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Common Threads: Cultural Creative Arts

Creative arts are powerful tools of expression within distinct cultures. Yet these diverse creative expressions blend into a beautiful tapestry attesting to our shared human experience.

In this video series, we look from a number of angles at the creativity which was on display at the Fox-Wisconsin portage nearly 200 years ago. Creative arts play many roles in people's lives, some of which we have categorized into “common threads.” Each connecting thread fits into the big-picture tapestry of human creativity, offering us a chance to value the differences which make people unique while reflecting on the commonalities that tie us together across cultural lines.

​Survey creative artifacts from a number of cultures which converged at the portage in 1832. 

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Episode #1: Introduction (3:01)

In October, 1830, Juliette Kinzie found herself ascending the winding Fox River after having married the new Fort Winnebago Indian Agent. She wrote of the complexities of the cultures surrounding her at the Fox-Wisconsin portage, each with its own creative traditions...

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Episode #2: Arts Which Identify (4:47)

Every artistic expression is inseparably tied to the person who created it and tends to reflect aspects of the artist's cultural realm. Because of this, cultural arts often identify. Some are produced for that very purpose. Others do so just by their nature...

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Episode #3: Arts Which Strengthen (6:20)

Creative arts such as music, dance, and storytelling were prominent among those experiencing cultural oppression or hardship.  These intangible artistic expressions often served to strengthen, to lift spirits, or to be a cathartic diversion... 


Episode #4: Arts Which Interconnect (3:47)

Cultural arts do not exist in a vacuum. Virtually every creative artifact is in some way a product of, or influenced by, the interaction of people groups. At the portage, families of diverse cultures lived their lives in closely entwined circumstances...

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Episode #5: Arts Which Strike the Fancy (3:56)

All cultures at the portage in 1832 embraced the idea of endowing everyday objects with artistic designs. The Euro-Americans of that day called a person's imagination their "fancy" and trended toward endowing just about anything imaginable accordingly—anything to stimulate the senses, from tasteful touches to gaudy extravagance...

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Episode #6: Arts Which Function (3:07)

Arts which also fulfill utilitarian functions have societal value beyond mere aesthetics. They add color to everyday tasks...


Episode #7: Arts Which Endure (3:36)

Some cultural arts of the portage of 1832 lie dormant, but many have continued to be passed down from generation to generation. As living arts, creative traditions may pass down through time unaltered, or they may be adapted to meet new needs...

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Episode #8: Arts Which Express (9:48)

By their very nature, creative arts are tools of personal expression. A brief survey of flutes provides a fitting conclusion to a series aimed at investigating arts across cultures as there is perhaps no other creative artifact which so strikingly portrays both cultural distinction and common threads...

Common Threads 2023

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