Pamela Lawton, PhD, Associate Professor, Art Education


Making art to build community

Artstories RVA is a community based, age-integrated arts learning program. Participants from the Boys & Girls Club at MLK Jr. Middle School, their art teachers, and VCUarts students in art education and communication arts engaged in co-narrative inquiry (story sharing) through a collaborative printmaking project. Using art as a call to action — a language that transcends, transgresses, and transforms — participants expressed their personal voices, lived experiences, social, moral, cultural, and political concerns for Richmond.

Three youths crouched around and working on an artwork on the ground

Creating word webs on the theme of community, each person selected concepts from the web to visualize their ideas on a 12” x 16” woodblock. Two intergenerational groups of six determined placement of the blocks for printing. A poetry workshop also was held with both joint and individual poems written on the theme of community. This collaborative envisioning process made it possible for diverse stories of experience on the theme of “community” to be broadly disseminated in visual and poetic form.

This project was made possible by a 2016 VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund grant. Artstories projects have also been conducted in Washington, DC, New York City, Charlotte, NC, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and Managua, Nicaragua.