Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop

Inspired by the archive of Richmond native Louis Draper, VMFA has organized an unprecedented exhibition that chronicles the first twenty years of the Kamoinge Workshop, a group of African American photographers he helped to found in 1963. More than 140 photographs by fifteen of the early members—Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Danny Dawson, Roy DeCarava, Louis Draper, Al Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, Jimmie Mannas Jr., Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson—reveal the vision and commitment of this remarkable group of artists.

When the collective began in New York City, they selected the name Kamoinge, which means “a group of people acting and working together” in Gikuyu, the language of the Kikuyu people of Kenya. They met weekly, exhibited and published together, and pushed each other to expand the boundaries of photography as an art form during a critical era of Black self-determination in the 1960s and 1970s.

The group organized several shows in their own gallery space, in addition to exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the International Center for Photography. They were also the driving force behind The Black Photographers Annual, a publication founded by Kamoinge member Beuford Smith, which featured the work of a wide variety of Black photographers at a time when mainstream publications offered them few opportunities.

In the continuing spirit of Kamoinge, Shawn Walker, Beuford Smith, Herb Robinson, and Tony Barboza have also made significant archival contributions and are among the nine members who recorded oral histories to provide the fullest account of the group’s first two decades. In addition, through a generous grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, VMFA has digitized the Draper archive—which will be available online.


Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop
is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Sponsored By

Faberge Ball Endowment
Elisabeth Shelton Gottwald Fund


Community Foundation for a greater Richmond
The Honorable Michael J. Schewel and Priscilla A. Burbank


Wayne and Nancy Chasen Family Fund of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond


Generous support for this project was provided by Bank of America Art Conservation Project
and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Bank of America Logo
NEH logo

Marketing support for Evans Court exhibitions is provided by the Charles G. Thalhimer Fund.

Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities

Dive into one of the most astonishing underwater discoveries of all time. VMFA presents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the recovered treasures of two powerful Egyptian cities that sank into the Mediterranean 1,200 years ago after cataclysmic events. The exhibition includes stunning works of art brought to the surface by archaeologists beginning in 1996. See what remains of these mighty centers of trade, where Egyptian and Greek cultures merged in art, worship, and everyday life.


Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities is organized by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology with the generous support of the Hilti Foundation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Hilti Foundation Logo

Sponsored by

The Reverend Doctor Vienna Cobb Anderson
The Julia Louise Reynolds Fund
The Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment


Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney
Dr. and Mrs. William J. Frable
Sharon Merwin


Dr. Donald S. and Beejay Brown Endowment
Wayne and Nancy Chasen Family Fund of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond
The Christian Family Foundation
The VMFA Council Exhibition Fund
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr.
Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner
Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc.
Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust
Margaret and Thomas Mackell
Deanna M. Maneker
Alexandria Rogers McGrath
Richard S. Reynolds Foundation
The Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins, Jr. Foundation
An Anonymous Donor

This list is complete as of October 15, 2019.

IMPEACH (2006) Sound Installation

IMPEACH, 2006, Donald Moffett (American, 1955), Media Player, speakers (Edition 1 of 3); 2:20 seconds. Collection of the Brooklyn Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment and Aldine S. Hartman Endowment Fund, 2018.223

“Today is a very sad day. . . . This morning when I got up I wanted to cry, but the tears would not come. Before we cast this one little vote, we all should ask the question: is this good for America—if it’s good for the American people—if it’s good for this institution? When I was growing up in rural Alabama during the forties and the fifties as a young child, near a shotgun house where my aunt live, one afternoon an unbelievable storm occurred. The wind start blowing, the rain fell on the tin-top roof of this house. Lightning start flashing. (RAP, RAP) The thunder start rolling. And my aunt ask us all to come into this house and to hold hands. (RAP, RAP) And we held hands. And as the wind continued to blow, we would walk (RAP) to that corner of the house (RAP) that was trying to lift (RAP) and another corner (RAP) that was trying to lift (RAP), and we would walk there. (RAP) We never left the house. (RAP) The wind may blow. (RAP) The thunder may roll. (RAP) The lightning may flash. RAP But we must never leave the American house. (RAP) We must stay together as a family. (RAP) One house. (RAP) One family. (RAP) The American house. (RAP) The American family.”

