Folk Art Apprentice Program

Enjoy this video of 2022 Vesterheim Folk Art apprentices!

Training New Instructors/Fostering a Community

Vesterheim Folk Art School has been embracing the historic and contemporary craft traditions of Norway and fostering a community of folk art instructors for over 50 years. We are excited to present aspiring folk art teachers with this professional development opportunity that will allow you to:

Learn from Vesterheim Gold Medalists and experienced teachers.

Explore our specialized and expansive folk-art collection.

Identify what your own teaching style might be to continue to pass along these important folk art traditions as a folk art instructor.

Connect with a cohort of aspiring folk artist instructors and join a community passionate about moving folk art forward.

Who is Eligible?

The Vesterheim Folk Art Apprenticeship Program is for individuals who intend to become handcraft teachers and are currently highly proficient in their craft. This program will connect master folk artists with up-and-coming teachers in order to ensure sure continuity and longevity of Norwegian and Norwegian-American folk art traditions.

You are encouraged to apply if:

You have a passion for Scandinavian folk art.

You have been studying and exploring one of the following folk art traditions:

Weaving, Woodworking, Metalworking, Knifemaking, Rosemaling, Jewelry, Fiber Arts, or Nordic Cooking

You have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in your discipline and are looking for opportunities to develop your teaching skills.

You are looking for guidance and mentorship to teach more effectively.

Accepted apprentices must be available to travel to Decorah for a kick-off retreat event at Vesterheim on August 25-30, 2024. 

What is Vesterheim’s commitment?

We offer you: 

• The community and facilities of Vesterheim Folk Art School.

• A nurturing environment to learn alongside other apprentices, Vesterheim staff, and seasoned instructors.

• Opportunities for one-on-one discussion with experienced instructors in your folk art discipline.

• A one-week immersive retreat for new apprentices (August 25-30, 2024) and free housing while you are here. This week-long event will include panels with established folk art instructors, time studying the collection and library, opportunities to learn new folk art skills alongside expert teachers, and connections to chart your path for the rest of the apprenticeship ahead.

• Three free folk art classes (which may have a value upwards of $800) during the 2023-2024 season so you can witness different teaching styles (including through the digital learning online platform).

• Priority registration for all classes during your apprenticeship.

• A 60% discount on registration for additional classes beyond your free classes.

What is your commitment?

If you are accepted, you agree to:

• Travel to Vesterheim for a kick-off retreat event on August 25-30, 2024.

• Attend two FREE folk art classes in your primary discipline during the 2024 calendar year (one you will take as a student and one you will assist a lead teacher). In this model, you experience class as a student and an assistant while also thinking about your future teaching style. During both class experiences, you will have one-on-one time with the lead instructor to investigate the class planning process by implementing class instruction to empower your audience in successful handcraft.

• Be responsible for your own accommodations during these times. Staff can suggest affordable homestay options upon request.

• Enroll in one free online folk art class exploring a folk-art discipline you have not experienced before. This provides you the opportunity to experience a digital class platform and the opportunity to experience a folk art class as an absolute beginner, which we hope further informs your teaching journey.

• Create a Vesterheim class proposal inspired by the collection, which can be for an online or in-person learning experience.

• Be enthusiastic about carrying forward Norwegian-American folk art traditions!

How do I apply?

The upcoming deadline is May 15, 2024.

Apply online now.

This application will require:

Up to six high-resolution photos representing your best work.

Two professional references who can speak to your abilities as a folk artist or teacher.

This program is supported in part by the Dennis and Ruth Green Endowment.