Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289

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Diorama artist Michael Cousino and his images of Vietnam will be the subject of the next Folk Art in the Afternoon presentation on Wednesday, March 6. The afternoon series explores the art and artists showcased in TAUNY’s current exhibit “Kindred Pursuits: Folk Art in North Country Life.”

The Kindred Pursuits exhibit is organized by themes; Cousino is the case study for the “Nostalgia” section, which describes artists whose work recreates and illustrates memories. Varick Chittenden, curator of the Kindred Pursuits exhibit, will offer an informal illustrated talk about Cousino and his work.

“I first knew Mike as a student at Gouverneur High School when I was teaching there in mid-1960s,” explains Chittenden. “I later organized several one-man traveling exhibitions of his work for several galleries in New York state, including one at the New York State Vietnam Memorial Gallery in Albany in 1987.”

At age 17 Cousino left Gouverneur to join the U.S. Marine Corps, and was subsequently stationed near the DMZ in Vietnam. A battle injury ended his 13-month tour of duty, and he returned to the U.S. for rehabilitation and discharge. When he had difficulty talking about his experiences in Vietnam, a friend suggested he use his hands to make dioramas of specific incidents. Since those days, he has made nearly 300 scenes, many inspired by painful stories of new buddies and fellow veterans. The artwork has become therapy for Mike and his friends, and a way for him to teach younger generations about the experiences of the ordinary soldier. 

Mike Cousino’s story as a veteran and an artist is told in a book called Vietnam Remembered: The Folk Art of Marine Combat Veteran Michael D. Cousino, Sr., written by Chittenden. The book is available for purchase in TAUNY’s North Country Folkstore.

The Folk Art in the Afternoon program will begin at 4 p.m.; the presentation will last approximately 30 minutes and there will be time for questions and answers. Visitors to the decoy presentation are encouraged to bring in examples of local decoys for identification or discussion.

Tea, coffee, and light refreshments will be served. 

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