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The Fenix Youth Refuge Experience (F.Y.R.E.) after school art program is for students ages 12 – 18 who identify as part of the LGBTQAI+ community. The program days will run from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesdays (students pick the day that works best for them as the program will be the same each day). Students can arrive as early as 3:30 PM to work on homework, have a snack, and connect with each other. At 4:30 PM, the Program Coordinator will introduce the artist, activity, and theme of the day. Artists will teach from 4:30 PM – 6 PM. WE HAVE SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE; these scholarships are full-ride and are not based on need since this is a new program. Please do not let cost prohibit you from participation in this program; we are also working on a transportation option for students from Fayetteville High School to Mount Sequoyah. The unadjusted cost of the program is up to $120 per month, but we are working with as many students as possible to try to fill this program first and foremost. Again, please don’t let cost be an issue that prevents you from signing up!

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Program Coordinator: Taylor Johnson


Week 1: August 22-24 Tara Fletcher-Gibbs

Activity: Punch Needle Flags
Theme: Identity is always in flux, whether you’re a part of the LGBT+ community or not. Having a physical representation of who we are not only allows us to ground ourselves in our own self-perception but gives us the opportunity to share more easily who we are with each other. We get to see, connect with, and celebrate one another!
Application: Tara will demonstrate the process of creating a punch needle flag and will guide students as they begin their own work.

Week 2: August 29-31 Kat Stone

Activity: Insta-Film Photography
Theme: In any given instant, we are ourselves. Sometimes we like it and sometimes we don’t; however, in all instances, we are beautiful things! Students will see themselves in the very moment and learn to recognize their beauty!
Application: Kat will share her photography experience and a few portrait and landscape photo taking tips. Students will then divide into groups to practice poses, expressions, and having fun!
Supplies: Students are encouraged to bring fancy clothes, silly clothes, and costumes!


Week 1: September 6-7 Sunny
Activity: Bookbinding
Theme: Figuring out our identities is difficult and can often require us to try out multiple labels, fashions, hairstyles, and hobbies. This lesson is designed to show students that it’s okay to try new things, and that it’s not scary – it’s fun! Students will learn to relax on themselves and be open to discovering things that are and aren’t them!
Application: Sunny will walk the students though the book binding process together as they hold open discussion about the exciting process of trying new things.

Week 2: September 12-14 Annie Edmondson

Activity: Animal Light Switch/Paintbrush Portrait
Theme: When figuring out our identities, there can sometimes be disconnect between how we look on the outside and how we feel on the inside. Annie will give students an opportunity to create a piece that represents themselves, however they choose to interpret their Self.
Application: Students will see examples of an animal light switch and paintbrush portrait. Coupled with group discussion, students will work freely to create their piece.

Week 3: September 19-21 Fern Cobalt

Activity: Cooking
Theme: Students are at a time in their lives where they are constantly growing in their identities and in their bodies! Listening to your body and mind can tell you a lot about where you are and what you need. Fern will show students how to take simple, overlooked ingredients and create something delicious and nourishing.
Application: Fern will lead students along in the cooking process.


Ingredients are listed below. Students with dietary restrictions can still participate with substituted ingredients!

4 tablespoons butter, divided

1/2 cup minced shallots, or yellow onion

2 cups risotto rice

1/2 cup Marsala or white wine

6 cups salmon stock, or low-sodium chicken stock

6 ounces flaked, cooked salmon

3 tablespoons pesto

Black pepper to taste

Week 4: September 26-28 Jay Hinely
Activity: Acrylic Paint Introduction
Theme: Jay will lead students though the process of beginning an art piece. We all have different ideas of who we are and what we want to share with others, and it can be difficult translating what’s in our heads and hearts onto a canvas. This lesson will give students the confidence they need to turn their ideas into reality.
Application: Dan will have open discussions with the students to see what art types interest them. He’ll help them color mix, choose the right brushes, outline their project, and share the process with each other as it unfolds.


