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Full text of "In good hands : state apprenticeship programs in folk & traditional arts"

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Cover: Hands of Elizabeth Schiff, 
master, German beaded baby 
cap making, North Dakota. 









Since 1983, nearly 3,000 master artists in 
42 states and three U.S. territories have 
teamed up with apprentices to pass on the 
arts of their cultural heritage. 












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Opposite: Minnie Ka'awaloa, master (R), 

Laurie Hera, apprentice, lauhala 

weaving/hat making, Hawai'i. 



In Good Hands: State Apprenticeship Programs 
in Folk & Traditional Arts 




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I'm sure now that my daugh- 
ter, Alice, will make baskets 
of white oak and sedge grass 
and bottom chairs. I really 
don't believe she would have 
started had we not got in- 
volved with this program . . . 
Thank you for not letting 
this part of my tife die, but to 
grow and keep on keeping 
on. I want to leave it in 
somebody's hands and I 
would like it to be her. 

Azzie Roland 

Master basketmaker 

Louisiana 



National Endowment for the Arts 1996 




Quilting in Kansas. Chinese ° und e country - 

„ ■ ■ ■ state apprenticeship 

opera in New York. Hispanic 
santos carving in Colorado. 
Hide tanning in Alaska. 



programs in the folk 
and traditional arts are 
helping people to 



"keep on keeping on" with the cherished traditions of their community. The pro- 
grams, usually sponsored by a state arts council, bring a master artist together with 
a committed apprentice for intensive instruction in a traditional craft or performing 
art. Artist teams apply for grants to pay for supplies, teaching time, and apprentice 
travel. A panel selects participants based on critera such as artistic quality and fea- 
sibility of study plan. Master and apprentice work together on a project that often 



culminates in a public presentation or a con- 



tinuing partnership. 



Ernest Murray, master (L), 

Steve Cookson, apprentice, Ozark 

johnboat paddlemaking, Missouri. 



I've been searching for a teacher for years and she is the one. Aunty Jane [Lily Jane 
Ako Nunies] believes that if you have a gift, you must pass it on. 



Donna Lee Cockett, apprentice lauhala weaver, Hawai'i 



Apprenticeships have a ripple effect 
that is felt far beyond the artist pair and 
long after the end of the grant period. 

ArtlStS build skills and confidence while gaining new recognition and opportunities. 
C0mmiinitl6S enjoy positive publicity and affirm the value of their cultural her- 
itage. SpOnSOr 3g6nCI8S reach out to underserved populations and enrich 
their programming. Aft tOTfTIS that might have disappeared find a new lease on 



life with a younger generation. 



Bonnie Chatavong, master (L), 

Line Saysamondouangdy, apprentice, 

Laotian weaving, Hawai'i. 




Diversity and Economy 



Nationwide, most apprenticeships focus on crafts among ethnic minorities, with American 

Indians, Alaska Natives, and Asian/Pacific Islander Americans especially well-represented; 

Anglo and European Americans make up 39% of participants. Teams are widely dispersed across and within U.S. states and territories, from 

inner-city Detroit to rural Mississippi to village Guam. Each program sets its own priorities and selection criteria according to local needs. The 

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Folk & Traditional Arts Program has provided major funding for 

m state apprenticeship programs since 1983, supporting 34 out of 38 active pro- 

Apprenticeship programs 

grams in 1995. Program grant 

serve an impressive diver- budgets ($io,ooo-$3o,ooo) 

m m m r and typical awards ($1,000- 

sity of people, art forms, 

$2,500 per team) have 
and geographic regions. remaned stable over the years <^fc^ \ I ' 



Opposite: Edith "Baby Edwards" Hunt, 
master (L), Germaine Ingram, apprentice, African American tap dance, Pennsylvania. 



Bronius Krokys, master (L), Joseph Kasinskas, apprentice, Lithuainian folksinging, Pennsylvania. 



\ 



The apprenticeship pro- 
gram has a great impact 



on a rural state like this. 



We've done a lot to recog- 
nize the diversity of North 
Dakota people, many of 
whom were never recog- 
nized before. 



