Teams Announced to Preserve Traditional Arts, Crafts and Skills in Washington State

More than a dozen artists and craftspeople received awards as part of the 2019-2020 Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program

The Center for Washington Cultral Traditions is a program sponsored by ArtsWA and Humanities Washington.


David Haldeman, Communications Director

130 Nickerson St., Suite 304, Seattle, WA 98109

206-682-1770 x108 |

Glenda Carino, Communications Manager

711 Capitol Way S., Suite 600
Olympia, WA 98504

360-586-8093 |

SEATTLE—From Indian classical dance to Northwest Coast Salish arts and crafts to stone carving, hip hop, and much more, The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions is excited to announce selections for the 2019-2020 Washington State Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program.

Created to encourage people to learn a traditional trade, craft, or skill, the Heritage Arts Apprenticeship program conserves and helps carry on cultural traditions important to Washington’s communities. Program participants may teach or study occupational arts, storytelling and other verbal arts, dance, culinary traditions, music, and much more.

Due to the success of the program in its inaugural year, the number of teams has expanded for its second year from 10 pairs of masters and apprentices to 15. In an effort to support traditional cultures, these skilled and experienced master artists and tradition bearers will work with and mentor one apprentice each, teaching skills related to a tradition in their community in an effort to conserve that tradition and allow it to thrive in future generations.

The Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program will culminate in a free event to introduce the public to these unique cultural traditions.

The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions will also hold a leadership training workshop in October focused on the folk and traditional artists from the program, with the intention of teaching artists to more fully engage with their communities and use cultural activities to fuel economic growth. The workshop will be held in collaboration with ArtsWA.

Check out information about participants, their traditions, and their progress throughout the year at

The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions is a program of Humanities Washington, presented in partnership with ArtsWA. The Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program is generously supported by funding received from ArtsWA (the Washington State Arts Commission), the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Washington State Legislature via ArtsWA.

The teams are:

Master: Anwesha Das (Bothell)

Apprentice: Akhilesh Vadari (Redmond)

Tradition: Indian classical dance. Bharatnatyam is an ancient dance form of South India dating back to the second century B.C., and the apprentice will learn the finer techniques and nuances in the tradition.

Master: David Boxley (Lynnwood)

Apprentice: Dylan P. Sanidad (Seattle)

Tradition: Northwest Coast Salish art, Tsimshian tribal style—a beautiful and intricate art form of Alaskan Native people that was once forbidden to be practiced.

Master: Ratna Roy (Olympia)

Apprentice: Radha R. Iyer (Redmond)

Tradition: Indian – Odissi Dance Abhinaya. The Classical Odissi dance is in the little-known Mahari (powerful female temple dancers) tradition of Guru Pankaj Charan Das. An essential part of this tradition is acting, or Abhinaya—storytelling through dance and drama.

Master: Ganesh Rajagopalan (Sammamish)

Apprentice: Aakarsh S. Dhilip (Renton)

Tradition: Indian Carnatic music. An important feature of this tradition is improvisation, and the violin has been an integral part of Indian music history for the past 200 years. From its inception there have been countless violin players and only a few of them can be identified for their tonal excellence and creative genius. Ganesh Rajagopalan is counted among the best of them.

Master: Susan Pavel (Skokomish)

Apprentice: Tahnee Miller (Skokomish Nation)

Tradition: Coast Salish wool weaving, the traditional weave style of the Pacific Northwest Indigenous Peoples. The traditional woven regalia and other items were and still are highly sought after for ceremonies and celebrations through a person’s life such as births, namings, achievements, weddings, and life passages. 

Master: Afua Kouyate (Seattle)

Apprentice: Giavonna White (Seattle)

Tradition: West African drum and dance. An intensive study of African arts and culture through the lenses of traditional and authentic West African dance and its folkloric preservation. This apprenticeship will focus on folkloric dances from Guinea.

