We provide direct support for master traditional artists living in Arizona to pass on art, culture, and heritage practices to apprentice learners through the annual SFA Master-Apprentice Award. The award is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and Arizona Commission on the Arts.
The award supports a master artist or tradition bearer who has identified a qualified apprentice (or group of apprentices) to engage in a teaching-learning relationship that includes one-on-one mentorship and hands-on experience. Our highest priority is to support apprentices to learn from master artists within their own cultural traditions. Funds can be used to help cover artist fees, offset costs of raw materials, and support any travel essential to the exchange.
Artists are first nominated by peers within their community, cultural institutions, apprentices, or by self-nomination. SFA then invite nominees to apply based on their mastery of artform, their ability to describe how that form has been recognized by their cultural community, and their ability to share traditional knowledge. Applicants include a wide variety of traditional artists, including but not limited to:
- Artisans: weavers, basket makers, jewelers, mask makers
- Occupational folklife practitioners: adobe brick makers, leather workers, ironworkers
- Oral tradition practitioners: storytellers, musicians, poets
- Arts practitioners: dancers, traditional garment makers, ritual object makers
Nominate an artist: The next round of Award nominations will open in February 2020.
The 2019 awardees are:
Joanne Hunter of Chinle, AZ, is a Navajo artist using traditional Navajo rug designs in bead work. Her beaded necklaces pass on stories through patterns and hold significant spiritual stories. She will work with her daughter, Janicelynn Yazzie.
Keith Johnson is a Phoenix-based percussionist who plays rhythms from Africa and the African diaspora and builds traditional instruments and costumes. He will work with apprentice, Rohan Williams, to teach the artform of making and playing drums and other instruments.
Tamara Khachatryan is an Armenian-born violinist, who will work with her daughter Angelina, to transmit knowledge about Armenian culture and folk music.
Zach Lihatsh is a blacksmith who has trained with teachers from Italy, Germany, Sweden, Estonia and throughout the United States. He will work with apprentice, Austin Rose, a former student at Pima Community College.
Diana Olivares is a mariachi vocalist who has taught vocal workshops for the Tucson International Mariachi Conference, Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos, and Mariachi Azltán de Pueblo High School. She will work with apprentice, Giselle-Paris Aubrey.
Barbara Teller Ornelas is a fifth generation tapestry artist who carries on the family tradition of Navajo weaving. She will work with apprentice Velma Craig.
Adrian Perez plays Mexican folk harp, which traces traditional roots to jarocho music of the southern coast of Veracruz and mariachi music from western Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacan. He will work with apprentice Ivan Miranda.
Anne Pollack has trained and practiced Afro-Brazilian capoeira and traditional Afro-Brazilian music and dance for 33 years. She will work with apprentice Aidan Miller-Wells to learn capoeira forms and instrument-making.
Carlos Valenzuela works in mixed media of glass, ceramic tile and clay who taught tile-making for many years through the Pima County youth program, Las Artes. He will work with Jacob Robles, a community organizer and muralist.
David Yubeta is an adobe brick maker and conservator of earthen architecture who spent 25 years preserving earthen resources in the arid Southwest for the National Park Service. He will work with apprentice Rachel Roberts.