Clifford Murphy

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Headshot of a man.

Photo courtesy of Edwin Remsberg

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NEA Director of Folk and Traditional Arts

In this podcast, Clifford Murphy, National Endowment for the Arts Director of Folk and Traditional Arts, introduces the recently announced 2020 NEA National Heritage Fellows. This is the country’s highest honor—a lifetime achievement award—for folk and traditional artists whose life’s work includes both artistic excellence and efforts to sustain cultural traditions for future generations. As Murphy says in the podcast, folk art has been described as “something learned knee-to-knee.” All nine recipients of the Heritage Award serve as exemplary mentors as well as inspired artists. Murphy doesn’t just discuss each artist, he also talks about each art form—whether it’s dance, song, beadwork, or canoe-building—and the culture in which it's embedded. We also talk about some of the ways the folk and traditional arts field has been impacted by the pandemic and creative adjustments that folk and traditional artists have made in response to the crisis. Murphy is not only enormously knowledgeable about the folk and traditional arts, but it's clear he holds a deep love for these arts and the people and communities that create them.