Selected photos of folk and traditional arts and artists in our state

The folk arts are defined as those artistic practices which are community or family based and express that community’s aesthetic heritage and tradition. The learning process is informal and is passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth, apprenticeship and imitation.

Folk Arts Apprenticeships are designed to foster the sharing of traditional (folk) artistic skills between a master and an apprentice who is already familiar with the genre. The program creates this opportunity specifically for individuals who share a common cultural heritage.

Folk Arts Fellowships provide support to individual artists who demonstrate the highest level of skill and accomplishments in their craft.

FY 21 Folk Arts Apprenticeship Grantees

Folk ArtistAmount
Lydia Perez$3,000.00
Nader Molina Figueroa$3,000.00
Debbie Spears Moorehead$3,000.00
Julie Yang$3,000.00
Carolyn Castro$3,000.00
Lesly Pineyro $3,000.00
Patricia Smith$3,000.00

FY21 Folk Arts Fellowship Grantees

Folk ArtistAmount
Assitan Coulibaly$1,000.00
Joel Rosario$5,000.00

For more information on Folk Arts Fellowships and Apprenticeships, contact Elena Calderón Patino.

RISCA Receives $30,000 Grant for Folk Arts Apprenticeship Collective Teaching Program

RISCA is excited to announce receiving a $30,000 multi-year Folk Art Infrastructure Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to pilot the Apprenticeship Collective Teaching Program. The Apprenticeship Collective Teaching Program will be offered in addition to RISCA’s other Folk Arts Programs. RISCA will continue to offer annually one $5,000 and one $1,000 Folk Arts Fellowship Grant, and five $3,000 Folk Arts Apprenticeship Grants.

The program will feature the Narragansett Indian Tribe Master and Junior Master Artists, with all the workshops, performances, and presentations taking place at the historic Longhouse in Charlestown, RI. The Narragansett Longhouse building features professional modern offices, a full kitchen, archival room/library, a gallery, and several community spaces. The Longhouse will serve as an incubator for new folk artists, it will continue to grow as an arts and cultural hub, and a place where the community can celebrate their rich folk-art traditions.

This program will target Junior Folk Artists who are dedicated to preserving and obtaining a deep education in the art of Regalia. Through a series of eight highly focused workshops per year (24 over a three-year period), Junior Master Artists will work with several Master Folk Artists from the Narragansett Indian Tribe to learn the craft and important cultural and historical traditions of Regalia, which include leather, beading, wampum, dancing, drumming, and singing.

This collective way of teaching provides a highly effective approach that reaches a greater number of students and thereby creating a greater impact and legacy, resulting in more Junior Artists becoming Master Artists. It is also a way of supporting and paying tribute to the Indigenous people’s way of passing down knowledge.

With this piloted program, Master Folk Artists will have the opportunity to pass down their cultural folk art knowledge by becoming mentors and teachers to the next generation. Junior Master Artists will further identify with their Native American culture, history, and community while continuing their goal of becoming a Master Folk Artist.

RISCA hopes that the dynamics of this program can be replicated in other communities and thus benefit more Folk Art Apprentices. 

For more information on the RISCA Apprentice Collective Teaching Program, or our other Folk Arts Programs, contact Elena Calderón Patiño, Director of Community Arts Program at 401-222-6996 or elena.patino@arts.ri.gov.

Southern New England Apprenticeship Program Open for Applications

The Southern New England Apprenticeship Program fosters living cultural heritage art skills. The program pairs mentor artists from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Connecticut with apprentices from one of the other states. Teaching and learning traditional arts helps to sustain cultural expressions that are central to a community. The program has developed a wide regional network of excellent traditional and occupational artists who actively practice their art forms. Over 22 years, 142 apprenticeships have taken place with more than 400 folk artists participating.  A full list of previous apprenticeships can be viewed here.

The Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program at the Connecticut Historical Society manages the program in collaboration with the Folk Arts Program at the Mass Cultural Council and independent folklorist Winifred Lambrecht. Primary funding for the program comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Office of the Arts/DECD, and other partner organizations.

Applications due October 1, 2019, for more information, click here.