If you’ve travelled through the intersection of Market and Walnut in downtown West Chester at any point over the course of the last few months, you’ve probably noticed an aesthetic addition to a prominently placed building-side lining the roadway.
119 E. Market Street, peeking out from a row of residential buildings and store fronts. The addition, a mural commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, was made possible by the concerted efforts of the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls (CCFWG), West Chester Public Arts Commission (PAC), Zukin Properties and the elected officials and community leaders of West Chester.
The individual behind the design’s inception, however, is local artist and Delaware County native, Kendra Beizel. Beizel, who attended Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, the same school to produce the iconic minds of Michael Kors and Calvin Klein, has since relocated to West Chester, where she is now the proud contributor to a piece of town history. Of the several designs submitted, Beizel’s colorful imagery and progressive layout — complete with a literal and figurative baton passing from those who fought for the passing of the 19th amendment, ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, to those still working to advance the cause — was chosen to represent the borough. The design sees the silhouettes of five figures, painted in dull, hushed earth tones with white, uniform sashes collectively passing a pennant to another group of five silhouettes, taller in stature and painted in vibrant tones. Between them lay the following years: 1920, 2020. The design stands both as a tribute to the efforts of those before us, while also promoting progress today and beyond.
In an interview, Beizel spoke about the process of her involvement with the coalition of organizations and how she approached her creative decisions.
“The CCFWG had a great call to art with a theme of the 100th year anniversary of celebrating women’s rights. So I kinda sifted through that to see which elements stood out,” Beizel said. “I did a lot of research on my own of the women’s suffrage movement and the 19th amendment. I started to go from there and see what symbols kept showing up. The women in hats were definitely one, and their sashes. And then I really wanted to play with the passing of time. How do you show the changes and the forward movement and the movement that we want to continue on?”
When asked about her work being used for the politically conscious statement, Beizel spoke warmly about the experience, highlighting its self-fulfilling quality.
“I think it was an opportunity to showcase my heart behind the theme. Just being a young female and recognizing a hundred years ago how different things were for someone. It definitely allows me to step into my voice a little more, [which is] what it’s all about.”
CCFWG leads and unites the community through philanthropy and advocacy to ensure that women and girls have resources and opportunities to thrive. Since its inception in 1996, it has awarded more than $3 million in grants to 72 non-profit organizations addressing critical needs.
Beizel’s current projects include a commision for a golf course landscape, and, outside of the painting medium, an interactive children’s art project she described as a “big playroom installation” with “a lot of construction and structural elements to it.” Beizel’s work can be found at her Instagram account, art.beitz.
Justin Bifolco is a sixth-year English major with a minor in Journalism. JB933932@wcupa.edu