VMFA Community Visit

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We recently highlighted the many benefits of travel on our blog, but for many of us, we may not be in a position to ditch the office at every whim in favor of sandy beaches. Fortunately for us in Richmond, when we reach the need to find some escape – for even just an hour or so, we’ve discovered that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) can be a place to go to for a break from the 9-to-5 grind and to find some peace of mind during the day.

The VMFA is a world-class art museum that is right in our own backyard. In recent years, the museum has hosted a diverse range of special exhibitions including American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, pop artist Tom Wesselmann, and 176 significant works of Pablo Picasso. A trip to the VMFA is always a rewarding experience – a place to go if you’re on a quest for knowledge, or a space to be inspired through art.

Several weeks ago, as members of Ledbury’s content team, we received an invitation to attend a walkthrough of the VMFA’s current special exhibit, Posing Beauty. The exhibit features approximately 90 photographs, film and print advertisements by African American artists that explore themes of personal and cultural identity. Dr. Sarah Eckardt, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, lead the walkthrough and we were in the company of many friends and familiar faces, ranging from bloggers and local business owners to several style influencers from around the city.

What was most rewarding from the walkthrough was the discussion that followed each piece. As with all of the museum’s curation, the exhibit is thought provoking and provides many opportunities for reflection. As guests, we benefited from the open and conversational tone of the walkthrough, hearing each other’s perspectives on the works.

Photography is a very powerful art form. It has the ability to capture a specific moment in time, whether candid or intentional. Dr. Eckardt gave her thoughts on the medium in a recent interview:

“From the beginning of photography, there has been a debate as to whether it is fine art or not. From our perspective, the debate has been settled: it is. It has been recognized as fine art since the 1980’s. Because anyone can get a camera and anyone can make an image, there is this perception that anyone can make a photo. But when you look at the photographs of the artists, you recognize all the skill that goes into each image. You have to be very improvisational to capture these specific moments.”

There are so many of these specific moments throughout the exhibit that become very powerful. These moments include the work of contemporary photographer Mickalene Thomas, a portrait of two young men on New York City’s 42nd Street in 1959, and of a “rude boy” with undeniable bravado from the early 80s.

In terms of identity, is the perspective coming from the photographer, from the subject, or the viewer? In a way, all of these things shape identity, giving context to a particular time in history, level of celebrity and the background of the subject.

If you find a moment of down time, we encourage you to visit the VMFA. Posing Beauty will show at the VMFA through July 27, 2014.

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