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Refuge Programming is structured into 3 semesters; Fall, Spring, & Summer.


Fall & Spring semesters are based in 10-12 week sessions.


Classes run in a three hour time frame to give student artists the time necessary to develop skills sets and produce meaningful work, and to the time to help prepare students for college level instruction.

Here are our general/main courses...

Portfolio Development

Portfolio Development runs during both Fall and Spring semesters.


This course provides students with the structure to explore drawing, painting, concept based work, and observational studies.


The artistic practice that this course encourages is designed to prepare students for college portfolio application requirements. Just as students benefit from SAT prep, art students need support and guidance in Portfolio Prep.


Although Portfolio Development is designed to guide juniors and seniors to create their strongest portfolio work, we encourage students who are younger to enroll as it helps them to build the skills and practice of a working artist.


ANY STUDENT who values their work as an artist will benefit from Portfolio Development. 

Portfolio Reviews With College Representatives

Portfolio Reviews with College Representatives runs 2-3 times during the fall semester.


This event helps students to connect with the colleges of their choice and provides them with the opportunity to learn about other college art programs.


Similar to Portfolio Day in Boston… Refuge hosts representatives from a variety of college art programs.


The benefits to attending Portfolio Review days at Refuge is that students will have significantly more time with each representative to discuss work, how to grow and strengthen personal direction, and identify the nuances of what individual colleges seek in applicants and applicant portfolios. 

General Courses
Fine Arts for Middle School

Fine Arts for Middle Schoolers typically runs all three semesters.


This course is designed to reach our younger artists with meaningful discourse and instruction.


Students in this program are challenged to explore a variety of media, concepts, and forms of visual expression.


The focus of these class is all about concept and expression encouraging confidence in student voice. 

The Summer Semester

The summer semester is all about the exploration of topics-based classes and process based working. The objective is to give students the opportunity to explore a variety of media and pinpoint personal interests as they relate to material, approach, and/or direction in work. Although the summer is primarily for topics-based courses, 1-2 topics-based courses also run during the fall and spring semesters. 

Summer Semester

But thats not all... Below is a sampling of previous topics based courses!

- Sketchbook to Sculpture

- Watercolor: Controlled Chaos

- Color and Painting

- Intro to Silkscreen

- Street Photography

- Urban Sketching

- Kids Camp

- Intro to Short Form Film

- Intro to Pottery

- Pattern-Making

- Sketchbook to LargeScale

- Build Something

Scholarships & Internships

Scholarship Opportunites

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The Refuge scholarship program is specifically targeted to bridge the inequity gaps of rigorous visual arts education within the public school system.


We specifically focus our scholarship opportunities on our Lowell youth through need-based scholarships at both the middle school and the high school levels.


Our goal is to provide a safe equitable space for students where they can seek support in pursuing their passion for making, mentorship and community to help feed their social and emotional growth, and the guidance necessary to successfully apply to college art programs with a strong portfolio of work that is unique to them.

Internship Opportunities

Refuge is located in the heart of Western Ave. Studios, a place of more than 350 practicing artists and craftsmen.


Students who exhibit responsibility, quality craftsmanship, and a desire to grow in the field have the opportunity to work alongside practicing artists; experiencing the practical application of making through paid internship opportunities.

Below is a list of past student and current student internships:

- Assistant Teaching at Refuge Lowell

- Community Art Research work with Project Learn

- Cosplay product development with Wretched Hive Designs

- Administrative and Shop work with Assemble Lab

- Public Art Fabrication for Boston Commons & Central Wharf Park

   with 4N Wood Works

Public Projects

Mentorship, Community Engagement, and Public Art: 

Thanks to funders like Lowell Cultural Council and The Women Working Wonders Fund students have the opportunity to be a part of public art projects that explore meaningful content.

Past projects include...

2021 Installation: What Do We Have In Common? Janet Zweig, Boston Commons

2019 Mural: Elevating Cultural Identity installed in Mill No. 5, Lowell

2019 Installation: Growth Rings, Oscar Tuazon, Central Wharf Park

2019 Mural: Bridging the Tracks

2018 Mural: Mill City Grows Common Room 

2018 Mural: Mill Girls at Western Avenue Studios outdoor patio

2017 Permanent Installation: Sundial & Bottle Wall Bench in North Commons Park

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