Since February 2022, our CREation Community Grants Team has been sending out Q&A forms to CREation Grantees to capture their experiences creating and carrying out their projects. Today we are featuring responses from Jody Lerat of Future Artistic Minds (FAM), a grassroots youth art collective on Treaty 6 Territory. FAM provides mentorship from local professional artists and a safe space for youth artists who want to explore and grow their creative practice.
Community: Treaty 6 (Saskatoon), Saskatchewan
Q : Tell us about your group and project!
A : Future Artistic Minds is an affirming space where youth can explore and develop their creative practice. Having access to mentorship, equipment, and space to grow and learn has helped FAM youth artists to explore their identity, build their skills and uncover new career paths related to art. FAM engages artist mentors throughout the program who provide youth with technical skills and professional perspectives from their fields. Youth have the opportunity to decide to work on their own projects or to engage with mentors or community organizations to strengthen and develop their skills. FAM artists bring diverse lived experiences to our community through an artistic lens. They identify as Indigenous, two-spirit, queer, trans, non-binary, BIPOC, and white settlers. They are talented artists and musicians. FAM artists have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to developing their craft; they actively work on building their portfolios with commissions, compensations for artwork, consignment, and local art exhibitions.
FAM exists to provide accessible, anti-oppressive studio spaces for youth who may experience systemic barriers and lack access to professional art studios and supplies in a non-judgment environment where they can be themselves, uncensored. Above all, FAM is about sharing our successes. We are here to amplify youth voices, to share Indigenous excellence, to celebrate queer and trans joy, and to challenge the status quo.
Above all, FAM is about sharing our successes. We are here to amplify youth voices, to share Indigenous excellence, to celebrate queer and trans joy, and to challenge the status quo.Jody Lerat, Future Artistic Minds
Q : As the youth running the project, what impact do you hope it will have?
A : We hope that a project like FAM will show that safe(r) spaces for youth are not only needed but necessary. Art spaces are often exclusive when there should be more support and access for youth in the arts. Art is a powerful tool to tell our stories, overcome adversity and build community. FAM is that safe space for the artists involved.
I felt safe. It was a safe space I could come to away from home life and get away. I felt like I had people to trust.”FAM Youth Participant
Q : What is something you have learned?
We have learned that growth does not occur on a deadline, but is organic. Work small. It’s ok to move slowly when building a community. Don’t take on extra projects or opportunities if you’re not ready to, or from organizations that may see you as a checkbox. Projects can’t be forced. Build authentic relationships with other collectives, organizations, and people that have the same values as you. Know your worth!
Q : What is your favourite moment from running your project?
A : A special moment for FAM was when we put on our first professional art exhibition during the pandemic. In May 2021, the FAM collective held a month-long artist residency at Bridges Art Movement, a gallery space in downtown Saskatoon. It was a huge labour of love for all involved.
FAM artists met weekly to create and install artwork and were present during the final week of May when we opened to the public and had over 190 people attend. We shared paintings, drawings, photography, screen-printed t-shirts, zines, and an EP called “The Many Moods of Hip-Hop” featuring 8 musicians. These works of art were created during the pandemic in a time of uncertainty, but we felt the overwhelming support from the community in Treaty 6.
We are so proud of the heart-work our young relatives like Jody and the Future Artistic Minds team are doing across Turtle Island and are so lucky to be able to support them in their work.