Museum of New Mexico Foundation

Pulling Back the Veil: A conversation with Kirk and Sheila Ellis on Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2017

MEDIA CONTACT
Steve Cantrell
505.982.6366 ext. 106

(SANTA FE, January 23, 2017)—Seasoned world travelers and folk art collectors Kirk and Sheila Ellis will share some of their experiences and images from their recent journey through Iran’s Central Valley at the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) on Sunday, February 19 at 2 pm. The event is free with museum admission.

Kirk, better known for his award-winning work as screenwriter and producer and his wife Sheila, passionate folk art collector and board member of the International Folk Art Market|Santa Fe, spent two weeks in October and November 2016 visiting such historic cities as Teheran, Yazd and Isfahan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Iran that Kirk and Sheila will talk about is one famous for many things—among them its long tradition of Persian–Islamic arts and architecture whose covered bridges, palaces, mosques and minarets in some instances dating as long ago as 2,500 years. The Ellis’ conversation will pull back the veil on an ancient culture overshadowed by decades of Western media reporting that has been more influenced by political events. And, Sheila will relate what it was like for a woman to travel in Iran.

As Kirk says, "The country’s portrayal in Western media bears little resemblance to what Sheila and I experienced. We were struck by the commonalities, finding there a people who identify more with their remarkable Persian heritage. This trip—our first—was a revelation. Iran is an overwhelmingly welcoming country—secular, urban and cosmopolitan.” 

The Ellis’ visually stunning images—from street and market scenes, to the arts and crafts, and architecture—will be the jumping off point for a lively and wide-ranging conversation.

Kirk noted that, “While there were restrictions on our movements—staying with an authorized guide with an approved itinerary—we had more freedom than we’d expected and were able to slip the leash and wander.” This is evident in their extraordinary and not-often seen images.

“The genie is out of the bottle and he will be hard to put it back in. Sheila and I want folks who attend our talk to know that you have to go beyond what you read in the papers—nothing beats the face-to-face interaction like we had. We hope everyone leaves as inspired as we were by this amazing country.”

Kirk and Sheila’s hour-long conversation will be followed by a Q & A with the audience.

FOR LISTING EDITORS:

WHAT: Pulling Back the Veil: A conversation with Kirk and Sheila Ellis on Iran

WHEN: Sunday, February 19 at 2 pm

WHERE: Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA), 706 Camino Lejo off Old Santa Fe Trail

COST: Free with museum admission

PUBLIC INFO: 505-476-1204 or internationalfolkart.org

BRIEF: Seasoned world travelers and folk art collectors Kirk and Sheila Ellis will share some of their experiences and images from their recent journey through Iran’s Central Valley at the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) on Sunday, February 19 at 2 pm. The event is free with museum admission. 

For images, to arrange interviews and media contact: Steve Cantrell, Museum of New Mexico Foundation, 505-310-3539 or steve@museumfoundation.org

About Kirk and Sheila Ellis Kirk Ellis, serves on the board of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and is a Lead Trustee for the Museum of International Folk Art. Ellis won two Emmys, a WGA Award, a Peabody and the Humanitas Prize for his work as writer and co-executive producer on the HBO miniseries “John Adams.” Previously, Ellis received an Emmy nomination and won the WGA Award and Humanitas Prize for the ABC miniseries “Anne Frank,” which he wrote and co-produced. Ellis collaboration with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks on the miniseries "Into the West" brought him the Western Writers of America’s Golden Spur Award for Best Drama Script for the episode “Hell on Wheels." He also received the Wrangler Award for Best Television Feature from the National Western Heritage Museum for his work on the miniseries, on which Ellis served as writer and supervising producer. Ellis is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema and Television and began his professional career as a film critic for The Hollywood Reporter, and at age 24 served as the magazine’s international editor.  A former co-governor of the writers’ branch of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Ellis served for four years as chairman of the Santa Fe, New Mexico Arts Commission. Currently, he is the president-elect of Western Writers of America and also sits on the advisory board of Richmond, Virginia-based James River Writers.

Sheila Ellis, serves on the board of the International Folk Art Alliance and holds a B.A. in religious studies from California State University, Fullerton. She taught high school history and English for over a decade in East Los Angeles, eventually becoming chair of the history department at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School. There she introduced a curriculum on the teaching of Holocaust history that has now become standard. For the past several years, Sheila has served as volunteer chair of the Best of the Best booth and served on the Selection Committee for the International Folk Art Market|Santa Fe. She is a past chair and serving member of MOIFA’s Folk Art Committee, as well as sitting on the collections committee for the National Hispanic Cultural Center. A full-time resident of Santa Fe since 1999, Sheila is the owner of Samarkand, an ethnographic store specializing in jewelry and textiles from Central Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America now located at the Traveler’s Market.

About the Museum of International Folk Art 
The Museum of International Folk Art is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Museum of International Folk Art’s mission is "to enrich the human spirit by connecting people with the arts, traditions and cultures of the world." Founded in 1953 by Florence Dibell Bartlett, the museum holds the world’s largest international folk art collection of more than 150,000 objects from six continents and over 150 nations.

The museum’s collections represent a broad range of global artists whose artistic expressions make Santa Fe an international crossroads of culture. For many visitors, fascination with folk art begins upon seeing the whimsical toys and traditional objects within the Girard Collection. For others, the international textiles, ceramics, carvings and other cultural treasures in the Neutrogena Collection provide the allure.  The museum’s historic and contemporary Latino and Hispano folk art collections, spanning the Spanish Colonial period to modern-day New Mexico, reflect how artists respond to their time and place in ways both delightful and sobering. In 2010, the museum opened the Mark Naylor and Dale Gunn Gallery of Conscience, where exhibitions encourage visitors to exchange ideas on complex issues of human rights and social justice.

Over 90,000 national and international visitors visit the Museum International Folk Art every year. Through folk art, the museum encourages all to find a common ground upon which to craft better lives for all. 

Museum exhibitions and programs are supported by donors to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its Director’s Leadership Fund, Exhibitions Development Fund, and Fund for Museum Education, as well as by the International Folk Art Foundation, also established by museum founder Florence Dibell Bartlett.

Museum of New Mexico Foundation
Founded in 1962, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation provides critical private funding to one of the nation’s largest collection of state-run museums, historic sites and arts and cultural programs. The foundation’s mission is to support the Museum of New Mexico system through fund development for exhibitions and education programs, financial management and advocacy. The Museum of New Mexico Foundation supports the following cultural institutions: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture | Laboratory of Anthropology, Museum of International Folk Art, New Mexico Museum of Art, New Mexico History Museum | Palace of the Governors and these Historic Sites; Bosque Redondo at Fort Sumner, Coronado, Fort Selden, Fort Stanton, Jemez, Lincoln, and the Office of Archaeological Studies.

 


Related Photos

Woman in traditional dress, village of Abiyaneh.
Monumental tombs outside Persepolis.
Kirk Ellis

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