Mass Cultural Council is pleased to announce that guidelines and applications are currently available for the next round of Artist Fellowships in the traditional arts.
Recent recipients include architectural woodcarver Dimitrios Klitsas, Cambodian ceramicist Yary Livan, Irish flute player Shannon Heaton, wooden boatbuilder Harold A. Burnham, and Malian balaphon player Balla Kouyaté. To see a complete list of past fellows in the Traditional Arts category, see here. All were recognized for their artistic excellence within art forms that are deeply rooted in traditional and ethnic culture.
The traditional arts include music, craft, dance, and verbal arts that are created and preserved within communities defined by cultural connections such as a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geography. Whether sung or told, handcrafted or performed, traditional art forms reflect a community’s shared sense of aesthetic heritage. The folk and traditional arts typically are learned during the course of daily living from someone steeped in the tradition, rather than through books, classes, or other means of institutional instruction. Artist Fellowships are for individuals not groups.
Fellowships in the traditional arts are awarded biennially. The postmark deadline to apply is October 2, 2017.
Are you interested in applying for a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council? Applications are now available.
Recent apprenticeships funded by MCC’s Folk Arts and Heritage Program include Puerto Rican musical instrument making, Irish fiddling, Cambodian kbach (basic element of design), Irish stepdancing, bladesmithing, and Puerto Rican dollmaking, to name a few. Check them out.
Cape Breton fiddler Joseph Cormier, rhythm tap dancer, James Godbolt, a.k.a. Jimmy Slyde, wooden boat builder Harold A. Burnham, Malian balaphon player Balla Kouyaté, and Irish step dancer Kieran Jordan . . . these are just some of the individuals who have been awarded MCC Artist Fellowships in the Traditional Arts since 1999. All were recognized for their artistic excellence within art forms that are deeply rooted in tradtional and ethnic culture.
These fellowships are awarded biennually. The postmark deadline to apply is October 7, 2012. Guidelines are available online.
At first glance, this year’s two fellowships in the traditional arts seem a study in contrasts. One represents an age-old Yankee craft; the other, an ancient West African musical tradition. Yet wooden boat builder Harold A. Burnham and Malian balaphon player Balla Kouyaté share something in common. Each individual is carrying on a traditional art form passed on through his own family lineage. Harold A. Burnham’s boat building ancestors arrived in Essex, Massachusetts nearly 400 years ago. Balla Kouyaté, who came to the United States just a decade ago, was born into a musical family whose artistic lineage dates back 800 years. And their traditions are stronger for it.
In addition to performing in concert halls and clubs, Balla is ever present playing at weddings, baptisms, and other domestic ceremonies within the West African immigrant communities of Boston, New York City, and beyond. As for Harold Burnham, he has essentially revived a once dormant shipbuilding technique, and in doing so, has reconnected a town to its own shipbuilding heritage. More than a revivalist serving a small market of weathy buyers who romanticize the past, he is an innovative craftsman working fully within the local wooden boatbuilding tradition.
The MCC has also granted finalist awards in the traditional arts to the following individuals:
Sunanda Sahay specializes in a style of folk painting originating in the Madhubani region of North India.
Sophia Bilides is a master performer of Smyneika, a heartfelt and highly ornamented singing style of Greek Asia Minor heritage.
Ivelisse Pabon de Landron makes traditional Puerto Rican black dolls as a way of honoring her ancestors — Puerto Rican women of African descent and their contribution to cultural history.
Sridevi Ajai Thirumalai is an acclaimed Bharathanatyam dancer and founder of the Natyamani School of Dance.
The next deadline for Artist Fellowships in the Traditional Arts will be Fall 2011.