Monday, March 10, 2014

NPR story: "Local Mini-Documentaries Are Attracting a Global Audience"

Click HERE to listen to, read, or download today's NPR story on The Amerikans, by David C. Barnett - a journalist and producer at WCPN: ideastream  / Northeast Ohio Public Radio.

"Locally produced goods are all the rage, these days, from the craft beers at area bars, to the fresh produce grown in the soil of Northeast Ohio. Some Oberlin filmmakers are growing their own version of localism by turning their cameras on ordinary people. ideastream’s David C. Barnett reports that these mini documentaries are developing a global following."

Photo of Tom Tomes: star of "Cowboy Action" - episode #1 of The Amerikans

David C. Barnett came to 90.3 WCPN in 1990 with an armful of taped interviews and an idea about producing a story about the 1970 Kent State shootings - the compelling program “Emily’s Diary” was the result. David has subsequently produced many award-winning programs and is a semi-regular contributor to National Public Radio news magazines. His documentary productions about American musical pioneers Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and Sam Cooke have been nationally syndicated by Public Radio International.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Art+Practice releases "These Are Mysteries"

Art+Practice is proud to release "These Are Mysteries", episode 15 of The Amerikans. This episode presents Parnell Necklace, a Native American drum maker, musician and storyteller who shares his vividly recreated tales of changelings, UFO sightings, the message that Bigfoot is sending and much more.

Also named Wanapin Gagà Hoksina, of the Ihanktonwan Nakota (Yankton Sioux), Parnell’s stories slyly entice his audience to venture along the Chanku Iuta (the “Red Road”), a path of deep alignment with spiritual energy, nature and others. While we hear of and see real owls, water, hawks, fire and bucks, there are sacred patterns suggested (they can be read, if you learn how, in the natural beauty of feathers) that are both specific to one cultural tradition and also accessible to all. As Parnell says, “Every culture has their own version of Big Foot and UFOs.” Parnell’s stories are charming guides, for his family, the Yankton, all who will listen, reminding us that mystery surrounds all human experience, and we are made more alive when we awaken to the sound of a human voice, telling us something extraordinary. While life is always, for all of us, a series of surprises: “These stories are old.”

Art + Practice especially wishes to thank the Necklace family, Richard Johnson and the South Dakota-based musical group Lakota Thunder, who permitted the use of original recordings for the soundtrack. "These Are Mysteries" also features original music and sound design by Charles Glanders, a student of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Monday, March 3, 2014

World Premiere of "These Are Mysteries"

On March 1st, 2014, Parnell and Grace Necklace hosted the world premier of "These Are Mysteries", episode #15 of The Amerikans, at their home in Peebles, Ohio. The film, which stars Lakota Elder and drum-maker Parnell Necklace, followed an Inipi - or sacred sweat lodge ceremony - and was attended by Art+Practice members Jeffrey Pence and Mika Johnson. Art+Practice will premier "These Are Mysteries" online, on Wednesday, March 5th.
Whenever possible, Art+Practice has world premiered each episode in the community it was made, in accordance to the subjects' wishes and tailored to their community. While some have chosen to premiere their episode in public spaces, with introductions and Q&As, others have opted for a private party or event. This practice has made each screening as diverse as the stories that give the series meaning. The spaces have included a gay, lesbian, bi and straight friendly bar, an outdoor pop-up theater, two town halls, a house party, the Akron Art Museum, the Akron Summit Artspace, two movie theaters, and more. The end result, however, has always been the same: community + films = JOY.

See photos from past premieres on our Flickr page:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"The Amerikans" just got better

This month The Amerikans turns three. To help us celebrate, please help us share our two new websites, one in English, which features all new photos of The Amerikans, and one in Chinese,  recently launched in collaboration with a Chinese video hosting service based in the People's Republic of China. 

The new English website was made possible thanks to Kaori Mitsushima, who designed the site, and multi-media artist, Maciej Toporwicz, who helped perfect the photos taken by Mika Johnson and Micha Hilliard. Check back in spring to see more new photos along with a gallery of original posters from past screenings.

The youku site, which is now a featured channel, was made possible thanks to The Amerikans in China: a group of Oberlin College students, from China, who were contacted by the video hosting service  after they uploaded four episodes, in translation, that went viral within twenty-four hours.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Art+Practice is proud to release a new photo series of all The Amerikans, including this photo of Danilo Vujacic, star of episode #5: Space Man. Here Danilo is no longer a young boy but a young man contemplating real space travel.

While the photos are credited to Mika Johnson and Micha Hilliard, Art+Practice owes a big thank you to Maciej Toporowicz, a multimedia artist based in New York whose skills in post made many of the photos in this series possible. 

