Introducing the 2022-2023 Heritage Arts Apprenticeships!

These sixteen teams of artists and craftspeople will conserve cultural traditions important to Washington’s communities.

From Taiko drumming and Mariachi music to bead weaving, ancient food preservation, Yakama nation cradleboard making, and much more, The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions is excited to announce selections for the 2022-2023 Washington State Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program.   

Created to encourage people to learn a traditional trade, craft, or skill, the Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program conserves and helps carry on cultural traditions important to Washington’s communities. Program participants may teach or study music, visual art, occupational arts, dance, culinary traditions, storytelling and other verbal arts, and much more. The program is a partnership between Humanities Washington and ArtsWA. 

Through the Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program, a skilled and experienced master artist mentors an apprentice, spending at least 100 hours of one-on-one time during the program year. The master artist will teach skills related to a tradition in their community, conserving that tradition and allowing it to thrive in future generations. Each year, the program culminates in a free event to introduce the public to these unique cultural traditions. 

“Because these practices are often learned informally in a one-on-one setting, they are at risk of getting lost,” said Langston Collin Wilkins, director of the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions. “This program helps ensure not only that a new generation of folk and traditional artists preserve their crafts, but they also gain ways to connect to their history and community.”

Now going into its fifth year, over 100 people have participated in the program since its inception. Check out information about participants, their traditions, and their progress throughout the year at waculture.org.   

The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions is a program of Humanities Washington, presented in partnership with the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA). The Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program is generously supported by funding received from ArtsWA, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Washington State Legislature. 

The 2022-2023 Apprenticeships 

Tradition: Abhangs: Marathi Songs of Devotion 

Abhangs are a form of worship music from Maharashtra in Western India dating back to the 17th century. They are often exuberant expressions of community experience, as people join in the refrain with raised voices, cymbals, and drums. The master artist will teach a collection of 20 such songs, including those written by lesser-known female poets. 

Master: Srivani Jade, Kirkland 

Apprentice: Suchitra Iyer, Sammamish 

 

Tradition: American Native Shell and Stone Arts 

This apprenticeship will focus on some of the oldest arts of the Americas: tools and jewelry made of stone and shell—an art that relies on the connection between nature and the native peoples of the Americas. 

Master: Jim Baugh, Ellensburg 

Apprentice: Klairyssa Aronica, Ellensburg 

 

Tradition: Bharatanatyam Kalakshetra Dance 

Bharatanatyam, sometimes known as the “dance of India,” is a dance style used to relay stories of historical significance from generation to generation. Storytelling using this ancient dance form allows a connection to Indian culture, especially to those who no longer live in India and don’t have access to a large Indian community. 

Master: Devika Gates, Mead 

Apprentice: Naya Gates, Mead 

 

Tradition: Plateau/Yakama Cradleboards 

The Yakama Tribe has traditionally used cradleboards to safely carry their babies, whether it be on horseback or for protection from the elements. Cradleboards also provide a sense of security, since the cradleboard’s snugness imitates the way babies feel within their mother’s wombs. While there are several styles of Native American cradleboards, this apprenticeship focuses on the style of the Yakama Nation. 

Master: Janice Anne Whitefoot, Harrah 

Apprentice: Alexandria Whitefoot, Harrah 

 

Tradition: Los Matachines 

Los matachines is the term for a traditional religious dance as well for those who participate in it. It traces its roots to a popular sword dance in Medieval times called a morisca. This apprenticeship aims to create a spiritual praxis, a way to build awareness of history and social constructs of settler colonialism while rerooting traditional medicine and mental health. 

Pedro Meza Madera, Master, Zillah 

Pedro Jr. Meza Avila, Apprentice, Seattle 

 

Tradition: Bharatanatyam 

Bharatanatyam is an ancient Indian classical dance style rooted in Natya Shastra, the first-ever literature on dance and drama from between 500-200 BCE. The hallmark of this dance form lies in the beautiful confluence of rhythmic footwork, graceful lines, stylized facial expressions, soulful music and emotional connection between the artist and audience, who share a spiritual experience.  

Master: Anwesha Das, Bothell 

Apprentice: Nidhi Achanta, Newcastle 

 

Tradition: Japanese Taiko Drumming 

Taiko drumming dates back to the 6th century, where it was introduced to Japan through Chinese and Korean cultural influences. Since then, Taiko drumming has been used in Japan for various occasions including religious ceremonies, entertainment, and even military actions. The current popular form of “kumi-daiko,” or ensemble taiko, started taking shape in 1951 by Master Taiko drummer Daihachi Oguchi and was made popular by groups like Ondekoza and Kodo. 

