Talented women artisans are constantly creating in home-based shops and studios, but time constraints, age restrictions, and geographical and financial barriers sometimes hinder them from honing their skills and developing their own businesses in traditional western arts and trades. The Art of the Cowgirl Fellowship program, established in 2019, removes some of these obstacles, encourages and furthers participation among western women and honors out western heritage.
The cornerstone of Art of the Cowgirl, the fellowship program invests in the mentorship of emerging western women artisans. Fellowship recipients are paired with masters in traditional trades, such as saddle making, boot making, horse training and fine art for a once-in-a-lifetime, expenses-paid educational opportunity. Masters work with their students for one to two weeks, refining their skills, inviting innovation and empowering them to start their own businesses.
“I see women in traditional western trades struggling at times as they learn things on their own or grab a variety of small experiences to try to build their skill set,” says Art of the Cowgirl Fellowship Coordinator Jaimie Stoltzfus. “It’s also challenging to initiate connections to get the knowledge and business-building skills needed to advance. I also see financial barriers to entry in some of the western trades. The fellowship program works to help eliminate many of these barriers as we connect recipients with masters in the industry and fully fund the opportunity to learn for an extended period with additional follow-up support where needed. We also try to help equip our recipients with business advice, as well as financial resources for continuing education, tools and materials.”
Each fellowship recipient finishes a piece and donates it to the Art Auction held during the Art of the Cowgirl main event. All the proceeds from the main event, Art Auction and other events help fund future fellowships. The upcoming Art Auction, presented by Art of the West, will take place January 21 at 6 p.m. MST, at Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre in Queen Creek, Arizona. For those who are not at the main event to bid in person, live bidding will be available at CC.I.ive.
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“One of the most rewarding parts of beings involved with Art of the Cowgirl is hearing the impact our program has on our fellowship recipients,” says Stoltzfus. “So many of them have shared that it is has been a life-changing experience for them and greatly impacted the trajectory of their future in their chosen trades. I also have seen how the program increases their confidence and reignites their passion. It’s incredible to see the talent and success grow in all our recipients through the years.”
Applications for the 2023 fellowships will be available for six weeks starting March 1, 2023, on the Art of the Cowgirl website and must be completed and submitted by April 15, 2023. Applications are reviewed by a selection committee and often the Master Artists to determine one recipient in each featured trade.
Art of the Cowgirl is excited to announce the 2023 roster of Master Artists:
- Trina Morris, Wheatland, Wyoming, Master Horsewoman
- Barbara Van Cleve, Big Timber, Montana, Master Photographer
- John Willemsma, Westcliffe, Colorado, Master Saddle Maker
- Teresa Black, Adel, Oregon, Master Horsehair Hitcher
- Robin Brown, Indian Valley, Idaho, Master Cowdog Trainer
- Lisa Sorrell, Guthrie, Oklahoma, Master Bootmaker
- Barbara East, Gunnison, Colorado, Guest Master Fine Artist
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