cross cultural black madonna pic 1“It’s about connections,” Jill Striebinger says of her brain (and heart) child, the Cross-Cultural Folk Heritage Association of Beaufort County, which grew out of an earlier idea to form a book group.  Both, she says, were born, in part, of her love for southern culture.

Jill grew up a Connecticut Yankee, but joined the Air Force to help finance her college education and to see something of the rest of the world.  She has lived in Korea, Germany, Spain, and for many years in Columbia, South Carolina.  In South Carolina, and especially in Beaufort, she feels most at home.  It is what she means when she speaks of the culture here: the warmth, respect, and kindness of people.

The other impetus was Jill’s interest in learning about the folklore of her heritage.  Both parents were the children of immigrants, one of Italian descent, the other of Irish.  Discovering that there were striking similarities between the folklore of the two cultures enticed her to explore the lore – both mythical and religious – of other cultures as well.  She started the book group that evolved into a way for friends of different backgrounds to explore their own heritage.  The group, racially, culturally and religiously diverse by happenstance, has become close and has discovered in each other ties that have given them the comfort and trust in one another to talk about hard topics like race and women’s issues.  “The descendant of a slave owner and the descendant of a slave are both also more and other than those definitions, and are more alike than not in their humanity,” Jill says, “after all, we all genetically connected.”

The aim of the CCFHA is to share that sense of connection by bringing some of the stories, ideas, and artistry to a larger forum in a series of programs.  CCFHA is sponsoring the series of events in partnership with the Beaufort Arts Council.

The Black Madonna 

The first series of events will explore the iconic image of the Black Madonna.  This particular image of the Virgin Mary with black or dark skin is found in cultures around the world:  400-500 in Europe, at least 180 of which are in France alone.  They are also found in Africa and Asia.  Because the CCFHA is concerned with fostering understanding among diverse groups, the image of the Black Madonna – female and black, but, in orthodox religions, considered to be as divine as her son- seemed an appropriate beginning.  Events will include classes, a group artists exhibition, and the signature event, a performance by Alessandra Belloni, an internationally known Italian musician, dancer, singer, actress, and ethnomusicologist.  Her performance is based on the traditional roots of the tarantella.


Saturday 10/19Workshop:Making Ocean Drums with Sasa and Roland (9-11:30am) or (12-2:30pm) at TCL Building 1 (Arts Council Mather Building) $75 and includes all the supplies to make 1 ocean drum. *Must registered by October 5th so supplies can be ordered. register:

cross cultural Alessandra BelloniThursday 10/24 Workshop:The Rhythm is the Cure with Alessandra Belloni (11am – 3:30pm) at Effervesce Yoga Spa in Port Royal Class, $65 lunch is included, must bring ocean drum and/or tambourine. register:

Friday 10/25 Concert: Healing Journeys with The Black Madonna with Alessandra Belloni and a Multi-Artist Art Exhibit inspired by The Black Madonna 6pm TCL Auditorium(Doors open at 5pm for a large Multi-Artist Art Preview Exhibit with light hors d’oeuvres at Art Council Mather Building 1 and in Lobby of Auditorium at TCL in Beaufort.) $10 at the door or tickets:

Sunday 10/27 Lecture with Slide Show:The Rise of the Madonna: Creation Myths Across Culturesby Heather Ford, Mythology Scholar (4-5pm) at TCL Building 1 (Arts Council Mather Building) $10. register: www.bcfolkheritage.comor at the door.

Tuesday 10/29 Workshop:Writing Through the Eyes of Your Ethnic Feminine Divinity 

with Susan Madison(3-5pm) at TCL Building 1 (Arts Council Mather Building) $40 register: www.bcfolkheritage.comor at the door. 

Saturday 11/2Open Mic Community Sharing: Female Divinity in Our Unique Ancient Cultures.  (4-6pm) Share in poetry or writing from your own cultural perspective. TCL Building 1 (Arts Council Mather Building) $10 snacks and beverages provided.  Sign up to listen or participate at www.bcfolkheritage.comor at the door. 

Sunday 11/10Art Gallery Artist Talk and Reception(2-5pm) TCL Building 1 (Arts Council Mather Building) Artists will talk about their art, Free Admission, info www.beaufortartscouncil.organd