Walls of Creativity, Part 1

During a recent visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA), I came across an exhibit of 20th and 21st Century Art. Although I’m often not a fan of what is in these galleries, they changed since the last time I walked through there and I was impressed by their creativity. For this week’s photo challenge of “walls“, I wanted to share some of what I saw.


Woman Facing Wall by John DeAndrea

This sculpture is cast from a real model, with the scars and blemishes added in as the artist created her. What fascinated me was that despite the gray tones used on her skin, she was so life like! I fully expected her to lift her head up from the wall and say “gotcha!”. Her muscle tone, stretch marks (look at her right hip), and nails were just perfect.

Woman Facing Wall by John DeAndrea
Woman Facing Wall by John DeAndrea

Here’s a close-up of some details:


The Former and the Ladder or Ascension and a-Cinchin’ by Trenton Doyle Hancock

There’s so much to notice on this picture! I found it easy to look at though – the artist does a good job of moving your eyes around it without causing mass confusion. As for meaning, it’s whatever I, the viewer, want to make of it. Is it about the glory of something past? Or feeling like I’ve never arrived? Is it a commentary on work and climbing the corporate ladder? It’s hard to tell, but I found myself thinking about it for quite a while.

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The Former and the Ladder or Ascension and a-Cinchin’ by Trenton Doyle Hancock

Here’s a close-up of some details:


Zero Hour from the Wayfarer Series by Hank Willis Thomas

According to the sign, this exhibit was to explore assumptions and attitudes about black identity, as well being “an emblem of racial hybridity”. This is the reason for why the model is half black / half in white face.

There were several notable things about this exhibit. As you can see, the model turns from fully black to partially black / partially white to all white as you move from right to left. The glass is frosted, so that no matter where you stand, only one panel is in focus. The rest is blurry. And it seemed that because of that, the model was looking right at you no matter where you stood.

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Zero Hour from the Wayfarer Series by Hank Willis Thomas



Vessel by Radcliffe Bailey

Surprisingly, this was not about Christopher Columbus (notice there is only one ship). It was about slavery. The artists’ ancestors escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad by following the North Star. The ship represents passage from Africa, the glass is displacement, and the map is the Mason-Dixon line along with the regiment numbers of blacks who served in the Civil War.

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Vessel by Radcliffe Bailey

Here’s some detail:


Four Men in Formal Attire (after Guston) by Charles McGill

Before I explain this picture, take a close look at it. Does it remind you of anything? It did me and I don’t mean in a positive way either. It strongly reminded me of the hoods of the Ku Klux Klan.

Reading the description, that is what the artist wanted. I’d even go another step and say that the rims of the golf bags remind me of chains used to bind slaves together around their waists. I would have never imagined golf bags to be so evocative, which is why I found this so creative.

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Four Men in Formal Attire (after Guston) by Charles McGill


Xilempasto 6 by Henrique Oliveira

This was the first museum piece sold by this artist. It consists of plywood that has been soaked, stained and painted. In the end, it looks like driftwood, doesn’t it?

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Xilempasto 6 by Henrique Oliveira

Here are the wall cards explaining each picture. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. Whether you like what the artist did or not, it was certainly different!

To see what others did with this challenge, click here.


Virginia Virginia Museum of Fine Art Weekly Photo Challenge

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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at www.livingtheseasons.com.

37 Comments Leave a comment

  1. The Vessel by Radcliffe Bailey captured my eyes. It is gorgeous! Maybe our world is so universal that “similar” thing exists elsewhere or what do You think when seeing my photos from Finland:

    Ships inside churches.

    Remove my post if You do not like it.

    Happy Easter.

    • Happy Easter to you also!

      Your ship pictures were incredible! Thanks so much for leaving me the link so I could see them. I can see why the Radcliffe Bailey piece appealed so much to you. There are a lot of similarities to your post.

      As for leaving a link, I do that all the time to other bloggers. Most everyone likes interaction on their posts, and sharing things like this is (to me) an important part of it. I’d have never seen that if you didn’t tell me about it. So thanks again for reaching out and sharing.


  2. What an interesting post, Nancy. I love the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; I’ll have to go back to visit when I return to Virginia. My daughter lives in Richmond on Hanover in the Fan, not too far from the museum. So many evocative pieces, here. I especially love Woman Facing the Wall, Vessel, and Xilempasto. You did a great job of capturing them on the camera, and I especially love the details. :-)

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed them. Yeah, from the Fan you could just about walk there if it’s a nice day. Let me know if you’re ever in town (and have time to get together)!

      • I’d love to meet you sometime once I return home, Nancy. It probably won’t be until August, but I will be visiting Sarah in Richmond as soon as possible after my return. :-)

  3. Hi Nancy, I so remember the woman facing wall from my last visit. We had a debate over whether these could actually be sculpted and thankfully the card resolved the question. They were cast from live models. I don’t remember seeing the other items you’ve featured here which is a good thing. You can never see everything that our wonderful VMFA has to offer!

    • The other things are a special exhibit called Fusion 21, which runs to July 26, 2015. It wouldn’t surprise me if the woman had been there for a while. I saw her because I used the restrooms that down the hall and in hindsight, I don’t think I’ve used those restrooms before in all the years we’ve gone to the museum.

      And you are so right that you can’t see everything that’s there. Plus they rotate stuff around from storage to keep it fresh. The Japanese woodblock prints leave on March 29, so we’ve been there three times in the last week to see them and it’s been fun each time. Today we saw the Flowers that opened this morning, which was fun too. It is just such a great museum.

  4. Thank you so much for taking me on this tour Nancy! Really, I know I would never be able to manage it in my RL so seeing the pieces and reading the cards, made me feel like I was a part of it! I’m sure that museums have motorized chairs/carts for people with disabilities, but I’m not there as yet – I cant even drive a car well, I doubt a shop or a museum would want me to be running over their patrons! I really enjoyed all of these pieces. I found the collage most confusing, but I loved that it was very compsed. I loved it all!

    • That’s a great compliment! Thank you!

      Actually, part of why I do this in my blogs is that Richmond is a big tourist town and people spend a lot of money to come here. It would be wrong of me to discount all of that just because I live here. When I did the Chihuly exhibit several years ago, I got back links from fellow bloggers who’d seen him in their own towns, which was a lot of fun too.

      I’m getting two types of responses – people like yourself who wouldn’t see if it I didn’t share it, and the ones who live close by who say wow! I have to go see it for myself. Both are a lot of fun to see in the comments.

  5. I am constantly amazed by the creativity of someone else’s mind… How do they come up with the idea. What prompted them. Why that medium. When it all comes together it’s amazing that so many others DIDN’T think of it! Thank you Nancy.

    • The VMFA is such a great place. Friday night’s especially is very high energy. Make sure though to get reservations for The Amuse as it can be hard to get into Friday night and on the weekends.

    • Thank you! Glad you liked the cards also. I wasn’t sure anyone would read them, but there was so much good stuff on there that I didn’t want to leave them out.

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