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Kentucky Foundation for Women honors feminists with 2018 Firestarters award presentations

Kentucky Foundation for Women is pleased to celebrate four remarkable young feminist artists as our 2018 Firestarters. Mackenzie Fraley, 20, Bri Harlan, 25, Jeri Katherine Howell, 24 and Lacey Trautwein, 22, are the recipients of KFW’s fourth Firestarter Award. The award will be given at the foundation’s annual celebration of community, KFW Day, on Sunday, September 23th at Hopscotch House.

The Firestarter Award honors young women who shows meaningful promise in developing as a feminist social change artist, and whose work has the potential to create positive change for women and girls in Kentucky. Here is more information on the recipients:

Mackenzie Fraley, 20, Inez (Martin County)

Mackenzie is a Theatre minor at the University of Pikeville. In her work with the theatre (Both at UPIKE and at Jenny Wiley Theatre), Mackenzie has sought roles that focus on female empowerment.

Inspired by a class project about Appalachian Murder Ballads, Mackenzie researched the historical facts of a popular murder ballad and wrote and performed an original stage script about Lula Viers, a woman only remembered for her murder.

After the course was completed, Mackenzie continued researching the women named in these ballads and has spoken at the Elkhorn City Historical Society and other venues to bring stories of tragic and forgotten women’s history to light.

Brianna Harlan, 25, Louisville

Brianna is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work includes ‘Oasis’, an installation for the Festival of Faiths, space where participants experienced the wisdom of women and basked in the power and comfort of combined knowledge, and her photo series ‘What the Dark Knows,’ a series of striking photos of black women. Brianna’s nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, believes Brianna’s work invites intimacy through vulnerability and can foster a more open, questioning heart in her viewers. “Her basic concept is that if people can really ‘see’ each other and understand each other as people, whether they are black or white or male or female, Muslim or Christian, that we can create meaningful social change by being empathetic with one another and vulnerable enough to learn from those who are often overlooked or talked over.”

Brianna is a member of the founding class of Hadley Creatives and inspired classes at Meyzeek Middle school where she was a resident artist for the “Heroes + Sheroes” project with IDEASxLAB.

Jeri Katherine Howell, 24, Frankfort

Jeri Katherine Howell is an Americana singer-songwriter-guitarist and teaching artist whose workshops and original songs focus on accessing one’s authentic self, building community, and “bringing to the mic” local and global social and environmental injustices. She facilitates community arts workshops (songwriting, collage and more) focused on social change and resiliency. She has been a part of several innovative projects including facilitating a songwriting workshop with the women in Franklin County drug court as part of Hands Healing HeArts programming; participating in the Kentucky Dream Coalition’s “Artivismo” camp, during which she facilitated a “songwriting for social change” workshop in English and Spanish with several Latinx high school students; teaching beginning guitar lessons in Spanish to migrant workers at the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs; and touring Japan as lead singer in a band for “Kentucky Bluegrass Week.”

Her songwriting focuses on various social and environmental justice issues including the experiences of indigenous women in Guatemala, environmental racism and climate justice, and the experiences of child refugees migrating to the U.S. from Central America. Through her music, Jeri demonstrates a unique feminist voice using traditional Kentucky music roots and intentional lyricism to highlight the intersections of oppression in our local and global communities. She received a 2017 Fulbright grant to teach in Costa Rica and has recently been accepted into the Kentucky Arts Council’s Performing Artists Directory.

Lacey Trautwein, 22, Louisville

Lacey Trautwein writes poetry and creative nonfiction and publishes Lemon Star Mag, an innovative literary magazine. Lacey, who prefers they/ them/ their pronouns, often focuses their work on issues relating to sexual abuse, body issues, and consensual love.

Lacey runs Lemon Star Mag. They say, “I assist young voices in an online literary publication, Lemon Star Mag, to truly shine that are otherwise not given a platform.” Lemon Star Mag is an open space for truthful work from writers and artists of all backgrounds and orientations. With Lemon Star, the main focus has been to support women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. Lacey provides a safe space for anyone who needs it.

“These young feminist artists are making waves in their communities through theatre, music, visual installations and literary publishing. All are forging new spaces for dialogue and engagement, thought-provoking performances and community participation. They are breaking new ground with the boldness and initiative that marks a true Firestarter,” said KFW Executive Director Sharon LaRue.

The Kentucky Foundation for Women is a private foundation formed in 1985 by Louisville writer Sallie Bingham. Its mission is to promote positive social change by supporting varied feminist expression in the arts.

From Kentucky Foundation for Women

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