6 master artists earn Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Six Kentucky master artists have been awarded the Kentucky Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant.

The grant provides $3,000 to a Kentucky master folk or traditional artist to teach skills, practices and culture to a less experienced artist from the same discipline during the course of a year.

The six recipients are folk or traditional artists who are considered masters and who have identified an apprentice from the same discipline who has potential to become a master. Both master and apprentice must be Kentucky residents.

Among the six recipients was Hart County master basket maker Charlene Long and her apprentice Brandon Long of Hardin County. Unlike the other five master artists, who received their funding from the Kentucky Arts Council, Charlene Long’s grant was underwritten by the South Arts “In These Mountains” initiative. That program funded apprenticeship grants within the Appalachian Regional Commission counties, of which Kentucky has 54.

“I was tickled,” said Charlene Long about finding out she had received the grant to teach her grandson, Brandon, how to make willow and honeysuckle baskets. “It will be good for him to carry on the tradition that has been in my husband’s family for several generations.”

Brandon, 18, has been making baskets since he was 8, entering them annually in the Hart County Fair.

Long has taught basket making to 4-H students and adults, but she always brings along the material they need to complete their baskets. With Brandon, she will take a much different approach.

“I’m going to teach him how to gather the willow and honeysuckle on his own, boil it and strip the bark,” Long said. “He’s going to have to go through every step to get his material ready on his own.”

In addition to teaching those practical skills, Long said she plans to take Brandon to visit master basket maker Leona Waddell in Cecilia, Ky. Waddell, a white oak basket maker, was named a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow in 2016.

The six Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grants were awarded to:

  • Tommy Case (Scott County), who will teach violin making to apprentice John Ryster (Scott County)
  • John Harrod (Owen County), who will teach Kentucky fiddle repertoire and the style of the Red River Watershed to Barbara Rosner (Franklin County)
  • Charlene Long (Hart County), who will teach willow and honeysuckle basket making to Brandon Long (Hardin County)
  • Alisha Martin (Franklin County), who will teach corsetry to Janna Sedgwick (Scott County)
  • Brett Ratliff (Fayette County), who will teach Eastern Kentucky banjo styles and repertoire to Nadia Ramlagan (Fayette County)
  • Randy Wilson (Knott County), who will teach Eastern Kentucky storytelling and children’s songs and dances to Julia Purcell (Jefferson County)

To learn more about how the apprenticeship between Alisha Martin and Jana Sedgwick formed, listen to this episode of KyArtsCast, the Kentucky Arts Council’s monthly podcast.

Visit the Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant page of the arts council’s website for more information or contact Mark Brown, arts council folk and traditional arts director, at [email protected] or (502) 892-3115.

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