Representative John Lewis, D-GA,
December 1998, US Congress,
Impeachment Of President Bill Clinton

Donald Moffett’s sound installation, IMPEACH (2006), is a recording of Rep. John Lewis’s impassioned speech from the floor of the US House of Representatives during President William Clinton’s impeachment hearings in 1998. Speaking metaphorically, the legendary civil rights icon argued against the impeachment of President Clinton and issued a plea for the American family to “stay together” as “one house and as one family.” Rep. Lewis’s speech slowed the congressional proceedings for approximately one minute before the vote was called and the matter was lost.

Congressman John Lewis visits the Confederate Memorial Chapel with VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Valerie Cassel Oliver to hear Donald Moffett’s IMPEACH

The installation consists of speakers and an audio player and required no physical alteration to the Confederate Memorial Chapel, which was built in the aftermath of the Civil War—with funding from the North and South—and served as a nondenominational place of worship for the R. E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers’ Home. In the context of this space, Moffett’s immersive sound work speaks to the long history of divisive politics in America and the power of reconciliation.

Exterior view of Confederate Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Across Time: Robinson House, Its Land and People

Interior of the Robinson houseGallery view, Across Time: Robinson House, Its Land and People.

On view in the newly refurbished Robinson House on the VMFA campus, this 600-square-foot history exhibition shares the remarkable multilayered story of the site’s land, buildings, and former inhabitants from the seventeenth century to the present. It includes the region’s native peoples and English colonists, the growth of Richmond in the early republic, the Robinson family and the enslaved individuals who worked on and sometimes escaped from their antebellum estate, the mansion’s changing architectural form, and the impact of the Civil War and Emancipation.

Robinson House, newly refurbished in 2019, was originally constructed ca. 1828 and expanded ca. 1858 and 1886. It is located on the VMFA campus, facing the museum’s main entrance.

The exhibit also explores the half-century history of the R. E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers’ Home—the nation’s longest operating residential complex for southern veterans, born out of a spirit of reconciliation between North and South. The twentieth-century narrative describes Cold War experimentation undertaken in the house by the Virginia Institute of Scientific Research and, afterwards, the establishment of VMFA’s art annex offering innovative studio classes, exhibitions, and programs.

Across Time also features other nearby institutions that share the former Robinson property: the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Home for Confederate Women (now VMFA’s Pauley Center), the Memorial Building (national headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy), and VMFA, the Commonwealth’s flagship fine arts museum.

The exhibition offers richly illustrated panels, an interactive touch screen, vintage film footage, and audio clips. Historic Robinson House also offers a Visitor Center, open daily and operated by Richmond Region Tourism.


Across Time: Robinson House, Its Land and People is curated by Dr. Elizabeth L. O’Leary, former Associate Curator of American Art, VMFA.

Sponsored By
The Council of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Robert Edmond Hill
The Roller-Bottimore Foundation
The Thomas F. Jeffress Memorial Trust

Transatlantic Currents: American Art from the Collection of Jane Joel Knox

Patron and former member of VMFA’s Board of Trustees Jane Joel Knox has a long history of service and philanthropy to the museum, which includes her many gifts of art. The present focus exhibition marks an opportunity to celebrate selections from Ms. Knox’s impressive collection of American art. The Knox collection charts artists’ engagements with Impressionism, landscape painting, still life, and academically informed styles from the nineteenth through the early twentieth century. Equally important, almost every work in her collection attests to the keen importance of European study and travel for American artists in these years.

Carl Chiarenza

Born to Italian immigrant parents and raised in Rochester, New York, Chiarenza’s interest in photography developed early in his childhood. From 1953 to 1957, Chiarenza studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology under the direction of Minor White and Ralph Hattersley. Since the late 1960s, Chiarenza has been a leading figure in a movement that seeks to expand the conceptual boundaries of photography. Chiarenza’s photographs have been included in more than 80 solo and 250 group exhibitions since 1957. His black-and-white photographs, which often contain elements of collage, have continued to challenge notions of landscape, abstraction, visitor perspective, and the very medium of photography itself.

Chiarenza is inspired by both the beauty of and human connections to landscapes, but has been continuously dissatisfied with his outdoor nature photographs. In acknowledging that traditional depictions of landscapes in paintings are constructed, he began to approach his photographs as abstract and emotional constructions that allow us to examine nature in relation to the self.

The key characteristic that came to dominate Chiarenza’s style was nyctophilia, or a preference for and comfort in darkness. His photographs do not offer familiar faces or landscapes; there is no evident cultural or psychological framework for the viewer to build their response. Rather, the lack of specificity and sense of timelessness reminds us that all photographs are constructions of reality that produce various interpretations relative to each viewer. Chiarenza’s work invites individual reflection by forcing us to examine the subliminal workings of the mind. In these photographs, nothing is absolute, leaving all realities subject to each observer.

