Fuego Youth Leadership Program
Fuego is a youth leadership opportunity for high school excited about deepening their technical skills, learning leadership skills, and supporting The Crucible’s youth classes. Fuego leaders progress from immersive creative classwork to the exploration of possible career opportunities. Since 2010, 51 students have participated in the Fuego leadership program, and 34 are still engaged and/or employed with us!
“It has given me the chance to learn skills out of the norm as in […] you wouldn’t expect a 16 year old to know how to weld […] it gave me an extracurricular on my high school app. […] Finally it has given me my first experience of work.”
“Seeing the students pour made me proud, because you get to know them by teaching them. So in a way when your students accomplish a task so do you. […] The way the students look up to you makes being an intern inspirational.”
“I have learned how to interact with youth better. I have also further developed my artistic skills […] I can use these skills in applying in other jobs at youth camps or any jobs that require leadership skills. […] I set an example for the youth through my actions […] The Crucible rocks!“
“I have learned how to Blacksmith and weld and I am learning much more. In the future I know that if college is not for me, I can go to a trade school and easily gain a skill and have a job in the future.”
2017 Fuego Leader Graduates
Ten new Fuego students are selected each year and ten returning students are encouraged to return for a second year. In 2016, there was an 80% return rate for the second-year group. In order to apply, students must have completed at least three Crucible classes and be recommended by Crucible faculty or staff. Each Fuego student is paired with an experienced faculty instructor for two summers, with the goal of developing career skills, establishing rewarding relationships with mentors, and becoming leaders. Fuego positions are paid and participants work as summer camp teaching assistants, provide industrial arts demonstrations onsite and at Oakland festivals and cultural events, and mentor younger students.
Anona Gupta, age 18, is currently attending University of California, San Diego, studying Cognitive Science and Machine Learning. For her final project, she made a bronze sculpture of a crashing wave, using the lost wax casting technique. “My first class here was life changing because it introduced me to a world of industrial art that I truly see myself continuing in for the rest of my life,” she says. “I realized that I never wanted to stop working on projects and creating art.”
Brian Berryhill, age 17, is homeschooled and in his junior year. He was a Fuego leader in the Bike Shop, helping kids make art bikes during Summer Camp. His final project was inspired by the eagle on the one dollar bill. “The skills I have learned here are going help me a lot in the future, not necessarily in my career, but definitely will use them in my side projects in years to come,” he says.
Jorge Renderos is focusing on MIG welding in the Fuego program. Vintage manufacturing intrigues him, which is why he chose to make a penny-farthing bicycle. In designing the project, he researched many images of vintage bicycles and attempted to replicate them as closely as possible. Detail and precision are two things that are very important to Jorge, not only in his sculptures, but also in his everyday life. Participating in the Fuego program has improved his teaching skills, which is something that will be important for the rest of his life.
Om Aranda-Stinnett, age 17, was a Fuego Leader in the Glass Blowing Department. He was excited about starting the program because, “I knew it was an opportunity to give back to the community and learn something about myself.” For his final project, Om spent his time perfecting the art of making broccoli in glass. “I am a firm believer in eating good, organic, and fresh produce whenever possible,” Om says. Capturing the unique texture of broccoli in glass was more difficult than one might think, and Om recycled many glass pieces back until he finally captured what he was looking for.
Reginae Hightower has been a student at The Crucible for ten years, and she has had the opportunity to explore all of the different classes the Crucible has to offer. In 2016, Reginae became a first-year Fuego leader. She enjoyed creating her individual project for her portfolio. Fuego taught her how to communicate with children her age and younger. She discovered being a teaching assistant was very enjoyable, and she likes to bond with the students.
Sharee Roberts, age 16, has taken seven different youth classes at The Crucible, benefiting from support from our Scholarship Program. For her final project, Sharee was inspired by the different green colors of glass that reminded her of turtle shells and visits to the zoo. She made a glass turtle in Glass Fusing & Slumping, and sculpture of tree in Ceramics.
Timofey Pulko, age 17, has taken thirteen classes at The Crucible in seven different departments. He was first exposed to The Crucible via his mother, Natalia Pulko, who teaches in the Leather, Textiles, and Fine Arts Department, as well as the Enameling Department.
2017 First-Year Fuego Leaders
Our 2017 First-Year Fuego Youth Leaders had a great summer, shadowing instructors, working as teaching assistants, visiting local industrial arts studios, and making final projects in their disciplines! For many of these students, mentorship through the Fuego Youth Leadership Program helped them feel more comfortable expressing their ideas, developing their expertise, and learning how to share it with the next generation.
Fuego Leader in Blacksmithing
Final project: Steel Garden Hoe with wood burned shaft
“My project is meant to be practical, but also is influenced by older Pre-Christian Germanic art and mythology, which is an interest of mine. This presents itself in the knot work and the runic inscription below it, which spells out the name of Freyr, the god associated with prosperity and plenty.”
Fuego Leader in Foundry
Final project: Aluminium casted rose
“The Crucible has been a great resource and a welcoming family. My mentor was able to help me grow as an artist and has just been amazing. Throughout this internship, I have grown my leadership abilities and come out of my shell.”
Fuego Leader in Glass Blowing
Final project: “Floppy bowl”
“The Crucible and my mentors have encouraged me to be ambitious with my projects and create whatever calls to me, regardless of whether or not I have learned how to make it before . . . Because of the Fuego Program, I am no longer hesitant to offer advice when assisting the students.”
Fuego Leader in Glass Blowing
Final project: Glass blown cup
“The Crucible offered this amazing opportunity to me. My mentors have really encouraged me to do this piece and have been really building up my confidence in presenting, socializing, and engagement.”
Fuego Leader in Ceramics
Final project: Sculpture of Frida Kahlo
“As a woman, I think it’s really important to learn industrial arts skills and help develop self-confidence . . . I can’t wait to bring all the skills I learned to my school. The Crucible really helped me develop my knowledge and opened up a new path for me.”
Rakau “Rocky” Boikanyo
Fuego Leader in Welding
Final project: Kinetic arm
“Had it not been for my time spent at The Crucible I wouldn’t even consider making 3D sculptures, especially using metal of all things. I must say I’m thankful for this experience.”
Fuego Leader in Glass Flameworking
Final project: Flameworked glass puppet
“We can each see ourselves as the puppet, clear and fragile, relying on the strings that others pull to hold us up. But maybe we can also be the puppet master. We can be in control every once in awhile. We can have a voice. And this experience has helped me to find my voice, as both an individual and an artist.”
Fuego Leader in Jewelry
Final project: Necklace pendant and earrings
“The project I made for this program is inspired by the natural beauty seen outdoors. Representing these ideas are the silver flowers on the necklace pendant and earrings, as well as the texture of the copper plates that resemble wood.”