By Henry Snapp, RAWK Youth Advisory Council Me
The first big project for RAWK’s Youth Advisory Council was a window display for the three empty panes in the front of the store. We wanted something that would draw attention to the store to give it a fun, welcoming look. So, we got an artist to help us develop a plan. Beverly Fitzpatrick, a self-taught Kalamazoo artist, graciously agreed to work with us.
When the RAWK YAC members sat down with Beverly for a brainstorm session, it was clear that we had big ideas. But with limited time, and frankly patience, we had to trim our ambitions down to something more reasonable.
“There were a lot of voices and thoughts to consider, and I just tried to distill them into something that caught the spirit of what I was hearing and could be executed under the time constraints,” Beverly said.
Beverly explained to us that she usually works with collages and sculpture.
“I like building things. Making collages is like building in two dimensions and I spend more time recently thinking about 3D possibilities,” Beverly said.
Through talking, drawing, free writing, and talking some more, we came up with the theme of “Voices.”
Because of Beverly’s experience with collages, we decided to make a collage of sorts out of thin paper rectangles glued to the glass with cornstarch and water, and then Beverly would create silhouettes of faces to be cut out of the paper.
Beverly took that idea home and left the RAWK YAC to work.
Through painstaking hours of cutting, mixing, and gluing, the process of making the collage was complete.
With an old school projector, Beverly projected her stencils onto our paper.
Through two backbreaking sessions of outlining and scraping, our work was complete.
The result is two faces facing towards each other, exclaiming silently with an empty pane in between. This empty slot is there for you to interact with and complete the picture.
“Now, the question of what something ‘means’ is seldom a concrete one in art. But to me, the piece is about trying to zero in on one's own original thoughts while being constantly influenced by other voices. It can be difficult to know where your own ideas begin while you take in so much information all the time, much of it designed to persuade,” said Beverly.
The window display is slated to change every few months as we partner with different local artists, as well as other RAWK programs and community non-profits, to keep the storefront fresh and entertaining. Our next window display will be a collaboration with local painter Malavika Rao and the Kalamazoo County Youth Cabinet.
Thank you, Beverly, for creating an awesome design and helping the RAWK YAC achieve its first goal of completing a community art-focused and collaboratory window display.