This exhibition is curated by VMFA Director and CEO Alex Nyerges. These works were all a generous gift of the artist.

Edward Hopper and the American Hotel

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts presents the premiere of Edward Hopper and the American Hotel, the first in-depth study of hospitality settings depicted in the works of one of the most celebrated American artists. Edward Hopper (1882–1967) found artistic value and cultural significance in the most commonplace sites and settings. Hopper’s spare depictions of familiar public and private spaces are often understood within the contexts of isolation, loneliness, and ennui of early and mid-20th-century America. As this exhibition shows, however, Hopper’s immersion in the world of hotels, motels, hospitality services, and mobility in general presents a new framework for understanding the artist’s work.

Curated by Dr. Leo G. Mazow, the Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art at VMFA, assisted by Dr. Sarah G. Powers, the exhibition features Hopper’s depictions of hotels, motels, tourist homes, boardinghouses, and apartment hotels. These images of hospitality settings both challenge and expand the themes of loneliness and fragmentation usually attributed to his work. They inform our understanding of a shifting American landscape and America’s fascination with the new possibilities of automobile travel and the attendant flourishing of hotels, motels, and tourist homes. Hopper was not only a frequent traveler and guest of all variety of accommodations, but worked as an illustrator for hotel trade magazines early in his career. Thus, his work offers an insider’s perspective into the hospitality services industry during a pivotal moment in its evolution. Exhibition visitors will recognize how hotels and motels—as figurative or metaphorical destinations—have fixed themselves in our experiences and permeated our collective psyche.

The only East Coast venue, VMFA presents sixty-five paintings and works on paper by Hopper, along with thirty-five works by other artists including John Singer Sargent, David Hockney, Berenice Abbott, and others who explored similar themes. The exhibition additionally features Hopper’s early commercial work from two widely read hotel trade magazines of the period: Hotel Management and Tavern Topics. These cover illustrations set the stage for Hopper’s continuing interest and work in the field of hospitality services. Also on display are materials related to Hopper’s trips to Richmond, Virginia, such as when, in 1953, he stayed at the Jefferson Hotel while he served as a juror in VMFA’s biennial exhibition of contemporary works.

The paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs in the exhibition are accompanied by enlightening documents and ephemera that lend a fascinating immediacy. After Edward Hopper married Josephine “Jo” Nivison—an artist in her own right—in 1924, the two frequently took to the road in search of subject matter during the many years of their marriage. From their New York City apartment or their cottage in Cape Cod, they traveled across the country and into Mexico, with Jo documenting their trips in diaries, three of which will be displayed in the exhibition. The diaries contain Jo’s meticulous accounts describing the couple’s itinerary, lodging, and impressions of the many sites they visited. The exhibition also includes maps and postcards to illustrate the places and lodgings the couple encountered on their travels, picturing the details of their life on the road. These documents not only offer firsthand descriptions but also link directly to Edward’s later paintings, as the sites they visited often inspired elements in his composite scenes. Visitors will also have the opportunity to follow the Hoppers’ routes using a unique interactive touchscreen map, which will allow an exploration of the places the couple visited on three road trips from 1941 to 1953.

Edward Hopper and the American Hotel at VMFA is presented in galleries that include simulated spaces and other uniquely engaging design components. The tour de force of the experiential concept is a room that has been constructed adjacent to the exhibition space inspired by Hopper’s Western Motel setting. The room serves as a functional “hotel room” where guests may stay overnight by reserving a Hopper Hotel Experience package.


The stunning exhibition catalogue, written by Leo G. Mazow with Sarah G. Powers and additional essays by guest contributors, presents the exhibition’s groundbreaking research with more than two hundred color illustrations and two removable travel guides. As the perfect accompaniment to the exhibition, the catalogue offers a deeper examination of the subject matter that is the focus of this first in-depth study of hospitality settings in Hopper’s work, shedding new light on the artist’s legacy as well as the cultural history and national psyche his art captures.


Edward Hopper and the American Hotel is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in partnership with the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. The exhibition program at VMFA is supported by the Julia Louise Reynolds Fund.

