For Girls Becoming was launched in June 2017 by Mvskoke poets Joy Harjo-Sapulpa (NACF Board Member) and Jennifer Elise Foerster as a response to the need for an organization to serve and advocate for Mvskoke girls and young women, as well as for Mvskoke arts and artists. The program focuses on girls and young women of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma who have a demonstrated interest in the arts and connects them with professional Mvskoke artists for a four-month intensive mentorship.
With funding support from the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, For Girls Becoming launched its pilot mentorship season in the summer of 2017, pairing five young women with five professional artists to work together from September to December. The mentorship fields included poetry, traditional basketry, music, songwriting and performance, and painting.
The pilot program began with a day-long Opening Gathering in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the new apprentices and their families met with the artist mentors to develop learning goals and mentorship plans. Apprentices were also given tools for self-knowledge and self-care from respected Mvskoke women leaders. Members of the Mvskoke community were invited to a luncheon to learn about the program and meet the participants.
The pairs worked together from September 23 through the end of December 2017, meeting weekly to complete their projects. The program culminated in a celebration dinner with performances and exhibitions from the apprentices and their mentors on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at the Tulsa Creek Indian Community Center.
Absolutely fantastic! Remarkably talented young Mvskoke women. Wonderful that such talented mentors stepped forward to be a part of the program.
― a celebration dinner attendee
Thanks to the funding support of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, the pilot season was immensely successful and met with wide enthusiasm from the Mvskoke community. The five apprentices are continuing with their projects and the mentors are providing ongoing communications and guidance. One young participant, who apprenticed in painting and design, is beginning her own series of community arts workshops for youth and elders in her community. Due to the success of the pilot project, For Girls Becoming will continue as a program for Mvskoke girls.