Twisted wire sculptor Elvin Shields will be named a Louisiana Tradition Bearer by the Louisiana Folklife Commission and honored at a ceremony on Saturday, October 16 at 2 p.m. at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum at 800 Front Street in Natchitoches. Dr. Shane Rasmussen, professor of English and director of the Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University, will talk with Shields about his lifetime of preserving Louisiana’s traditional folklife. Rasmussen serves as a folklife ambassador for the Louisiana Folklife Commission. The event is free and open to the general public.
Shields is a twisted wire toy maker from the Cane River plantations. As a child of sharecroppers, he started making toys at age five. He left the plantation in 1967 after high school graduation and joined the Army for a four-year tour of duty. He returned to Natchitoches after retiring following a 32-year career as a mechanical engineer. Shields became a volunteer for the U.S. Park Service at Oakland Plantation where he teaches young people the art of toy making. He also speaks to park visitors about growing up as a child of sharecroppers. In 2012 he restored his childhood home, an 1860 slave cabin at Oakland Plantation, as a sharecropper’s museum. Since 2013 he has participated in the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival and the Melrose Arts & Crafts Festival. He is a member of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) and is past president of the Natchitoches Genealogical & Historical Association (NGHA).
The ceremony and discussion are part of a series of events throughout the state for Folklife Month in Louisiana. The event is sponsored by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, the Louisiana Folklife Center, the Louisiana Folklore Society and the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. Funding is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in collaboration with the Louisiana Folklife Commission.
For more information, call the Louisiana Folklife Center at (318) 357-4332, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to louisianafolklife.nsula.edu.
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