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Cultivating Perspective: The Creative Arts of Converging Cultures

Creative arts are powerful tools of expression within cultures, offering insights into the hearts and minds of people groups.  Unique styles of music, fine and decorative arts, storytelling, and dance flowed into the Fox-Wisconsin portage in 1832 as people from widely dissimilar backgrounds endeavored to live their daily lives in close quarters: Indigenous families, French Voyageurs, Métis, Euro-American and Black settlers, and others with distinctive ethnicities of their own. In the midst of a history which is otherwise saturated with conflict and turmoil, cultural creative arts formed a rich tapestry of creative traditions which tied all people together through shared human experience.

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Cultural Arts Days

This season, we replayed the sights and sounds and examine the nuances of the creative arts of those involved in the history which happened here. Visitors enjoyed a wide range of captivating performances, fascinating demonstrations, and extraordinary hands-on experiences for all ages. Four cultural arts weekends provided a taste of the creativity which was on display in this region nearly 200 years ago. The historical array of cultural arts is amazing in its own right, but the insights beneath the surface extend beyond the topic at hand and embody important building blocks of intercultural understanding.

Speaker Series

Cultivating Perspective: The Creative Arts of Converging Cultures,1832

  • June 13: Ho-Chunk Creative Arts in Cultural Context - Josephine Lee

  • July 11: Hand in Hand: Music and Storytelling in the African American Community - Dr. Alphonso Simpson

  • September 12: French-Canadian Pièce sur Pièce Architecture and Heritage in Wisconsin - Mary Antoine

Special Exhibit

Our special exhibit, “Common Threads,” formed the foundation through which this season’s topic was introduced.

Explore: Historic Cultural Creative Arts

Wisconsin Arts Board:  "Woodland Ways"

Michigan Humanities:  "Anishnaabek Art: Gift of the Great Lakes"

Milwaukee Public Museum:  "Material Culture and the Arts"

Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada:  "Métis Material Culture"

Métis Nation British Columbia:  "Métis Music and Dance" (YouTube)

Fort Vancouver:  "Voyageur Song HQ" (YouTube)

Festival du Voyageur:  "Songs of Travelers" (Use Google Translate–to right of address bar in Chrome–for English)

Example of Euro-American Social Dance:  "Virginia Reel"

Juliette Kinzie Sketches:  Sketches Published in Wau-Bun

Creative art speaks

We enjoy and are entertained by creative arts of all varieties, but there is more to creative arts than meets the eye. There is something beneath the surface waiting to be discovered. We can look more closely and listen more carefully to uncover all kinds of amazing insights from creative arts.


Creative art speaks! It expresses thoughts, ideas and emotions…values, perspectives, and passions…movement and stillness.  It might convey beliefs, customs, traditions, and history.  It may seek to persuade, educate, or inspire. It impacts observers and listeners in some way and generates responses. Something flows from the mind, heart, and soul of an artist into their creative work and out to the minds, hearts, and 

souls of others.  There is remarkable diversity in the creative arts of people groups, from music to pottery, theatre to painting, poetry to architecture, and everything in between.  Our trademark sounds and creative arts of all varieties are often a part of our cultural identity, associating us with a group.  A plethora of unique creative expressions converged here at the Fox-Wisconsin portage in 1832. Each reflected its own unique parent culture, but all were woven together into a rich tapestry on the cultural landscape.

Threads produce a tapestry


Tapestries are made of vertical warp threads which create a framework for the pattern threads. The horizontal threads which get woven over and under the warp threads to create the pattern are called the weft threads. Every person is like a weft thread in a tapestry. The lives of people all around the world are being woven together to create one big story of humanity. The warp threads tie all people’s lives together across cultural lines. The way we look at and respond to the world around us might be culturally different, but we are unified by our humanness.  Creative arts are just one way—a very powerful way—in which we as people can connect, enjoy one another, inspire one another to

think more deeply, and look at life from new perspectives. Artist Thomas Kinkade said, “Art transcends cultural boundaries.” If art can do that, then the hope is that human hearts can, too.

Cultural Creative Arts: 2023

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