On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam and VMFA Director and CEO Alex Nyerges announced the names of 40 Virginia artists who will receive special grants of $5,000 from the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program.
“Art has a way of bringing people together—something we need now more than ever,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “These grant recipients hail from more than twenty different cities and towns across the Commonwealth, and Pam and I are proud to help support their important work.”
Among the Richmond recipients: S. Ross Browne, Hamilton Glass, Alicia Little, Jaydan Moore, Barry O'Keefe, Eva Rocha, Ricardo Vicente Jose Ruiz, Leigh Suggs, Luis Vasquez and Kendra Wadsworth.
"I believe these kind of initiatives are more important than ever," winner Eva Rocha told Style. "Art is an important place of dialogue and many stay excluded due to the lack of funds and opportunities to take part in the socio-political dialogue. I personally feel honored to be included and to represent a multitude of voices through my work."
According to a press release, the museum received more than 350 applications for this program and recipients were selected by a jury made up of three staff members at VMFA: Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art; Natasha Campbell, head of the museum’s fellowship program; and Jeffrey Allison, head of statewide programs.
Other grant recipients included: Emine Sermin Ciddi (Alexandria); Veronica Jackson (Bedford); Mojdeh Rezaeipour (Burke); Tina Curtis (Charlottesville); Eliza Lamb (Chester); Nikki Painter, Jordan Shanks and Alfonso Perez Acosta (Chesterfield); Michael Childers and Soomin Ham (Fairfax); Jun Lee (Falls Church); Wendy Werstlein (Floyd); Lorie McCown (Fredericksburg); Sandy Williams IV (Glen Allen); Kemi Layeni (Hampton); Ethan Brown (King William); Noah Velez (Leesburg); Scot Turner (Newport News); Kimberly McKinnis and Khalil Riddick (Norfolk); Susan Jamison (Roanoke); Suzanne Stevens and Nastassja Swift (Virginia Beach); and Steve Prince (Williamsburg). Six other artists, who asked not to be named, from Charlottesville, Centerville, Lynchburg, Monroe, Richmond and Roanoke rounded out the list of recipients.
“Artists’ livelihoods and their ability to continue making art have been directly impacted by cancelled exhibitions and gallery and museum closures as a result of the pandemic,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO, in a press release. “We sought to use resources we have available to help sustain artists in Virginia through this critical time.”
Here's more info from the release on how the grants were funded:
The Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program is funded utilizing the accrued excess balance of the museum’s existing Artist Fellowship Endowment established in 1941 through a generous gift made by the late John Lee Pratt of Fredericksburg, VA. Pratt stipulated that the funds be used to support professional artists as well as art and art history students in the Commonwealth and not for other purposes. Through this endowment, VMFA has awarded nearly $5.8 million to Virginia artists in the Commonwealth over the past 80 years.