FFOYA house receives grant to conduct workshops

Amanda Crawford and Courtney Davis transport a painted mural to FFOYA house on Tuesday, 2017. The mural will be displayed in the FFOYA house gallery, before being installed in the Barren River Area Safe Space garden. LYDIA SCHWEICKART/HERALD

Adrianna Waters

A local nonprofit co-founded by a WKU professor has received an arts-meets-activism grant to host workshops for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The FFOYA House, a nonprofit community arts and social justice center, received a 2017 Arts Meet Activism grant worth over $3,600 from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. The FFOYA House will use the grant to conduct art and writing workshops for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as two art, music and literature shows.

The FFOYA House believes in “art as a voice” and partners with artists and environmental, civil rights and social justice organizations, according to their website. The FFOYA House will be working with the Barren River Area Safe Space, Inc. (BRASS), a domestic violence shelter, and Hope Harbor, a nonprofit crisis counseling center for victims of sexual assault.

According to the Kentucky Foundation for Women’s website, the Arts Meets Activism grant encourages feminist artists or organizations in Kentucky to use art to support positive social change. To receive the grant, the organization must “show their commitment to feminism, their ability to engage community members, and have a concrete plan for positive social change through arts-based activities.”

Tori Henninger, the executive director of BRASS, approached Amanda Crawford, a co-founder of FFOYA House and assistant professor at WKU, about bringing both BRASS and Hope Harbor together to host it and display work that was created by survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The FFOYA House then applied for the grant in the spring and was awarded the grant this summer.

By collaborating with both BRASS and Hope Harbor, FFOYA House is bringing together survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“The two are intrinsically connected,” Crawford said.

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in four women experienced “severe physical violence by an intimate partner.”

By using creativity and art, the FFOYA House aims to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“The creative process is beautiful and powerful,” Crawford said.

Additionally, Alayna Milby, a volunteer coordinator for Hope Harbor, said art “can be used during times of stress and crisis to ease the recovery crisis.”

The first workshop took place on Aug. 28, and was titled “Finding Beauty.” Ten women attended the workshop, which lasted two hours and utilized art and writing activities. Visual artist Courtney Davis of Ingen Art Studio worked on mural paintings, technical drawing and design skills at the workshop.

Crawford led a writing workshop where the participants worked on creative nonfiction, read classical and contemporary poetry, focused on using their senses in writing, and concentrated on “finding the beauty in the world.”

The next workshop will take place in September and is titled “Amazing Me.” Visual artist Chloe Lee, who is known for fluorescent fruit paintings and is a curator for the art gallery at the FFOYA House, will work with participants on self-portraits and paintings while Crawford will instruct on writing empowering essays.

According to Milby, the workshops will hopefully “bring attention to positive effects of art and writing as coping skills.”

“I hope we can empower the survivors to feel confident in what they create, take pride in their art, and ultimately give them power in their recovery,” Milby said.

In addition to the workshops, childcare services will be provided for the participant’s kids.

The FFOYA House will display the artwork on Oct. 13 and in April of 2018, which is sexual assault prevention month. The show will feature mural paintings, written work read by the participants and other artistic pieces.

Reporter Adrianna Waters can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]