Master: Keith Phillips (Tenino)

Apprentice: Ian Williams (Tenino)

Tradition: Stone Carving in Tenino. Stone carving has been a tradition in Tenino since the first sandstone quarries opened here at the start of the 20th century. The stone cut and shaped by laborers in the local quarries was used to build banks, libraries, state buildings, monuments, and homes all throughout the western United States. Due to the shift in commercial building practices towards concrete and steel structures the stone industry largely died out in Tenino and is preserved today by a group of dedicated artists.

Master: Marja Eloheimo (Olympia)

Apprentice: Gloria Gutierrez (Lakewood)

Tradition: Heritage- and place-based natural plant dyeing. All cultures have dye traditions, but today, few people retain the knowledge or practice the skills of natural dyeing. The goal of the apprenticeship is to learn and share natural dye practices with plants that are both local (seasonal, edible, and medicinal) and global (historically-important classics) as well as rooted in our heritage traditions.

Master: Chelsey Richardson (Federal Way)

Apprentice: Charli Kirkendall (Seattle)

Tradition: Spoken word. Spoken word is an engaging performance art that uses the same literary techniques as the written word, but relies heavily on imagery and acting.  Spoken word is often an expression of joy, pain, loss, and defiance. It gives voice to those who are marginalized. The apprentice will learn new literary techniques, performance, and the art of poetry slam.

Master: King Khazm (Seattle)

Apprentice: Ian Lee Torres (Seattle)

Tradition: Hip hop music and culture. Hip hop is an international movement that was formed by youth of color of New York City in the early 70’s. King Khazm will teach Ian the skills, knowledge, and mental conditioning necessary to become a viable and socially responsible artist within Washington State’s hip hop scene.

Master: Carol Noyes (Lopez Island)

Apprentice: Gabe Strand (Lopez Island)

Tradition: Foraging wild plants in the San Juan Islands. Foraging and farming have been linked together throughout the world as rural food traditions. Nearly a lost skill in North America, foraging is still practiced in the more remote rural areas, and among communities where strong cultural traditions have remained intact. Over the course of a year, the team will identify, harvest, and process seasonally available wild foods principally on Lopez Island, where they live.

Master: Jake Prendez (Seattle)

Apprentice: Raquel Garcia (Seattle)

Tradition: Chicanx art. Chicanx art is an artistic tradition that emerged out of the Chicano movement of the 1960s. Prendez will teach Garcia an oil painting practice that features explicit references to the Chicano experience in America, indigenous influences, pop cultural iconography, and social justice themes. 

Master: James Wilburn (Spokane)

Apprentice: Roberta J. Wilburn (Spokane)

Tradition: West African drumming. The team will focus on the use of the drums from West Africa, specifically the three sizes of festival djembes and other instruments that complement the djembe, such as talking drum, rainsticks, shakers, and bells.

Master: Avani Desai (Redmond)

Apprentice: Ramadevi Vaddepalli (Sammamish)

Tradition: Henna (Mehendi). The Indian tradition of Henna is temporary body art which stains your skin for 7-10 days. It derives from a plant called Lawsonia Enermis, and has been a tradition for nearly 5,000 years and has both cosmetic art and healing capacities.

Master: Bethany Taylor (Spokane)

Apprentice: Katie Smith (Spokane)

Tradition: Letterpress Printmaking. Letterpress is the antique method of printmaking where movable type and images are employed using primarily non-motorized presses. Most commonly, this method was and is used for informative pieces, ephemera, such as posters (broadsides), greeting cards, and other informative materials.


The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions is a program of Humanities Washington, presented in partnership with ArtsWA. In collaboration with communities statewide, the Center conducts research and programming to support and advance understanding of the living cultural heritage of Washington State. For more about the Center, visit


Humanities Washington sparks conversation and critical thinking using story as a catalyst, nurturing thoughtful and engaged communities across our state. For more about Humanities Washington, visit


ArtsWA is Washington State’s arts agency. It was established by the legislature in 1961. Its mission is to collaborate with and support artists, arts organizations and communities statewide to conserve, promote, and develop artistic resources. For more information about ArtsWA, visit

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