Each year, the Virginia Beach Art Center partners with a local artist or organization to shed light on a social, cultural, or historic issue of relevance to the community. The annual community-based project is called Aware. This year's topic, proposed by the GFWC's Women's Club of Tidewater, was human trafficking.
Human trafficking is defined as “the use of force, fraud, or coercion in exchange for labor, services, or a commercial sex act. The crime of human trafficking hinges on the exploitation of another person.” (Source: Blue Campaign)
Unfortunately, Hampton Roads is not immune to human trafficking. Virginia currently ranks 15th in the nation for trafficking cases (source: Samaritan House VA). The purpose of the exhibition was to raise awareness of this issue, to help the public learn the signs of trafficking, and to report suspicions of trafficking to the proper authorities.
This exhibition, on view November 3-12, included an immersive display of over 800 butterflies made by the community, as well as art related to the theme, including art therapy pieces created by trafficking survivors. The opening reception featured special guest speaker and author, Victoria Pendragon, who was kidnapped and trafficked as a child. There was also a panel discussion facilitated by the anti-trafficking non-profit, Safe House Project and the Center for Global Justice at Regent University. The exhibition concluded with closing remarks by Courtney Pierce of Samaritan House, a non-profit that helps people free themselves from domestic violence, human trafficking, and homelessness.
The community-based component of Aware '23 included the decoration and installation of over 800 paper butterflies suspended from the gallery ceiling, as well as three installments of the Red Sand Project. The Red Sand Project is a national, public art installation where red sand is poured into the cracks of sidewalks to symbolize victims of human trafficking falling through the cracks of society.
WTKR coverage of Aware '23: Set Them Free
Next year's Aware Community Exhibition will take place in November. The theme will center on the LGBTQ+ community.
Shades of Gray opened on October 6th, a #FirstFriday event in the ViBe District that had viewers stepping into a world without color. The juried exhibition, on view through October 29th, features 79 works by 65 local and regional artists. Artists were asked to submit work using a palette limited to black, white, and gray.
Although the color palette is limited, the content for this exhibition is nothing short of expansive. Viewers will find everything from fine art photography featuring animals, people, and nature; abstract paintings and portraits in greyscale, and expressive sculptures and textiles that tell a story.
The special guest judge for Shades of Gray is Jennifer Morningstar, the former director of the Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center in Hampton, VA and former director of the Lee Arts Center in Arlington, VA. Morningstar helped curate the show and selected the award winners announced at the opening reception.
Pictured above are the honorable mention and special recognition award winners standing in front of their work with guest judge, Jennifer Morningstar. Hover over the photos to see the artists' names.
Award winners were able to tell the stories behind their work at the opening reception. Pictured below are are the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place winners standing proudly with their pieces.
Shades of Gray is on view October 6-29 and concludes with Artists Talk, a casual conversation with exhibiting artists about the inspiration and processes behind their work. Artists Talk will be held on Sunday, October 29th from 2:00 to 3:00. This event is free and open to the public.
Photos by Sandi Lee Snider
Blog post by Jaimie Kelley Choi
Words Matter opened on the first Friday of September to a packed house at the Virginia Beach Art Center. The juried art exhibition features 61 works by 35 regional artists and explores the visual interpretation of words and their meaning. The exhibition is on view September 1st though October 1st.
With pieces suggesting both the positive and negative connotations of language, the exhibition certainly gives viewers something to talk about. There are several interactive pieces that ask the viewer to interpret what they see, including "A Sign to Smile," featuring sign language, and "Morning Light," featuring morse code, both by digital artist Kerri Caldwell. "The Lost Words" by Maggie Kerrigan allows viewers to gently flip through the pages of an altered book; while John Rafferty's "Don't Just Don't" includes a guest book inviting participants to finish the prompt, "don't be..."
Special guests for the opening reception included Ukwensi Chappell, owner of Gallerie Ukwensi in Norfolk, who curated the show and selected the exhibition winners and Destiny Sharion, who recited two poems from her recently published book, "She Speaks."
Highlights from the Words Matter opening reception.
Words Matter is on view September 1st through October 1st and concludes with an artist talk on Sunday, October 1st from 2:00-3:00 pm.
Photos and blog post by Jaimie Kelley Choi
Ever wonder what it's like to see the world through the eyes of an artist? Now is your chance. Be Still is an art exhibition that begins with the tradition of still life but expands into a whole new dimension. This juried exhibition includes traditional still life paintings but also encompasses sculptural works made of everything from paper to clay, and - wait for it - beads.
Be Still is a curated exhibition featuring the work of local and regional artists from Hampton Roads. There are 59 works from 41 artists on view. The exhibition was juried by Jaqui McBride Lilly, painter and sole proprietor of Beach Gallery in Virginia Beach, who had the difficult task of selecting the show's winners.
Here are a few more highlights from Be Still. Hover over the image to see the name of the art work and artist.
Be Still is on view August 4-27. The exhibition concludes on Sunday, the 27th from 3 pm to 4pm with Artists Talk, a casual conversation between exhibiting artists and friends. The exhibition and talk are free and open to the public.
All Mixed Up brings multiple materials and media into play in a celebration of mixed-media art making. This juried exhibition features over 65 works to delight the senses. From 3d sculptures to textural works, there is no shortage of variety in this vibrant exhibition.
Stand-out works were selected by Vonnie Whitworth, a fashion illustrator and artist, who exhibits her drawings and watercolor paintings at D'Art Center and #Working Artists Studios.
All Mixed Up is on view July 7-30 and concludes with Artists Talk, a casual conversation between exhibiting artists and friends on Sunday, July 30th from 3:00-4:00pm. The exhibition and talk are both free and open to the public.
by Jaimie Kelley Choi