Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art

VMFA presents Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art. Explore the artistic legacy of an iconic natural wonder. Depicted and celebrated for centuries, the Natural Bridge is the Shenandoah Valley’s breathtaking centerpiece—a towering, primeval witness to human history and timeless muse. The free exhibition examines its image in paintings, prints, decorative arts, photography and more. Featured artists include Frederic Church, David Johnson, Edward Hicks, and many others.

Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art examines one of the most frequently depicted sites in American 19th-century landscape painting. It was one of the most frequently depicted and described American natural attractions of the 19th century, likely only surpassed by Niagara Falls. Natural Bridge prompts both aesthetic and scientific contemplation and has figured prominently in discussions of western expansion, slavery, tourism, and ecological conservation. While the rock formation is more than 400 million years old, the earliest published references to the natural wonder involve historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. The Natural Bridge is a site for mythmaking—the creation of American foundational lore that continues to this day. Its historical importance notwithstanding, the Natural Bridge has escaped serious scholarly contemplation and art historical examination.

Situated in the Shenandoah Valley, within the evocatively named Rockbridge County, the Natural Bridge formed gradually as the waters of Cedar Creek caused erosion, resulting in an arched formation measuring 215 feet high and 90 feet wide. In 1774 Thomas Jefferson purchased the site from King George III as part of a 150-acre tract of land. The land remained in the Jefferson family for seven years after his death in 1826. The arch quickly became one of the most reproduced and easily recognizable natural wonders.

Artist-explorers such as Joshua Shaw (1776–1860) and Jacob Caleb Ward (1809–1891), whose works are featured in this exhibition, found in the formation a scene of picturesque beauty. For artists and authors, it became a recurring device with which to underscore the beauty of the American landscape. Influenced by British theories of the sublime and the picturesque, painters Frederic Church (1826–1900), and David Johnson (1827–1908) repeatedly sought out the landmark, which they also positioned as an icon in natural history. Self-taught artists such as Edward Hicks (1780–1849) and Caleb Boyle (fl. 1800–22) claimed the Bridge to be a uniquely American icon with mythic foundation and divine inspiration. Along with landmark paintings by Church and Johnson, Virginia Arcadia contains important depictions of the Bridge by Hicks, Boyle, and unidentified decorative artists.

Even after tourism to the site soared in popularity beginning in the 1840s, depictions retain a pastoral sensibility and harmonious meeting of nature and civilization. After the Civil War, a demand for even grander wilderness found in the western landscapes of Yellowstone and Yosemite led to a steep decline in the Bridges depictions and cultural currency. The 21st century has seen rekindled interest in the subject. In September of 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that a 1,500-acre tract of land surrounding the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County would be designated as the Commonwealth’s newest state park. Citing that the “historical and geographical significance of Natural Bridge is beyond question,” the creation of a Natural Bridge State Park is the realization of Jefferson’s long-delayed vision.

George Bellows: Sport, Leisure, and Lithography

This exhibition explores the role of sport and physical culture in the lithographs of George Bellows (1882–1925). Bellows, an esteemed early 20th-century realist, is often classified as an Ashcan artist due to the gritty subject matter he usually portrays. Well known for paintings that capture the dynamism and prosaic aspects of urban environments with dark palettes and painterly modeling of form, he achieved similar compositional effects in his vast body of work in lithography. In 1916 he installed a lithography press in his studio, and from then until his untimely death in 1925, he created just under 200 lithographs. Bellows understood that the monochromatic nature of the medium—its striking contrasts of light and shadow—made it an effective means through which to explore the strenuous activities and pastimes so prized by the artist. The strenuous activities of Bellows’s bodies in motion are enhanced by the unique aesthetic of lithography that shows the results of the artist’s hand at work.

