A Look Through Saks Fifth Avenue’s Window

By Mary Stringham.

The Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation unveiled a window display with a purpose this past week at the famous Saks Fifth Avenue location. The display, a mural created by artist Osvaldo Cruz, is dedicated to mental health awareness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness each year.

Founded in 2017, the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation is dedicated to amplifying mental health awareness and improving access to the resources necessary for those in need. “Mental health is one of the most important issues of our lifetime, yet many people are afraid to speak up or seek help,” said Marc Metrick, President at Saks Fifth Avenue, “Through our Fifth Avenue window displays, we see a tremendous opportunity to ignite the conversation around this crucial issue and further our foundation’s mission to drive progress and change.”

To create these thought provoking windows, Saks partnered with two important mental health organizations — Fountain House and Crisis Text Line. Since 1948 the Fountain House has been dedicated to the recovery of men and women with mental illness through their widely-replicated community based model. The nonprofit organization Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 confidential support via text message for anyone in crisis.

The window display titled “We Are Not Alone” contains dynamic murals along with scrolling digital signs that read “TEXT GO TO 741-741” to encourage passersby to connect with the Crisis Text Line. The creator behind the colorful graffiti-style mural is Fountain House Gallery artist Osvaldo Cruz, known simply as “Cruz” to most. Spray paint defines Cruz’s style and he uses a variety of nozzles attached to the paint can to achieve effects from bold to refined, on surfaces including masonite and canvas board. This eye catching art addresses what life is like living with mental illness aiming to spark important conversations around the issue.

Since the foundation’s inception, originally under the name of the HBC Foundation in the United States, the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation has created real change through a myriad of measures. They have invested more than $3 million in US mental health initiatives, supported programming in nearly 50 high schools and colleges to create the policies, practices, and conversations to promote positive mental health outcomes and even funded two of the leading research and treatment institutions that are innovating tomorrow’s mental health breakthroughs.

The stigma surrounding mental health can make it that much harder for people experiencing their own internal battle to seek help. The Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation’s effort to work across industries with nonprofit organizations and artists alike fosters an open dialogue to break down those barriers.

For those who want to visit the Saks Fifth Avenue display, it will be up until March 2, 2020. On May 13, Saks Fifth Avenue will rally its business partners for its third annual fundraiser to support the Foundation’s work and continue to shine a light on the issue.

Window images courtesy of Luis Guillén
Osvaldo Cruz photo courtesy of Fountain House