Hadley Creatives: Co-Creating Courage With Louisville’s Artists

Sep 23, 2019 | Community, Explore Louisville

What if artists lacked the courage to create? Walls would be less colorful devoid of their paintings, books would be a lot shorter, and dances would be more like stand-arounds. This is why in Louisville, The Community Foundation’s Hadley Creatives actively fosters the courage to create. Local artists such as Brianna Harlan are given the tools they need to pursue their dreams. “I’m on the path I want to be on. It’s pretty life changing,” Brianna says. 

Partnering with the New York-based nonprofit Creative Capital, Hadley Creatives is a six-month learning and engagement experience that is making monumental shifts in the lives of artists. Each cycle, 15 innovative and groundbreaking creators are chosen from many applicants. So far, 30 creative cohorts have been active participants in the program. “We are connecting artists with resources and skills to have a thriving practice,” says Program Officer Ramona Lindsey. 

Creators of brand new works over multiple disciplines such as visual arts, music, dance, and digital media participate in retreats, workshops, and one-on-one career counseling sessions that help develop a skill base for each artist to move forward. Brianna, a multidisciplinary artist, was one of these active participants gaining insight that she wouldn’t have otherwise gleaned. “I started thinking differently. I soaked it all up. I don’t know if I’d be having the success I’m having if it wasn’t for that,” she says.

Artwork shown here and above are from Brianna Harlan, a participant in the Hadley Creatives program. Photos submitted.

Before Louisville-native Brianna took part in the program, she felt she couldn’t even call herself an artist. “At the time I wasn’t owning the fact that I wanted to be an artist. I had major impostor syndrome,” she confesses. Every session is designed to guide a creator in understanding the true value of their work and therefore the value inherent in themselves. “I would not be a working artist if it wasn’t for the program, and now I feel like a thriving artist.” 

Brianna’s burgeoning career is a shining example of how this program inspires. “I’m getting these tools from these experts, and the mind-shift that this creates was the most impactful,” Brianna says. In addition to her career taking a positive turn, she has also taken this deeper knowledge into local schools. She’s had quite an impact with her artistic practice by, for example, creating comic books with middle-school children to help them cope with larger global issues and everyday life. 

Confidence is contagious. It seeps into the community, connecting us to each other and to ourselves. “Our various art forms connect in so many different ways,” Ramona states. “Art plays a vital role in helping to create that dynamic community.” 

Hadley Creatives deeply understands that artists need support on their way to becoming fully realized innovative contributors, and the empowering effects are real. “We have seen tremendous changes,” Ramona says. With artists like Brianna finding their creative courage, Louisville is moving forward so that art in all its diverse mediums can remain an inspiring part of our community.

Ramona Lindsey is the program officer of Hadley Creatives. Photos taken by Erika Doll.


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