Keepers Of Tradition
 
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  passing it on: apprenticeships Enter Collection
 
gold colored block
Paul Cooper hammering, 2007. Photo by Billy Howard.
Sister Faith Riccio (sitting) and Ksenia Pokrovsky, 2007. Photo by Billy Howard.
Chinese seal by Wen Hao-Tien, 2007. Photo by Jason Dowdle.
decorative arrows
 
A stone wall can last hundreds of years, but the knowledge of how to build one is easily lost. Wonderful bodies of lore, song, and dance can fade away unless they are passed on and learned by the next generation.

Learning a traditional art is more than just knowing the skills and techniques — those lessons can be learned from a book, DVD, or the internet. To truly master a traditional art form, you need to be immersed in the tradition and understand why and how it is used. A student must absorb the aesthetics, cultural history, rules, and behaviors that go into a craft, dance, or song. You must have an understanding of the appropriate materials and know how to find them. You must also learn to improvise within the art form's rules.

It's possible to learn a tradition directly from a family member or neighbor, or by growing up around it. But one of the most important, time-honored methods for learning skills, techniques, and artistry is under the guidance of a recognized master. Apprentices learn directly by observing and imitating someone steeped in the tradition. The unique relationship that forms between master artist and apprentice is more than just lessons, it's a bond that safeguards many traditional arts.
Wonderful bodies of lore, song, and dance can fade away unless they are passed on and learned by the next generation.
Many of the artists featured in this exhibition learned their craft in this way. Recognizing the value of apprenticeships, the Massachusetts Cultural Council established its Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in 2001. Here you can meet some of the masters and students who have benefited from MCC apprenticeship program, an opportunity that continues today.