Announcing Folklife Apprenticeship Class of 2019-2020

Folklife  •  News

Emily Spencer master master of the clawhammer banjo on the Virginia Folklife Stage at the 2013 Richmond Folk Festival.
Photo by Peter Hedlund.
Emily Spencer master master of the clawhammer banjo on the Virginia Folklife Stage at the 2013 Richmond Folk Festival. Photo by Peter Hedlund.

Virginia Humanities’ Virginia Folklife Program announces the 2019-2020 class of Master artists in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program.

Through a competitive selection process, Master artists are chosen from diverse Folklife practices and traditions and paired with an apprentice. The seven new teams join more than 120 pairs of masters and apprentices who have taken part in the Apprenticeship Program since its inception in 2002.

On Sunday, May 5, from 12:00 to 5:00 PM, the Virginia Folklife Program will partner with James Monroe’s Highland to host the Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase at the historic home of James Monroe. Now in its sixteenth year, the Showcase is a free, family-friendly event that celebrates the traditional music, crafts, and foodways of Virginia, introducing the public to the master artists and apprentices who keep the traditions alive.

At the Apprenticeship Showcase on Sunday, May 5, audiences will enjoy dozens of live musical performances and engaging artist demonstrations. Featured foods will include real Brunswick stew by the Proclamation Stew Crew, fried apple pies from Frances Davis, and oysters shucked by world champion oyster shucking sisters, Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd.

“Through this unique program, we work with incredibly accomplished musicians and craftspeople who are dedicated to passing along vitally important art forms to future generations,” said Jon Lohman, Virginia State Folklorist and director of the Virginia Folklife Program. “Participants in this year’s showcase exemplify the remarkable range and diversity of folk traditions in Virginia.”

Introducing the 2019–2020 Master Folk Artists and Apprentices:

  • Master of instrument inlay Brian Calhoun of Charlottesville and apprentices Adam McNeil and Jake Hopping
  • Master of Yucatan-style cooking Luz Lopez of Albemarle County and apprentice Princey Reyes
  • Master of African American House dance and culture Junious Brickhouse of Virginia Beach and apprentice Tyrone Edwards
  • Master of stained glass restoration Ronald Dixon of Staunton and apprentice William Hinkle
  • Master of fiberglass sculpture Mark “Professor” Cline of Rockbridge County and apprentice Brently Hilliard
  • Returning master of the clawhammer banjo Emily Spencer of Grayson County and apprentice Lisa Ring
  • Returning master of apple grafting and white oak basket making Clyde Jenkins of Page County and apprentices Isaac Lonas, Tanner Good, Sam Jenkins, and Logan Hindershot

Celebrating the completion of their 2018–2019 Apprenticeships:

  • Master gospel singer Cora Harvey Armstrong of King and Queen County and apprentice Samantha Willis
  • Master baklava maker Sondus Asad Moussa of Harrisonburg and apprentice Sanaa Abdul Jalil
  • Master hotrod car builder Jeff Bennett of Roanoke and apprentice Jeremy Bennett
  • Master of Vietnamese Dan Bau (monochord instrument) Nam Phuong Nguyen of Fairfax County and apprentice Anh Dien Nguyen
  • Master Mongolian contortionist Mandkhai Erdembat of Arlington and apprentices Emma and Ella Chuluunbat
  • Master moonshine maker Chris Prillaman of Franklin County and apprentice Tanner Talley
  • Returning master of the Galax-style dulcimer Phyllis Gaskins of Rockingham County and apprentice Anna Stockdale
  • The late master of jazz and swing guitar Bert Carlson of Bath County and apprentice Danny Knicely

About the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program

The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program pairs experienced master artists with gifted apprentices for one-on-one, nine-month learning experiences, ensuring that art forms are passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. More than workshops or lessons, apprenticeship learning takes place in the art forms’ traditional contexts, calling upon the complete engagement of the senses and contextualizing the practices within the larger cultural landscape. The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Anonymous Donor, and Friends of Folklife individual donors.

About the Virginia Folklife Program

The Virginia Folklife Program is the state center for the documentation, presentation, support, and celebration of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. For more than thirty years, the program has documented the Commonwealth’s music and material traditions and shared those histories through hands-on workshops, performances, exhibitions, audio and video recordings, and apprenticeships across Virginia. For more information, visit VirginiaFolklife.org.