Apprenticeship Program

The Folklife Apprenticeship Program pairs an experienced master artist with an eager apprentice for a one-on-one, nine month learning experience, in order to help ensure that a particular art form is passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. Since 2002, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has provided funding to support more than 100 pairs of masters and apprentices in all forms of Virginia’s traditional, expressive culture—from decoy carving to fiddle making, from boat building to quilt making, from country ham curing to old-time banjo playing, from African-American gospel singing to Mexican folk dancing.

More about the Apprenticeship Program and how to apply »

Apprenticeship Teams

Penny Stilwell and D. Gail Lawrence

Born out of necessity long before refrigeration, “canning”—the process of preserving traditional jams, jellies, relishes, and pickles by hand—has been elevated by master canners such as Penny Stilwell into an… Read More»

Grayson Chesser and Robie Marsh, Jr.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia, a narrow peninsula stretching roughly seventy-five miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, has long been a veritable hotbed of decoy-carving masters. The… Read More»

Audrey Hash Ham and Carl Powers

There is perhaps no sound more associated with the Blue Ridge Mountains than that of a bow gliding across the strings of a fiddle. While much attention has been focused… Read More»

Flory Jagoda and Susan Gaeta

When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century, many settled in other Mediterranean countries but preserved their native language, called Ladino. Flory… Read More»

The Paschall Brothers

Hampton Roads, the growing metropolitan area at the convergence of the James River, Atlantic Ocean, and the Chesapeake Bay, produced more than two hundred a cappella gospel quartets in the… Read More»

Kinney Rorrer and Jeremy Stephens

Kinney Rorrer is considered the premiere scholar and performer of the three-finger banjo style first popularized by the great “North Carolina Rambler,” Charlie Poole. “Three-finger” banjo playing consists of deftly… Read More»