By UPMA KAPOOR
Fredericksburg is often dismissed as a snooze town by students. It is rarely recognized for the burgeoning art scene that runs across Caroline Street. However, a new project by local residents Seth Casana and Stephen Graham, is changing students’ outlook on Fredericksburg culture with their latest publication endeavor, Whurk, a free monthly magazine or “zine” highlighting the latest of the unexplored “Fredericksburg creative community.”
Unlike most city-oriented magazines, Whurk is not published for the sole purpose of attracting tourists to this aged city; it is to capture a budding creative aura that the community does not see on a daily basis.
“So much is happening culturally in our community, but unless you’re already tapped into the scene, it’s easy to miss,” said Casana. “I want to make it easier for people to discover the artistic richness around us.”
Casana has been working on producing Whurk for a little over a year. He first met with Print Innovators, the same publisher that works with the Free Lance-Star, to learn more about what it would take to create his own magazine. Casana later enlisted Graham to design a prototype issue used to generate interest around Fredericksburg.
“During January and February, I carried that one prototype all over town, showing it to people, telling them about our vision, and getting businesses on board for distribution and advertising,” said Casana. “It was a long couple of months and we didn’t know if it would work or not. We liked our magazine, but would enough other people feel the same way?”
After 10,000 copies, Casana has been flooded with compliments, submissions and requests from businesses that want to be a part of the burgeoning magazine.
“It’s all been very gratifying, a terrible amount of work, and ceaselessly exciting with regard to the possibilities in store,” said Casana.
Casana uses the term “zine,” which invokes the notion of an underground publication handled by the radial counterculture of yester-year, but Whurk appears to be a more localized, friendlier magazine open to submissions across all mediums from all members of the community.
The appearance of this magazine sets itself apart from most other publications available to the UMW student body. Baby-blue newsprint with a navy-blue reindeer painted on the cover now sits in all academic buildings. The illustration on the cover is by local artist Kenneth Moore, further promoting Whurk’s message of acknowledging the eclectic art community in Fredericksburg.
The magazine is 22 pages long and features a multitude of different works to introduce locals and non-locals to the creative community, with works of poetry, prose, non-fiction, comics and full-color photo spreads. The fact that the editors are determined to make Whurk as eclective and diverse every month may seem ambitious, but it is highly possible, since Fredericksburg is bustling with inspiration.
Whurk embodies the forgotten, often overseen, areas of Fredericksburg that thrive with energy. There is already a handful of opportunities catered to artists and writers interested in immersing themselves in their crafts: First Fridays downtown, oral story-telling at Fredericksburg TELL, slam poetry on Thursdays at the Underground, and more. Whurk is simply another outlet that operates in print and pulses with the bold new rhythm that Fredericksburg is pulsating with this year.