In the Making: Project FIRE of Firebird Arts

April 22, 2022


In the Making

“When [the shooting] first happened to me I felt unsafe everywhere. I would be at church looking over my shoulder. But here, I feel safe.”
– Deaunata Holman

On Thursday, April 21, 2022 we were joined by glass artist Pearl Dick and members of her Project FIRE crew—Lynquell “LA” Biggs, Deaunata Holman, Chiontea Thomas—live from the Firebird Community Arts shop in Chicago, Illinois.

The exhilarating conversation explored the success of craft and entrepreneurship as a form of aftercare for physical trauma and victims of gun violence, and the collaborative nature of glassblowing and how it teaches participants to ask for help. We even got to watch the group blow the beginnings of a glass vase.

Project FIRE was co-founded in 2014 by Pearl Dick and clinical psychologist Bradley Stolbach, in partnership with Healing Hurt People-Chicago, a hospital-based violence intervention program. The program gives youth injured by gun violence a chance to heal through glassblowing, while also offering employment and trauma informed support groups, case management, and medical treatment. They work with 25 young people per session with three hours of glassblowing and an hour of youth co-facilitated, trauma-informed support groups.

Presenters and artists LA, Deaunata, and Chiontea have been Project FIRE participants for many years and now teach beginner glassblowing classes. During the conversation, each member shared how positively Project FIRE impacted their lives. For LA and Deaunte, Project FIRE has given him the safety of having a future and a sense of fulfilment. For Chiontea, working with glass has given her peace, focus, and possibly a lifelong career.

“In the Making” is a public programs series where we connect with a range of new voices, fields, and perspectives. Learn more and view a full list of events on the series homepage.

With thanks to our underwriters
BOND, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Eaton Vance, Columbia Contracting, Corp., First Republic Bank, F.H. Perry, Builder, Firestone & Parson Inc., Inland Underwriters Insurance Agency, MUECKE, Inc., and Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.