By JULIA LEVY
Gabrielle Hamilton might be the only daughter of Irish and Italian immigrants who became an expert in repatriation and cultural identity, was adotped by the Blackfoot Confederacy, and was given an official Blackfoot name (which translates into "Goodhearted Woman").
Today, Gabrielle leads the public and education programs at Flushing Town Hall, where she aims to give visitors a "world of tradition in one visit."
"I think one of the most educational experiences kids can have is to surround themselves with people who think differently whose arts are different whose cultural background is different," she said. "In Queens, that’s easily done." How? Just get on the 7 Train, she recommended, and get off at diffferent neighborhoods to explore new places — from the Voelker Orth Museum (a landmark Victorian garden and bird sanctuary) to the Lewis H. Latimer House (the home of the African-American inventor who worked with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell).
Gabrielle said she aims to bring "tradition bearers," representing the cultural diversity of Queens, to Flushing Town Hall as master teaching artists. These tradition bearers work with school children and other members of the community to share artistic traditions — from Mexican paper art to Afro-Brazilian Dance to Indian Classical Dance to Taiwanese poetry.
"It’s really amazing to see the responses from students," she said. "They find the similiarties in what they’re learning from what their background is."
Gabrielle shared a few recent photos of the teaching artists at Flushing Town Hall:
Flushing Town Hall Teaching Artist Abha Roy, master of Kathak Indian dance