Art Works Blog

NEA and folk arts

1989 NEA National Heritage Fellow (and National Medal of Arts honoree) Earl Scruggs, whose three-finger style of banjo picking helped elevate the popularity of bluegrass music, passed away last week. To celebrate his art, the Country Music Hall of Fame shared with us a clip of Scruggs with Lester...
Simon Shaheen. Photo by Tom Pich This week’s podcast , is a conversation with 1994 NEA National Heritage Fellow Simon Shaheen , possibly the greatest Arab musician of his generation. A virtuoso on both the violin and the oud, Simon is a creative force who moves effortlessly from traditional...
Washington, DC In this week’s Art Works podcast , National Heritage Fellow and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient, Mary Jackson talks about the art of sweetgrass basket weaving. Born in South Carolina’s coastal country, Mary Jackson literally learned basket weaving at her...
Washington, DC The Carolina Chocolate Drops---(l-r) Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens, and Justin Robinson---performing with NEA Heritage Fellow Joe Thompson (second from right). Photo by Lissa Gotwals The Grammy-nominated Carolina Chocolate Drops are a bit of an anomaly. At the heart of their...
Washington, DC It is all too appropriate that folklorist Judith McCulloh is receiving an NEA National Heritage Fellowship this year---she was on the original panel back in 1981 that recommended that the NEA begin awarding the fellowships! And even more appropriate that she is receiving the Bess...
Washington, DC 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellow Mary Jackson. Photo courtesy of the artist Having recently visited the Grass Roots exhibition at the National Museum of African Art , I learned my first very important lesson about Google: never search for an image of something that you can see in...
Washington, DC Like many an immigrant, 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellow Mike Rafferty came to the United States for a better life. But when he came from East Galway, Ireland, he brought something important with him: his flute. Although he didn't play for many years after arriving in this...
St. Paul, Minnesota All photos courtesy Hmong Cultural Center, St. Paul, Minnesota A student performs on the qeej, a tradtional Hmong instrument. We recently spoke with Txongpao Lee, director of the Hmong Cultural Center of Minnesota. Located in St. Paul, the Center serves the 52,000 Hmong (...