Louisville-based arts organization artThrust is offering virtual art and poetry workshops for parents and LGBTQ youth aged 13-18 beginning today, September 14, with participants welcome to join after the start date. Youth and their parents are not required to sign up together, and can participate individually.
Presented as two concurrent programs, these eight-week workshops are facilitated by artThrust founder Toya Northington, a visual artist, feminist and activist working alongside social worker Danielle Lee, and guests Dr. Broderick Sawyer, Lance “Mr. SpreadLove” Newman, and Helina Metaferia.
artThrust originally began as a teen girls’ program, first exhibiting public art and installations in 2012, and soon expanded to include LGBTQ in its introspective, creative work.
“I have this pie in the sky feeling that this generation is going to make changes,” Northington said in a phone interview with Queer Kentucky. “But while they’re here working against injustice, I want to give them tools they’re able to survive and thrive in a community that nourishes their authentic voices.”
artThrusts seeks out minority and Black youth who identify as LGBTQ+, or just beginning to consider their gender and sexuality. Northington credits the parent of one of artThrust’s previous students with the idea for this dual program.
“During our exhibition, a lot of the really personal, intimate details came out about their child and they said, ‘This is great, I’ve been trying to talk with them and I couldn’t really get across,’” Northington recounted in a phone interview. “They said, ‘When are you gonna start working with parents?’”
Northington floated the idea by some of artThrust’s students, and said she found that youth were less interested in their parents learning about pronouns and queer history when they can’t even really communicate.
“This isn’t just education, or a support group,” Northington said of the parents’ workshop. “It’s giving parents space to think about not just gender and sexuality and adolescence, but their own barriers and expectations, for who they thought their child was going to be and what they envisioned for their life. It’s giving them space to think about, ‘How did you get these ideas? Where did they come from? Is it you, or was it given to you? And is it really serving you?’”
The workshops will lead each group through making visual art, writing poetry, and discussions that merge social justice and personal identity with creative expression.
Both take place on Zoom, with the parent session meeting every Monday from Sept. 14 to Nov. 2, and youth every Tuesday from Sept. 15 to Nov. 3. Each meeting runs from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, contact Toya Norhtington directly at tnorthington@artThrust.org or 404-587-2651 and visit the artThrust website. You can also fill out a youth interest survey or a parent interest survey, but Toya let Queer Kentucky know she welcomes direct inquiries and is happy to have a conversation!