Idaho – 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 2021 TAAP grants awardees include practitioners in rawhide braiding, saddle making, waterfowl carving, Nez Perce cornhusk weaving, silver engraving and batik design.

For 36 years, the Arts Commission has safeguarded Idaho’s unique cultural legacy with nearly 400 Idaho native, folk, and immigrant master artists, and their apprentices, who carry on Idaho’s artistic and occupational traditions and skills. As a recognized mentor shares skills, techniques, and knowledge, the program helps to ensure cultural continuity for future generations of tradition bearers. These apprenticeship teams offer some of the most diverse, equitable, and inclusive creative expressions our state upholds, and we are proud to support the one-on-one learning opportunities this grant provides.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program:

RAWHIDE BRAIDING Bryce Williams (Malta) and Bowdrie Ottley (Declo)

“[R]awhide plays a role in the western culture in countless ways. One of my favorite things to do is to look at other people’s tack, especially their rawhide. Each piece tells a story, you can ask anyone where they got their rawhide gear from, chances are they will have a story behind each piece.” –Bowdrie Ottley

SADDLE MAKING Conley Walker (Weiser) and Clint Lundy (New Plymouth)

“Being raised around livestock, saddles have been essential to my daily life. I first started building leather crafts as a young boy in the Boy Scouts, this is when I realized it was fun. While in my twenties I built my first pair of chaps and my first saddle with the help of a friend while attending college in New Mexico. At this point in my life many people began to tell me I had a knack for the craft”. –Clint Lundy

WATERFOWL CARVING Thomas Matus (Kuna) and Justin Seelig (Kuna) “My father and many friends carved decoys to hunt and I watched him for hours while I was growing up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. On the east coast, decoy carving is a tradition. Here in Idaho, it is literally unknown and I am working at changing that, helping to transfer that tradition to the west by teaching young apprentices how it was done years ago… I think it’s a great feeling to bring a block of wood to life with a knife and brush. Each morning are special occasions when the marsh comes to life, the sunrise occurs, and the first ray of sunlight graces my floating sculptures. There is so much more to the creation seeing it full circle as the swamp or river comes alive with sounds and the day starts. I will always remember the dawn.” –Tom Matus

NEZ PERCE CORNHUSK WEAVING Jenny Williams (Lapwai) and Lydia McCloud (Lapwai) “My husband Dwight has always been very supportive of my weaving and he and I and our grandchildren spend the summer months gathering and preparing the natural materials for weaving. My husband was raised very traditionally; he prays and leaves an offering when we gather or dig roots. After learning the basics, I began studying with master weavers from around the northwest. I have a deep love and dedication for this traditional art form.” – Jenny Williams

SILVER ENGRAVING Dave Alderson (Twin Falls) and Sydney Anderson (Twin Falls)             “My interest in pieces of silver really started with my “horse parents,” Miriam and Roger Haylett, who were able to show me fine and functional silver that they bought, sold, collected, and traded. I always had the interest in silversmithing, however I never had the outlet. With silversmithing, I started at the age of 19 when I met Dave and expressed my interest in the art. He took my interest into the shop where I practice soldering, repair work, sawing, casting, design, and polishing of silver.” –Sydney Anderson

BATIK DESIGN Amiri Osman (Boise) and Henock Nsimba (Boise) “I learned in Uvira in the Democratic Republic of Congo. My uncle is the one who taught me batik and other types of art. I joined the college of arts in Tanzania and I then started practicing batik for income on a daily basis. I taught it in refugee camps as well. I’ve been doing it since I arrived at Boise in 2016.” –Amiri Osman