The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced the newest recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, which includes Nashville’s Manuel Cuevas, a world-renowned designer of cowboy couture.
From his early life in Michoacán, Mexico, to his training in mid-century Hollywood, to his residency as a creative luminary in Nashville, clothing designer Manuel has measured, cut, and stitched a brilliant and indelible legacy in American culture.
Born in 1933, Manuel learned to sew at age seven from his older brother. By fourteen, he was a popular creator of prom dresses in his hometown in western Mexico. In 1952, he migrated to Hollywood, where influential clothiers took notice. Manuel eventually became lead tailor for Nudie Cohn, the exuberant designer most identified with the rhinestone-adorned and elaborately embroidered suits.
With Nudie, Manuel clothed everyone from Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash, James Dean to John Wayne. In 1975, Manuel launched his own Los Angeles store, serving clients including Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Glen Campbell and Jack White. In 1988, Manuel moved to Nashville, where he remains a marquee brand name. His clothes have earned exhibitions at the Frist Art Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum, and are displayed extensively at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The NEA National Heritage Fellowships, awarded annually by the National Endowment for the Arts, highlight the breadth and excellence of the artistic traditions found in communities all across the United States. The 2018 recipients will receive a $25,000 award and be honored in Washington, DC at an awards ceremony on September 26, 2018 and at a free concert on September 28, 2018. The concert will be streamed live at arts.gov.
“The 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows have dedicated their lives to mastering these distinctive art forms and sharing them with new audiences both within their communities and nationwide,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts. “We look forward to celebrating them and their incredible artistic accomplishments this fall.”