The Idaho Commission on the Arts has awarded six master artists and their qualified apprentices $3,000 each as part of the annual Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program. The program is designed to facilitate learning partnerships between a recognized master artist and an apprentice to continue artistic traditions in a shared community. The 2017 TAAP grants awardees include: Chris Cheney, master (Rexburg) and apprentice Nathan Eliason (Rexburg) for Saddle Making; Padma Gadepally, master (Boise), Alekya Sai Tanikella, and apprentice (Boise) for Bharatanatyam (South Indian Classical Dance); Joanne Hultstrand, master (Boise), and apprentice Marcia Sorenson (Wilder) for Norwegian Rosemaling; Jeff Minor, master (Salmon), and apprentice Joe Miller (Salmon) for Rawhide Braiding; Amiri Osman, master (Boise) and apprentice John Chrisastom (Boise) for Batik; and master Seth Teichert (Mackay), and apprentice Morgan Buckert (Hailey) for Boot Making.

For 24 years, the Arts Commission has safeguarded Idaho’s unique cultural legacy with more than 360 Idaho native, folk, and immigrant master artists, and their apprentices, who carry on Idaho’s artistic and occupational traditions and skills. The Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program supports master artists to teach their skills and knowledge to motivated learners in order to perpetuate a valued community tradition. Managed by Folk and Traditional Arts Director Steven Hatcher, the program provides direct funding to master practitioners to enhance and elevate skills and preserve cultural continuity in occupational, ethnic, or familial communities.

Chris Cheney (Rexburg), Nathan Eliason (Rexburg): Saddle Making

“From a young age, saddles have always held a special meaning to me. I grew up on a cattle ranch and have been riding saddles for as long as I can remember. We used saddles from day-to-day to make a living. As a child I rode saddles that belonged to my grandfather and great-grandfather and to this day I ride my father’s old saddle. To me saddles are more than just a tool; they are an art form and part of my family history and cowboy culture. Throughout my life I have seen many saddles with different designs, looks, styles, and art work. The saddle is a lasting symbol of the American West; while many other symbols can pass away, a well-built saddle can last hundreds of years. It is for these reasons that I want to learn this art so I can carry on this art form and the tradition of cowboy heritage.” –Nathan Eliason

Padma Gadepally (Boise), Alekya Sai Tanikella (Boise): Bharatanatyam (South Indian Classical Dance)

“I feel extremely blessed and fortunate to be able to learn south Indian classical Bharatanatyam from a most accomplished teacher, who also happens to be my own mother. My teacher is strict yet fair when imparting her knowledge and skills in Bharatanatyam to me. Even though there are times when I wish she would go a little easy on me in terms of needing me to maintain a perfect Ardhamandalam (half-sitting posture) and sharp mudras (hand gestures) or practice without fail in between classes, those times are far outweighed by the many moments that I cherish and treasure learning from my mother.” –Alekya Tanikella

Joanne Hultstrand (Boise), Marcia Sorenson (Wilder): Norwegian Rosemaling

“I want the apprentice to see the designs, colors, and flow of these elements through their own filters—that of their national personality and culture… I want the apprentice to use correct design elements, correct shapes of scrolls, gradation, large to small, be aware of focal points, use good historically correct color.” –Joanne Hultstrand

Jeff Minor (Salmon), Joe Miller (Salmon): Rawhide Braiding

“Jeff Minor is a master braider recognized locally but also nationally. His work is exhibited in traveling art exhibits and by the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. Some local ranchers hang his headstalls on the wall but his gear is also tough enough to use while gathering and working cattle in the valleys of the Bitterroot Range around Salmon. I have not worked with Jeff before but I have seen and studied his works. Through studying his work I have come to the understanding that my self-taught abilities pale in comparison to a master braider. This is why together we are pursuing this grant: so I can learn from a master.” –Joe Miller

Amiri Osman (Boise), John Chrisastom (Boise): Batik

“This type of arts plays a traditional role in everyday life of communities. The images can be used inside houses, palaces, places of worship, and rituals according to the artist’s vision and message to the audience. The other popular (use of batik) is as a fabric used as a garment to wear. This can be used for wrapping the body of a person or sewing as a dress, shirts, trousers, etc. There are some colors used for different occasions like yellow and orange for weddings and other celebrations, purple and indigo for rituals, funerals, etc, (and) green for the good harvest season.” –Amiri Osman

Seth Teichert (Mackay), Morgan Buckert (Hailey): Boot Making

“As a fifth generation cattle rancher, cowboy boots are integral to my way of life. We use them for riding horses and working outdoors. They are utilitarian and should be built to last and comfortable. When they also have style and personality that’s when you know you have a great pair of boots… Since I am the only boot maker around, I have built a lot of boots for the working cowboys in this valley. That’s what I like to do the most: built a boot that will be worn and used and hold up to the abuse that any rancher can put them through.” –Seth Teichert