Pierre Patenaude, seen here perfecting work on a Nutshell Pram boat, will be teaching a boat building class for Dragonflies and Feathers.

After developing seven charter schools throughout the United States and abroad, Jillian Barrett is lending her expertise to an innovative new art venture in Calloway County. 

Barrett is the founder of Dragonflies and Feathers, Artistic Studios, a new holistic art program created to foster health, wellness and self-sufficiency.

The program offers a slew of creative courses available to appease learners of all passions: visual arts, filmmaking, photography, creative writing, grant writing, yoga, music, Tai chi, screenwriting, boat building, music, gardening, drumming, bookmaking and flintknapping.

Originally from California, Barrett has cultivated extensive experience and relationships while developing schools. She implemented five charter schools and two private schools in the U.S., Africa and Central America and spent six years living and working in places like Kenya, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Honduras. 

After inheriting a quaint, scenic home adjacent to Kentucky Lake from her parents four years ago, she felt an obligation to harness the breadth of knowledge and friendships she acquired through local art workshops. Barrett will be hosting all the courses at that home.

“I decided I had to do something,” Barrett said. “I’m an artist; I’m a writer. I’ve met artists all over the world, and they’re all coming here. That’s the reason I put this program together.”

Some workshops, like yoga and drumming, have already begun, but Dragonflies and Feathers is still offering an array of courses through Oct. 18. Some of those courses, like photography and writing, will be led by established authorities in their field, including New York Times best-selling author Douglas Wood and renowned photographers Edda Taylor and Art Stump.

Barrett herself will be leading studio meditation, soap making, Tai chi, creative writing and grant writing classes.

One of the workshops she’s most excited about, though, is a music workshop taught by Jonathan Lukehart. Workshop participants will form a band and conduct practices in September, ultimately culminating in a performance during Dragonflies and Feathers’ Oct. 17 Harvest Day Celebration and a recording session at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ultimately, Barrett hopes to implement the first charter school in Kentucky. While she is uncertain a program of this caliber can thrive in a rural area like Murray, Barrett plans to approach it with the same vigor that has guided her over the past 20 years.

“If it doesn’t (thrive right away), it will,” Barrett said. “When I do something, it’s like I put my all into it, and it will work eventually. You meet a lot of people when you start something like this that are kind of waiting. People say to me, ‘We’ve waited for something like this.’ Well, why haven’t you done it? You’ve just gotta do it.”

Additional information about Dragonflies and Feathers can be found at

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