November 1, 2020
Saphya Lones (she, her) is a 16 year old artist and illustrator. This is Saphya’s second year participating in YAE! Camp programming. Saphya joined YAE! in 2019 as a youth participant, this year were lucky to have her in a mentor role, supporting Latoya Lovely with the mural design and leading youth through the mural process.
After the 2020 YAE! mural came to an end, we asked Saphya a few questions about her work, the importance of mentorship in art spaces, and what it means to fight for racial justice through public art.
Hi Saphya! Can you introduce yourself?
Hi! My name is Saphya Lones and I am a half-Afghan 16 year old currently living in Oak Grove, Oregon. I am an artist & illustrator and have been in love with art my whole life but only began pursuing it seriously in late 2016. With the help of YAE! Camp I can now consider myself a muralist as well! I have major goals for art & design and I hope to find more opportunities to connect with the community here in Portland!
How did you become involved with YAE! Camp? How has your role changed from your first year collaborating with the program and what makes you excited about being a part of the YAE! community?
Through my mom’s ever-growing Portland dance circle I met Raven, the founder of YAE! and WolfBird Dance. The following summer (2019) I joined her youth artist’s empowerment camp and it was an epic experience- I learned different kinds of dance & how to spray paint, partook in my first mural, and met a lot passionate people (students and mentors alike). This year, I had the chance to be a mentor to the new students and an assistant to the amazing Ms. Latoya Lovely on our acrylic BLM mural! I tell Raven this all of the time but the work & intense love put into this camp is incredible. I am excited to learn from the opportunities the camp has given me & to watch it grow to new heights!<3
One of YAE! Camp’s main goals is to support female/femme/non-binary youth to embrace their artistic voices and offer pre-professional training and mentorship through art and movement. Why do you think it's important for young people, especially young womxn to have access to art? How has mentorship and representation in the arts affected you?
Not only does art prove to be an outlet for us to express ourselves, but it can also become a way for us to nurture and deepen our connection with our budding identities and Earth. Through all of the hardships life may provide, art has historically prevailed and keeps people alive. Art, mainly creating visual and listening to music, keeps me feeling deeply when I want to feel numb and gives me hope when I don’t have much. Mentorship and having role-models that are like me has been similar to art in making me feel like I can have hope and look for support when I need it. I get art, mentorship, and representation of womxn like me in my life, and for that I am so grateful.
"The more we have murals that are expressing the valuable message of BLM, the more people will be informed and forced to reevaluate their thinking regarding racism in the U.S" -Saphya Lones
This year’s YAE! Camp mural was BLM (Black Lives Matter) themed, why is that important to you? What role do you see murals, and other forms of public art, playing in the future of social and racial justice work?
Art, and murals in particular, are classically known to be a great way to spread a message. The Black Lives Matter movement is always relevant and needs it’s message spread everywhere, especially in this time as groups of people are declining it and choosing to be ignorant. The more we have murals that are expressing the valuable message of BLM, the more people will be informed and forced to reevaluate their thinking regarding racism in the U.S. This experience was important for me because I got to be of service to Ms. Latoya, who shared a lot of insight about her experiences and expressed a beautiful message about strength and togetherness in this movement through her artistic style. Having her as a mentor also taught me to be able to envision someone else’s idea and take directions.
In addition to supporting the design and implementation of YAE!’s main mural, this year you also had the opportunity to design and paint your own mural. Can you share a little about your plans for this? What is your personal process of conceptualizing a mural and bringing it to life?
First of all, as a very important part of the process, I need to mention the mentorship that has been extremely valuable to me. To Raven Jones, Galen Malcolm, and Sitara Lones (my mama) whose help is opening doors I didn’t think would and is pushing me to try my hardest. Regarding my own artistic process I would say I initially wanted to find an idea that would fit the overarching theme of the main mural. I am Afghan & Muslim and I wanted to incoorporate that without taking away from the main point of BLM. With some of my mom’s help I decided on taking inspiration from a poem called “Service,” by the very influential Sufi poet, Rumi. I chose to make artwork for this piece as I interpreted it to be about becoming the thing that holds others up. It's also a very beautiful poem in Farsi and English which makes it easier to brainstorm imagery. :)
"...I decided to take inspiration from a poem called "Service", by the influential Sufi poet, Rumi...I interpreted it to be about becoming the thing that holds others up" -Saphya Lones
What else are you working on right now?
I love October because I can partake in the challenge, Inktober, created by artist Jake Parker. I do a fully inked illustration for every day of the month! This year, I am challenging myself even more (because I have done it for 3 consecutive years now) by doing a fully colored piece with a detailed background while trying my best to combine two different prompt lists everyday. It is proving to be hard with school, per usual.
Do you have a long term vision for your work? Give us your biggest and boldest goal!
Oh my gosh, I consider myself to be very goal-oriented and passionate about art and design so choosing one goal would be hard! There’s so much I want to do, from murals to poster design, really anything I can get my hands on!! I’ve always wanted to go to PSU for design, so that’s been on my mind for a very long time. An internship chock full of experience is up there as well! Like I said, any experiences in the community I can get my hands on! :D
As an emerging muralist, what thoughts or words do you want to offer other emerging muralists/artists?
Hmm. So far, I’ve learned that getting in on a lot of projects and lending a hand to artists that might need it can be super beneficial for gaining experience and creating connections. Also- working on taking directions and understanding a collective vision is crucial!
July 6, 2019
Are you ready for YAE! 2019?
Come Join us for a fundraiser at Portland Center Stage at the Armory on July 15th, from 1 PM-8PM! This all-ages event will have all kinds of great dance performances, art exhibits, and more for you and the family to come see what YAE! is all about!
We can't forget about Dance Church and the dance battle!
Entry: Suggested $5 donation
Dance Church: 5-6:30 PM - $15 to join
Dance Battle: 7PM-8PM - $10 to participate