The Collegian
Sunday, January 29, 2023

Dhall’s Newest Addition: RVA Community Makers 2022

The RVA Community Makers art installation placed in the Heilman Dining Center lobby on Jan. 16 2023.
The RVA Community Makers art installation placed in the Heilman Dining Center lobby on Jan. 16 2023.

The University of Richmond’s Heilman Dining Center features a photo gallery of local leaders from the RVA Community Makers 2022 collection, a part of UR’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration through Jan. 20. 

Critically acclaimed artist Hamilton Glass created the gallery. He has collaborated with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for the RVA Community Makers series since 2019. 

Glass’ work can be seen throughout Richmond, including several pieces from the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 and the collaborative project Mending Walls, as featured in the 2021 documentary under the same name. 

Every RVA Community Makers piece has its own theme, Glass said. This year’s collection focused on illumination and light, so he opted to use light boxes to display the subjects.

The array of portraits in the dining hall features a variety of Black Richmonders, ranging from the Moon Sisters, who were featured in The Washington Post for their work with the JXN Project, to Julian Hayter, professor of leadership studies at UR and author of The Dream is Lost: Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia.

All of the photos are in black-and-white and are displayed at the entrance to the dining hall where the couches previously were. The photos are laid out in a zig-zag display where only certain pictures can be fully seen depending on the angle. 

UR officials collaborated with the VMFA to bring the project to the dining hall.

Alexandra Byrum, UR’s director of communications and public relations, helped coordinate the installment of the piece. The MLK Celebration Committee was very excited to bring the piece to UR to help inspire students going into the spring semester, Byrum wrote in an email to The Collegian

Glass said that he kept a set of points in mind throughout his work on the series. 

“There were two goals that I really wanted to hit, which is destigmatizing [museums] especially for the Black culture as this place that you don’t really belong,” Glass said. “And then two, highlighting living people who are in your community now that might be a great resource for you now.”

Glass partnered with photographer Sandra Sellars on the 2022 project, best known for her work through the Richmond Free Press. 

“A group of people got together and they came up with a list of people based on what the theme was,” Sellars said. “The theme this year was to find people who were able to shine a positive light on the city nationally.”

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The piece was inspired by Man Ray’s The Paris Years, which features many famous parisians between 1921 and 1940 such as Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein who were relatively unknown to those of other countries at the time, Sellars said. Like RVA Community Makers 2022, all of the photos are in black-and-white. 

“It’s really about just knowing what’s around you and who is doing great things in your community right now,” Glass said.  

RVA Community Makers 2023 will be featured at the VMFA from Feb. 16 through March 17 and marks Glass’ fifth installment for the project.

contact news writer Caitlin McCormack at caitlin.mccormack@richmond.edu 

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