Congress funded website for digital photo photography, DPBestflow.org. He co-authored Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow Handbook, (Focal Press, 2010). If you think that digital photography produces immortal images, think again. Richard tackled the perplexing issue of how to preserve images throughout time. Richard has now turned his attention to making films, largely for educational & non-profit institutions, which include The Peabody Conservatory, University of Baltimore, Cedar Crest College, The Purnell School, The Derryfield School, Graceland University, Itineris, and The Family Tree among others. Richard has also been producing documentary films. His first documentary was The Sudden Pianist, the fascinating story of Michael Hersch, contemporary composer/musician. The film was featured as an audience favorite at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs, California and is available through Amazon. Richard recently finished his second documentary, Mike Morningstar: Here’s to the Working Man, the story of Mike Morningstar, a West Virginia singer/songwriter and Vietnam veteran. Although just completed, this film has already been featured in three film festivals, The West Virginia International Film Festival, The Workers Unite Film Festival in New York City, and the Bare Bones International Film Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Richard photographed Common Ground on the Hill’s first benefit concert in January, 1995. For twenty-four years he has brought his generous spirit, keen eye and formidable artistic talent to our work, illuminating our intention to help build a better world. Common Ground on the Hill confers the 2018 Common Ground on the Hill Fine Arts & Crafts Award for Excellence in the Traditional Arts on Richard Anderson. To view a wide array of Richard’s breathtaking images, visit www.rnaphoto.com.
Norm Sartorius has traveled a winding path to fulfillment in his craft. The magic began with an apprenticeship to Phil and Sandye Jurus who ran the acclaimed Jurus Studios in Baltimore. Ultimately, Norm worked alone in a cabin in West Virginia, exploring his growing technical skill carving and marketing functional things at craft fairs including spoons—always spoons. For the past 40 years, Norm has participated in the best high end juried craft shows in the nation including the Smithsonian, the Baltimore & Atlanta American Craft Council Shows, Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, the American Craft Exposition (Evanston, IL) among others. He won the Smithsonian Craft Show Award of Excellence four times, most recently in 2015. He won the Collectors of Wood Art Award for Excellence at the ACC Baltimore show in February 2015. He also won the Wharton Esherick Best of Show Award at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Best In Wood awards at both the Washington Craft Expo and the American Craft Expostion in Evanston, IL among dozens of other awards. In 2014, he was awarded a Fellowship by the Tamarack Artisan Foundation for lifetime achievement in the arts. In addition to prestigious private collections, works by Norm are in permanent collections at over 20 museums and universities including the Carnegie Museum of Art; the Center for Art in Wood; the Fuller Craft Museum; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Museum of Art and Design; the Houston Museum of Fine Arts; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery; and the Yale University Art Gallery. Norm’s carving, work ethic and philosophy have been published in many periodicals and books, including A Gathering of Spoons. Since 2008, he has collaborated with woodworkers Phil Jurus and Barry Gordon on a research project about American master craftsman Emil Milan. This has resulted in several exhibits which also included works by Norm. For his passion about fine craftsmanship, his exemplary creation of Spoons that Stir the Soul, and his respect and renown in the art world, for his research on Emil Milan, and his past teaching with us, Common Ground on the Hill confers the 2017 Common Ground on the Hill Fine Arts & Crafts Award for Excellence in the Traditional Arts on Norm Sartorius.
“I love to work with clay because it gives me a way of sharing myself and my eco-systematic messages with others. Sharing is an integral part in maintaining our interconnectedness to all life upon our Mother Earth.” ~ Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez Kathy Sanchez, an Indigenous American potter from the historic San Ildefonso Pueblo, carries on the tradition of her late great- grandmother, Maria Martinez, a world-famous potter. Known as blackware, her pottery is carried on through the extended family of San Ildefonso Pueblo potters. This traditional ware is now sought after and prized throughout the world. Sanchez’ pottery is an outlet for her visions, insights and feelings that reflect upon our cultural and environmental situtations. She has received numerous awards, including the Smithsonian Native American Scholar Fellowship to research archival museum artifacts and a National Endowment for the Arts grant to produce “Pi’ee Quiyo Spirit Woman of Clay,” a video chronicling six generations of Martinez blackware traditional pottery. She is Co-Director of Tewa Women United, a group comprised of women from eight pueblos in the Santa Fe area dedicated to focusing “...self-esteem building, values clarification, communication skills, assertiveness training, adjustment to life transitions, alcohol education, issues of co- dependency and goal setting.” Her most recent involvement in this issue was her attendance at the International Women’s Conference held in Beijing.
