Exhibit highlights N.H. arts apprenticeship program

CONCORD, N.H. — When her first rug hooking class fell on Sept. 11, 2001, Lynda Hadlock showed up seeking not just new skills but also a sense of community.

‘‘I wanted to be somewhere where people were friendly, and we could talk and share,’’ said Hadlock, a dental hygienist from Manchester who moved on from that first group class to spending nearly a year as an apprentice to a master rug hooker.

Though Hadlock will always associate that first class with a key date in US history, she is also part of a community-based effort to preserve New Hampshire’s history. Since 1995, the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program of the New Hampshire Council on the Arts has provided grants to 172 teams of apprentices and master artists, some of whom are featured in an exhibit that opened Monday at the New Hampshire State Library.


The free exhibit, called ‘‘Shaping Our Heritage,’’ honors the artists who have participated in the apprenticeship program over the years and is part of a larger education effort that will include a lunchtime series of craft demonstrations and several concerts.

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The exhibit features more than 100 examples of crafts, from decoy carving to dog-sled making, fly-tying to French Canadian fiddling. Intricate wool rugs hang on the walls, along with photos of accordion players and Vietnamese dancers.

‘‘It’s a kind of a retrospective of 16 years of investment by the state of New Hampshire in traditional artists who are carrying on the living traditions of our state,’’ said Lynn Martin Graton, the council’s ­director. ‘‘It’s our cultural inheritance. It’s our legacy, and not everyone wants to do it. . . . So to actually use something that is made by hand, it’s just a whole other way of understanding of how human ­beings evolved.’’

The apprentices and master artists meet about once a week for six to 10 months. The council — which is funded through state appropriations, a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state’s conservation license plate fund — provides about $3,400 to each team.

Anne Winterling, 80, a master rug hooker from Concord, said that working with her apprentice was a wonderful experience and that they have remained close friends. Inspired by an aunt who hooked rugs using wool she spun herself, Winterling took classes for 20 years before becoming a teacher herself.


‘‘I love the associations with other craftspeople,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s the most calming, wonderful thing. It’s almost meditative.’’

Her first rule for her apprentice was that she only work on self-designed patterns, not commercial patterns, for her rugs.

‘‘I want people to hook from their own hearts and what’s important to them,’’ she said. ‘‘We got along beautifully.’’

The exhibit will be on display until July 20. Van McLeod, commissioner of the state Department of Cultural Resources, said he hopes visitors will realize that there is more to art than the black tie image it has taken on.

‘‘If you want to get to the core of who we are as a state, of our traditions, of our culture, this is the place to start,’’ he said. ‘‘This is where we come from. This is engrained in our wood, in our stone, in our granite.’’