The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship Program is a vital source of funding for the visual arts and art history in Virginia. VMFA is committed to supporting professional artist as well as art students who demonstrate exceptional creative ability in their chosen discipline. Since its establishment in 1940 by the late John Lee Pratt of Fredericksburg, the Fellowship Program has awarded nearly $5.5 million in fellowships to Virginians. 2015 marked the 75th anniversary of VMFA’s Fellowship Program.

As part of our commitment to Virginians, the Pauley Center Galleries, Amuse Restaurant, the Claiborne Robertson Room, and select spaces at the Richmond International Airport are dedicated to showcasing the work of VMFA Visual Arts Fellowship recipients.

Nils Westergard (American, born 1992) Great Horned Owl, 2017, spray and latex paint on canvas. Collection of the artist
Nils Westergard (American, born 1992) Northern Cardinal, 2017, spray and latex on canvas. Collection of the artist
Nils Westergard (American, born 1992) Red-Bellied Woodpecker, 2017, spray and latex paint on canvas. Collection of the artist

Backyard Aviation

Nils Westergard
Feb 5–Aug 5, 2018 | Richmond International Airport

Nils Westergard developed an early interest in birds thanks largely to his grandfather, who was a painter in Belgium. He incorporated an owl in each of his paintings as a type of signature, and his grandson delighted in finding the owl—whether peeking out from a church steeple or hiding behind a bush—in every scene. In his own paintings, Westergard employs a large scale to magnify certain features and characteristics of these avian creatures, allowing viewers a close examination of their detail and drama. He also portrays them against backgrounds of gritty urban textures to illustrate how birds can both blend in and stand out in equally beautiful ways in our environment. Every species featured in these eight paintings can be found in the Richmond area. Some, such as the northern cardinal, our state bird, are as common and easy to spot as a sunflower. Sightings of others—the great horned owl, for example—are rare treat that require a trained eye and certain amount of luck.

In a building that exists for flight, take a moment to reflect on where we first got the idea.

Candyland, 2016, Kelly Seeber (American, born 1968), acrylic and ink on canvas. Collection of the artist
Through the Forest at Night, 2016, Kelly Seeber (American, born 1968), acrylic and ink on canvas. Collection of the artist
Urban Rain, 2015, Kelly Seeber (American, born 1968), acryclic, ink, and texture on canvas. Collection of the artist

Rhythm and Flow: The Energy of Movement

Kelly Seeber
Feb 16–Aug 12, 2018 | Amuse & CRR

This exhibition explores the translation and communication of energy. As she considers these themes, and how best to convey them, Seeber often draws on memory to translate sensory experiences into abstract concepts.

Works are conceptualized in layers, from background to forefront elements, starting with texture and finishing with surface details. The basic foundational elements are laid down and then spontaneity is allowed into the process, resulting in bold and energetic works. The artist applies texture mediums, acrylics, permanent inks, and sometimes spray paint using multiple tools and methods, including paint brushes, paper towels, spatulas, and rollers. She also occasionally uses sanding blocks to remove paint and uncover details previously hidden underneath the layers.

Born and raised in San Francisco Bay Area, Kelly Seeber credits the sheer beauty and diversity in arts and culture there for motivating an early desire to create. Interested in both process and connection, she hopes to open minds, push innovation, and start discussions through art.

Kelly Seeber lives and works in Williamsburg, Virginia, and is the recipient of a 2017 VMFA Professional Fellowship. You can view more of her work at or on Instagram, @urbantheorystudios.

Iceberg, 2017, Seth Bauserman (American, born 1989), paint and pencil on paper. Collection of the artist
 Individual in Its Space, Study 1, Seth Bauserman (American, born 1989), paint and pencil on paper. Collection of the artist
Individual, Early Stage, 2017, Seth Bauserman (American, born 1989), pencil on paper. Collection of the artist

What Remains

Seth Bauserman
Feb 23–Aug 19, 2018 | Pauley Center Galleries

Seth Bauserman’s drawings function/serve/act more as questions than statements. Each piece is a series of layers that hide and obscure, blend and conflict—each mimicking in color, texture, and form the process by which people come to understand or obscure/ignore their true selves.

The drawings in this series begin as layers of individual marks made upon paper. Each layer is then shaped and reshaped to conceal, emphasize, or transform the individual marks. Each is a record of presence and absence; forms made of simple strokes and their own negations.

Bauserman surmises that a sociopolitical moment fraught with caricatures of groups and carelessness with words demands a visual idiom of careful perception and focused intention. His works, therefore, invite introspection and, instead of reaction, a visual space to consider the complex and layered nature of identity—especially as a remedy to the flattening and simplifying of identity politics.

These works are intended to reflect the ways that people become what they are. The artist sees them as portraits of taking on and stripping away; of presenting and concealing. Each beckons the viewer to ask: When I am stripped, what am I? When I am shaken, what remains?