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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

The Lórien Academy of the Arts gives room to learn, grow
8-week program focuses on the visual
Published Friday, July 28, 2017 10:38 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Students at the Lorien Academy of the Arts on Remount Road.

The Lórien Academy of the Arts offers a safe space with a purpose.

Students immerse themselves in an eight-week art program at Hygge Coworking’s 2128 Remount Road location, during which they study photography, drawing and painting.  

“It was basically created out of trying to answer the question of what can I do that creates sustainable impact and change for youth as they’re coming up, especially in terms of breaking out of the cycles of generational poverty,” said Michael Khoe, The Lórien Academy’s director. “As I was researching that question, the reoccurring theme that kept popping up for me was engagement with the arts.”

Khoe’s research determined that exposing children and teens to the arts cultivates more than creativity.

“You sort of have these three major buckets of sports, sort of mentorship/tutoring and the arts,” Khoe said. “When put side by side, the arts just has this transformational quality to it.”

Khoe also serves as an instructor, in addition to his role as a director.

“I have a small background in arts, but I never thought that these two passions would intersect—to serve my community, but also enjoy the arts,” Khoe said.

Other instructors include Charlotte artist Marcus Kiser, Harvey B. Gantt Center Creative Director Jessica Moss, Northwest School of the Arts instructor Bryan Wilson and Roxanne Morgan.

“This is my first time ever doing anything like this,” said Kiser. “It’s an eight-week drawing program that I’m teaching. They also offer photography and painting as well. I’m one of the drawing instructors that they selected. I don’t really have any teaching experience, just professional experience being in the field.”

Consisting of two classes of approximately 10 students each, the academy focuses on reaching children in the Ashley Park and Wesley Heights communities.

“I started [drawing] when I was 4 years old,” said Troi Simmons, now 13 and an eighth-grader at Ashley Park School. “My art talent is a gift. I wanted to go to art school so I could learn even more—painting and such.”  

Said Nee-Cole McRae, a freshman at West Charlotte High: “When I was younger, I would always take pictures for my mom. She would always compliment them, and she would tell me that they were pretty. Everyone would want me to take pictures for them.”

Said Kiser: “It’s on the west side, and I have a special love for that area. I went to high school in that area [at West Charlotte].”
Khoe works with various schools to identify students with potential for the program, after which they enter through an application process.

“I’m interested in improving my art skill,” said Gabe Trinca, a freshman at ALC Mosaic School. “I like to draw little fictional characters that I make, and I just wanted to be able to improve that skill.”

Said Kiser: “These kids are really interested in pursuing art. I’m just honored to be over there to help them out.”

While the program itself lasts eight weeks, everything comes together at Camp North End on Nov. 11 at the academy’s year-end gallery fundraiser, where a student’s work will be paired with a professional piece, with the student earning 10 percent from the sale.

“Our program is really meant for those who want this,” Khoe said. “A lot of this is building the bridge as we walk across it.”  

For more information: http://thelorien.org


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