Photo of Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi, Storyteller Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi

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Expressive Arts

Early Childhood

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Storyteller Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi grew up in northern New York State 20 miles from the Canadian border. When she was in fifth grade, snow covered one side of the school building making outdoor recess impossible. For an entire month her teacher read aloud every afternoon from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. “That was when I learned the power of the spoken word,” says Lorraine. “Our teacher became the characters in those novels. All of us in that classroom were bound together in the common experience of the story. Bits and pieces of ourselves were reflected back to us in Tom and Becky and Huck.”

In 1991, Lorraine attended the first Hudson Valley Storytelling Festival and was inspired to try “this storytelling thing.” She joined the newly formed Visions Story Circle and signed up to participate in the “New Teller’s Night.” When she lamented to her daughter’s 4th grade teacher that she had nowhere to practice her story, the teacher responded with an offer, “Come practice on us.” After that, she was hired to tell stories in her daughter’s school and her career as a storyteller began.

“It is in the process of sharing stories that you become a storyteller,” explains Lorraine. “Each tale is an adventure into the imagination and comes alive when spoken aloud. Hearing the words and feeling the response of the listeners allows you to shape the story and develop as an artist.”

In 2003, Lorraine collaborated with artist Johanne Renbeck to present Visual Narratives: The Artists' Workshop, a story and art workshop that allowed elementary school students to tell stories using murals they created after listening to an excerpt from the Ramayana. Lorraine regularly combines art and story in her work with children and adults. She believes that “Creating a piece of art from images in a story sets the stage for the word to enter, stimulates the imagination and improves access to personal creativity,” explains Lorraine. In January 2011, she received an Expressive Arts Certificate for completing 120 hours of training at New York Expressive Arts in Albany. “My work at NYEA has deepened my awareness of my own creative spirit and allowed me to find new ways to express myself authentically,” says Lorraine. “We all have a great deal of inner wisdom and the expressive arts provide an opportunity to explore that part of ourselves.”

In 2011, Lorraine won an NSN Member Grant for Reach for the Stars to develop a culture of storytelling with early childhood educators. She partnered with Dutchess Community College Louis Greenspan Day Care Center and mentored teachers and administrators for 18 months, helping them to incorporate storytelling into the curriculum and use stories as a way to share family experiences.

Lorraine is co-founder with Gail Burger, Kusum Gupta and Muriel Horowitz, of the Dutchess Interfaith Story Circle that celebrated its 10th anniversary in October 2014. The circle meets in a different house of worship every month to share stories from a variety of faith traditions and holds an annual Peace Concert: An Afternoon of Sharing Stories.

Lorraine is also co-founder with Karen Pillsworth of Tall Tale/Short Story Productions which produces “storytelling events for grown-ups” in Kingston, NY and the surrounding area.

Her book Wisdom in the Telling Finding Inspiration and Grace in Traditional Folktales and Myths Retold was the winner of the 2008 Storytelling World Resource Award for Special Storytelling Resources.

Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi 64 Lincoln Avenue, Beacon, NY 12508 (845) 235-7800
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