Rising from the ashes as a survivor of domestic violence, Beverly Cowan has reached a new moment in her life in which her passion for art has served as therapy. Now she hopes it will become a career.
Born and raised in Harlem, Cowan always enjoyed working with any form of art. She filled up coloring books and matched up paper dolls with the perfect patterned dresses.
She later moved to Staten Island, where Cowan said she reached a dark moment in her life. After losing the father of her two children, Cowan survived an attack by a boyfriend in 1996. She later moved to Long Island City and began a positive new life.
“I want to give strength to all women who go through the same thing,” she said.
Cowan began participating at her local church as a deacon and choir member. Around 2002, after decorating a vase with artificial flowers and creating a unique piece, she became excited to keep the craft going.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I have a passion for it. I didn’t go to school for this, it’s just a gift.”
She began her artwork with just arranging flowers inside different vases she would find and then moved into also creating centerpieces out of flowers and other material. Cowan then began covering clear vases in different colored paper and creating one-of-a-kind pieces.
She began “Diane’s Creation” as the general name for her pieces of art. Cowan said her mom and church call her by her middle name “Diane” and the business’s name refers to her survival and creating something new for herself.
All her vases are done from her home at the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City and once Cowan comes up with a design in her head, the artwork begins.
She begins by gluing on a white paper base on the vase, glazing it over with clear glue, letting it dry, then taking colored papers in different shapes and pasting them onto the base to create various designs, and finishes with a final glaze glue coat.
“I just like working with paper,” she said. “Paper is a very unique piece of material. I try to make it as bold and beautiful as I can”
Each vase is given a distinct name and includes a felt bottom with a felt heart representing her logo, “Love.” One vase, called “Space in Time,” reflects the times she has survived and the time she has been given to recover, Cowan said.
“I had a lot of loss in my life and this is my therapy,” she said. “This keeps me alive and keeps me going on a positive note.”
In the past 11 years, Cowan has created over 100 items. Although she said she has never had any form of art education, she visits her local library two to three times a week to study different art books and learn new techniques.
The only obstacle Cowan is facing now is being able to continue her artwork financially. She has a list of art supplies she would need to expand further, but at this time cannot afford any of the items. Some include professional paint glaze, paper, flowers and a computer, which would allow her to sell her pieces to a larger market.
“I want to go large,” she said. “I want to go far. I believe I’m going to go far, it just takes time.”
Cowan’s vases vary in size and each is $50.
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