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2022 Fuego Youth Leaders Share Final Projects In Culminating Reception

By Cathy Niland | 08.10.2022

This summer, after two years of pandemic-altered programming, we welcomed ten new and returning high school students to The Crucible for our annual four-week Fuego Youth Leadership program. During this time, participants had the opportunity to build new skills as industrial artists and leaders by working with a dedicated mentor and supporting youth summer classes. 

This past Thursday, our 2022 Fuego Youth Leaders presented their final projects in a gallery reception complete with demonstrations and presentations on their month-long program. Friends, family, and Crucible community members gathered, taking in the impressive collection. From large sculptures to delicate glass work, it was clear our 2022 cohort came to impress.

fuego reception 2022
Second-year Fuego Youth Leader, Jasmine Quinones, age 17, and her family gather around her finished project for a photo.

Second-year Fuego Leader in jewelry, Freddie Moussa, had been looking forward to the program all year. Standing next two their beautiful work, they shared, “This is really my happy place. The Crucible is my home and I feel like I’ll always have a place here.”

This summer, Freddie not only expanded their jewelry-making skills by learning the art of lost wax casting, but they also learned new skills in glass flameworking. “I love making statement jewelry, it’s definitely my thing.” They continued, “The hardest part was working with wax. The material was so malleable compared to metal working.”

Christian Shinhoster, a first-year Fuego Leader in ARC Welding, presented a remarkable, life-size welded throne that included a lighted crown and plasma-cut wings. “It started as a regular chair, but then I decided to make something people hadn’t seen before.” Christian found a lot of support from his mentor, Brandyn Willridge, explaining, “Brandyn made it so I could see new ideas and we really came together.”

Fuego Youth Leaders bring diversity to the 2022 program and reception

During the event, guests also had the opportunity to see skill-share activities from our Leaders. Fuegos performed live demonstrations in blacksmithing, ARC welding, jewelry, glass blowing, and glass flameworking. First-year participants Abeselom Weldegebriel and Ava Grochowski also showed folks how to write their names in Ethiopian Tigrinya and do Chinese calligraphy.

Fuego Coordinator, Nico Chen remarked on how much our 2022 cohort brought of themselves to the program. “This year, we had the most diverse group of Fuegos and it forced us to break out of our comfort zones, to learn new disciplines, and to actually learn more about each other.” He continued, “It allowed us to cultivate a space where we felt safe and heard, not only as makers but as people also with identities that exist outside The Crucible.”

Wishing our 2022 Fuego graduates well

During the reception, Executive Director Susan Mernit remarked on the power of the Fuego Youth Leadership program. “If you’re a young person who had a good experience here, it’s because people really care and really wanted you to,” she explained. “The Crucible is about the alchemy of transformation and helping you become more yourself.”

When we spoke to our second-year Fuegos, they all agreed that the thing they’d miss most about the program is the community. Fuego Leader in blacksmithing, Chris Gonzales-Ordonez shared, “I’ll miss the mentors, they were all amazing,” and Fuego Leader in jewelry, Jasmine Quinones, said she’d miss getting to know the other Fuegos. Before the evening ended, Freddie had one final piece of advice for future Fuego Youth Leaders. “Challenge yourself and have fun!”

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