Artist, Teaching Artist
Folk Art, Heritage, Music
In addition to her role as the Folklorist-in-Residence at Erie Arts & Culture, Kelly Armor is a freelance educator, folklorist, musician, and storyteller. She has been a rostered teaching artist since 1995 and has been an artist-in-residence at over 50 different schools and community organizations. Her residencies often focus on storytelling, folk music, songwriting, and instrument making for preschoolers, elementary and middle school students, adults with special needs, and ELL children and adults.
From 1993-2003 she toured with the duo Armor & Sturtevant, performing on flutes, vocals, accordion, concertina, and hand percussion. The duo toured North America and played at festivals, community centers, concert venues and coffeehouses.
She conceived and directs the largest folk art initiative in for Northwest Pennsylvania, the Old Songs New Opportunities Project, a collaboration between arts, education, and social service agencies. The program collects traditional children’s songs from refugee women living in Erie and teaches the women the skills to present their songs at early learn centers, schools and community centers.
Trained as a classical flute player, she studied music and composition at Yale University. She then spent two and half years in Kenya and Tanzania, living with local families to study Swahili language, ethnography, and traditional music. "This experience changed my life," states Kelly, "I lived with people who did not think of music as a performance but as a way to build community."
She believes in the power of folk arts: "Folk art teaches us about other cultures, presents different ways of thinking about the world, offers new perspectives and helps us define our own values. Folk art is also highly interactive. Its emphasis is not on refined technique, but inspiring participation. Traditional art can also be a great springboard for creating new work that can bring a classroom, school or any community together."