The Inclusion Infusion Initiative brings artists, performers, scholars or exhibitions to VCUarts, or sends students to conferences. The overarching objective has been to create an environment where issues of diversity and inclusion are a regular topic of conversation, at the forefront of people’s minds rather than something at the margins.

A total of 16 proposals were funded, with events taking place during the entire span of the 2017-18 school year. You can find more events on the VCUarts calendar.

inclusion initiative

2017-18 Projects

Call to the Table of Dialogue, Dance, Drama & Drumming
Hosted by Theatre

A weekend collaborative event that includes a staged reading of scenes from James Baldwin’s “Blues for Mister Charlie,” a play that addresses deep divisions within a community facing the unsolved murder of a young black man.

O.J.:  Made in America
Saturday, April 15 & April 22, noon to 4:30 pm
Hosted by Painting & Printmaking

A screening of the 8-hour documentary “O.J.:  Made In America,” which explores issues of race and celebrity through the life of O.J. Simpson, whose trial for the murder of his wife brought attention to the stark divide between White and Black America in the mid-90s. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring producer Ezra Edelman, Nick Forester and VCU faculty talking about issues of marginalized identities, social justice, athletics, law, journalism and the media.

Queer Threads:  Making and Talking, Fiber and Fashion
April 10, 3:00 – 4:00pm
April 11, 5:00 – 6:00pm
April 12, 6:00 – 8:00pm
April 13, 11:00am -12:00pm
Hosted by Craft/Material Studies

Artists lectures by Jon Chaich and Jeanne Vaccaro, as well as participant-driven interactive and community-oriented art projects by Ramekon O’Arwisters  and Cindy Baker, invite the public to engage in discussion about the intersections of queerness, body image, fashion, textiles and community.

The Machine To Be Another
April 11, 3:30-4:30pm: Roundtable Discussion
April 13: Public Presentation
April 14: 9am-12pm: Open Sessions
1-5pm: Open Sessions
April 15 9am-12pm: Open Sessions
1-5pm: Open Sessions
Hosted by The Depot

The Machine To Be Another is a multidisciplinary collaborative including virtual reality researchers, designers, technicians and performers from Barcelona, Spain, whose work seeks to expand perceptions, understanding and empathy among people of all walks of life by tricking the brain into perceiving what it’s like to be in someone else’s body.

Like Other Girls Do
April 12, 12:30 – 2:30pm
Hosted by Painting and Printmaking

A screening of Melissa Hilliard Potter’s documentary “Like Other Girls Do” is about a Balkan tradition that permits a woman in a family without males to assume a male identity upon swearing an oath of celibacy. A conversation with the filmmaker follows the screening.

The Black Artist in Perspective: Shawn Theodore
April 12, 4-6pm
Hosted by Photography + Film and African American Studies

Shawn Theodore is a multidisciplinary Philadelphia based artist working in photography, video, and collage. His practice embodies a defiant brand of black artistry; one that focuses on the fragmentation and manipulation of African American and African Diaspora identities and otherness, while exploring concepts of race, spirituality, patriarchy, matriarchy and class structure within disappearing Black communities.

Theodore attended Tyler School of Art and received his BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising from Temple University.

His solo exhibition highlights include: Church of Broken Pieces ‘17, African American Museum in Philadelphia; The Avenues ‘16, Painted Bride Art Center; The Avenues, G-Town and Uptown ‘14, Imperfect Gallery and Scribe Video Center; The Avenues; North and West Philly, ‘14 and he has exhibited in several group shows.

Performing History:  Memory, Subjectivity and the Historical Body
March 23, 2-8pm
March 24, 2-4pm
Hosted by Sculpture + Extended Media

A series of events brings together contemporary African and African-American artists to lead a robust discussion about identity, object making and performance while looking at art that modifies, plays with, and reframes the historical record.

Shaping Bodies
February 24, 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Hosted by Craft/Material Studies

A one-day symposium and open dialog with artists and scholars Elaine ScarryHeather CassilsSimone Leigh and Jenni Sorkin engaged in conversations about race, body, gender identity, social justice and material culture and histories.

Cupid Ojala and Cobi Moules
March 20, 10:00 am
Hosted by Art Foundation

Through artist talks followed by roundtable dialog, Cupid Ojala and Cobi Moules discuss how their individual journeys as transgendered artists developed into the focus of their work.

Salsa for Social Change
March 20, 12:00 – 7:50 pm & March 21 8:00 pm
Hosted by Music

Following a presentation about the historical role of Salsa music from the perspective of social resistance and subsequent commercialization, Grammy-nominated percussionist John Santos will hold two workshop with music students on March 20th. Santos will perform with the VCUarts Jazz Orchestra on March 21st.

An Evening of Art & Legacy:  The Langston Hughes Project
February 21
Hosted by Music

A multimedia performance of the renowned African-American writer’s kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz,” which highlights Hughes’ vision of the global struggle for freedom and equality in the 1960s and marries the words of Hughes with an original score, images, and poetry readings by English students.

Liz Lerman’s Still Crossing
February 16-18, various performance times
Hosted by Dance

VCUarts dance majors and Richmond community members will perform an excerpt of Liz Lerman’s iconic 1986 work, Still Crossing, which was originally created to address issues of immigration during the centennial year of the Study of Liberty. The VCUarts performance is grounded in Richmond’s history as a center of the slave trade and a pivotal site in the Civil War.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art, Queens Museum in New York City
Hosted by Painting and Printmaking

Thirteen students attended the retrospective exhibition of work by Mierle Laderman Ukeles, an important yet under-recognized feminist artist who is also a pioneer of social practice. The students toured the exhibition with one of its curators, and they attended a roundtable discussion of artists and activists on February 12, 2017.

Art Education Activism:  Exploring Our Responsibility as Educators/Change Agents
February 3
Hosted by Art Education

Artist Roberto Lugo and art educator Mindi Rhoades lead a series of lectures, conversations and workshops that will illuminate ways that Art Education addresses and investigates aspects of cultural identity – class, race, gender, and sexuality.

VCU Student Delegation for Creative Time Summit DC:  Occupy the Future
Hosted by Art Foundation

Twelve students attended the Creative Time Summit, the world’s largest international conference on art and social change, held in Washington DC on the weekend of October 14-16, 2016.

Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Hosted by Art Foundation

Art Foundations students toured the permanent collection of the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, on October 22, 2016. It’s the first museum in the world with a mission to exhibit and preserve work by LGBTQ artists.

Funky Turns 40
Hosted by Kinetic Imaging

The traveling panel exhibition Funky Turns 40, which commemorated the 40th anniversary of 1970’s Saturday Morning cartoons featuring positive Black characters for the first time in television history and was on view in the Fine Art Building Gallery, August 24 – September 11. Exhibit curators Pamela Thomas and Loreen Williamson from the Museum of Uncut Funk in New Jersey and Dr. Christopher Lehman, the Chair of Ethnic Studies at St. Cloud University led a conversation about the exhibit on August 30, 2016.