Two artists. Two exhibitions. One Ticket. Your ticket includes access to both Benjamin Wigfall and Communications Village and Whitfield Lovell: Passages.
Explore the life and legacy of Richmond native Benjamin Wigfall (1930–2017)—artist, educator, and champion of arts equity. In this first retrospective of his pioneering career, the exhibition highlights the period from his early years in Virginia in the 1950s to his founding of Communications Village, a community art space in Kingston, New York, in the 1970s. Learn about his Richmond roots in the Church Hill neighborhood, his stellar artistic achievements, and his lifelong commitment to building community. Through nearly 50 works of art by Wigfall, numerous video recordings, and a printmaking display, visitors will experience an intimate portrait of his artwork, impact, and legacy.
Benjamin Wigfall and Communications Village showcases Wigfall’s artistic development, from abstract painting, to printmaking, to his pioneering work in social-practice art and his founding of Communications Village. He was a VMFA Fellowship recipient who art educators and museum leaders regarded highly for his artistry and personal character. Wigfall was also the youngest artist to have his work acquired by VMFA. From Richmond, where his passion for artmaking began, to his pursuit of higher education at Hampton University and Yale, to his professorship at State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz, Wigfall recognized inequities and dedicated his life to providing access and opportunity.
While teaching at SUNY, New Paltz, he selected a close-knit Black neighborhood in nearby Kingston for the location of his studio because it reminded him of Church Hill. Named Communications Village, his studio became a place for making art and mentoring youth. In this inclusive, vibrant setting, Wigfall invited leading African American artists of the era to engage with the local community and to experiment with printmaking as an art form. Benjamin Wigfall and Communications Village traces Wigfall’s development as an artist and showcases Communications Village as a major conceptual artwork within his larger body of paintings, assemblages, and prints. The exhibition also features more than 30 major works by Benny Andrews, Betty Blayton, Melvin Edwards, Charles Gaines, Mavis Pusey, and others affiliated with Communications Village.
Benjamin Wigfall and Communications Village is organized by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition at VMFA is curated by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Community Foundation for a greater Richmond
Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr.
Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner
Julia Louise Reynolds Fund
Bank of America
Elisabeth Shelton Gottwald Fund
The Francena T. Harrison Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. R. Augustus Edwards III
The Doris Glisson Memorial Fund
Alexandria Rogers McGrath
Richmond (VA) Chapter, The Links, Incorporated
VMFA Council Exhibition Fund
VMFA is also grateful to the following sponsors:
Van Baskins and Marc Purintun | Anne Battle and Leonard Slater | Susan L. Buck in memory of Ed Chappell | Drs. Betty Neal Crutcher and Ronald A. Crutcher | Molly Dodge | Sally and Mike Hunnicutt | Michelle and John Nestler | Paula Saylor-Robinson and Danny Robinson | Paul and Nancy Springman | Stephen L. and Harriet Heldenfels Yake | Sam and Nikki Young
Marketing support for special exhibitions is provided by the Charles G. Thalhimer Fund.
This list represents sponsors as of April 17, 2023.
Chimneys (detail), 1951, Benjamin Wigfall (American, 1930–2017), oil on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, General Endowment Fund. ⓒ Benjamin Wigfall.