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“Faces of the Piney Woods: Traditions of Turpentining in South Georgia is a project of the South Georgia Folklife Project at Valdosta State University. Team members include Dr. Laurie Sommers, project director; fieldworkers Tim Prizer and LeRoy Henderson; videographer Bill Muntz; and web designer Paul Flowers. 

 

About Valdosta State University (www.valdosta.edu ) and the South Georgia Folklife Project (www.valdosta.edu/music/SGFP ):  As one of two regional universities within the University System of Georgia, Valdosta State University takes a leadership role in meeting the educational needs of a 41-county region in South Georgia through teaching, service, and research. The VSU service area encompasses an underserved rural population characterized by longstanding British American, German American, and African American populations, small bands of Cherokee and Creek, an emergent but growing Hispanic population, and smaller pockets of other ethnic groups. It is home to the distinctive traditional arts of the Okefenokee, the Wiregrass, and the southern tier of Sea Islands. Since 1998, the College of the Arts has housed the South Georgia Folklife Project (SGFP) through a grant from the NEA Folk and Traditional Arts Infrastructure Initiative.  The SGFP has helped to expand audiences for the arts in South Georgia to include a wider range of artists, ethnic groups, and income levels than is customarily served by arts programs within the College of the Arts.  The SGFP seeks to provide technical assistance to artists and arts organizations, promote heritage and preservation of traditional arts through documentation and programming, and increase access to traditional arts.

 

About Dr. Laurie Kay Sommers (lsommers@valdosta.edu), director of the South Georgia Folklife Project at Valdosta State University, served as folklorist and project director for Faces of the Piney Woods. She supervised all phases of the project.  She also conducted interviews with W.C. “Dub” Tomlinson and Patricia Wetherington Brockinton specifically for this project, in addition to earlier interviews with Elliott West, Alton Carter, Junior Taylor, and Clarence Taylor.  Sommers founded the South Georgia Folklife Project in 1996. She holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University and has worked as a public sector folklorist since 1982 for organizations such as the Indiana Division of State Parks, the Bureau of Florida Folklife, the Smithsonian Office of Folklife Programs, and the Michigan State University Museum.  Sommers is author of publications for academic and general audiences and has produced a variety of public programs. An experienced fieldworker, she frequently gives workshops on community documentation. Recent fieldwork with occupational folklife includes interviews with migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in Apopka, Florida (1998), fieldwork with musical ensembles in Michigan auto plants (1997),  and work on Georgia turpentining (1998-2004). She currently has an introduction to the work of folklorist Ivan Walton in press with Wayne State University Press as part of Songquest, compiled by Joe Grimm, an indexed volume of excerpts from Walton's field journals on sailor lore of the nineteenth and early twentieth century Great Lakes. Sommers has considerable experience in directing field studies, including her role as research coordinator for fieldwork in preparation for the annual Festival of Michigan Folklife at the Michigan State University Museum (1988-1995), and as instructor of record for three directed studies on local folklife since coming to VSU in 1995. In the summer of 2002 she directed Tim Prizer’s volunteer field project on turpentining and has continued in a supervisory role in the present project.

 

About Timothy C.  Prizer (tim_prizer@yahoo.com) worked on the Faces of the Piney Woods project over a three-year period, first as a fieldwork intern and then as primary project fieldworker under the Georgia Folklife Program grant. In the summer of 2002, he completed a volunteer fieldwork project on South Georgia turpentiners with Dr. Laurie Sommers for the South Georgia Folklife Project.  This initial research formed the groundwork for the present survey and earned Prizer the American Folklore Society’s Archie Green Student Travel Award in 2003. He graduated from Georgia Southern University in December of 2003 with a B. A. in Anthropology and American Studies.  In Statesboro, he studied with Dr. Robert Shanafelt, Dr. Barbara Hendry, and the late Dr. Richard Persico, among others, and he has served as an assistant to Dr. Del Presley.    In August of 2004, Prizer begins his Master’s coursework in the Curriculum in Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He plans to further investigate the folk culture of the turpentine industry as a graduate student. 

 

About LeRoy Henderson (lhenders@valdosta.edu) served as fieldworker for the project, conducting interviews with L.A. Nelson, Anthrom Green, and Major Phillips.   Henderson has worked in cultural arts and the broadcasting industry for over twenty years, much of the time based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  He worked for the African American History Museum in Chattanooga, scripting and narrating two historical documentaries:  “Story of a People” and the award winning “Story of Ancient Africa.”  An experienced interviewer and talk show host for both radio and television, he has done countless interviews, including conversations with such well-known figures as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, and Al Gore. Henderson served as news anchor, producer, and Community Affairs Director for WDEF (CBS) Television, Chattanooga.  He is also an actor, founder of The Heritage Repertory Theater Company of Chattanooga, and founding member and marketing director of the Beale Street Repertory Theater Company in Memphis. 

 

About Bill Muntz (bmuntz@valdosta.edu ), Interim Director of Public Services, Valdosta State University,  served as videographer and video editor for the project.  He has over thirty years of active experience in video production including instructional programs, informational programs, spots, lectures, panels, demonstrations, talk shows, music programs, sports, documentary and stage shows. These include individual productions and several series. Muntz has served as producer, director, editor, cameraperson and crew on hundreds of productions using skills in studio production, multi-camera field production, single-camera production, audio recording, lighting, electronic graphics and editing.  He has consulted on several other video projects of the South Georgia Folklife Project, in addition to Faces of the Piney Woods.

About Paul Flowers (dal_p@yahoo.com ) served as web designer for the project as part of his internship for a Masters' degree in Computer- Technology Applications at Valdosta State University. A native of Belize and an avid sports enthusiast, he has traveled internationally with the Belize basketball national team as a journalist, an executive, and as director of public relations.  Paul Flowers owns and manages the official website and magazine of the only professional basketball league in Belize, and the official website of the Belize City Games. An accomplished musician, Flowers served as public relations manager, marketing director, and lead guitarist for the local and internationally recorded gospel music organization - D-Revelation Ministries. He has fifteen years of experience as a high school teacher, which included stints as Head of Math, Science and Sports departments, and seven years as  computer administrator at Gwen Lizarraga High School in Belize City. He also served as counselor at the high school level for eight years, working with at-risk students involved in gang-related activities. In the fall of 2004, he will attend Florida State University to complete a PhD  in Technology Training and work as a US Navy research assistant.  

 

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