Week 1: October 3-5 ~ Week 2: October 10-12 ~ Week 3: October 17-19, Laurie Foster

Activity: Printmaking
Theme: Mentors are an integral part of growing up. Having someone share their life experiences and the lessons they learned along the way help us better navigate our own lives. It can be hard for LGBT+ youth to find mentors: our community lost many gay and trans individuals during the AIDS epidemic, and our “Queer Elders” are sometimes missing in our life environments. Laurie will give homage to the LGBT+ artists that have come before us and will teach multiple printmaking styles, so we can make our own marks!
Application: Week one, Laurie will introduce the kids to the idea of prints and show historical works of some queer artists who did printmaking – Albretch Durer, Robert Raushenberg, Andy Warhol, etc. Students will build a printing plate and seal it for drying. Students will also plan a simple drawing to create a linocut print. Week two, students will be introduced to the press and how to register their plate and pull a print. When everything is printed, students will transfer prepared drawings to their linoleum block and begin the carving process. Laurie will emphasize the safe use of the carving tools during this process! Week three, students will finish their linoleum blocks and print. Students will learn color blending with ink to create their final pieces.

Week 4: October 24-26 James Williams

Activity: Cup/Mug Making
Theme: Sometimes you don’t fix what isn’t broke! Pottery is one of the oldest forms of toolmaking and expression – some objects even date back to 29,000 BC! We often look to change and newness as a form of progression, but sometimes we can find stability and constancy outside ourselves to help keep us grounded while we discover and learn to love our identities.
Application: James and Taylor will discuss forms of pottery while asking students about the things that ground them in life. James will demonstrate hand building techniques to attach handles, decorate, sculpt, and paint their pieces.



Week 1: October 31-November 2 Aubrey Doville

Activity: Bead Chimes
Theme: As LGBT+ people, it can be dangerous to have PRIDE flags, art, or anything outside our homes that might identify us to hostile parties. The bead chime shows students how we can subtly incorporate the colors that speak to who we are and our pride!
Application: Aubrey will demonstrate how to bead and attach the beaded string to the wood. The example she shows will use variations of PRIDE flags; however, students can use any colors that speak to them!
Note: Students are encouraged to dress up for Halloween!

Week 2: November 7-9 Dan Holtmeyer

Activity: Photography
Theme: In today’s digital age, self-expression is truly at our fingertips. We can use our phones, something we all carry with us every day, to capture the world in a way no one else has before. Knowing how to express ourselves and share our experiences with others is valuable, not only for our own self-reflection, but for connection with each other.
Application: Dan will begin the lesson by sharing his identity journey with some examples of his own work. He will help the students learn a couple photography basics, some simple ways to get a great photo, and how to tie in their journey with the moments they capture. Students will then get to take their own photos!
Supplies: Paper, writing utensils. Each student will bring their own supplies: their phones! If students do not have access to their own devices, they can share devices. Dan and Taylor will also have a couple to share!

Week 3: November 14-16 Colleen D’Antoni

Activity: Mandalas
Theme: Social and political climates can often be stressful, sad, and overwhelming to navigate as LGBT+ people. This can be especially hard the younger you are. You must figure out life in general as a youth on top of a not-so-accepted or understood identity. Mandalas are very meditative; they allow us to create and can give us a moment of peace to make something beautiful while reflecting on ourselves in a safe, supportive environment.
Application: Colleen will give a brief history of the Mandala, describing its meaning across a few different cultures. She will provide a demonstration and some examples. Students will take the remaining time to create their own!

Week 4: November 28-30 Jewel Hayes

Activity: Coil Pots/Bowls
Theme: Jewel Hayes owns her own business, NWA Electrolysis. Women from the NWA community come in to have their hair removed to feel more beautiful. This lesson is designed to take something small we may not see the beauty in (clay snakes or hair), and through patience and attention, see the beauty that all the small pieces create over time.
Application: Have students create clay snakes that they begin to slowly stack in a circle. Students can create any shape they desire during the process. Once their piece is complete, the sides will be scraped to create a smooth seal. The pieces will then be fired in a kiln. Students can paint their pieces if they desire.


Week 1: December 5-7 Laurie Foster, Taylor Johnson, Chad Maupin

Activity: Gallery Preparation, Art Business
Theme: We can feel vulnerable when showing our work to others, but if we do the preparation and have support from our fellow artists, we can feel good about showing it off! This lesson will teach how to prepare and be proud of your work to showcase it to the community.
Application: Have students put their artwork into frames or attach mounts to the back. Help them plan where to put the artwork, figure out group layouts, and learn how to make artist bios and piece descriptions.

**We have plans to continue this program past Fall of 2022, but details have not been finalized yet!