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Erika Nelson image

Erika Nelson, Speaker

Creator and Curator of the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attractions and Museum.

Transforming the Commonplace: Seed Portraits, Hair Wreaths, and Butter Sculptures

What would the Iowa State Fair be without butter sculptures, the Minnesota State Fair without seed portraits, or Victorian houses without hair wreaths? These beloved wonders are due, in large part, to the work of visionary artists like Lillian Colton, a seed portraitist who started here craft in the late 1960s; Caroline S. Brooks, who pioneered the art of sculpting in butter in the late 19th century; and Leila Cohoon, a well-respected hair wreath expert. This presentation examines the uncommon transformations of commonplace materials, and features the stories of these women and the institutions that preserve these odd traditions. 

Contact Erika directly about speaking at your event:

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How to Bring a Humanities Kansas Speaker to Your Event

  1. Review the Movement of Ideas catalog and select a speaker and topic.
  2. Contact the speaker and confirm time, date, and location.
  3. If interested, you can apply for funding to bring this speaker to your community. Find out how. (Please note: Completed applications, including the DUNS number, must be submitted six weeks before the event date to be considered for funding. Humanities Kansas is not able to fund applications that do not meet this requirement.)
  4. Publicize your event. Download a press release template and photo and Humanities Kansas logo poster.
  5. Tell us how it went. After the event, download and fill out a Speakers Bureau Evaluation and Cost Share Form and email them to Abigail Kaup.
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