Virtual Interns Biographies

Maris Jones: New Orleans, La

MarisMaris is steeped in the rich history and culture of New Orleans, a city which brought together influences of French, Caribbean, African American and other cultures to make a unique blend.  Her father was a photographer and taught his children to take skillful images that tell stories.  As an undergraduate at Brown University in Rhode Island, she studied culture, the environment, and social justice. She is also a dancer and a drummer.  She is currently the Digital Community Manager at ISeeChange, a community weather, and climate journal, and she hopes to start graduate school in the Fall. She served as an intern in the Mentorship Program for a More Diverse Workplace at CFCH in April-May 2017.

Milan Hira: Baul

Milan Hira 1.jpgMilan Hira is a young Baul from Bardhaman district in West Bengal and performs songs written by legendary Bauls and songwriters (known as Padakarta) like Lalan Fakir, Bhaba Pagla, Hasan Raja, Bijoy Sarkar and others. His father Gourpada Hira initiated him in Baul music. He also received music lessons from Goutam Banerjee and currently pursuing his studies in Bhabasangeet and Indian classical music from the Pracheen Kala Kendra. Milan Hira has performed across West Bengal, Kolkata and also at the National Folk Festival at Mumbai.

Violeta Palchik: Fairfax, Va

VioletaVioleta and her parents settled in Northern Virginia from Argentina when she was two years old.  She grew up speaking both Spanish and English. Enjoying aspects of her family’s cultural roots, frequently visiting relatives back in Argentina, but also exploring her Eastern European roots when she got older.  Growing up in Northern Virginia, near Washington, DC, she was exposed to the traditions of the many cultures that have settled in this area. She also lived and worked in New York City.  Her grandmother was an artist, and she enjoys sketching.  She is keenly interested in the way food and culture are intertwined with celebration.  She is currently a graduate student in the folklore program of George Mason University in Northern Virginia.

Girish Khyapa: Baul


Girish Khyapa, a wonderful Baul singer from Bardhaman district in West Bengal, also plays various instruments including Dotara and Ektara (traditional string instruments). Apart from several festivals in West Bengal and other parts of India, he has also performed at the International De Folklore De Noyon Festival in France and Transform-Trondheim World Music Festival in Norway in 2017.



Ashley Martinez: Albuquerque, New Mexico

AshleyAshley’s family is native to New Mexico, which has a strong traditional history drawing from Native American, Spanish and European roots as the cultures came together and blended.  She is interested in the folk art of the region including music, indigenous architecture and crafts.  She served as an intern at CFCH from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017 and then joined the Smithsonian Folklife Festival temporary staff as a participant assistant and then participant coordinator, helping with travel and housing arrangements for Festival participants traveling from around the world.  She did her undergraduate work at the University of New Mexico and is hoping to start graduate school there in the fall.

Mamoni Chitrakar: Patachitra Artist

Mamoni Chitrakar

Mamoni Chitrakar is the daughter of renowned Patachitra artist, Swarna Chitrakar. She has been painting Patachitra and singing the songs related to the form since childhood. She has been trained at home by her mother and specializes in paintings on mythological stories like Manasha Mangal and Chandi Mangal. Influenced by seniors, Mamoni has also painted on issues like HIV, 9/11 and Tsunami. She has showcased her art at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and also internationally in Italy, Bahrain and France.


Kennedy Soden: Indianapolis, Indiana

KennedyKennedy Lyn Soden is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana. She has lived in Arkansas for eight years and recently graduated from Arkansas State University after four years of studying Literature, Journalism, and Folklore. She has always been interested in culture and backgrounds. Kennedy has Mexican relatives and started at an early age learning about their culture and traditions. When starting her degree, she decided that she wanted to know about other cultural traditions, this began her obsession with folklore. She was able to learn about the myths and legends, as well as occupational folklore and traditions within multiple cultures and communities. Kennedy strives to learn as much as she can and she wants to know how to work within different cultural communities.

