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Dr. James S. (Big Jim) Griffith

Dr. James S. (Big Jim) Griffith

Dr. James S. Griffith is the founder and former director of the UA's Southwest Center. He retired from a faculty position at the University in 1998 and continues to teach, lecture, and conduct research on Southern Arizona folk arts throughout the region. In the 1990s he hosts a regular segment on Arizona Public Media (then known as KUAT) called Arizona Illustrated, a community news show seen on Tucson's public television station. You will find many of Dr. Griffith's segments in Through Our Parents' Eyes.  In addition, he is extremely well known around our community as the Founder member of the Board of Directors of the Tucson Meet Yourself folk life festival.

A renowned scholar throughout his career, Dr. Griffith has written many books, including:
A Border Runs Through It
Hecho a Mano: The Traditional Arts of Tucson's Mexican American Community
Saints of the Southwest
Beliefs and Holy Places: A Spiritual Geography of the Pimería Alta  
Face of Christ in Sonora
Southern Arizona Folk Arts Southern Arizona Folk Arts

Dr. Griffith is the author of and a major contributor to a number of Through Our Parents' Eyes websites:
Mission Churches of the Sonoran Desert
Southern Arizona Folk Arts
La Cadena Que No Se Corta: The Unbroken Chain: Traditional Arts of Tucson's Mexican American Community
Military Aircraft Nose Art: An American Tradition
Cowboy Songs and Singers: Of Lifeways and Legend

Most recently Dr. Griffith was among nine people awarded the 2011 NEA National Heritage Fellowship. In particular, the NEA singled out Dr. Griffith for the Bess Lomax Hawes Fellowship, which "recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage," and calling him "the personification of the intent of the fellowship."

Watch the August 2011 interview with Dr. Griffith by Arizona Public Media's Tony Paniagua. [Flash video]