Celebrating African American Community Leaders Through Public Art

This video was created by Field Studio and was made possible in part by Virginia Humanities.

In February 2019, VMFA unveiled RVA Community Makers, a public art project featuring portraits of eight African American community leaders. The initiative is one example of VMFA’s commitment to opening our doors to a more diverse audience.

Local artist Hamilton Glass, who led the project, designed eight four-by-four portable panels and invited the public to come to the museum on specific dates to help paint the mural. Glass developed the project as a way to “converge community engagement with art” and encourage community members to “celebrate other people who are doing exciting work here in Richmond.”

He worked with VMFA staff to select the community leaders, who were portrayed in vivid latex and acrylic paint. They include Angela Patton, Rodney Lofton, Enjoli Moon, Damon Jiggets, Ram Bhagat, Carol Adams, Dennis Winston, and Rebecca Keel.

The mural project aligns with VMFA’s strategic plan to create exceptional experiences of art and culture for a growing and diverse visitor base. VMFA believes one way the institution will grow is by continuing to incorporate the greater Richmond community into the museum.

“Our goal is to eliminate both real and perceived barriers to expand our audience to make this institution welcoming to everyone,” said VMFA Director Alex Nyerges said.

More about the honorees:

  • Angela Patton is the founder of Camp Diva and CEO of Girls For A Change.
  • Rodney Lofton is Deputy Director of Diversity Richmond.
  • Enjoli Moon is Founder & Creative Director of the Afrikana Film Festival and Assistant Curator of Film for the ICA at VCU.
  • Damon Jiggets is Executive Director of the Peter Paul Development Center.
  • Dr. Ram Bhagat is Manager for School Culture and Climate Strategy at Richmond Public Schools.
  • Carol Adams is a Richmond City police officer and founder of the Carol Adams Foundation.
  • Dennis Winston is an educator and artist specializing in woodcut prints.
  • Rebecca Keel is a community organizer and social worker.

The mural was on view in VMFA’s Cochrane Atrium February 21-27, 2019 and is now at Richmond’s Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia through September. Following that, the mural will move to Richmond City Hall. This community collaboration was sponsored by Richmond Memorial Health Foundation and VMFA.