By Tina Jenkins Bell
Last summer, Beverly Area Planning Association’s (BAPA) Teen Service Teen Corps members convened to brainstorm on and discuss volunteer projects they were interested in spearheading. From the list of ideas that included an electronic shredding event, a Halloween and costume party at Smith Village, and a few other suggestions emerged a plan to beautify the community by contributing to public art.
From there, a representative of the group contacted Sal Campbell of the Beverly Area Arts Alliance, and an opportunity to work with renowned multi-faceted artist Won Kim to create moveable murals for display during the 2021 Beverly Arts Walk became a reality.
“BAPA initiated the Teen Service Corps as a way to connect teens with volunteer and service opportunities but also to give teens a voice and a chance to create their own projects,” said BAPA Executive Director Mary Jo Viero.
“Last year, the teens hosted a toiletry drive for the Free Store. This year, they decided they wanted to beautify the community. This led to their contribution to the Beverly Art Walk and their collaboration with the artist Won Kim and the Beverly Arts Alliance. I am so thankful to our community partners for being accessible to our teens. I’m also very proud of our young people and their commitment to our neighborhood,” Viero continued.
Corinne Rose, a Beverly Area Arts Alliance board member and the person who connected Won Kim with the teens, said, “Art Walk is about community — creating opportunities for people to come together through art. This collaboration between BAPA and The Alliance exemplifies that spirit. When asked to collaborate with BAPA’s Teen Service Corps, The Alliance felt the most meaningful thing would be to involve the teens in creating artwork that would be on display and that might draw people to some local businesses. We made this happen on short notice because Won Kim made time for it. Our friend Ross Weiler created and hauled around the 8-by– foot panels. The teens had a good time and made the most out of the opportunity to talk with a working artist about his career. They asked a lot of questions. Ultimately, this collaboration resulted in some really strong work.”
The moveable murals created by Teen Service Corps members Zadie Beaty, Edith Casas, Mary Kate Carey, Nora Chenoweth, and Evelina Poole were shown at Root Consignment, 1913 W. 103rd St. and KimmyKakes Café and Bakery, 10224 S. Western. Zhien Beaty, also a Teen Service Corps member participated in the planning. Other teens who participated include Amber Emmanuel, Aria Fifer, Elizabeth Marcelle, and Leah Zemulys.
According to Rose, who is also the Associate Director of Learning and Public Engagement at the Art Institute of Chicago, the art will continue to be displayed publicly, possibly at area schools.
“Won Kim gave a lot of advice,” said Zadie Beaty. “He said, ‘Don’t think that your art will be so unique that no one else has done it, but perfect what you do well in art.’ He also shared his journey as an artist. For instance, he talked about how he would create a mural or something for like $50 just to get his name out there. Looking back, he felt he should have valued his work and time more.” Beaty, who wants to be an artist, created the flyer Teen Service Corps members used to recruit other youth participants.
Other Teen Service Corps members say they were drawn to the project for multiple reasons. The project was an opportunity to do something special for their neighborhood. They received community service hours, and this project will provide something unique to share with college recruiters or in college personal essays.
BAPA’s Teen Service Corps is always open to new members. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.