Rabi Das: Baul 

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A talented Baul singer from Bolpur, Santiniketan, Rabi Das Baul also plays Dotara (a traditional string instrument), Khamak (a traditional percussive string instrument) and Dubki (a traditional rhythm instrument). He performs regularly at fairs and festivals in West Bengal and visited many places in India to present his songs. In 2017, Rabi Das Baul has performed at the Ethno Krakow Crossroad World Music Festival in Poland.


Madison Luken: Danville, Kentucky

MadisonMadison Luken is a sophomore at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky studying Anthropology & Sociology as a major and Physics as a minor. Throughout her high school and college career, she has worked as a writer for creative projects, those of her own and for others. These include video game narratives, stop-motion animated short films, and prose. She hopes to continue writing as a way to give voice and life to narratives that help build empathy, understanding, and camaraderie. As a student of science, she is also interested in the role of the environment and technology in cultural narratives and hopes to travel and research in the future.

Tapan Das: Baul

Sadhu Das 1Tapan Das is popularly known as Sadhu is a young Baul singer from Joydev Kenduli – the sacred meeting place for Bauls. His father late Tarak Das Baul was a renowned Baul singer who established his own Ashram Baul Kuthir Sebashram for spreading the Baul philosophy. Sadhu Das with his younger brother Kangal Das grew up under the tutelage of his father and initiated in the Baul music by seeing him. Sadhu likes to sing Baul songs written by Jadubindu, Nilanjan Goswami, Pagal Ramdas, the Guru of his father and can play most of the traditional instruments like Dotara, Khamak, Khol, Srikhol etc. He regularly performs at various festivals in Kolkata and traveled to Silchar, Pune, Goa and Delhi to present his songs. He also guides the budding singers and encourages them in the path of Baul music.

CJ Guadarrama: Brigham City, Utah

CJAs one of the only Hispanic and Catholic students in his elementary school in Brigham City, CJ learned that everything he did was closely examined than other students, which scared him. During his sophomore year of college, he found the research potential for a project on a Native American boarding school. This helped him gain the confidence to continue his education and pursue a master’s degree focused on that project. As a master’s student, CJ has become a successful teacher, mentor, and scholar at Intermountain Indian School. He has conducted research on several aspects of the school, uncovering legends, conducting oral histories with former students and faculty, and working with museums in Utah to help preserve material objects found at the school. This semester, he is designing a walking tour exhibit of the old property.

Tanmoy Das: Baul
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Tanmoy Das also known as Kangal is younger brother of Sadhu Das and have grown up in the same environment. He learnt Baul songs and musical instrument playing from his father late Tarak Das Baul. He is one of the talented artists of new generation and have won the hearts of the audience through his soulful rendition of Baul songs.


Pam Frei: Irving, Texas

PamPam Frei is just starting her work in folklore, and she is hoping to narrow her focus through a variety of work. Currently, she is focused on collecting interviews from refugees and turning those into stories that would be more digestible to a general audience. In addition, she is doing some research into commonalities within folklore and how those commonalities have survived into more modern popular media, like social media, movies, TV shows, etc.


Susama Chitrakar: Patachitra artist

Sushama Chitrakar 1.jpgSusama Chitrakar is a young Patachitra artist of Naya, Pingla, in West Medinipur. She learnt the traditional art from her father Shyamsundar and mother Rani, both of whom were skilled Patachitra artists. Susama uses natural colours made from vegetables, leaves and flowers. She has visited many fairs and events to present her Patachitra and showcased her folk painting tradition in Trondheim Internasjonale Festival in Norway from 1 to 4 November, 2017.


