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Puppetry and African American History: Tarish Pipkins and Pandora Gastelum

February 7 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present Puppetry and African American History: Tarish Pipkins and Pandora Gastelum on Thursday, February 7, 2019 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. as  part of the ground-breaking Living Objects: African American Puppetry Festival and Symposium, a four-day series of performances, presentations, discussions, film screenings, and workshops, from February 7 to 10, 2019, celebrating the rich world of African American puppetry in the United States. This performance will take place at the Center for Contemporary Culture at the Hartford Public Library, located at 500 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103. Refreshments will be served. This event is co-sponsored by UConn Hartford and the Hartford Public Library, and Judith M. Zachs and the Zachs Family Foundation.

Puppetry and African American History will include the following performances, followed by a post-show discussion with the performers.

A Conversation with Frederick Douglass by Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins

Experience the incredible life journey of Frederick Douglass through a multimedia performance of puppetry, music and projected images based on the famed abolitionist’s autobiography.  

Tarish Pipkins, a.k.a. Jeghetto, was born in the small steel mill town of Clairton, PA, south of Pittsburgh. A self-taught artist, he began creating art at an early age. In the late 90’s he joined the BridgeSpotters Collective, becoming known for his live paintings and poetry. Tarish moved to North Carolina in 2005, and launched his career in puppetry with street performances. In 2008 he began working with Paperhand Puppet Intervention, building puppets and performing in several productions. Tarish also built and performed puppets for Missy Elliott’s 2015 music video, WTF (Where They From), and taught at Just Right Academy, a private alternative school for children with special needs. Pipkins is married and a proud father of five children, and his passion is promoting oneness through the magic of puppetry.

The City that Care Forgot by Pandora Gastelum

The City that Care Forgot, performed by Pandora Gastelum of The Mudlark Puppeteers, is one-woman shadow and rod-puppet show set to early jazz music which explores the lesser-known history of old New Orleans through the lives of some famous and infamous figures, including Lulu White, the Diamond Queen of Storyville.

Pandora Andrea Gastelum is a puppeteer, dollmaker, designer,  and performer. She owns and operates The Mudlark Public Theatre in New Orleans’ 9th Ward and is the Artistic Director of that space’s resident theatre company, The Mudlark Puppeteers. The Mudlark Puppeteers specialize in innovative and unconventional puppet and object theater on a variety of scales, presenting original and little-told stories of heroic misfits and wayward love–fables waging a playful but determined battle for alternative modes of being. As devoted residents of the Gulf Coast, The Mudlark Puppeteers explore the creative capacity of dispossession through puppetcraft and performance, imagining hope in the form of new stories about the dispossessed as emerging heroes.

The approximate running time of Puppetry and African American History is 1.5 hours. Recommended for ages 13 and up. This event is free and open to the public; seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  

For address and parking information for Hartford Public Library, visit  For more information or if you require an accommodation to attend this event, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or

The Living Objects: African American Puppetry Festival and Symposium is taking place in conjunction with the Living Objects: African American Puppetry exhibit at UConn’s Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, on display through April 7, 2019. For information about the exhibit and festival, visit

Living Objects: African American Puppetry Festival and Symposium sponsors include: Judith M. Zachs and the Zachs Family Foundation, UConn School of Fine Arts, University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, UConn Africana Studies Institute, the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center of the University of Connecticut, UConn Hartford, Hartford Public Library, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Amistad Center for Art and Culture, and Maryland Institute College of Art.


February 7
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
(860) 486-8580


Ballard Institute, 860-486-8580 or


Hartford Public Library
500 Main St
Hartford, CT 06103 United States
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