Slide through Black History Month with CASA Cafe! On the menu, Richmond, Virginia, a historic destination rich in culture, diversity, and art. Once recognized as the “Harlem of the South” and the center of the domestic slave trade in North America, Richmond, Virginia is worth the visit if themes around social justice, art, and expression are part of your foundation.
What can you do in Richmond, Virginia during Black History Month?
In Richmond, art has grown as an important form of expression to address the current national conversation of racial reckoning and social justice. Between public murals, walls and reclaimed spaces, these artistic expressions of liberation are designed to create change and connection.
Those traveling to Richmond will experience institutional art at museums that address the city’s history, grassroots art intersection with public mural projects, and the creation of downtown Richmond’s Arts District.
A grassroots, collaborative public art project from local artist Hamilton Glass where 16 murals, each done by a pair of artists from different cultures and backgrounds, have been painted across Richmond with the goal of giving the artists the chance to tell their stories together in an effort to heal through connection. The resulting vibrant and colorful murals use art as a public tool to bring empathy and connection at a time when we need it the most.
Kamala Harris Mural
Local fiber artist and fashion designer Michael-Birch Pierce, who is known for his freehand embroidery work elevating cheapy and gaudy materials into precious, tenuous structures, collaborated with artist Nico Cathcart on a Kamala Harris mural using various 3-D components that are signature to his work such as paint, sequins, and rhinestones. With Black History Month coming shortly after the inauguration, the mural is particularly inspirational highlighting the first female Vice President in the United States.
Marcus Davis Peter Circle (Robert E. Lee Monument)
Recently highlighted by National Geographic as their cover photo for their “2020 Year in Photos” feature and a moving example of Richmond’s rising ‘protest art’, Richmond’s controversial Robert E. Lee Confederate monument has been reclaimed, becoming a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as a diverse and unexpected community gathering space.
Activists transformed the base of the sculpture, covering it with names of victims of police violence, revolutionary symbols, calls for peace, and anti-police slogans. Artist Dustin Klein’s light projections on the statue called “Reclaiming the Monument,” project media of Black citizens killed at the hands of the police. Historic Black men and women such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in addition to iconic figures such as Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Malcolm X, and Billie Holiday have a role in the masterpiece.
This installation of Black artist Kehinde Wiley’s sculpture Rumors of War, sits at VMFA’s entrance on historic Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Rumors of War is Wiley’s first monumental public sculpture and largest work-to-date, continuing the artist’s career-long investigation into the politics of representation, race, gender, and power. As a direct response to the Confederate statues that line Monument Avenue in Richmond, Wiley conceived the idea for Rumors of War when he visited the city in 2016 for the opening of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic at VMFA.
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