Charish Bishop: Mexico City, Mexico 

CherishCharish is currently studying Liberal Arts and Folklore through Utah State University. She recently served as a Mayoral appointee on the Environmental Sustainability Committee of Fairfax City, Virginia, and is a diplomatic spouse presently living in Mexico City with her husband and four children. She was elected as the Elementary School PTO Representative with the International School of Kenya in Nairobi, where she planned and executed various cultural events for the school body in conjunction with the local artisan community. She also taught classes on self-reliance and business skills to local African women, organized center events with the Community Liaison Office of the United States Embassy in Kenya, and volunteered as a Troop Leader and Coordinator with the Girl Scouts of America. She is passionate about environmental issues, enjoys bird watching, and is volunteering with the Mexico City earthquake relief efforts.

Sonali Chitrakar: Patachitra artist 

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Sonali Chitrakar is one of the young prodigies of Patachitra Painting. Residing at Naya, Pingla she learned the art of painting from her mother Swarna Chitrakar who is a renowned Patachitra artist and traveled many countries to showcase her artworks and talk about the folk painting tradition. Sonali has grown up and excelled as a painter under the tutelage of her mother. Sonali Chitrakar has visited exhibitions and fairs all across India.


Yui Sasajima: Mountain View, California 

YuiYui Sasajima found her calling in studying people and cultures. She is pursuing Linguistics and Cultural Anthropology in college. Her main area of interest is in the conservation of languages and lifestyles around the world. Yui loves exploring all things related to food, from adzuki beans to za’atar, and she cares a lot about our relationship with the environment. Her hobbies included traveling without plans, reading, writing, learning languages, and trying new things. She maintains a blog called a grain of nice where she posts “obscure words and phrases from modern Japanese culture that do not have equivalents in English.”

Rupsona Chitrakar: Patachitra artist Rupsona Chitrakar 1.jpg

Rupsona Chitrakar is regarded as one of the most accomplished Patachitra artists among the new generation. She resides in Pingla. She has learnt the core skills of Patachitra from Moyna Chitrakar. She has visited various folk festivals and fairs all over India and even visited other countries to exhibit her scroll paintings and perform Pater Gaan (songs of Patachitra).  


Heidi Lucero

HeidiHeidi Lucero is an Indigenous Anthropologist and is a descendant of Acjachemen and Mutsun Ohlone tribes of California. She is an accomplished native artist and basket weaver and enjoys teaching traditional cultural knowledge. Heidi enjoys working with native foods to improve the health of native populations. She works closely with the tribes in her area to maintain cultural continuity and respect for traditional ways and values. Heidi has spent a good portion of her adult life in the protection of sacred sites and in the return of ancestors and sacred objects under NAGPRA, she is a true “NAGPRA WARRIOR.” She is currently pursuing an MA in Cultural Sustainability at Goucher College. It is her hope that through her education she can help bring back the language and cultural traditions that have been nearly lost, and to return this information to the tribes that are in need of this information for retaining cultural heritage and continuity.

Mousumi Chitrakar: Patachitra artist

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Mousumi Chitrakar is a 24 year Patachitra artist from Pingla, Medinipore. She is painting scrolls since she was 5years. She learnt singing Pater gaan (songs) when she was 10 years. First she started painting Santhal scrolls, fish marriage and other traditional scrolls. Later she also started working on contemporary and social issues like World Trade Center, Delhi Rape case and others. She has extensively traveled across India in places like Delhi, Bhopal, Khajuraho etc.

Sharmi Basu


Sharmi Basu is a queer south Asian woman of color creating experimental music as a means of decolonizing our musical language. She attempts to catalyze a political, yet ethereal aesthetic by combining her anti-colonial and anti-imperialist politics with a commitment to spirituality within the arts. Beast Nest, Sharmi’s primary performing project, utilizes an unwavering depression and restrained horror to channel left-eyed spirits. She has presented her workshop series “Decolonizing Sound” and performed as Beast Nest both nationally and internationally. She hosts a biweekly POC improvisation ensemble called MARA as well as a QTPOC Experimental music night called Brown Noise in Oakland, California. She was one the organizers of the first ever Black and Brown Punk Festival in Oakland and was the core-organizer for the first ever Sacramento Zine Symposium. She is an MFA graduate from Mills College in Electronic Music and Recording Music.

