From Enslavement to Empowerment: An Interpretation of the Abstract Architectural Symbolism of Virginia’s Belmead on the James

This is an educational and inspirational lecture that highlights the powerful symbolism of the architecture of Virginia’s Belmead on James, relative to the history of this former plantation that ultimately transformed into two distinctive academic institutions for African Americans, by virtue of the munificence of the heiresses of the Drexel fortune.  The fascinating synonymous relationship between the architectural endeavors of the early owners of the property and the individuals that eventually occupied it are highlighted in this captivating presentation – one that extends beyond unique artistic pursuits to exemplify the power and the beauty of the human spirit.

Learn the Basics of Photography

Learn how to use the settings of your camera as you also enjoy being out in nature. As a long-time instructor of mindful photography, Alexandria will take you through exercises of perception. A central part of the program is raising awareness of your own comfort in walking and photographing. Some of the assignments will be done individually and others will be done in pairs and even as a whole group. Topics such as negative space, freezing motion, depth-f-of-field, and color balance will be introduced.

For those who don’t have DSLR’s, cell phone cameras and film cameras are also welcome.

There will be a lecture offering helpful images of the history of nature photography. After each group of assignments, we’ll discuss and review work in slide presentations, learning principles of sequencing and editing along the way.

Limit: 15

What is a Walking Artist?

A walking artist creates the experience of a walk and then materializes that experience in text, photography, film, or a design. The walk can be short or long, fast or extremely slow, in a pattern or in a straight line. The walk can be along an established path or through fields and woods without a path. The walk can be along city streets or out in nature or in a combination of the two.

This workshop will introduce you to walking art, its history and its practice. First, you’ll watch a presentation of videos about the walking artists Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, and Cardiff & Miller. Then we’ll head out to explore possible locations for our walking art piece. Together, we’ll decide on the design of our walk, taking the history of the area into consideration, as well as the sights and sounds. We’ll choose our methods of materializing our walk. We can film or photograph during our walk, or we can walk and then return to do the documentation.

The highpoint of the day will be doing the walk itself, claiming our path and our interaction with the land.

Finally, we can each write text or paint a design reflecting our walk. With Adobe Premiere, we can cut together a video that shows our walking art.

This program is for adults but can also be adapted to children and teens. Limit of students: 30

Portrait of a Watershed

Document your watershed with art! Learn underwater filming with cameras we provide (your hands will be underwater, but not the rest of you). Take photographs and video above water of the wildlife and plants by your stream, pond, or river. We’ll combine the results in an editing workshop using Adobe Premiere. Number of students: up to 10. We have both an adult program and a program for children.

Masked: Wearable Felted Sculptures

Across the globe, varying cultural traditions and ceremonies involve, and are oftentimes centered around the making and performance in a heavenly embellished and ornate mask. Masks can conceal one’s identity, channel the presence of another being or entity, or simply protect its wearer. In this workshop, we’ll delve into the art of sculptural mask making, creating our very own performance mask with wool. We’ll go through the process of needle felting and learn three dimensional techniques to build an object suitable to be worn and imagine the many ways it can be brought to life.

Age range: Middle and High School

Materials: Wool, felting needles, blocks of soft foam (felting pads), industrial felt, scissors, hot glue gun and glue sticks, Velcro, thread.

Felt Memories: Wet Felted Paintings with Wool

When was the last time you looked through that box of old family and childhood photos? Well, it’s time to dust it off! In this workshop, we will source imagery from some of our fondest memories to recreate a series of two-dimensional felted paintings with wool. Felting is a fiber process that uses wool roving or batting, applied in either a wet or dry method, to interlock the fibers into themselves. For this workshop, we’ll be using the wet method. We will start with layering wool batting to create our base, and go through layering, color blocking, and blending. Once completed, you’ll leave this workshop with a hand-crafted retelling of a story you once lived.

This workshop requires either a digital or physical copy of your images.

Age range: Middle and High School and Adult

Space Requirement – access to water in some capacity, and tarp to catch water on the tables and floors.

Materials: Wool, scissors, dish Soap, plastic tarp/ sheeting, wet felting mesh fabric, spray bottles, small containers/buckets, bamboo mat for wet felting.

Master Drawing Workshop: Bargue Drawing Skills

This class teaches essential Realist techniques.

Students will learn essential Realist, academic techniques in an encouraging open environment conducive to learning. In this workshop we will learn all about accurately judging proportion and achieving a likeness. We will copy the master drawings of 19th Century artist Charles Bargue, who created a drawing course that was popular in the ateliers and academies in Europe during that century. The painter Vincent Van Gough taught himself to draw using the Bargue drawing course.

By copying these drawings and then applying what you have learned to drawing from life you will become a more confident artist. Suitable for beginners and artists at all levels (1 day of 5 hours or 2-day workshop).

Portrait Drawing with Charcoal

Learn how to capture a likeness using the beautiful, painterly medium of charcoal on toned paper. This class teaches traditional academic concepts, but in an encouraging open environment conducive to learning. Students will learn Realist techniques that were taught in the academies and ateliers in 19th Century Europe. French ateliers and academies started their students off with charcoal drawing before painting, and we will take the same approach. This approach begins with a few lines forming a simple abstraction and eventually evolves to a highly realistic drawing. This method is a step in a natural progression towards realist portrait painting in oils. Suitable for intermediate to advanced students (1 day of 5 hours or 2-day workshop).

Secrets of Classical Drawing: The Still Life

Learn skills taught in ateliers and academies in centuries past and put them to use to create your own fresh artwork. You’ll learn tricks of the trade — classical drawing techniques to arrive at correct proportions and to create the illusion of form in two dimensions. These skills can also be utilized when drawing traditional subjects like figures and landscapes, or they can be incorporated into your own contemporary practices. Still life drawing is an excellent way to learn important Realist techniques before attempting realistic portrait or figure drawing or painting, and it’s a beautiful artform in and of itself! Suitable for beginners and artists at all levels (1 day of 5 hours or 2-day workshop).

Foundation Quilting

In this fast-moving workshop, you will learn a quick contemporary construction technique guaranteed to expand your quilting abilities. Foundation quilting yields immediate finished results by combining piecing and quilting. This workshop is suitable for beginners and experienced quilters alike. Several samples suitable as small wall hangings or pillow tops will be made during class.