Joyce J. Scott is an only child. In the wide world of art she is the only one in her category and that category is constantly morphing into a larger entity as she continues to explore provocative narratives that cross issues of gender, race, slavery, violence and stereotypes in in media usually reserved for body or architectural adornment. A Maryland native, Scott’s recent show at New York’s Museum of Art & Design highlighted her international scope in more than title. Maryland to Murano brings her infamous neckpieces together with her blown glass sculptures for the first time in a series made both in her Baltimore Studio and in. the Berengo Studio on Murano Island near Venice, Italy. Her work is in many museums and private collections around the world. Because of her scope and celebration as a visual and musical artist of considerable reknown, lending her support to Common Ground in the early years brought positive attention from a wider audience to the issues Scott has explored with us in concert, in the classroom and as our keynote speaker. Her generosity of spirit and knee slapping sense of humor have shocked and enlightened many of our participants and literally brought others to tears. Two years ago she founded the Elizabeth Talford Scott Scholarship to honor a gifted emerging local artist who may not otherwise have access to Common Ground. Her mother was a recognized quilter who ate mischief for breakfast just like her daughter Joyce. Last year Melani Douglas was the first recipient. This year Calvin McCormack will enjoy a week at Common Ground as the second recipient of Mother Scott’s scholarship.
For his many years of inspired teaching within his culture and at Common Ground on the Hill, and for his many forays into the wider world to promote knowledge about Diné (Navajo) Churro sheep and the entire process of breeding to herding, from weaving to felting, we honor Roy Kady. If there is a “man for all seasons” among contemporary Diné (Navajo), Roy Kady might be that man. Kady is a well-established sheep herder and a male weaver residing in the community of Goats Spring on the outskirts of Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, which is a sort of Mecca for sheep herders and Diné weavers. Roy's mother, Mary K. Clah, was a Master Agro-Pastoralist and Weaver and the main teacher of Diné culture to her six children to whom she taught cooking, herbs, vegetal dying and beading as they watched her weave. The children also helped their mother herd sacred Navajo-Churro sheep as she taught them about the values of life and its giver, to forever cherish, to keep close to their hearts and to pass on these valuable teachings to the next generation. As an " ambassador" of sheep and wool, Roy is often featured in the renowned Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and has traveled to Torino, Italy, South America and most recently Africa, to share his knowledge and collect world views on his favorite subject. He has been filmed and televised by The Naked Chef and contributed to healthy food programs for Diné youth in public schools. Roy’s outlook is broad and contemporary, the old and new woven into the fabric of his 40+ years. Each rug he sells represents a piece of his thought and soul. “I hope my buyers will feel and sense the essence of happiness when they see me and my weavings.”
Ellen Elmes’ paintings have been acclaimed for their unique, collage-style blend of symbolic imagery and flowing naturalism. From watercolor paintings inspired by the majesty of the ancient Appalachians, to painted expressions sparked by the songs and music of Carter and Ralph Stanley, to murals depicting the heart of rural communities, Ellen’s art thrives on the rhythms of her personal life and community experiences. She has exhibited her watercolors extensively in the central Appalachians, where she and her husband Don live; in many of the Mid-Atlantic states; and as far away as Aberdeen, Scotland. As a muralist, Ellen has designed and painted numerous large-scale murals in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia; as well as having supervised and participated in painting many collaborative community-created murals in Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, and at the Allanton Peace Center in Scotland. Ellen’s recent commissions include a mural in Johnson City, TN, celebrating the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment; a mural honoring beloved Tazewell Countian Louise Leslie in the newly-restored North Tazewell Train Station in Southwest Virginia; and a community-painted mural, Tazewell Now & Then, based on drawings by 5th, 8th, and 12th grade students. Ellen has recently published a book about her work as it has been inspired by living in the Appalachian Mountains—Appalachian Labyrinth: Painting to the Center. More information about the book is available here under the “Book” link. A well-respected teacher who retired from full-time teaching 14 years ago at Southwest Virginia Community College, Ellen continues to offer long and short-term watercolor painting workshops through art centers and organizations for adults, as well as special art classes for children. Annually, Ellen has enjoyed teaching at Common Ground on the Hill Traditions Week for the past twenty-two years at McDaniel College in Maryland. She has found a cocoon of reflective time and inspiration during numerous residencies at the Lillian E. Smith Center in Clayton, Georgia. In 1995-1996, she taught at Aberdeen College, Scotland and, later, at Ivanavo State University in Russia during October of 2001. Ellen and her husband Don worked four summers as tutors for Common Ground Scotland in Ayreshire, Scotland. The couple enjoys traveling together to find new realms for creative expression and to marvel at the beauty of life on this earth. Ellen displays and sells her artwork on a regular basis in southwest Virginia and West Virginia, particularly at the Appalachian Arts Center at Wardell in Cedar Bluff, Virginia. She is a signature member of the Virginia Watercolor Society and ‘Round the Mountain Artisans. More information about the book and pictures of her watercolors and latest mural are available on her website: www.ellenelmes.com