Sonia Chitrakar : Patachitra Artist

Sonia Chitrakar

Sonia is a 20 year Patachitra artist from Pingla. She learnt painting scrolls and singing Pater gaan from her parents when she was 3 years.  She became well versed in Patachitra by the time she was 8years. She started working on traditional scrolls initially. Later she worked on contemporary issues like 9/11 destruction, Save trees and others. She extensively traveled across India. Recently she was also a State level awardee.


Erum Hadi 

ErumErum is a doctoral student in the World History Department at St. John’s University. Her research interests include exploring material culture, cultural heritage, and history of South Asia. She is fascinated by the meaning that objects and rituals bring to folklife and reveal its history. Her current project materialized from a graduate museum studies course, where she was able to research the migratory history of North West Indian Muslims to Pakistan via the material possessions that they carried with them. Soon, she started to see the hybridity in the cultural development of Muslims and Hindus in South Asia and decided to conduct a full study of their shared origins and sustained traditions. For the last 16 years, she has held positions as a research scientist for various health departments in North East United States, and more recently she has been a research teacher at the public school and college level. She is most attached to her work as a doctoral student because it allows her to think, read, and write about world history topics that not only relate directly to our current situations but have the potential to improve our understanding of cultures worldwide.

Tapas Bauri : Theatre Artist


Tapas Bauri is a theatre artist from Tepantar theatre village. He is performing for the last 14 years. He has  participated in many workshops and also conducted few. He has performed in many traditional theatres like Maha Kabya Pore, Andhajug and others.



Julián Antonio Carrillo

JULIANJulián Antonio Carrillo is a folkloristic anthropologist from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands whose current dissertation research at Indiana University focuses on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Oaxaca, Mexico, a state with one of the highest percentages of indigenous population. In particular, he focuses on the maroma mixteca, a performance featuring acrobats on tightropes and trapezes, theater actors and actresses, and clowns that recite poetry and sing accompanied by brass bands at annual patron saint fiestas. His work examines the ways that traditions such as the maroma come into the purview of applied anthropology institutions, like Culturas Populares in his case study, becoming the focus state and civil society cultural policies and politics. Based on life histories, institutional ethnography, and participatory dialogues about what constitutes effective safeguarding, his research aims to propose policies that can advance grass roots development goals.

Basudev Goswami: Theatre Artist

Basudeb Goswami

Basudev is a 34 year old theatre artist from Tepantar theatre village. e is performing for the last 14 years. He has  participated in many workshops and also conducted few. He has also worked with renowned theatre personalities of Bengal.


Morgan Black

MorganMorgan graduated from GMU and is currently working on her graduate degree in History online at Arizona State University while residing in Silver Spring, Maryland to take care of her elders. She is fascinated by history and the elements that come together to tell a story of past, present, and future. She is from DC and Boston and have mixed Black and German Heritage. She understood the she was transgender and asexual around the age of 12. She has spent her life working with kids, focusing on using education as a way to empower and help children leave bad situations. Her forte is world and LGBTQ history. Her secret passion is script writing, and has written numerous plays about diverse characters dealing with issues similar to her own.

Sujan Bauri: Theatre Artist

Sujan Bauri

Sujan is a theatre artist. He is a new to group theatre. He is from Satkahaniya in Bardhhaman district. He has completed his High School and is also doing spoken english and computer training classes.


Jillian Love

Jillian.jpgJillian Love graduated from the University of Oregon in June of 2015 with an M.A. in Public Folklore and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. Her studies and Master’s Terminal Project focused on the process of establishing sustainable cultural tourism as a tool of cultural animation. Currently, she uses knowledge gained during her collegiate studies —including her B.A. in Writing/Communications and minor in International Studies—to aid her in her professional career as Historic Sites Supervisor for the Kansas Historical Society. This position focuses on the interpretation, management, and personnel of the state historic sites spread throughout Kansas that are often the focal points of their local communities’ heritage and stories passed down from generation to generation.

