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.


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Robert Sulkin: Photographs

by Robert Sulkin
Aug 3, 2020 to Jan 31, 2021 | Richmond International Airport

Generally, my work deals with the futility of an individual attempting to cope in a technology driven world spinning out of control.

I use props ranging from antique biological specimens to myriad recycled objects. With these, I put together and photograph sculptural-like constructions.. The results jockey – some are playful, some farcical, and some serious

For example, in one series, Prototypes, I assume the role of an inventor on a quest to discover machines that might run on alternative fuel technologies.
Another series, Homage to Holst, involves scanning black walnuts, working them to create a fantasy universe of fictional planets and celestial happenings. And photographs from the series Odd Odes, are informed by science, mythology and more abstract notions such as hope and chance. Other series explore a dystopian view of the 20th C. by projecting period television images into constructions and a more recent series takes my efforts into the landscape and impose interventions intended as metaphor for our failings with the environment.

While I photograph and scan real things, I attempt to challenge believability by removing the experience from a specific sense of place and time.

Robert Sulkin is the recipient of a VMFA 2009-10 Professional Fellowship


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Bittersweet on Bostwick Lane

by Susan Worsham
Aug 21,2020 to Feb 15, 2021 | Pauley Center Galleries

“I made your brother my homemade bread, his favorite… I buttered a slice and took it up to him, and he called down, Margaret can I have some more of that bread? He finished the whole loaf, and then me and your mother went for a walk down the lane and when we came back he had shot himself.”

Margaret, my oldest neighbor from my childhood street, gracefully weaves stories of buttering my brother’s last slice of bread with memories of me as a young girl, wanting to eat her homemade strawberry jelly on my new white bedspread. She laughs as she recalls finding me with fruit all over the bed. Blood and jelly, two very different stains. I thread these stories together, of pain and loss and of the sweetness of childhood memories.

Each time I visit Margaret I enter through the kitchen door, and each time she has a new story to tell which enriches my work like a complex broth. Together we’ve created a family album of what was once the intangible landscape of my childhood. The work encircles itself as our conversations about native flowers, life and death become the seeds of my photographs.


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Selections from Hall of Portraits from The History of Machines

By Sue Johnson
Aug 14, 2020 to Feb 7, 2021 | VMFA Amuse Restaurant & Claiborne Robertson Room

Hall of Portraits from The History of Machines proposes an alternate pictorial history in which two objects of desire become one—the household convenience object and the emergent female form. The project looks back to the mid-20th century and identifies this era as a cornerstone in the construction of the modern woman, who begins at this time to be idealized through conferring upon her the attributes of laboring-saving devices. Objects merge with the body, or vice-versa. Based on period advertising and the artist’s object photography, the resulting women seem familiar even as we recognize that they are actually a highly fictional, patriarchal fantasy. Each image is surrounded by a color field created by dragging and imprinting household devices into the paint.

Accompanying the project are The Facsimiles, which document the original found object sources. Works are created at different sizes; first, at a larger-than-life scale, then at medium and smaller domestic scales. Each monumental portrait measures 109 1⁄4 inches tall, which is the exact height of Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). In making this reference, the artist seeks to invite a deeper look at the taxonomy of the representation of women.

Sue Johnson is the recipient of a VMFA 2020-21 Professional Fellowship