Mary Louise Defender- 
Wilson (Dakota-Hidatsa) 
Master storyteller, panelist 

Member, North Dakota 
Council on the Arts 





More than lessons in technical 



skills, apprenticeships are per- 



Intimate Conservatories 



sonal and cultural relationships-what one observer calls "intimate conservatories." Masters 
pass on stories, lore, and language along with "tricks of the trade" and the finer points of 

style. "You weave slowly so you can hear more stories," says 

one apprentice. "What I most treasure is gaining a friend," writes another. The results of 
apprenticeships are as varied as the artists and art forms involved. In Florida, an appren- 
tice learned 30 old-time fiddle tunes and now performs with her teacher. In Colorado, 
an apprentice started a class in santos carving at a vocational school. In Massachusetts 



and Oregon, apprentice singers were trained to officiate at Hmong weddings. In American 

Samoa, a team built a tradi- 
tional house bound with 130 



Fred Dolan, master (L), Shawn Gillis, 
apprentice, duck decoy carving, New Hampshire 



Opposite: Shoba Sharma, master (center), 
apprentices Samhitha Udupa (L) and Anitha Seth (R), 
Indian Bharathanatyam classical dance, Pennsylvania. miles of coconut fiber. 



* 





Ola Belle [Reed] shared 
her banjo style, her incred- 
ible repertoire, her life his- 
tory and her family history, 
her political and religious 
outlooks and her recipes, 
her famous chicken soup, 
and her strength of moun- 
tain-bred character. 

Judy Marti 

Apprentice banjo player 

Pennsylvania 



Apprenticeships often lead to 



state, local, and national 



Awards and Rewards 



awards for master artists, including the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship. 
Some programs arrange annual receptions at the state capitol; others sponsor travel- 
ling exhibits, media documentaries, or school residencies to showcase artists. 

Publicity and acclaim often bring artists new invitations to present, 

Sell, Or teach their art. Yet the greatest reward for many comes from mentoring an 



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apprentice. "It gives me much satisfaction when I have created something beautiful, durable, and 
useful," writes master quilter Mary Ann Norton of Mississippi, "and even more satisfaction and 



The apprenticeship gave me back some things I'd almost for- 
gotten because nobody had asked me about it for so long. 



Charlie Smith, master old-time fiddler, Mississippi 



pleasure when I have 



helped someone else 



to learn how." 



Above left: Eva Castellanoz, master Mexican 
American wax corona maker and National 
Heritage Fellowship recipient (center), with 
daughter/ apprentice Erika Castellanoz (L), 
present gift to Governor Barbara Roberts 
at the Oregon state capitol. 



Above right: Peggy Langley, 

then apprentice (L), with Rex Cook, 

master, saddlemaking, North Dakota. 




From Apprentice to Master Saddlemaker 



Peggy Langley started making saddles for the horses on her family's North Dakota ranch in 
1986, following book instructions and her own intuition. She tried asking cowboys for advice 
but found them unwilling to share their trade secrets with a woman. When the state folk arts 
coordinator called in 1991 to ask if she'd like to be part of a saddlemaking apprenticeship, "I 
thought it was a joke," Langley recalls. She convinced veteran saddlemaker Rex Cook to take 



her on. "He really put me through the paces," she says. "I learned I was doing everything right; I just needed more finesse and some shortcuts 
to make the work easier." The apprenticeship bolstered Langley's confidence and moved her to open her own saddlery. "When you make that 



Pe SSY Langley credits the state's 



first big cut into the leather, it's intimidating. Now I 

can do that part in a day," she reports. Wth more 

orders than she can handle and an apprentice of apprenticeship program With helping 

her own, even the rodeo cowboys are impressed. her tUffl 3 paSSIOtl into 3 pfOfeSSIOIl. 



If it wasn't for the NEA, I 
wouldn't be making pottery. 

Jerry Brown 
Master stoneware potter 



Everyone was hungry and 
ready for [shape note 
singing] schools. 