Billy Sunday, 1923, George Bellows (American, 1882–1925), lithograph, 15 3/4 x 22 1/2 in. Lent by D. Canter

In 2018, longtime patron D. Canter gave VMFA The Tournament (1920), Bellows’s ambitious composition picturing the Newport Tennis Club, which is also featured in his masterpiece painting Tennis at Newport (1920) that was recently gifted to the museum by James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin. D. Canter is lending an additional 14 lithographs by Bellows in which the artist effectively gives the viewer a front-row view into the worlds of early 20th-century American tennis, swimming, calisthenics, and, especially, boxing—which was illegal in New York City when the artist made A Stag at Sharkey’s (1917), his most esteemed print, picturing a saloon, that also functioned as a boxing club, owned by Tom Sharkey. With the ropes removed from the foreground, Bellows immerses the viewer into the frenzied action. Also on view is Bellows’s lithograph Billy Sunday (1923), picturing the former professional baseball player, turned traveling evangelist, and who, with his spread legs, cocked-back hand, and pointing finger, resembles an umpire calling out a base-runner.

Ansel Adams: Compositions in Nature

Behold the drama and splendor of the American landscape as seen through the lens of photographer Ansel Adams. More than 70 photographs spanning over five decades present the breathtaking vistas, beguiling details, and inimitable style that define this most beloved and influential photographer. Considering Adams as artist, environmentalist, and musician, the exhibition includes iconic images, rarely seen early photographs, and musical recordings that take you behind the camera.

Mount Williamson, The Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California, 1944, printed 1973–75, Ansel Adams (American, 1902–1984), gelatin silver print. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund. Photograph by Ansel Adams © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.

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.


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

This list is complete as of September 1, 2019.

Layers of Louis: A project by VMFA’s 2019-2020 Museum Leaders in Training

VMFA is pleased to present a project developed by students who participated in this year’s Museum Leaders in Training (M.Lit) program. This exhibition highlights their project which was inspired by VMFA’s Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop, the first major museum exhibition in the United States about the Kamoinge Workshop, a New York-based collective of African American photographers formed in 1963. The exhibition in the WestRock Art Education Center is accompanied by an online digital resource that the students developed.

Visit the Students’ Online Resource


Held annually, the M.LiT program is a twelve-week teen leadership program at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts that is offered free of charge to Richmond-Metro area students in grades 8 -12. The program introduces participants to a variety of museum careers. Each cohort of participants focuses on a unique project related to the museum’s collection while gaining skills in leadership, interpretation, writing, research, and project management.

This program is generously sponsored by

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Educational programs related to Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop are generously supported by the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

Learn more

Learn more about the program by visiting us online at

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 180 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

Altria Group
Fabergé Ball Endowment
Elisabeth Shelton Gottwald Fund

Community Foundation for a greater Richmond
Michael Schewel and Priscilla Burbank

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

Drs. Ronald A. and Betty Neal Crutcher
Philip and Kay Davidson

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

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

This list is complete as of November 20, 2019.

Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities

Limited capacity. Advance reservations strongly recommended.

Dive into one of the most astonishing underwater discoveries of all time. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts presents Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities. The exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see treasures recovered from two powerful ancient Egyptian cities that sank into the Mediterranean more than a thousand years ago. Destroyed by natural catastrophes in the 8th century AD, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were once mighty centers of trade, where Egyptian and Greek cultures merged in art, worship, and everyday life.

In the centuries since their demise, these two cities were known only by scattered mentions in ancient writings. No physical trace of their splendor and magnificence was found, and even their true names grew obscured. Today, maritime archaeologist Franck Goddio and his European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) have given new life to these sunken cities. Presenting nearly 300 objects from IEASM’s discoveries from the Mediterranean waters of Aboukir Bay and some of Egypt’s most important museums, VMFA invites you to reconnect with these once-lost civilizations.