Toporowicz's own work, which we highly recommend for its strange beauty and surreal quality, can be seen here: 

Ventilation shaft, 2011 - by Maciej Toporowicz

Art+Practice would also like to thank two Oberlin College physics majors, Benjamin Lemberger ('14) and Jocienne Nelson ('14), for their contributions to this photo. Thanks to them, the equations behind Danilo aren't just aesthetically pleasing; instead they include real principles in general relativity and descriptions of orbital patterns, something every Space Man relies on to return safely home.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Holidays from Art+Practice

Art+Practice prop master, Richard Johnson, holds up a mysterious prop created specifically for "These Are Mysteries": episode #15 of The Amerikans, scheduled to debut in mid-January, 2014. The new episode relates the mystical tale of Parnell Necklace: a Yankton Sioux drum maker, musician and storyteller, who shares stories of extraordinary encounters—with UFOs, shape shifters, Bigfoot—that are vividly recreated. Told in a slyly disarming style, Parnell’s tales make one laugh but also suggest that another level of meaning is available to viewers. Stay tuned in January for the official release.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"The Amerikans in China" goes viral

     Left to right: Yingran Zhang, Lang Xu, Shi Shi, Qianhui Zhou, Yinyu Zhan, Mengchen Xu, Jun Li, Zhou Zhou

"The Amerikans in China" is a collaboration between eight Oberlin College students, all from China, and Art+Practice. The project began several months ago to help spread several episodes of "The Amerikans", in translation, to and, China’s two most popular video hosting services. On Monday morning,  December 9th, the group launched a social media campaign on Sina, China's version of Twitter, and a blog on Douban. Within twelve hours, "The Amerikans" went viral, generating over 50,000 views. As a project, "The Amerikans in China" is part of an ongoing mission, modeled by Art+Practice, that illustrates the ways in which art made locally can generate a worldwide audience. 

    Episode #13, "Love & Venom", featured on the main page of, China's version of youtube.

Check out "The Amerikans in China" here:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"The Amerikans" family portrait

Illustration for "Cinema + Conversation = Community" event invitation Card

Art+Practice would like to say a special thank you to Wally Lanci and Consolidated Graphics Group, in Cleveland, Ohio, for donating the printing costs for our beautiful invitation, by illustrator Kaori Mitsushima, for our November 21st event: "Cinema + Conversation = Community". This image appeared on the front and back of our invitation. It includes a giant paw paw, Ohio's state fruit, and all fifteen of The Amerikans.  Yet to be released, episode #15, titled "These Are Mysteries", stars Parnell Necklace of Peebles, Ohio.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cinema + Conversation = Community

On November 21st, the Community Foundation of Lorain County, Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music and the Nord Family Foundation sponsored a dinner and a movie paired with a community conversation called "Cinema + Conversation = Community".

Moderated by Dan Moulthrop and facilitated by Noelle Celeste, over fifty participants watched six episodes of The Amerikans and engaged in discussions on ways in which each of us can get to know our neighbors. 

"Cinema + Conversation = Community" was an outgrowth of a $30,000 grant, made in 2012, to Art+Practice from the Community Foundation of Lorain County. That grant made possible the last three episodes of The Amerikans - "Walter", "Love & Venom", and "Who Lives There" - and reflected the mutual understanding that local and sustainable media making can contribute to the revitalization of community identity. Art+Practice is proud to be the recipient of the first-ever grant by the foundation for an arts and media project.  

Alana Youssefian, Rachel Iba, Luke Adamson, Carrie Frey
During the event, a quartet from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music performed music by Phillip Glass and Terry Riley.

Art+Practice team: Jeffrey Pence, Micha Hilliard, Mika Johnson
Art+Practice would especially like to thank Brian Frederick, of the Community Foundation of Lorain County, and John Mullaney, of the Nord Family Foundation, for making this event possible. They would also like to thank Dan Moulthrop and Noelle Celeste for making the evening a rewarding experience for all involved. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Revisit an Amerikan classic with LaserBoy, episode 11 of The Amerikans. LaserBoy is the story of James Lehman: artist, computer programmer, and inventor from Akron, Ohio. 

James Lehman
From childhood, certain things preoccupied James: math, science, audio and visual art.  All these things would come together beautifully in his creation of LaserBoy: a software application and hardware technology, adaptable to all computer operating systems, for designing and displaying stunning laser shows. Available at, this free platform gives artists around the globe the opportunity to create unique laser shows.

The soundtrack of "LaserBoy" features music by Tomáš Dvořák, a clarinetist, composer, and artist from Prague, Czech Republic. With roots in electronic music, Dvořák is also influenced by minimalist composers like Steve Reich.

Charles Glanders
Adding on to Dvořák's score is the work of composer and sound designer Charles Glanders, a TIMARA music major at Oberlin College who uses beats and audio effects to create a dynamic field of sound for the video. Listen for Charles original score and sound design on the next episode of The Amerikans, "These Are Mysteries", which will be out in the next month. Check out his website at