Art Deason 



Master shape note singer 



Every Saturday, Nora Ezell's six 



apprentices gather at her home 



Focus on Alabama 



in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to work on a Maple Leaf quilt. A 1992 National Heritage Fel- 
lowship winner who makes vivid African American "story quilts," Ezell expects her stu- 
dents to "get it just so straight from the beginning." The Alabama Folk Arts Appren- 
ticeship Program is known for its strong support of African American artists, its spon- 
sorship of group apprenticeships, and its funding of masters like Ezell year after year. 
Coordinator Joey Brackner takes pride in the program's role in revitaliz- 
ing flagship traditions like shape note hymn singing and stoneware pottery. 
Thanks in part to repeat grants and related publicity, the state boasts hundreds of com- 



munity "singings" and ninth-generation potter Jerry Brown was able to return to the fam- 

Opposile-. Arlin Moon, master (center), 
ily craft full-time. apprentice Tina Ray (L), Little Julie Ray, old-time fiddling. 



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Focus on Hawai'i 



There's a waiting list of people 



It's become a real status 



who want to study lauhala 
weaving with 73-year-old Minnie Ka'awaloa on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Apprentices attest 
to the love and lore she dispenses as she shows them how to harvest pandanus leaves 
or start the piko (center) for a woven hat. "Aunt Minnie has taken us under her wing with 
the culture, the language, the spirit," says Noelani Ng. It is this sense of prOtOCOl, 
Spirituality, and Values" that Hawaii Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program coordi- 
nator Lynn Martin aims to pass on. Though 80% Native Hawaiian, the roster also includes 
Cantonese opera singers, Laotian woodcarvers, and Okinawan dancers and musicians. 



thing to be part of the 
apprenticeship program. 



Native Hawaiians took the 



master artists for granted 
before; now they look up 
to them. It's done won- 
ders for their spirit. 

Nathan Napoka 

Panelist, State Foundation 

on Culture and the Arts 



Raymond Kane, master 
(center), apprentices Bobby 
Moderow, Jr. (L) and Harry Koizumi (R), 
Hawaiian slack key guitar. 

Hands of William 
Ka'awaloa, master, 
Hawaiian fishnetting. 




They [apprentices] got to 
know not only the tech- 
nique, but also the men- 
tality. They got to know 
who they are. 

Richard Martin 

Master African American 

tap/jazz dancer 



If I go away to the army and 



there's someone still here to 



play for [Irish] ceili dances, 
then I've done my job. 

Niall Gannon 
Master Irish fiddler 



Focus on Missouri 



One of the country's oldest 
and largest programs, the Mis- 
souri Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program has sponsored nearly 200 teams since 
1984. Participants range from Mexican American mariachi trumpeters in Kansas City 
to wooden johnboat builders in the Ozarks to African American gospel singers in 

the Bootheei region. "When you're doing an apprenticeship, 
you really put your best behind it because they are 
going to be the role 
models for the oth- 

erS, says master Irish musi- 
cian Patrick Gannon. Apprentice- 



Cecil Murray, master (L), 

Jon Murray, apprentice, Ozark 

wooden johnboat making. 




ships have brought long-overdue acclaim to 
artists like tap dance master Richard Martin, who 
toured with Missouri Performing Traditions and 
received the Missouri Arts Award. For coordinator 
Dana Everts-Boehm, the real Sign of 

success is whether relation- 
ships and traditions continue 
after the grants end. tii always be 

coming back to help Cecil [Murray] build boats, 
or if I can't find another reason, just to pester 
him," says apprentice Steve Cookson. 



Larry McNally, master (R), 

James Walsh, apprentice, 

Irish button box accordion. 




V 

X 




m 91 



Focus on North Dakota 



It took a lot of visits, gifts, and 



respectful listening for D. Joyce 



Kitson (Lakota-Hidatsa) to find someone to teach her Hidatsa bird quillwork. Only a few 
elders know how to prepare the thin gull feather quills to create striking designs on cloth- 
ing and regalia. The North Dakota Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program gives priority 
to endangered art forms like this, along with Kurdish lute playing and German beaded 

baby cap making. "The tradition will keep on going and become 
part of someone's life, versus two hours of enjoyment for 

SOme audience members," explains coordinator Troyd Geist. The invest- 
ment has paid off in places like Dickinson, where apprenticeships in Ukrainian embroi- 
dery, ritual bread decoration, folk dance, and pysanky (ritually decorated eggs) have 
helped fuel a cultural revival. 
Hands o/Angie Chruszch, master, Ukrainian pysanky. 