Master: Ringtaro Tateishi, Lynnwood 

Apprentice: Eugene Arai, Anacortes 

 

Tradition: Blues, Soul and Gospel Singing 

Singing and music is a vital part of Black culture, and they are powerful tools that bring communities together for storytelling, celebrating, mourning, healing, and more. By mastering a wide variety of vocal techniques, this apprenticeship will pass down the historical significance and cultural heritage of this music to another generation. 

Anita “Lady A” White, Master, Seattle 

Patricia Miller, Apprentice, Seattle 

 

Tradition: Nattuvangam Techniques 

Used in Indian classical dance recitals, Nattuvangam is the art of reciting syllables and playing cymbals to follow the footwork of a dancer. The cymbal on the right hand is made of brass material and makes the treble sound, while the one held in the left hand is made of iron and makes the bass sound.  

Master: Sandhya Kandadai Rajagopal, Sammamish 

Apprentice: Vibha Krishna, Sammamish 

 

Tradition: Natural Color and Dyeing 

This apprenticeship focuses on revitalizing traditions of creating color from natural sources in a contemporary context. The pair will explore universals and methods of natural dyeing, including accessing local sources of color, and connecting these to heritage dye traditions with a focus on Cherokee (Elena) and Indigenous Sámi/Finnish (Marja) traditions. 

Master: Marja Eloheimo, Olympia 

Apprentice: Elena Haas, Seattle 

 

Tradition: Old World Techniques for Preserving the Harvest 

This apprenticeship explores traditional old-world methods for preserving high-acid foods to create products such as jams & sauces, pickles, and lacto-fermentations. Focused primarily on water-bath and pressure cooker canning methods, the pair will create old fashioned natural pectin jams, sauces, and a variety of other preserves. 

Master: Lora Lea Misterly, Rice 

Apprentice: Amber Coeyman, Rice 

 

Tradition: Madhubani/Mithila Painting 

For centuries, women in the heart of an ancient kingdom of Mithila, now part of the state of Bihar in India, painted vibrant wall murals. These murals contained narratives based on their social, emotional, personal, and spiritual experiences. These artworks became known as Madhubani paintings or Mithila paintings, and decorated the walls of almost every home in the region. 

Master: Deepti Agrawal, Bothell 

Apprentice: Prisha Mundra, Bothell 

 

Tradition: Bead Weaving and Applique 

Focusing mainly on beadwork design, this apprenticeship explores the fundamentals within bead weaving and various stitches, through advanced techniques like design, types of supplies, and how to express a narrative through beadwork. 

Master: Megan McDermott, Mukilteo 

Apprentice: Marina McDermott, Everett 

 

Tradition: Mariachi Music 

Mariachi is a traditional form of Mexican folk music that plays a huge part in celebrating moments in the lives of Mexican people. This apprenticeship will shed light on this vibrant musical form and bring it to Central Washington communities. 

Master: Matteo Cortez, Wenatchee 

Apprentices: Oscar Licon, Miranda Rivera, Martina Ramirez, Emilie Jimenez, Raul Mendoza, Kevin Garibay, Wenatchee 

 

Tradition: West African Drumming 

Drumming is a traditional art form ingrained in daily life throughout Africa and the African diaspora, transmitting and preserving the rich history and traditions of African 

culture. This project focuses on traditional West African drumming with sabar (hand-and-stick), djembe (hand-drum), and djun-djun (big-barrel bass). 

Master: Thione Diop, Seattle 

Apprentice: Monique Franklin, Seattle 

 

Tradition: Trinidadian Steel Pan 

This apprenticeship focuses on the native performance practice of the steel pan instrument from Trinidad & Tobago. Special consideration will be given to performance technique, and the musical and rhythmic idioms most closely associated with the steel pan instrument and its related musical genres of Trinidad and Tobago: calypso and soca.  

Master: Obejsanjo (Obe) Quarless, Tacoma 

Apprentices: Clarence (Mitch) Mitchell, Jr. and Tashie LeMaitre 

Read more about the Heritage Arts Apprenticeship program and the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions on the Center’s website.