By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on September 10, 2020
For Bri Young, surfing and art have always been intertwined as avenues of self-expression. An Outer Banks native and First Flight High School graduate, Young grew up creating art and surfing the Outer Banks breaks at a time when few girls were interested in the sport.
These two passions are now on display in the Women of the Waves exhibit, which opened at the Dare County Arts Council on Sept. 4. As curator of the exhibit, 26-year-old Young has created a collection that includes her own art as well as work by girls in Outer Babes, a non-profit surf hangout for high school girls that Young launched three years ago.
The exhibit, a year and a half in the making, showcases about 60 pieces of art. Well-known local artists like Meg Rubino and Mike Rowe are also featured in the exhibit along with surfboard shaper, Josh Peterson. Even Young’s young nieces have artwork in the show.
“I think growing up here and being really passionate about the water and surfing, I wanted a group to share that with and I wanted to be encouraged in my surfing. But there wasn’t a group of girls to do that…there were the boys and the adults,” says Young, who is also a lifeguard supervisor with Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue, an organization she has worked for over the last 11 years.
Outer Babes meets throughout the school year so local high school girls can surf together, create art and watch surf videos when the waves aren’t good. Young also uses that time to empower members of the group, encouraging them to follow their passions and build one another up. Several years ago, when Young began getting requests for surf lessons, she also created Outer Surf LLC to teach the art of surfing to girls through camps and lessons.
With both Outer Babes and Outer Surf, Young says she’s met girls with many diverse interests – from skateboarding to competitive shooting. “They have all these different passions, and when you are at that young age, you can be kind of scared to dive into that. I want to push them to step into that calling, step into that passion and get excited about it.”
Young often asks the girls in her camps to bring in an item that illustrates what they are good at and passionate about, and to share it with the group. When they are encouraged by their peers, she says, “it’s really cool to see what happens…they glow, light up and gain confidence. It empowers them. Providing a space to allow girls to feel empowered and strong, and good at something, is really important.”
As for art, Young has made it an integral part of her work with girls. “I love creating,” she says, adding that it’s a great activity for her camps and the Outer Babes groups when the waves aren’t good, the water is too cold in the wintertime or the jellyfish are stinging.
“I feel like it’s such a great outlet and such a great way to express your creativity and learn more about yourself as well,” Young said. “Art is a good way hang out together, encourage each other and share ideas.”
First Flight Middle School students Riyah Ritchie, Emerson Hoggard and Georgia Christian, who participated in one of Young’s camps this summer, say it helped them to hone their surfing skills and taught some important life lessons as well.
“We learned to be happy for others and cheer each other on,” Ritchie said. “And that when you have bad falls, you’ve got to get back up and keep going.”
(Exhibit artists include Bri Young, Kristen Weaver Burritt, Willow Rae, Taylor Williams, Ally Carras, Dawn Moraga (Red Dawn), Brad Vuyovich, Saylor Vuyovich, Violet Vuyovich, Adelia Vuyovich, Hazel Vuyovich, Hattie Vuyovich, Meg Rubino, Sophie Castellanos, Hannah Wallace Lackore, Ava Nultemeir, Charlotte Nultemeir, Chloe Wienert, Eva Klauser, Ivy Cage, Tatum Dermatas, Mike Rowe, Josh Peterson, Matty Hitchcock and Ashley Linnekin.)
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