People that are dying 
[elders], and their culture 
is dying-they're thankful 
to see even one person 
coming out to keep our 



traditions alive. I could be 



working as a secretary, but 
I'm choosing to do this. 
That's where my heart is, 
in tanning a hide, doing 



beadwork. I'd like to see 



projects like this expand- 
ed, not cut back. 

D. Joyce Kitson 

(Lakota-Hidatsa) 

Master beadworker/ 

hidetanner 

Apprentice quillworker 



In ten years of working for the 
tribe, I've never seen a project 
that has brought Indians togeth- 
er in this way. 



Theresa Hoffman (Penobscot) 

Member, Maine Arts 

Commission 

Director, Maine Indian 

Basketmakers Alliance 



If basketmaking isn't done in 
the household, then a kid can't 
learn anytime he wants to. 



Richard Silliboy (Micmac) 

Master basketmaker 

and panelist 





• 



Focus on Maine 



The first people emerged from 
the bark of "basket-trees" (brown 
ash trees), according to a Passamaquoddy creation legend. Many Maine Indians grew up 
with the sound of ash being pounded for baskets to sell door-to-door. But the craft was 
languishing when the Maine Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program was launched in 

1990. Grants "gave the elders some incentive to take the 
time with some of the younger generation," says participant car- 
ol Dana (Penobscot). The program also spurred the formation of a state Brown Ash Task 
Force to preserve the resource and the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance to advocate 

for artists' needs. A tradition once linked with poverty now 
thrives as a source of cultural pride. 



Unfinished potato 
baskets by Jim Tomah. 



Donald Sanipass of 

Maine Indian Basketmakers 

Alliance strips brown ash. 




Apprenticeships are by far 
our most direct and suc- 
cessful way of supporting 
traditional artists. 

Kathleen Mundell 

Folk Arts Coordinator 

Maine Arts Commission 



There's a whole body of 
artistic wisdom that is 
being passed on. We will 
be so impoverished if we 
don't have that. 

Lynn Martin 

Folk Arts Coordinator 

State Foundation on 

Culture and the Arts, 

Hawai'i 



Thousands of artists 



supported, hundreds 
of "good news" media 



High artistic quality. Public 
popularity. Cost effectiveness. 



stories, scores of vanishing traditions preserved. Apprenticeship programs appear to be 
in good hands. Yet with changes at the NEA and many state arts agencies, these pro- 
grams face an uncertain future. They must diversify their funding and forge new partner- 
ships to survive. In Wisconsin, master Winnebago ceremonial bowl and spoon carver 
Myron Lowe took care to teach apprentices "the ethics of the craft," as coordinator 
Richard March describes: "how to find suitable burls in the woods, how to remove them 
without killing the tree, and how to notch another tree in such a way that in 30 years, the 
tree would produce another suitable burl for a future woodcarver." With COntmUSQ 

support, apprenticeship programs will put another notch in 



the tree. 



Richard Silliboy, master (R), and Valentine Pulchies, apprentice, 
seek brown ash trees for Micmac Indian basketmaking, Maine. 



This booklet was made possible by a grant from the National 
Endowment for the Arts Folk & Traditional Arts Program to 
The Fund for Folk Culture. For additional copies of this or the 
full-length report of the same title, please contact: 

Director, Folk & Traditional Arts 
Heritage & Preservation Division 
National Endowment for the Arts 
The Nancy Hanks Center 
1100 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Room 720 
Washington, D.C. 20506 









Text: Susan Auerbach 

Design: Leslie Baker Graphic Design 

Photo Credits: 

Cover, pages 9, 16: Troyd Ceist, courtesy North Dakota Council on the Arts 

Page 1 : Carl Hefner, courtesy State Foundation on Culture and the Arts 

Pages 2, 14, 15: Dana Everts-Boehm, courtesy Missouri Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program 

Pages 3, 12, 13: Lynn Martin, courtesy State Foundation on Culture and the Arts 

Pages 4, 5, 7: Jane Levine, courtesy Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission 

Page 6: Jill Linzee, courtesy New Hampshire State Council on the Arts 

Page 8: Eliza Buck, courtesy Oregon Folk Arts Program 

Page 1 1 : Joey Brackner, courtesy Alabama State Council on the Arts 

Pages 18, 19, 21 : Cedric Chatterley, courtesy Maine Arts Commission