Sponsors

The Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment
The Julia Louise Reynolds Fund


Lilli and William Beyer
Dr. Donald S. and Beejay Brown Endowment
Wayne and Nancy Chasen Family Fund at the Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond
Birch Douglass
Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney
Anne and Gus Edwards
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr.
Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner
Hamilton Family Foundation
Mr. R. Keith Kissee
Robert Lehman Foundation
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Northern Trust
Richard S. Reynolds Foundation
The Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins, Jr. Foundation
Don and Mary Shockey
Wyeth Foundation for American Art
YouDecide

This list is complete as of September 1, 2019.

A Return to the Grand Tour: Micromosaic Jewels from the Collection of Elizabeth Locke

View this extraordinary collection of exquisite, intricately crafted works of art—precious souvenirs designed for Grand Tour travelers of the mid-18th to late-19th centuries. The wide range of subjects depicted in these 92 works include Renaissance paintings, architecture, birds, animals, historical sites, landscapes, and portraits. Micromosaics created for Grand Tour travelers reflect the sophisticated pursuits of elite Europeans for whom travel was a rite of passage.

Diminutive forms of ancient Roman, Grecian, and Byzantine mosaics, “micromosaics”—a term coined in the 1970s by collector Sir Arthur Gilbert—are made using a painstaking technique that involves tesserae, small pieces of opaque enamel glass. The tiny mosaics were first developed with regularity in the second half of the 18th century by the Vatican Mosaic Workshop. By the 19th century, numerous independent studios devoted to the production of these small keepsakes were established to meet travelers’ demands and to capitalize on the increasing popularity of micromosaics as symbols of status, sophistication, and social polish. For an English traveler to Rome, Venice, or Milan, for example, a micromosaic of an Italian Renaissance painting or ancient architectural monument captured the journey and today reflects that era’s fascination with the classics and societal requisite travel to the “cradle of western civilization.”

The works of art on view in this exhibition, which are predominantly stunning pieces of jewelry, are dazzling in their exquisite detail and craftsmanship. In addition to the tiny enameled glass that forms the mosaic, eye-catching designs include gold, precious stones, and diamonds. VMFA is pleased to present this decorative arts exhibition and to share these fine works of art from the Elizabeth Locke Collection of Micromosaics.


A Return to the Grand Tour: Micromosaic Jewels from the Collection of Elizabeth Locke is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Susan J. Rawles, Associate Curator of American Painting and Decorative Arts, VMFA.


Sponsored By

Pam and Bill Royall


Peachtree House Foundation

Cosmologies from the Tree of Life: Art from the African American South

As embodiments of the African American experience and cultural legacies, the works of art featured in Cosmologies from the Tree of Life: Art from the African American South are rooted in African aesthetic legacies, familial tradition, and communal ethos. Previously marginalized as “folk or self-taught” art, they now take their rightful place as significant contributors to the canon of American Modernism. As artists, they imbued their works with a sense of individualistic style, yet they often embraced shared narratives that spoke to cultural, familial, and communal preoccupations. Employing an impressive breadth of media, the works in Cosmologies from the Tree of Life celebrate their imprint in sculpture, quilting, painting, and works on paper. This exhibition’s works of art were acquired by VMFA from the Atlanta-based Souls Grown Deep Foundation, an organization whose mission it is to showcase works by African American artists from the South. Artists featured in VMFA’s exhibition include Jessie Aaron, Louisiana Bendolph, Thornton Dial, Lonnie B. Holley, Ronald Lockett, Rita Mae Pettway, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, James “Son Ford” Thomas, Mose Tolliver, Purvis Young, and others. An impressive selection of quilts display the unique artistry of the famed multigenerational group of quilt-making women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

The Souls Grown Deep Foundation celebrates the invaluable contributions that African American artists have made to art and culture in the United States and beyond. Its mission states that the Foundation is

“dedicated to documenting, preserving, and promoting the contributions of artists from the African American South, and the cultural traditions in which they are rooted. We advance our mission by advocating the contributions of these artists in the canon of American art history, accomplished through collection transfers, scholarship, exhibitions, education, public programs, and publications.”

Since 2014, the Foundation has transferred more than 200 works of art to leading art museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the High Museum. VMFA’s 34 acquisitions add to the museum’s deep holdings of African American art, which are among the largest and finest of any encyclopedic art museum in the country.

