Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program
The traditions and skills of Missouri’s folk arts are passed on to the next generation of artists through MFAP’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.
The MFAP staff identify master artists and help them pair up with apprentices in their communities. For several months, the master artists work closely with the apprentice artists to impart the masters’ knowledge and develop the apprentices’ skills. The MFAP staff visit the artists to make an archival record of the teams at work.
The first master/apprentice lesson took place on December 10, 1984. Since then, there have been 421 apprenticeships in which 206 master artists have mentored more than 400 apprentices in every region and type of community in the state. Many apprentices have in their turn become TAAP masters, forging another set of living links in the chain of Missouri’s folk arts.
Some arts are traditional regional crafts that date back to Missouri’s Native American peoples and first European settlers. Some are arts of new immigrants such as Latinxs, Sudanese, and Bosnians. Among the arts that have been fostered are blacksmithing, cowboy poetry, short-bow fiddling, African-American storytelling, paddle carving, Vietnamese dragon dancing, saddle making, clawhammer banjo, wood joinery, square dance calling, bobbin lace, turkey calls, Mexican paper flowers, and Slovenian button-box accordion.
Find out more in our story on TAAP’s 30th anniversary, Masters and Apprentices Strengthen Missouri’s Folk Arts Web.