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 artists 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.
VMFA Fellowship Winners
by John Henley
Feb 3, 2020–Aug 2, 2020 | Richmond International Airport
For the past five years, I have been working on a photography project making portraits of Richmond area artists. I was drawn to this idea by a deeply held belief in the extraordinary amount of great art being made in our city. Virginia is fortunate to have a museum like the VMFA. The twenty -four artists I have featured in this show have received Fellowship grants from the VMFA. Many of them received the grant early in their career and have gone on to long, productive lives as artists. Some are earlier in the process of building their careers. I know from personal experience that this honor is a tremendous boost to an artist wherever they are on their creative journey. Making these photographs has been rewarding in so many ways. Meeting and coming to know the artists is perhaps the biggest reward. My hope is that this show serves to honor both these artists and the VMFA for their roles in making this a great art community.
John Henley is the recipient of a VMFA 1982-83 Professional Fellowship.
by Jon McMillian
Feb 21, 2020–Aug 16, 2020 | Pauley Center Galleries
Cloudseeds is a new body of work that explores the relationship between the natural and built environments through the integration of forms and surfaces abstracted from multiple sources. Bits of visual and contextual information from plant life, the human body, geographic phenomena, and mechanical artifacts are brought together to create works that are suggestive yet ambiguous.
For each piece, earthenware clay is formed through wheel throwing and hand-building processes, and finished with multiple glaze firings to build engaging surfaces. The objects begin with only a vague idea in mind, developing as they are constructed through an intuitive process that requires a continual back and forth between thought and action.
While humans and the natural world are inherently connected, rapidly developing cultural shifts, technologies and industrial growth continue to divide our species from the rest of the planet. These pieces seek to explore the grey area that characterizes this relationship through the combination of disparate parts. The resulting objects are rich with connotations, bringing viewers’ own experiences and ideas to bear in the ensuing dialogue. If the work is successful, it creates more questions than answers.
Jon McMillan is the recipient of a VMFA 2019-20 Professional Fellowship
Feb 14, 2020–Aug 9, 2020 | VMFA Amuse Restaurant & Claiborne Robertson Room
“Alas, the casual ruin of everything seems to define us en masse, even if our individual desires run entirely the other way.”
The use of the human figure in landscape photography has roots that can be traced back through the development of landscape painting. However, the relationship of figure to landscape in western culture has traditionally been one of dominance in relation to tenets of individualism and manifest destiny. The hubristic separation between human and nature has led to degradation of ecosystems, to contamination by human industry, to anthropogenic climate change. As a response to the entanglements between human and nonhuman entities, I have selected images to represent peril, trepidation, and wonderment with a desire to create porosity between culture and nature. I have set images to create a restless sensory movement from rumination to rumination, to subvert a perspective of dominance, to reveal a sense of vulnerability and instability, and underscore the crisis of the human epoch.
Holly Morrison is the recipient of a VMFA 2019-20 Professional Fellowship.