Cosmologies from the Tree of Life, which showcases VMFA’s acquisitions from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, gives visitors the opportunity to view these works of art individually and collectively, and to consider their historical roots and their contributions not only to African American art history but also to the larger canon of art in the wake of cultural and social marginalization that their makers endured. The persistence of the artists and the undeniable imprint of their work enable scholars to retrace and, in doing so, reframe American Modernism to embrace such aesthetics rooted in the South and the contributions of these artists. Adding to its significance, the exhibition coincides with American Evolution, commemorating the 400th anniversary of historic events in 1619, including the arrival of the first enslaved African people to Virginia.


A Legacy Project of


Marketing support for Evans Court exhibitions is provided by the Charles G. Thalhimer Fund.

Sponsored by

Council Exhibition Fund
Fabergé Ball Endowment

Rhythm of Art

Art and music have a lot in common! Find your own rhythm as you improvise, sketch, compose, and collage to create music and visual works of art! Engage with a tactile version of Three Folk Musicians, collaborate on a magnetic mural and delve into the sound bar to connect music and art.

Sponsors:


Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation


Maggie Georgiadis




E. B. Duff Charitable Lead Annuity Trust

Beauty of Harmony: Japanese Landscape Prints by Kawase Hasui

This exhibition features 12 woodblock prints by Japanese landscape artist Kawase Hasui. Documenting the VMFA Member Trip to Japan in May 2018, the selected prints display historical and religious landmarks in cities such as Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto, and Nara, as well as countryside scenes. They are among nearly 700 Hasui prints donated to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by René and Carolyn Balcer. This exhibition coincides with Reiwa, Japan’s new imperial era that began May 1, 2019. The word reiwa means beauty of harmony.

A Spring Evening at Otemon Gate (detail), Kawase Hasui (Japanese, 1883–1957), woodblock print; ink and color on paper. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, René and Carolyn Balcer Collection
Kasuga Shrine, Nara, from the series Souvenirs of Travel II (detail), 1921, Kawase Hasui (Japanese, 1883–1957), woodblock print; ink and color on paper. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, René and Carolyn Balcer Collection

InLight 2018

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Organized by 1708 Gallery, InLight Richmond is a public exhibition of light-based art and performances. This year the setting of this free event is at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This year’s Inlight features performances, sculpture, video, and interactive projects that illuminate pathways, walls, sidewalks, green spaces, and kicks off with the Community Lantern Parade.

InLight 2018 will take place on Friday, November 16, 2018 from 7 pm to Midnight and on Saturday, November 17, 2018, from 7 – 10 pm, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. And in recognition of 1708 Gallery’s 40th Anniversary, InLight 2018 will focus on ideas of Community. Recent editorials have described two Richmonds. “RVA” encompasses revitalization, creativity and growth. “Richmond” is divided, challenged, and struggling. Artists are invited to consider this dynamic and to imagine an ideal community—ONE Richmond.

Lantern Making and Community Lantern Parade


InLight 2018 will kick off with the Community Lantern Parade, which will travel around the grounds of the VMFA. Make your own lantern at one of our many lantern making workshops happening around the city leading up the InLight 2018. See the Schedule and locations of workshops. Make sure to bring your lantern back to InLight to walk in the parade. Or join us at 6:00 pm on November 16 + 17 to make one at the event! The parade gathers at 7:00 pm and then begins its procession at 7:30 pm.

Hollar’s Encyclopedic Eye: Prints from the Frank Raysor Collection

One of the most prolific printmakers of the Baroque period, Wenceslaus Hollar (Bohemian, 1607–1677) rose up out of obscurity in one of Europe’s most turbulent eras to amass an astounding body of work. Underrated during his lifetime, Hollar produced up to 2,500 etchings in a prodigious 50-year career. The breadth and virtuosity of his works have inspired artists for centuries, and yet his name and profile are only now on the rise. Drawn exclusively from the Frank Raysor Collection, a promised gift to VMFA, this exhibition presents over 200 Hollar prints—remarkable for their range of subjects, stunning details, and rare visual records of 17th-century Europe.


Hollar lived through the Thirty Years’ War, the English Civil War, the Commonwealth, and the Restoration, and these events affected him personally and found their way into his art. He was at times Catholic and at times Protestant. He lived throughout Europe and even traveled to Tangier toward the end of his life. While he knew great fortune and received patronage from leading figures of the day, he died in poverty.

