Artisan Levels

When artists join VAAA their work is juried and they are classified into one of the following four categories. Artists may also request their artwork be reevaluated annually or after receiving appropriate awards.

Master Culture Bearer (MCB)

Birchbark Moose Call made by Aaron York.
Birchbark Moose Caller made by Aaron York

Master Culture Bearers are few and far between because this distinction requires superior skill level, mentoring Abenaki apprentices, and emerging artists using traditional Abenaki epistemology. They have exhibited their artwork internationally, and have earned awards for their artwork or work with/for the Abenaki community. They have a long-standing record of service to their community, VAAA, and the arts and humanities organizations. Some may also have academic credentials that support their traditional knowledge. Anyone applying for this level must provide a resume of their achievements, photo samples of their work and original pieces to be examined if requested. By this time in their career, they should be well known throughout the region. (Please note that this is a new category.)

Master Artists (M)
Most Master Artists are culture bearers that are bringing traditional arts to the next generation. They must be knowledgeable about the history of their chosen art form, how to harvest and prepare the necessary materials. They have their own style, create original pieces, not replicas. Their work is increasingly original, and they may be increasingly pushing the boundaries of their chosen medium, and they have designed and taught classes and workshops about their medium. Their art is sought after by museums, galleries, and collectors. Master Artists must also be available as a jurist for new artists coming into the category of their art form. Anyone applying for this level must provide a resume of their achievements, photo samples of their work and original pieces to be examined if requested. By this time in their career, they should be well known throughout the region. A journeyman who has been selling their pieces professionally may apply to be juried after ten years. Application does not guarantee designation of a title.

Journeyman (J)

Silver cuffs by Paul Rene Tamburro..
Sterling silver cuffs made by Paul-Rene Tamburro

The minimum requirements to being a Journeyman are to have practiced a craft for at least five years. They have achieved technical proficiency but are still developing their style, and they make professional looking pieces that are of high quality to sell.  Some Journeymen may be beginning to exhibit their works and be thinking about teaching workshops. Apprentices are eligible to apply for this level after three to five year period as an apprentice, but they must show significant growth in their skill and creativity before they apply to be re-juried for this designation or title.

Craftsperson (C)

Craftspeople are can either be self-taught or had some lessons but they are not doing an apprenticeship with a Master Artist. They do not have the technical expertise to be considered for the Journeyman or Master Artist categories.

Apprentice (A)

Four turtle shell rattles with fur on handles made by Michael Descoteaux.
Four turtle shell rattles with fur on handles made by Michael Descoteaux.

Apprentices are taking their first step on their journey as an artist. They are in the process of learning about the tools and techniques of their craft. During this stage, their work may appear primitive or inconsistent in quality. Through practice, they are developing proficiency. Some apprentices are studying with VAAA Master Artists while others are learning from other culture bearers. Apprentices can also be self-taught through research, trial, and error. Although apprenticeship typically lasts a few years, they will not automatically move on to the next level. They must request that the VAAA committee required them. If successful they will move on to be a Journeyman and if not they may remain Apprentices for a longer period. Kits may never be used during the jurying process.

Application & Rejurying

Applying to Become a VAAA Juried Artist

Examples of parfleche by Nathan Johnson.
Examples of parfleche

Thank you for your interest in applying to be a juried artisan with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA). Our mission is to promote Vermont’s Indigenous arts and artists, to provide an organized central place to share creative ideas; professional development; and a have a method for the public to find and engage Abenaki artists.

How to request a VAAA application? Email [email protected] to request an application form. Please provide your name, contact information, Abenaki Tribal affiliation, and Tribal ID number. After your status as a citizen in a state-recognized Abenaki tribe is confirmed, we will send you an application packet with more details and directions.

Please prepare to have good-quality photos of your craft/art, an artist statement, and biographical information about yourself as an artist, such as how you learned what you do and where you may have exhibited it.

Who is responsible for jurying new VAAA artists? The VAAA jury is comprised of four artists, one from each recognized Abenaki Tribe. Two have degrees in fine art, and two are traditional artists. Master Artists and Consultants are also called upon to help jury art within their area of expertise. When a VAAA artist applies to be juried or is nominated for an award, they must recuse themselves from voting, and a consultant is appointed in their place.

How can I apply to be rejuried into a new category or artistry group? Submit a letter describing your request with 3 to 5 high-resolution images of your work and an updated artist statement. Email your request to [email protected]

Artist Information

This page provides links to information about joining the VAAA, such as how to apply, how VAAA artists are juried, our various levels, our awards, and professional development information.

Applying to become a VAAA Artisan or to be rejuried to a higher artisan level

Artisan Levels

Awards

Frequently Asked Questions

Juried Artist Benefits

Programs for Professional Development

Resources

If you have questions that are not addressed in these pages, please feel free to Contact Us.

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