Church Hill, one of Richmond’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods, is in the midst of a profound transformation. Often described as up-and-coming and cool, it is also a place whose ethnic, racial, and economic composition has changed drastically over the last century. Through image, word, and sound, Made in Church Hill expresses this community’s transformation, as experienced by the people who live and work there.

This exhibition began as a collaboration among students, faculty, and staff from University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT) and its Academy, and the Valentine. Throughout fall of 2014, two university classes worked with students from the Academy. Together, the students gained skills to realize their own creative ambitions as they captured residents’ stories.

We conducted oral history interviews and made portraits of residents and church members, many of whom live in North Church Hill, as well as others who are involved in the larger Church Hill community;we organized community events and engaged with each other to learn more about the neighborhood and its history. In doing so, we formed our own community— a multi-faceted group of university and high school students, professional mentors, artists, teachers, volunteers, and residents. Ultimately, Made in Church Hill not only represents one neighborhood during a transformative time— it also presents a new community, one forged in the process of making this exhibition.

The exhibition includes a multi-channel sound piece by artist Vaughn W. Garland with portions of interviews conducted by students from the University of Richmond; sound poems written and performed by Academy students; and audio clips from field recordings taken in Church Hill. The sound piece plays intermittently throughout the gallery spaces (total running time: 4 hours, 30 minutes). Portraits in the exhibition were taken by VCU photography students, in the home, church, or other place of significance to the sitter.


Project Participants & Information

Church Hill Academy
Robert Brickell, Ja’Taisha Coates, Donnisha Daniels, Franiqua Davis, Na’jir Dipasalegne, NeeCee Kittrell, Dezhane Lurk, Deloris Miles, Atysheyona Nash

Virginia Commonwealth University, School of the Arts
Traci Garland, Adjunct Professor of Art History and Gallery Coordinator, VCU Anderson Gallery
Michael Lease, Adjunct Professor of Photography and Head of Exhibitions and Design, VCU Anderson Gallery
Adele Ball and Amy Williams, Graduate Assistants

Students: Jennifer Bade, Steven Casanova, Whitney Cole, Liesa Collins, Emily Driver, Jessica Evans, Micaela Gore, Kiersten Koenig, Dominique Munoz, Maggie O’Connor, Carson Parris, Faith Witherspoon

University of Richmond
Laura Browder, Tyler and Alice Haynes Professor of American Studies
Patricia Herrera, Assistant Professor of Theatre
Lynda P. Kachurek, Head of Rare Books and Special Collections

Students: Ama Ansah, Alan Corbett, Tom Emmons, Hayley Gray-Hoehn, Brendan O’Connor, Miranda Rosenblum, Arthur Tartee

Exhibition Project Manager
Meg Hughes, Curator of Archives, The Valentine

Contributing Sound Artist & Engineer
Vaughn W. Garland

Benches, text panel mounts, and bookbinding station were built by students in Nehemiah’s Workshop, an entrepreneurial program of CHAT.

Copies of a limited edition exhibition poster, made by students working in CHAT’s screenprinting shop, are available in the museum store.

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This project was generously supported by the Robins Foundation, with additional partial support provided by a grant from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Council for Community Engagement.