BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) will present “The Delight of Listening: Interviewing for Oral History and Deeper Understanding,” a free in-person workshop with the Vermont Folklife Center's Sasha Antohin, Ph.D., and Mary Wesley, on Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. Register at brattleboromuseum.org or call 802-257-0124, ext. 101.
The workshop will provide an introduction to the Vermont Folklife Center's approach to the art of interviewing, as well as a brief overview of best practices for audio recording. The program draws inspiration from “Yvette Molina: Big Bang Votive,” an art installation on view at BMAC through June 12.
Molina gathers stories from people about what sparks delight or inspires love in their lives as a way to recognize that love and connection can provide a necessary pathway through life's myriad challenges. “Each participant chooses a symbol to represent their story,” explain organizers, “which Molina renders in egg tempera paint, set against a starry blue field.”
The Vermont Folklife Center (VFC) has been conducting interviews in Vermont since 1984, building an archive of over 6,000 recordings that document everyday expressions of culture and tradition across the state. The premise of the VFC's interview methodology, which is grounded in ethnographic practice, is that each person is the foremost authority on their own life, and that an interview is a way to understand a person's experience in their own words and on their own terms.
Antohin and Wesley will use the framework of the Molina show to guide participants in telling and recording stories of love and delight. Workshop members will learn how to make a recording using equipment they already own, then break off into pairs to record interviews using Molina's prompt. These interviews may turn into future paintings in the project.
Antohin is an anthropologist with more than 10 years of experience leading and supporting ethnographic fieldwork projects. She completed her doctorate in social anthropology at University College London and has taught at George Washington University and Westchester Community College.
Wesley has a background in anthropology and completed post-graduate training at the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies in audio production and multimedia storytelling. She is the founding producer of VFC's “VT Untapped” podcast.