Sharing Knowledge, Skills, and Cultural Wisdom
An incredible wealth of cultural heritage and creative expression is held and maintained in Native arts and cultures. As our Native American elders pass—and with the integration of non-tribal worldviews in our Native communities—indigenous people are experiencing a dilution of cultural wisdom. So passing the fire between generations, particularly in Native arts and cultures, is of vital importance. Historically, Native artists and culture bearers dedicated their time, resources, and support to teaching the next generation by passing on technical skills, arts practice, and cultural knowledge needed to perpetuate visual and traditional arts in the community.
Yet in today’s fast-paced and overloaded modern world, mentorships can be resourcefully challenging. While even the most established Native artist faces challenges, emerging artists are especially vulnerable: pressed for time, resources, and support, their ability to advance their skills and attain necessary knowledge is often limited. Thus, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Mentor Artist Fellowship is focused on creating formal, structured opportunities for the transfer of knowledge, and supporting artistic rigor that furthers cultural perpetuation and creative development.
NACF Mentor Artist Fellowships will perpetuate the continuity of traditional practices, languages, and cultural expressions in Native communities, and provide an avenue for a new generation of artists to invest and strengthen their artistic voice in the evolution of contemporary visual arts.
Through the Mentor Artist Fellowship initiative, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation will:
- Foster a viable Native arts environment and livelihood
- Increase intergenerational transference of American Indian and Alaska Native artistic knowledge and cultural practices
- Further sustain artistic and cultural heritage within Native communities
- Meet our mission by promoting Native arts and cultural revitalization, perpetuation and appreciation within Native communities and the broader arts world
How the Initiative Works
Following an open call for established American Indian and Alaska Native artists working in traditional or contemporary visual arts, Mentor Artist Fellows are reviewed and selected in a competitive process involving a peer review panel. Mentor Artist Fellows and their chosen apprentices are selected to participate in a rigorous 12-month program of routine and structured sessions. To demonstrate the experience and success of the mentoring, a completed joint mentor/apprentice art project is required at the end of the fellowship period.
Thank You Initiative Partners
The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is piloting this initiative in the following 10 states: Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin. We are grateful to the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation for supporting an Oregon mentor artist fellow.
Partner with the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation to support a Mentor Artist Fellow in your state.