Friday, January 27, 2017

NHSCA FY18 Grant Opportunities & Upcoming Events

Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grants assist communities to preserve their cultural heritage through traditional crafts, dance and music by funding a master traditional artist to teach an experienced apprentice in one-to-one sessions.
Deadline: July 7, 2017

Traditional Arts & Folklife Listing
 a juried listing of traditional artists, community scholars and folklorists who are available for presentations, demonstrations, lectures, performances and workshops on aspects of heritage and traditional arts of New Hampshire.
Deadline: Rolling

Youth Arts Project Grants fund high-quality arts and cultural programs that encourage creativity, develop new skills and foster success for young people beyond the normal school day.
Deadline: April 14, 2017

Upcoming NH State Council on the Arts Events

Grant Writing Workshop for Arts Education AIR and YAP Grants
Friday, February 10, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – pre-registration required

  NHSCA Open House – Thursday, February 9, 10am-3pm
Meet our new Heritage and Traditional Arts Coordinator and catch up with the rest of the staff. Share your projects and learn about our programs.
Click here for directions

Stay Connected with NH State Council on the Arts

NH State Council on the Arts:  Facebook  /  Twitter  
NH Heritage & Traditional Arts: Website / Blog / Twitter / Artist Roster

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Beginnings

 I have been settling in now for a few weeks and wanted to introduce myself as the new Heritage & Traditional Arts Coordinator for the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. The transition to New Hampshire (I am originally from Pennsylvania) has been incredible so far and I am looking forward to exploring all that New Hampshire has to offer!
 I am very excited to continue the State Arts Council's Heritage & Traditional Arts program and be able to preserve and promote your traditional art forms within your communities. I look forward to working with each and every one of you in supporting the traditional arts community and preserving New Hampshire’s living cultural heritage! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions regarding our grants and roster opportunities or if you would like to just touch base with me. 

Best Wishes,
Kayla Schweitzer

Friday, August 19, 2016

2016 League of NH Craftsmen Fair- Guest Blog post by Mikael Pluhar

Out of all 83 years the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair has been running, I have witnessed exactly one day. 

One day of a nine-day event, the oldest craft fair in the country boasting over 200 booths of fine craft goods, over 350 artists, workshops demonstrations, and exhibits. I was just one of thousands of people coming to see the fair, many of whom have been coming for decades, and some who, like me, had just stepped on the fairgrounds for the first time.

My first day at the League Fair was phenomenal. The second I walked in I was a lost in a sea of beautiful things, and even though I spent most of my day trying to find my parents, who were equally lost, I enjoyed every second of the fair. As I wandered into the booths I was pleased to discover that all of the craftsmen were eager and happy to talk about their work. I met some of the most funny and interesting people and learned about a range of crafts from leather stitching to silk screening. To top it all off I turned a corner and discovered a long lost friend of mine manning one of the booths! There couldn’t have been a more perfect reunion, plus I went home with a lovely ring made out of an 1890’s spoon.

When I finally found my father he was still by the entrance, having walked directly into the blacksmithing tent and become captivated with the demonstration. Master blacksmith Garry Kalajian had been slowly replacing the safety rope around his exhibit with a chain he was fastening on site. All day long people wandered through his tent and pumped his bellows via a converted bicycle. What I didn’t personally witness I learned secondhand from my father, who had become so enamored with the traditional art of blacksmithing he was thinking about taking classes.

The League Fair has a wealth of traditional and contemporary arts on display. There were demonstrations on pottery, traditional woodworking without power tools, beading, and much more. I spent a while learning about painted canvas floor cloths, a traditionally colonial mat. The painted cloths shed water and protect your floors from grease, and can be easily made at home. My family and I were encouraged to try and design our own cloth for our home.

Because that’s what the fair does: it encourages the love of crafts. There wasn’t one booth I didn’t want to buy something from, and there wasn’t one workshop I didn’t want to take. I tried craft cheese and wool coats. My dad learned about steam engines, and my mom won tickets to ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway. All I can say is that I can’t wait for the Fair to come back next year!


