BY EMILY HILLIARD, STATE FOLKLORIST, WV FOLKLIFE PROGRAM
At this year’s New Story, the team at The Hub is partnering with the West Virginia Folklife Program to put a spotlight on the inaugural Folklife Apprenticeship Program. Masters and apprentices will take part in New Story sessions at the Lewisburg State Fairgrounds and at the Alderson Night Out bonus event.
Our state’s Folklife Program was founded in November 2015 at the West Virginia Humanities Council. The program documents, preserves, presents, and supports the Mountain State’s vibrant cultural heritage and living traditions. That means everything from gospel music to memes, ramps to zines.
The Apprenticeship Program offers up to a $3,000 stipend to West Virginian master traditional artists and tradition bearers to work with qualified apprentices on a year-long, in-depth apprenticeship in their cultural expression or traditional art form.
These apprenticeships pair up with masters of traditional music, dance, craft, foodways, storytelling, and more to help facilitate the passing on of techniques and artistry as well as histories and traditions.
The program supports the master artists for their expertise and contribution, and also supports the preservation, value, and sharing of important historical traditions with the next generation of West Virginians.
In a state with an array of traditional artists and cultural communities, the Apprenticeship Program – and the work of West Virginia Folklife – celebrates and supports the creative contributions and practices of all West Virginians, whether they consider themselves artists or not.
The 2017-2018 Folklife Apprenticeship pairs are:
- Genevieve Bardwell & West Virginia native Susan Ray Brown, both residents of Mount Morris, PA, with apprentice Amy Dawson of Lost Creek (salt rising bread)
- Lady D (Doris Fields) of Beckley with apprentice Xavier C. Oglesby of Huntington (black gospel/blues)
- Marion Harless of Kerens with apprentice Kara Vaneck of Weston (green traditions/herbalism)
- John D. Morris of Ivydale with apprentice Jen Iskow of Thomas (Clay County old-time fiddle)
- Doug Van Gundy of Elkins with apprentice Annie Stroud of Morgantown (old-time fiddle)
We will learn more and see performances and demonstrations by these master artists and apprenticeships at New Story’s West Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Narrative Stage Showcase, May 31 from 1:30-3pm. At 3:30pm that afternoon, master herbalist Marion Harless will lead an optional Herb Walk at the Fairgrounds, and that evening, fiddle apprentice Annie Stroud and friends will play live music during Alderson Night Out.
The following day, apprentices Amy Dawson, Jen Iskow, and Annie Stroud will participate in the roundtable Experiences from the Field: Making the Most of Fellowships in WV from 11:00am-12:30pm.
To learn more about West Virginia Folklife and the Apprenticeship Program, visit wvfolklife.org.