Born to a noble family, Hollar likely learned the rudiments of printmaking from court artist Aegidius Sadeler II. He soon began a lifelong practice of making copies after works by great artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, and others. Retained by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel and one of the finest connoisseurs of all time, Hollar gathered material for some of the epoch’s most accomplished topographical prints, most notably The Long View of Prague. In 1636, Hollar began producing fascinating scenes of modern life in allegorical guise as well as differing costumes of women, including a rare native Woman of Virginia. In Antwerp, Hollar created three series (Insects, Muffs, and Shells) that revealed his virtuosity as a master of etched illusion. Back in London, he etched scenes of the city before and after the Great Fire of 1666.

As one of the least known but one of the most prolific and “modern” artists of the Baroque period, Hollar is well represented in the Frank Raysor Collection, which rivals those held by the British Museum and the Queen’s Collection. The Raysor Collection, as a promised gift, makes VMFA one of the world’s five major Hollar repositories.


Sponsors

Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney


Anna Kay Chandler
Larry J. Kohmescher
Family of Frank Raysor
Patricia R. St. Clair
An Anonymous Donor

Marketing support for Evans Court exhibitions is provided by the Charles G. Thalhimer Fund.

Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment

Power down, unplug, and join a voyage into the visionary art of Tibetan Buddhism. The journey from clamor to clarity unfolds as you progress through a series of immersive spaces, engaging with spectacular art along the way. Nearly 100 objects, both historical and contemporary, are drawn largely from two of the country’s most extraordinary collections of Himalayan art: the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Visitors are given the opportunity not only to view spectacular Buddhist art from the 9th century to as recent as 2016, but also to take part in the narrative it presents of a quest for enlightenment. For participants and viewers alike, the exhibition offers a pause from the ordinary noise of daily living and a chance to contemplate and reflect.

LEFT Luxation 1, 2016, Tsherin Sherpa (Nepalese, born 1968), acrylic on 16 stretched canvases, each 18 x 18 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund

Luxation 1, 2016, Tsherin Sherpa (Nepalese, born 1968), acrylic on 16 stretched canvases, each 18 x 18 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund

Beginning with a multimedia display that emphasizes the relentless distractions of daily life, the exhibition asks a basic question: are we really awake and fully aware? Or do the clamor and fragmentation of ordinary experience lull us into a kind of waking sleep and doom us to running in endless, unfulfilling circles? The exhibition then progresses through a series of stages along a journey toward waking from that slumber. Visitors learn some of Buddhism’s essential teachings and encounter artworks that serve as guides, allies wise and fierce, and equipment for the journey. They will also receive a map—a painting called a mandala—of the visionary expedition ahead. They must overcome trials, face fears, and eventually confront the ultimate ordeal, death itself. The payoff is a glimpse into reality’s true nature and a culminating vision of clarity as powerful as the confusion with which the journey began.

Each of the exhibition’s galleries, immersive spaces filled with world-class Tibetan Buddhist art, corresponds to one of these stages along a journey toward awakening:

  • The Quandary
  • A Way Out
  • The Buddhist Teachings
  • Preparing for the Journey
  • Approaching the Mandala
  • Entering the Mandala
  • Inside the Celestial Palace
  • The Central Chamber
  • Awakening I: Nonduality
  • Awakening II: Being a Buddha
Vajrabhairava, 15th century or later, Sino-Tibetan, polychromed wood, 53 1/4 x 50 3/4 x 30 3/4 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund

Vajrabhairava, 15th century or later, Sino-Tibetan, polychromed wood, 53 1/4 x 50 3/4 x 30 3/4 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund

The journey presents an opportunity for the visitor to reflect on obstacles and attachments that are universal—like ego, greed, and fear—and to take time out for self-reflection, mindfulness, and an exploration of rich, dramatic Tibetan Buddhist art. Awaken offers an invitation to travel beyond the confines of geography and possibly to discover more about oneself.

The Three Protectors of Tibet, 2008, Tsherin Sherpa (Nepalese, born 1968), ink and colors on cotton, 17 3/4 x 38 5/8 in. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Acquisition made possible by the Tibetan Study Group, 2016.305. © Tsherin Sherpa. Photograph © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Gorampa Sonam Sengge, Sixth Abbot of Ngor, ca. 1600, Central Tibetan, opaque watercolor on cloth, 31 × 26 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Berthe and John Ford Collection, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
Mandala of Vajrabhairava, 1650-1750, Tibet, Ngor Monastery, colors on cotton, 16 1/2 x 15 3/4 in. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, The Avery Brundage Collection, B63D5 
Vajracharya Crown, 13th-14th century, Nepal, gilded copper alloy, gemstones, 11 1/2 x 7 3/4 x 8 3/4 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund

Curators Dr. John Henry Rice, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, VMFA, and Jeffrey Durham, Associate Curator of Himalayan Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, co-authored the catalogue, which presents the exhibition’s spectacular Himalayan art, explores the philosophical tenets encoded in the works, and details an immersive process of self-discovery. Additional essays by a range of contributors examine Tibetan Buddhism’s ritual tools, paintings, symbolic imagery, and artistic traditions.

Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment
is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Presented by

Foundation Logo


The Julia Louise Reynolds Fund
The Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment


Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation


Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney
Margaret N. and John D. Gottwald
McGue Millhiser Family Trust
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Jay and Marsha Olander
Robert E. and Jacquelyn H. Pogue
Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Reed, Jr.


Dr. and Mrs. Martin Buxton
Deanna M. Maneker
Teri Craig Miles


We are also grateful to the following donors
for their generous support of programming related to Awaken.

Sue and Charlie Agee | Shelley and Richard Birnbaum | Dr. and Mrs. O. Christian Bredrup, Jr. | E. Trigg and Carrington P. Brown | John and Julia Curtis | Philip and Kay Davidson | Mimi Wilson Dozier | Mr. and Mrs. George C. Freeman III | Janet and Jonathan Geldzahler | Mrs. C. D. L. Perkins | Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey P. Sisk | An Anonymous Donor

This list represents sponsors as of February 2019.

VMFA on the Road: An Artmobile for the 21st Century

VMFA’s new state-of-the-art traveling museum and art studio launched in October 2018. The climate-controlled 53-foot Volvo trailer includes Wi-Fi to connect visitors with VMFA educators and interactive components to meet their 21st-century expectations. The main attraction of VMFA on the Road, however, is the opportunity for residents of the Commonwealth to see and experience works of art from the VMFA collection up close. VMFA on the Road is traveling to remote corners of Virginia by way of the museum’s Statewide Partners program, which includes 1,000 locations—from community centers and small museums to colleges and universities.

VMFA on the Road currently features the exhibition How Far Can Creativity Take You: VMFA Fellowship Artists, which celebrates the role VMFA has played in the lives of fellowship recipients. The exhibition includes works by the following acclaimed artists, who all have some connection to Virginia: Julien Binford, Ann Chenoweth, Esther Worden Day, Steven Fishman, Emmet Gowin, Sally Mann, Arthur Sawyers, Charles Sibley, Cy Twombly, Benjamin Wigfall, and Dennis Winston.

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In 1953 the museum was among the first in the world to have what was then known as the Artmobile. For four decades, as many as four Artmobiles toured 59 exhibitions and served more than 2.5 million Virginians. Due to conservation concerns and the fragility of traveling works of art, VMFA replaced the program in the early 1990s with a strategy to develop stronger partnerships with schools, community centers, and museums around the state. Since that time, VMFA has developed a robust Statewide Partners program as well as VMFA on the Road, which hopes to reach an unprecedented number of Virginians with innovative art experiences.


We are grateful to the following donors whose generous gifts made VMFA on the Road possible.


The Commonwealth of Virginia

The Council of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The William and Mary Greve Foundation, Inc.

The Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust

Mr. and Mrs. William T. Miller

Dr. and Mrs. Harry A. Wellons, Jr.


Mr. and Mrs. Haywood Blakemore

James Hixon

Westrock Foundation

Mr. and Mrs. Peter I. C. Knowles II

The Wall Foundation

Mr. and Mrs. John W. West III


The Reverend Doctor Vienna Cobb Anderson

Louise B. Cochrane Foundation

The Cook Foundation

Ralph R. Crosby, Jr.

The Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation

Anne and Gus Edwards

Capital Bank

Mr. and Mrs. David R. Frediani

Margaret R. Freeman

Mary Mills Freeman

Joanne B. Robinson

The Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Fund at the Virginia Nonprofit Housing Coalition

Norfolk Southern


Bank of America Logo


Questions?

To schedule a VMFA on the Road Residency, please contact Jeffrey Allison (Jeffrey.Allison@vmfa.museum)

For questions about VMFA on the Road, please contact Sukenya Best(Sukenya.best@vmfa.museum), or Sean Kane(Sean.kane@vmfa.museum).