IEASM’s ongoing underwater excavations have fundamentally changed our understanding of the cultures, faiths, and history of Egypt’s Mediterranean region. This exhibition features a staggering array of objects from these excavations, supplemented by treasures from museums across Egypt. The objects on view piece together the economic and cultural significance of these destroyed city centers and showcase the artistry, religious practices, and traditions of their people. Thonis-Heracleion was once Egypt’s premiere center for trade with the Greek world, while the nearby city of Canopus drew pilgrims from across the Mediterranean, particularly for rites dedicated to the god Osiris. Artifacts from these cities attest to the range of human experience in this ancient land. Visitors will gain insight into Egypt’s powerful Ptolemaic Kingdom, the Graeco-Egyptian blending of cultures, and the god Osiris, who figured prominently in everyday life.

VMFA is the only East Coast venue and the last stop before the objects return to Egypt. The works of art on display include everything from jewelry and coins to utilitarian and ritual objects and from coffins and steles to the colossal statue of the fertility god Hapy, the largest discovered representation of an Egyptian god.

Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities offers a rare opportunity to experience firsthand the material culture of Ptolemaic Egypt, a golden age of human creativity in science as well as the visual and literary arts. Exciting film footage and photographs illustrate underwater expeditions and dramatic rediscoveries, as deep-sea divers solve a thousand-year-old mystery through archaeological research and innovation. Visitors will encounter these findings firsthand and witness a story that continues to unfold through ongoing excavations. Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities tells a riveting human saga of grandeur, complexity, wealth, and power, reminding us of the potentially devastating effects of natural disasters and the vulnerability of even the mightiest of human civilizations.

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.

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Presented By

Dominion Energy Logo

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

Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Cabaniss, Jr.
Sharon Merwin

Capital One Bank
Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney
Mary Ann and Jack Frable
Virginia H. Spratley Charitable Fund II

Elizabeth and Tom Allen
Lilli and William Beyer
Dr. Donald S. and Ms. 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
Birch Douglass
Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr.
Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner
Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc.
Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust
Peter and Nancy Huber
The Manuel and Carol Loupassi Foundation
Margaret and Thomas Mackell
Deanna M. Maneker
Alexandria Rogers McGrath
McGue Millhiser Family Trust
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Richard S. Reynolds Foundation
The Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins, Jr. Foundation
Joanne B. Robinson
Anne Marie Whittemore
YHB | CPAs & Consultants
Two Anonymous Donors

Ms. Anna K. Chandler
Timothy and Tonya Finton
Mr. and Mrs. David A. Harrison IV
Harrison Foundation
Celia Rafalko and Rick Sample
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew G. Spitzer
Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Charles N. Whitaker
Tom Williamson and Janet Brown

Patsy and John Barr
E. B. Duff Charitable Lead Annuity Trust
Dr. J. Roy Hopkins
Cynthia Marsteller
Patient First
Peachtree House Foundation

This list is complete as of May 15, 2020.

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

On display at Piedmont Arts from Oct 22, 2021–Jan 28, 2022

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.

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.


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

Robert McNeill 1938: A Collective Portrait of African American Life in Virginia

By the time he was twenty years old, photographer Robert H. McNeill had already completed an important photo essay on the plight of domestic workers in New York City. His series of thirteen photographs, which was published in Flash, a “weekly newspicture magazine” for African American readers, caught the attention of Howard University professor Sterling Brown. At the time, Brown was supervising an unprecedented project supported by the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project that sought to record the complete history of African American life in the Commonwealth of Virginia, from the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in 1619, to the present day. Unsatisfied with the images of African Americans he had already procured, Brown reached out to McNeill hoping he could gain access to communities that were wary of white photographers with government credentials.

Published in 1940, The Negro in Virginia featured eight of the hundreds of photographs McNeill captured as part of this project. This exhibition contains some of those images with other unpublished photographs that demonstrate McNeill’s interest in the people who lived and worked in segregated communities. Though he was not given explicit instructions about what subjects to photograph, McNeill later recalled, “I understood what they wanted were pictures of people at work, pictures that would show the soul of people in their jobs.” While deftly avoiding both stereotypes and propaganda, McNeill’s photographs are incisive portraits of Virginians in their homes, places of work, and communities.

InLight 2018


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.


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.