Clarksdale Carnegie Public Library
In librarian Mary Jenkins’ memory Clarksdale Carnegie Public Library had never offered their community an art workshop. Ms. Jenkins applied for an EJK Mini-Grant to see what would happen if they did!
Ms. Jenkins decided to revive an entertainment artform popular in the 19th century but rarely seen today, that of the storytelling crankie. Crankies are best described as moving panoramas. The panoramic scrolls are stretched between two poles, housed in a box and cranked so the images roll forward as the spectator views the visual story being told.
Sixteen children, teens and adults attended two workshops during which they constructed the crankie and designed the panorama to tell the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Each participant brought a skill to the project and most learned a new skill. In the end, “our young workshop participants couldn’t believe what they had accomplished in a matter of hours.”
But the true culmination of the project was at the public performance held as part of the library’s storytelling series. Audience members were delighted by what was to them, revolutionary entertainment technology, many clambered to crank the scroll. According to Ms. Jenkins, “Not a single individual had seen anything like it. Children came up to me asking, ‘Can we make one for Halloween? Can we make one for Christmas?’ They all wanted me to hear their ideas for future crankies.”
Ms. Jenkins final summation of the effects of the program can’t be bested, “People I’d not met previously assisted with this project and became allies for future programs and projects. Children who don’t normally patronize the library attended the crankie performance. The biggest take-away from our crankie program what that art brings people together.” But the final take-away is that Ms. Jenkins intends to make sure Clarksdale can expect their public library to host more and bigger art programs like this in the future.