NEA Sponsored Project

The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, was awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts to support the project “Carving Out Future Decoy Makers”.  Six professional carvers from throughout the United States taught a minimum of seven students in each of their communities how to carve a working decoy.

This project intends to help preserve, promote, and present the decoy carving traditions of the United States. The NEA provides the funding to pay the professional carver’s instructor fee and a stipend for the student’s materials. The students have the unique opportunity to learn how to craft a functional hunting decoy from a professional carver at no cost. It is hoped that this experience stimulates the students to continue the tradition of decoy making, an original American art form.

Each fall the Ward Museum holds the Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo on the grounds of the museum next to Schumaker Pond. Expo is an opportunity for carvers and collectors to meet with each other, exhibit their decoys in a public forum and compete for ribbons and prizes. The decoys completed in this project are entered into the Chesapeake Challenge. Their work is floated and judged as functional working decoys alongside the work of other regional carvers. Those who carved shorebird decoys have their work judged next to the pond. The instructors also participate in a Carving Out Future Decoy Makers Symposium to share their efforts to pass their skills and knowledge to their students and their community.