Thirteen Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Projects Selected Across The State


Apprentice Meredith Goins

From Bradley Hanson, Director of Folklife –

Master Choctaw basket maker Eleanor Chickaway

The Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program has selected thirteen teams to participate in the 2020 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. Entering its fourth year, the Program is designed to sustain Tennessee’s diverse folklife practices by investing in the passing of traditional art forms from master artists to the next generation.

The Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program has become a key initiative in preserving practices that are rare or endangered in Tennessee. Tennesseans have a wealth of traditional cultures, both old and new; however, many art forms have only a handful of living practitioners. This program works to ensure that these traditions are a vibrant part of our state’s future.

Each of the thirteen teams selected to participate is committed to preserving a traditional folklife art form that is deeply rooted in their cultural heritage. The artists will embark on one-on-one or small group training for an eight-month period.

The master artists awarded this recognition from the Tennessee Arts Commission are considered to be of exceptional skill as recognized by fellow artists, community members, and folk arts leaders. Five of this year’s master and apprentice teams from the Appalachian region are funded through a special partnership with the South Arts’ initiative In These Mountains: Central Appalachian Folk Art & Culture.

The awarded apprentices are chosen by the master artist. Each apprentice demonstrated outstanding aptitude and potential in the chosen traditional art form. Folklife practices include traditional music, crafts, dance, foodways and occupational skills. Traditional art forms are learned and passed down informally by imitation, word of mouth, observation or performance in cultural communities that share family, ethnic, tribal, regional, occupational or religious identity.

Masters and apprentices will also share their work together in public performances, demonstrations and in an exhibit at the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery in the summer of 2020. All projects are documented by the Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program to further archive and preserve the state’s current folklife practices.

A panel of traditional arts and folklife specialists was convened to review a deep and highly competitive applicant pool. The thirteen teams are:

Ed Brown, master and Rebekah Tate, apprentice. Sequatchie Valley Traditional Music. Dunlap, TN.*

Larrice Byrd, master and Quileo White, apprentice. African American Quartet Gospel Singing (Fairfield Four style). Nashville, TN.

Eleanor Chickaway, master and Dorian Thompson, apprentice. Choctaw Basketry. Henning,TN.

Matt Combs, master and Chloe Edmonstone, apprentice. Arthur Smith-Style Fiddling. Kingston Springs, TN.

Agustin Diaz, master and Rosa Garcia, apprentice. Danza Mexica (Azteca). Memphis, TN.

Hattie Duncan, master and William Reid, apprentice. Paper Clay and Wire Sculpting. Jackson, TN.

Doug Grainger, Joyce Carroll, Steve Moore, masters and Trenton Caruthers, apprentice. Fretted Instrument Repair and Restoration. Sparta, TN.*

Alvin Hooper, master and Vincent Guy, apprentice. Shoe Cobbling. Memphis, TN.

Jim Humble, master and Meredith Goins, apprentice. Violin Making. Ooltewah, TN.*

Larry Ridge, master and Jason and Luke Ridge, apprentices. Carousel Animal Carving. Soddy Daisy, TN.*

Bob Townsend, master and Paul Smithson, apprentice. South Cumberland Fiddling. Coalmont, TN.

Sue Williams, master and Brent Hewitt, apprentice. White Oak Basketry. Morrison, TN.

Buddy Wood, master and Mike Wood, apprentice. Hand-painted Sign Making. Jamestown, TN.*

*These teams are funded through a special partnership with the South Arts’ initiative In These Mountains: Central Appalachian Folk Art & Culture.