Pairing experienced master artists with eager learners, folklife apprenticeships in Virginia help ensure that a particular art form is passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. With In Good Keeping: Virginia’s Folklife Apprenticeships, author Jon Lohman and photographer Morgan Miller chronicle the first five years of the program, capturing the masters and apprentices at work. The participating master artists comprise some of Virginia’s most celebrated practitioners of folk traditions both old and new to Virginia―from canning to snake cane carving, from bluegrass fiddling to broom making, from flatfooting to kathak dancing. The apprentices learn their chosen craft not in classrooms or lecture halls, but in their traditional contexts―such as local dance halls, churches, woodshops, stables, and garages. Helping to ensure that Virginia’s treasured folkways remain in good keeping for years to come, the Folklife Apprenticeship Program offers new life and vibrancy by engaging new learners and reinvigorating the lifelong masters.
Richly illustrated with photographs and featuring the voices of participants in apprenticeships from a diverse range of traditions across the commonwealth, the book provides a window into not only the traditional artistic processes and tricks of the trade, but also the practitioners’ reflections on the significance of their craft, their motivations for maintaining and teaching it, and the very concept of the tradition itself.