IACA Announces FY21 Master/Apprentice Award Recipients

The Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA) is pleased to announce the fourteen recipients of Ethnic & Folk Arts Master/Apprentice Program Awards (MAP) for fiscal year 2021. Master artists each receive $3,000 cash awards to instruct their chosen apprentices via one-on-one sessions (observing State of Illinois and NIH Covid-19 safety protocols).

MAP acknowledges the need for structured opportunities to pass on traditional, folk, and classical ethnic arts as part of the preservation of Illinois’ cultural heritage. MAP is made possible with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. IACA Chairman Shirley R. Madigan states, “Illinois has an exceptionally diverse cultural heritage and the agency is very glad to continue to support the efforts of the Master/Apprentice Program to foster traditional teaching and learning relationships that help sustain that diversity and the artisans.

Traditional ethnic and folk arts eligible for support through the MAP include those which have a community or family base, express that community’s aesthetic, heritage, or tradition, and have endured through several generations. These art forms are expressions of the regional, national, tribal culture, or language group from which they originate.

MAP generally supports art forms found in informal rather than institutional settings. A master artist is an individual recognized within his or her community as an exemplary practitioner of his or her art form. An apprentice is an individual with some experience in the art form to be studied who is committed to attaining mastery in the art form, and who has been selected by the master artist for the one-on-one training offered through this program.

Awards were based on the recommendations of three reviewers who are folklorists and cultural specialists. The IACA Board has final authority on all grants and awards issued by the agency. Timothy W. Frandy, Ph.D., Bowling Green, Kentucky; Heather Miller, Chicago, Illinois; and Edna Patterson-Petty, East Saint Louis, Illinois served as the reviewers for the FY21 MAP. IACA Board members Henry Godinez and Les Begay served as the Panel Chair and Panel Co-Chair respectively. John Gardner and Clark “Bucky” Halker, of Company of Folk, serve as program consultants for the IACA’s Ethnic & Folk Arts Program.

Master Artist Name

City of Residence

Artform to be taught

Apprentice Name

Kioto Aoki

Oak Park

Taiko, Japanese drum

Helen Nagata

Tatsu Aoki

Oak Park

Shamisen, Japanese 3-string lute

Jill “Kiku” Taura

Brill Barrett


Improvisational tap dance

Ailea Stites

Kimiko Gunji


Japanese tea ceremony

Diana Liao

Gauri Jog


Kathak dance

Isha Jog

Myrna Madigan


Saxony wheel wool spinning

Elaine Yoder

Ronnie Malley


Arabic folk songs and music

Anita Darwish

Kazuhiro Masuda, aka Shunojo Fujima


Japanese classical dance – Fujima style

Rika Lin

Carlos Mejia


Guatemalan marimba

Jennifer L. Ortiz

Subhadra Natarajan


Carnatic vocal music

Achintya Ram

Pranita Nayar


Bharatanatyam and Abhinaya

Hetal Desai

Zacbe Pichardo


Jarocho – Mexican harp

Ignacio Paredes

Hema Rajagopalan

Oak Brook


Abinaya Ramakrishnan

Vanitha Veeravalli



Tanvi Kulkarni




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