Meet the six new apprentices who will participate in a year-long instructor training at Vesterheim’s Folk Art School!

This new initiative, funded through an anonymous grant, gives artists a chance to attend Vesterheim classes and meet up with established faculty to witness different teaching styles and experience the community and facilities of Vesterheim’s Folk Art School.

“One of our goals is to potentially cultivate new instructors, but most importantly we are supporting emerging folk artists who are passionate about keeping these folk-art traditions alive. Through the program, they hope to continue their learning and find their own individual voices and teaching styles along the way,” Lea Lovelace, Vesterheim’s Director of Folk Art Education, says.

Find out about their kick-off weekend here.

James Miller began carving in the Scandinavian flat-plane style at age 11 under the guidance of Dave Fowler and other supportive members of the New Richmond, Wisconsin Community Education Carving Club. A few classes and several thousand carvings later, James’s love for folk art has grown into a deep passion. His journey has led him to demonstrate carving at various events, teach several carving classes in the Midwest and in Norway, and become immersed in another aspect of Norwegian folk life: folk instruments. Last summer, James ventured to Norway to learn the techniques of building and playing several folk instruments. James looks forward to deepening his position in the world of Norwegian folk art through every opportunity that comes his way and even those that seem out-of-reach.

Shawn Sersland grew up on a farm outside of Decorah, Iowa, with her parents Keith and Peggy and her sister Robin. After high school, she attended Central College in Pella, Iowa, where she received a bachelor’s degree in physics and continued on to get a masters in civil engineering at Iowa State University. She currently works as an engineer in the Bridges and Structures Bureau at the Iowa Department of Transportation in Ames, Iowa. Shawn learned kolrosing first as a young girl and started taking figure carving classes when she was ten years-old. Since then, she has taken a variety of folk-art classes through Vesterheim Museum, especially developing an affinity for chip carving. Shawn earned her Gold Medal in woodcarving at Vesterheim’s National Norwegian-American Folk Art Exhibition in 2017.

Marit Nelson has deep roots in Decorah, all the way back to the 1800s when her ancestors arrived from Norway. She is currently living in Brooklyn, New York, studying fashion design. When she’s not in class, she is dipping her toes in every craft she can find, from basket-weaving to pyrography. She has been rosemaling since middle school and is thrilled to be participating in this exciting new program!

Stacey Ann Tilton is a Bachelor of Fine Arts candidate and Education major at the University of Wyoming. Her focus is in small metal casting while using other art mediums and mixed media to enhance her message. Although Stacey Ann has only been rosemaling for a short amount of time, she cannot wait to incorporate it into her other work. In the future, she hopes to continue her practice as a studio artist while bringing the visual arts into the classroom and giving students the opportunity to fall in love with making.

Paul Nyborg has been interested in traditional craft since learning chip carving from his grandmother as a child. Inspired by the experience, it led him to pursue studying traditional woodwork, carving, and blacksmithing under various Wisconsin artists. His work has ranged in size from large scale beam work to small detail carvings. Paul hopes to preserve traditional Norwegian craft while encouraging the addition of personal design elements.

Jill Willems can’t remember a time in her life that art wasn’t important to her. She became an elementary art teacher in 1990 in the small town where she grew up—Iola, Wisconsin. Her personal history as an artist has been scattered. Jill dabbled in many different media and techniques until three years ago, at which time she found rosemaling. It struck such an immediate passion within her that it seemed almost foretold. Jill has studied with several Gold Medalists and accomplished rosemalers. Researching the old and gleaning small influences from contemporary rosemalers, Jill is striving to develop her own voice and style in this traditional art. She’s thrilled to be part of the Vesterheim Folk Art Apprenticeship to grow herself as a rosemaling artist and to be part of the continuance of this beautiful art into the future.