Mississippi artist Lisette Lewis is on a mission to tap into the enthusiasm and talent of up-and-coming young artistswith a new program through the Flagler County Art League.

Young artists have a new champion in Lisette Lewis, a Mississippi artist who is on a mission to tap into the enthusiasm and talent of up-and-coming young artists with the launch of YEA — or Young Emerging Artist — program through the Flagler County Art League.

After just a year in Palm Coast, Lewis is immersing herself in the northeast Florida arts scene as a member of both the St. Augustine Art Association and the Flagler County Art League.

As a former gallery owner, Lewis noted a lack of league involvement by young artists in Flagler County. With the YEA program, she’s hoping to bridge the gap between experienced artists who have enjoyed professional careers in the industry and those just starting their journey.

"We are trying to encourage young artists 18-25 to join FCAL as a YEA member which is less expensive for them," said the award-winning artist who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in photography. "Not only are we giving them a break on membership, we are hoping to develop mentorship opportunities between the younger and older members." 

Beyond the canvas, YEA members can learn valuable skills to help those considering a career in the industry be successful. On the agenda, the opportunity to showcase their work is combined with mentorship, workshops teaching presentation skills, marketing, networking and career guidance. 

The new program has attracted a few young artists from the community including Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate Stephen DiMaria, who had four black-and-white photograph submissions were selected during FCAL's annual juried photography show on Jan. 7 and wound up winning the First of Show award. 

Through the YEA program, Lewis hopes to reach other aspiring artists like YEA members Grace DeMattias and Brandon Santiago. 

Also a Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate and University of South Florida art major, Santiago participated in the summer gallery market at the art league, recently selling his first piece.    

"My mom pushed me to sign up, saying I needed to get my work out there," said Santiago, an abstract expressionist. "It helps me promote my work because, ultimately, my goal is to share my art work and make it big." 

Set to host the first exhibition of YEA members’ work this November, a call to artists has gone out to young artists between the ages of 18 and 25 for submissions with a deadline of Oct. 1. Free to YEA members, $30 for future members, the show will be judged by Lewis and Salvo Art founder JJ Graham.

"I think that so many of the jobs that young people will find available to them in the future will at least to some degree involve the creative process, especially as automation and robotics become more developed," Graham said of the program.

"The visual arts set a great foundation for creative thought processes and can be applied to many vocations, and that’s why art programs are so important in our education system. I’m happy to make time to judge this show and honored to be asked," he said. 

"As you can tell I am super excited," said Lewis. "FCAL has already been giving out grants to young artists who showed potential and this was just the next natural step."

For more information, visit www.flagleryea.org.