Former bank executive-turned-artist is leaving her mark on Midtown—and propping up kids in the process.
When most people gear up to retire, they hope to focus on traveling, hobbies and family. But for local artist Chris Young, going into retirement meant spending more time on art, community involvement and philanthropy. The former regional executive of First Citizens Bank, Young was also on the board of Midtown Raleigh Alliance for several years, even serving as its chairperson for one. And as part of her community leadership and engagement work with MRA, she was on the team that spearheaded the original MRA banner contest in an attempt to facilitate more art in Midtown. Now, starting in June, it’s Young’s designs that will decorate the banners across Midtown—a full circle moment.
Following MRA’s 10th anniversary, “we thought this was a wonderful opportunity to cast light on one of the organization’s founding members, who is a talented artist with a strong connection to Midtown,” says MRA Executive Director Tara Lightner Robbins about Young.
For her own part, Young says she’s always considered herself a creative person, but she didn’t really start painting until her son went away to college. “I was like, ‘You know what, there’s a hole, and what should I fill that hole with,’” she says. It wasn’t until she saw a Monet exhibit at the NCMA, though, that she picked up a paintbrush and started doing workshops—while still working at First Citizens Bank. “I was a weekend kind of a painter,” adds Young. “It was something at that time that really balanced that business/analytics side of my life with the creative and artistic side.”
While Young’s art typically tends to be more landscape, the two different banners she created for MRA—her first public art project!—are comprised of big, bold geometric and abstract shapes that are easily visible from street level and lend a vibrant energy to the area. They also both have people in them. “I wanted the banners to convey that Midtown is a great place—day or night—in a really colorful and positive way,” says Young. “And we [Robbins] were talking about how experiencing Midtown—and Midtown as a destination of choice—is just something we wanted to celebrate in the banner.”
To boot, Young marries her passion for art and philanthropy by donating a majority of her art sales to nonprofits. The proceeds from this particular project will go toward the YMCA of the Triangle, specifically to support scholarships for kids to go to camp this summer. “I love the Y,” says Young. “Our son went to the Y; we’re individual donors; and I’ve helped with fundraising over the years. I just love how they help kids who might not otherwise have that experience. These annual campaign dollars really make that happen.” midtownraleighalliance.org