The Urbana Free Library showcases accessible art with Young Artist’s Studio 


Photo Courtesy of Kinsey Fitzgerald

Mama and Baby 1, Charcoal on paper by Kinsey Fitzgerald.

By Michelle Martinez, Staff Writer

Kinsey Fitzgerald still remembers the first art piece she made when she was a child – a painting for her dance teacher. Now, she is set to share her artistry with the next installment of the Young Artist’s Studio, a series of workshops sponsored by The Urbana Free Library and the Urbana Arts and Culture Program. Its goal is to be a free educational resource that brings accessible art to the youth so they can explore their creative talents.

Fitzgerald has currently been inspired by Henri Matisse, an artist known to be a pioneer for paper cutouts, and she will be exploring his work this Sunday. She said she wants to bring this accessible art to youth in the C-U area in hopes that they will continue to be inspired to make the world a brighter and more colorful place.

“I remember, my mom set up a little easel by the kitchen to keep me occupied,” Fitzgerald said “It’s awesome. It’s a great development tool and being tactile, it’s super fun.”

Now, she currently has a piece, “Mother and Child,” displayed at the Spurlock Museum and is set to leave Dec. 3. She said she was inspired by the subject of family and explored what a familial relationship meant in the context of slavery and racism in today’s social climate.

Mama and Baby 2 (Mamãe e Bebê), Acrylic on Canvas by Kinsey Fitzgerald. (Photo Courtesy of Kinsey Fitzgerald)

“I wanted to use my skills and talents to make a difference in what I learned in my training to become a doula in the ways I can with my skills since I wasn’t able to participate in the conversation as a labor assistant,” Fitzgerald said. 

A doula is a trained professional who supports individuals through significant life experiences, such as childbirth or miscarriage. Fitzgerald said after her short experience as a labor assistant, she quickly learned more about the discrepancy and oppression in the health care system toward women of color, specifically Black women. This quickly became the inspiration of her piece “Mother and Child,” a symbolic theme prevalent throughout art history.

“I thought about how I can do this, how I can make a difference,” Fitzgerald said. 

She said she also felt inspired by sculptor Elizabeth Catlett, and her sculpture “Mother and Child.” Soon, Fitzgerald began sketching.

“I started sketching it out, and then I started thinking about this other piece by Picasso, also called ‘Mother and Child,’” Fitzgerald said. “I was really moved, and it’s all a part of this journey.” 

Fitzgerald said that since she was young, she has always been inspired by the things around her and has been able to apply that to her work. 

“My inspiration comes from seeing things, living through things, but specifically other artists,” Fitzgerald said. “Also other resources and materials directly.” 

The paper cutouts was an art form that Fitzgerald said she wanted to explore as she was inspired by Matisse. She realized that his work also has a connection to her work, specifically “Mother and Child.”

“The hand on the mother – hat was a found piece that was cut out from another piece of wood,” Fitzgerald said. “I was like this is the hand. This is my hand!” 

She makes the connection to Matisse, saying that both her and Matisse’s processes involve “not throwing away” any materials or collaging and being resourceful. 

Fitzgerald is set to teach youth at the Urbana Free library more about her paper cutouts this Sunday. As an educator, she said she has enjoyed teaching youth different ways they can be creative when it comes to art.

“Teaching kids in today’s age, with the digital generations, doing things more tactile opens your mind,” Fitzgerald said. “Learning to be creative with other resources like magazines or drawing, I feel like it gives resilience in your own life.”

Corajosa (A Anunciação), Acrylic on Canvas by Kinsey Fitzgerald. (Photo Courtesy of Kinsey Fitzgerald)

The Urbana Free Library sponsors The Young Artist’s Studio to bring a series of workshops taught by different local artists. All virtual events are scheduled on the third Sunday of the month from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.  The Young Artist’s workshops are free and open to the public. Participants may also pick up art supplies from the Urbana Free Library after registering online.

Fitzgerald will be talking about the process of paper cutouts, and then participants will have time to work. Some examples she will be presenting in relation to Matisse will be her work and work from artist Langston Allston.

“The reason I’m doing this is because I’m so interested in art being accessible,” Fitzgerald said. “I would like kids to be able to create but also make our environment beautiful around us.”

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