The League of NH Craftsmen is a 2016/2017 recipient of a Public Value Partnership grant from the NH State Council on the Arts.

Mikael Pluhar is an intern at the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. He is currently a student at Vassar College where he studies Studio Art and Architecture.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Times they are a-changin'

Working with New Hampshire’s traditional arts community for the past four years has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received both personally and professionally. I have been filled with so much gratitude, inspiration, and reverence for the people and stories who share the highest level of craftsmanship in perpetuating our cultural heritage. I have learned an immeasurable amount as you’ve invited me into your homes for interviews, were patient as I tried to learn contra dancing, and trusted in our staff to listen as you shared what is important.

This summer I am transitioning to a new focus and will begin the equally valuable work as the Arts in Education Coordinator. The NH State Council on the Arts will be welcoming a new Traditional Arts Coordinator and I look forward to the experience and skill set that person will bring to this work. All of the programs and initiatives at the Arts Council are a collaborative endeavor among our entire staff, advisory council, and input from the community. I am eager to continue to support the traditional arts community through efforts in arts education.

See you real soon,


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Contemporary Native American Art Informed by Tradition

So what exactly is traditional art? What is contemporary? Can artwork be both?

Artists are skilled in cultural appropriation. They pick and choose pieces of their past, stories, cultural references, ideas of what is pleasing or unpleasing to look at, and messages they want to convey. Through their own process or a process handed down over time they mix these elements into communication, sound, movement, fibers, ink, charcoal, video, and expression.

Brenda Garand
Installation view of work by Native Artist
Brenda Garand at AVA gallery in Lebanon, NH
But how artists describe themselves can box them into where their work will get shown, what kinds of audiences will view it, or whether it is even good or not. Are you a traditional artist? Contemporary? Hobbyist? Craftsperson?

"It's one of the questions that continues to puzzle the art world as Native-American artists address the value of their indigenous history and seek to define their place as contemporary artists... For example non-Native audiences can struggle to understand work that incorporates tribal stories and symbols, which has led to a ghettoization of Native artwork to venues dedicated solely to indigenous art. On the other hand, the work may confuse or disappoint audiences who wrongly consider Native Americans as "people of the past," especially work that may look insufficiently traditional when familiar art forms such as pottery, rugs, or beading are used in dramatically different and potentially discomforting ways. This discomfort has led to perceptions that Native-American artwork is political or too steeped in identity," writes Victoria Hutter in her recent article, Outside the Box published in NEA Arts Magazine. 

If your indigenous ancestry is from this region, you might be Abenaki, Pennacook, or Mi'kmaq. Or at some point, as in most families, someone relocated and you now call New Hampshire home. You might be Dine, Cherokee, or any other of the hundreds of tribal groups across the nation. Because many Abenaki were forced to leave NH in the 17th and 18th centuries, it can be easy to assume that there are no Native Americans that live here. Add to that New Hampshire is one of the only states in the nation that has no federally recognized Native American tribes.

Untitled, steel and leather, by NH artist
Margaret Jacobs, photo courtesy of the artist.
Rest assured there are many Native Americans who make New Hampshire home, and many who are practicing traditional storytelling, beading, basketmaking, drumming and other artforms. There are also many, like Margaret Jacobs of Enfield, NH who pull on her Native ancestry to inform her contemporary metal sculptures, "I am exploring how traditional culture and knowledge can thrive in a contemporary world."

Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner has an extensive traditional native collection, but also has a gallery dedicated to revolving exhibits of contemporary work. AVA gallery in Lebanon, NH highlights artists' heritage in the labels marking the artwork, but does not separate or differentiate Native Artists contemporary work from other work in the gallery.

Chickasaw and Choctaw artist Heather Ahtone remarked in the NEA article, "If you are making contemporary art that retains the traditional coded visual language of your tribe, isn't that both still traditional and contemporary?"

Contemporary Gallery at Mt Kearsarge Indian Museum,
Warner, NH
Cannupa Hanska Luger’s Reliquary, 2016,
photo courtesy of the artist;