By Brittany M. Brown
RVA Community Makers is an annual mixed media public arts project assembled by local artist Hamilton Glass. Each year the project recognizes different individuals who have made significant contributions to their community. The art installation is now in its fourth year; this year’s project focuses on portraiture and pulls inspiration from VMFA’s exhibition Man Ray: The Paris Years. Sandra Sellers, Richmond photojournalist and VMFA staff member, photographed this year’s honorees: S. Ross Browne, James A. Gordon III, Julian Maxwell Hayter, Ph.D., Valerie Cassel Oliver, Michael Paul Williams, and The Moon Sisters: Enjoli Moon, and Sesha Moon, Ph.D. Sandra’s work is on display, along with a digital canvas created by Hamilton.
RVA Community Makers showcases the black history being made every day in Richmond, and this year’s honorees are acclaimed as cultural luminaries. A luminary is a person who inspires or influences others. This year’s honorees illuminate RVA as artists, journalists, curators, principals, and professors. The work that these individuals have committed themselves to is beyond highlighting the issues or areas that need improvement within the city. Their work in the community has allowed people to see that reimagining, reconstructing, and reemerging are possible and takes place in how we live our lives every day. They have placed a spotlight on everyone’s ability and power to enact change. The light that’s shown through each of the honorees is within every individual in this city; whether educationally, culturally, or artistically, the medium of delivery doesn’t matter. Passion and purpose are what counts.
“Why partner with VMFA to do such a project?” Kelli Lemon posed the question for Hamilton during Wednesday night’s virtual unveiling of this year’s art project. “I thought that approaching VMFA with a project that highlighted people actually in the community would allow those people and their networks to come together and learn about one another. Another way of connecting people and keeping that connection going through the community.” Hamilton wants people to feel at home in the museum, “Fine arts museums, in general, can be intimidating places and spaces for people who might not understand the art or don’t think it’s a space for them. As a public artist, my work revolves around community engagement and getting people involved, and the more I practice art and learn about it, the more I see VMFA as a very engaging place. It just made sense to bring those two together and find a way where people get to create art and take part of art in the museum.”
The RVA Community Makers 2022 exhibit will be on display in the Atrium of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for public viewing until March 14th. After leaving the VMFA on March 14th the installation will move to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia. Don’t miss the opportunity to check out the art project in-person to learn more about the 2022 community makers and take in the art created in their honor.