Mountain Stage officially kicks off our 40th Broadcast Season this week with our 39th anniversary celebration featuring Bela Fleck My Bluegrass Heart, The Brother Brothers, Alice Howe with Freebo, The Bing Brother feat. Jake Krack, and a special appearance from West Virginia’s Poet Laureate Marc Harshman.
Students Adapt Old Time Appalachian Story Telling Technique
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This summer in Morgantown, elementary school students had access to a special summer art camp series almost every week.
Last week, students learned a story telling art form rooted in Appalachian tradition called crankies. Crankies are also sometimes called moving panoramas, as they are a drawing or painting that can be manually moved and is portrayed within a box.
“It has paper wrapped around two scrolls and when you turn the cranks it moves forward and you can draw either different frames or one big picture that you scroll to see,” said 11-year-old Timmy Carlson. “And it moves and it’s like an old form of entertainment before TV.”
At the camp, Carlson is painting a crankie box bright orange.
The crankie is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom in the 1800s. It made its way to Appalachia to tell stories and accompany music.
World-renowned storyteller Peter Stevenson is something of a crankie expert. He lives in Wales, but was in West Virginia this spring for an art exhibit which featured some of his handmade crankies.
Stevenson is especially interested in the historical connection of crankies to Appalachia.
“They would sing a song, and old mountain ballad, play music, tell a story, while the picture was moving,” he said. “If you think about it, it’s early animated film. It’s like animation special effects movies, but without electricity. It’s what they did up in the mountains before they had electric, they used these crankies.”
Local artist Eddie Spaghetti also specializes in making crankies. His work was part of the art exhibit, as well, and he is teaching the crankie class. He said they are similar to old timey YouTube videos.
“In a way this crankie idea connects to something that we’re very comfortable and familiar with in our modern age, but bringing back an old thing,” Spaghetti said.
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