Contemporary Art from Portugal

Contemporary Art from Portugal features works by six artists that reflect the range and vitality of contemporary art in Portugal. The exhibition is part of the Month of Portugal, a nationwide initiative developed by the Embassy of Portugal to celebrate the culture and heritage of the country in June. The exhibition coincides with a planned state visit by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Untitled, 1967, Ruy Leitão (Portuguese, 1949-1976), felt pen on paper. Work © Ruy Leitão. Image courtesy Fundação LusoAmericana.
Untitled, circa 1979, Fernando Calhau (Portuguese, 1948-2002), charcoal on paper. Work © Fernando Calhau. Image courtesy Fundação Luso-Americana.
Untitled, 1998, Jorge Quieroz (Portuguese, born 1966), graphite on paper. Work © Jorge Quieroz. Image courtesy Fundação Luso-Americana.
View of the works in the gallery
Additional view of the works in the gallery

Featured works include Helena Almeida’s Desenho Habitado (Inhabited Drawing )—a 1977 photographic series that encapsulates the artist’s ability to walk the line between photography, illustration, and performance—as well as a selection of works spanning multiple decades and mediums by the late Álvaro Lapa, who is considered to be the father of contemporary art in Portugal. Visitors will also discover a variety of paintings, photographs, and works on paper by Fernando Calhau, Ruy Leitão, José Luís Neto, and Jorge Queiroz.

The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with the Embassy of Portugal and the Fundação Luso-Americana (Luso-American Development Foundation), a private foundation created in 1986 with the mission of strengthening cultural and economic ties between Portugal and the United States.





The Precisionist Impulse

Precisionism typically characterizes American paintings and works on paper produced between the two World Wars that employ a linear aesthetic, pronounced contours and localized colors to depict architectural, infrastructural, mechanical and often urban imagery. This exhibition of 18 watercolors, prints, drawings, photographs and paintings from VMFA’s collection demonstrates that this term may also describe work produced before 1915 and after 1945, and that the “impulse” also plays out in rural and non-architectural imagery.

Roof and Steeple, 1921, Charles Demuth (American, 1883–1935), pencil and watercolor on paper. Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 86.198
Skyscraper, Chanin Building, 1993, Andrew Bordwin (American, born 1964), gelatin silver print. Gift of M. Holt Massey, 96.120 © Andrew Bordwin
City Arabesque, 1938, Bernice Abbott (American, 1898–1991), gelatin silver print. Floyd D. and Anne C. Gottwald Fund, 2012.2 © Bernice Abbott
Drydock and Repair, 20th century, Edmund D. Lewandowski (American, 1914–1998), casein on paperboard. John Barton Payne Fund, 58.20

The Precisionist Impulse shows that, much as the camera crops, distills angles and exaggerates planes, so the 20th-century landscape provokes awe in some unlikely places.

Curated by Dr. Leo Mazow, Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane curator of American art at VMFA.

Traverses: Art from the Islamic World across Time and Place

Cutting across continents, cultures, and a millennium, this installation brings together eighteen objects from VMFA’s permanent collections created in regions where Islam is or has been the dominant religion, or by artists from these places. Some themes recur—the written word, self-awareness, cultural tension—but perhaps most apparent is these works’ great diversity. This cross section of artistic creations from Islam’s sphere of influence is meant to provoke the question whether, and in what ways, we should call them “Islamic Art.”

Page from the “Houghton Shahnama”: The Combat of Giv and Kamus, ca. 1522-1540, Iranian, manuscript ink, transparent and opaque watercolors, gold paint, and gold leaf on wove papers. Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 78.121
Calligraphic Album Page, 1606/07, Abdul-Rahim Al-Harawi (Indian, Lahore, present-day Pakistan), ink and opaque watercolor on paper. Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 82.128
Talismanic Shirt, 15th-16th century, Indian, North India or Deccan, ink and opaque watercolor on cotton. Robert A. and Ruth W. Fisher Fund, 2000.9
Kalki Confronted, 2003, Gulammohammed Sheikh (Indian, born 1937), opaque watercolor on Arches paper. Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund, 2003.42
S4M53, 2004, Farhad Moshiri (Iranian, born 1963), oil on canvas. Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund, and funds given by Dr. and Mrs. G. Dastgir Qureshi and Mary and Donald Shockey Jr., 2004.68
Folio from a Qur’an, 11th-12th century, Probably Egyptian, manuscript ink and opaque watercolor on laid paper. Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund, 78.20
Qur’anic Writing Tablet, 19th-20th century, Hausa culture (Nigeria), wood, leather, string, pigment. Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund, 95.83