Soham Mukherjee 

SohamSoham Mukherjee has a Bachelors in Computer Application and is a practicing musician. He is presently working with banglanatak dot com as part of its MusiCal initiative. Apart from his direct involvement with music, he also engages in archiving traditional music and practices. He is engaged in composing for theaters and films and takes a keen interest in the mediums of photography and videography. He is one of the founding members of a semi-classical fusion band “Paridhi” and played guitars for the band from 2011 to 2017. Soham is an avid traveler and likes to document cultural traditions of  different places. His spouse is a theater artist. Soham comes from a nuclear family with parents and an elder sister. He lives and works in Kolkata, India.

Sara Cassard

LauraSara Cassard is a sophomore at Amherst College majoring in Anthropology. She is interested in exploring education as a means of connection between people and examining the impact of migration between the U.S., Mexico and Central America. From a young age she had the privilege of working with students of various nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds. As a teaching assistant, she created a program to aid ESOL students and met with them twice a week along with a bilingual peer. She has also worked with Refugee Trust, a program founded by an Amherst alum that works to get more refugees into higher education. She also has a strong interest in increasing Asian-American representation in Hollywood film and media as a way to combat stereotypes and better educate the wider American public.

Balaram Karmakar : Dokra Artist

Balaram Karmakar, a resident of Bikna, learnt Dokra crWhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 12.52.07aft under the guidance of his father. He has been been associated with the craft Dokra since the age of 10. Boloram wants to imbibe the nuances of the craft and aspire to become a successful artist, thus making his father proud. He loves and is proficient in polishing Dokra items. Footfall is his favourite sport and he loves eating chapati (handmade bread) and meat. Karmakar dreams of opening a polishing factory for Dokra items.


Umashankar Rana : Dokra Artist

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Umashankar Rana is 19. He has been observing the craft from a very young age and enjoys product casting and face designing of the products. Umashankar’s favorite game is cricket and he loves outing on Sundays, He relishes having chapati (handmade bread) and meat.




Kamal Karmakar : Dokra Artist

Kamal Karmakar, Dokra artist, is a resident of Bikna. HWhatsApp Image 2018-03-13 at 12.52.11e learned the craft from his maternal uncles and has been practicing this craft for 12 years. Kamal’s family has 6 members.





Goutam Karmakar : Dokra Artist

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Goutam Karmakar is aged 18 and is associated with this craft for 10 years. He imbibed the techniques of the craft from his father. Goutam likes product designing and casting but not polishing. Cricket is his favorite game. He likes khichri (meal made with rice and lentils and other spices) and spicy potato curry ( alur dam)prepared by his mother.



Chanchal Bauri : Theatre Artist

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Chanchal Bauri is a theatre artist from Tepantar. He stays with his parents and brother in a nearby village. He loves to act. Along with theatre he is also doing this bachelor degree in arts. He loves to dance. He is a foodie and prefers non vegetarian meal.



Somnath Karmakar : Dokra Artist


Somanath Karmakar is a 19 year old Dokra artist of Bikna, a Dokra making village of Bankura. He has been learning this craft for the past 12 years. Presently, Somnath can make Dokra items and is a keen observer of new items as well as the process of making the same.



Kallol Bhattacharya : Theatre Artist


Kallol Bhattacharya is a theatre practitioner and director of the group Ebong Amra which holds their theatre shows at a place known as Tepantar located at Satkahania in Bardhaman district. He has developed the theatre village with the help of local youth group and has engaged them in theatre which has involved tribal forms and customs in a unique and meticulous execution style in their theatre. Most of his team members are resident theatre practitioners and specialize in various aspects like music, drama, martial arts, sound and design. His team has performed all over India and Bangladesh and received appreciation from the audience and critics. He is successfully taking forward his plan to develop Tepantar as a place of cultural tourism.