Joy McMillian (BFA ’19), who graduated from the sculpture program in May, earned a Black History in the Making award during the spring 2019 semester. The award is presented each year by the Department of African American Studies within the College of Humanities & Sciences, honoring accomplished African American students who have made outstanding contributions to their academic fields, professions or communities. In a statement from the sculpture department, McMillian was praised as “a highly motivated student, open and curious, intelligent and rigorous, critically minded and endlessly giving.”

In addition to her stellar production in classes, Joy has been an important contributor in several other venues: She has been a member Sculpture Student Advisory Board since 2016, representing her entire class of Sculpture majors since the year she entered the department. Joy has also been a voluntary shop monitor where she has been responsible for the safe and proper use of high powered industrial equipment in a shop that is used by hundreds of students and faculty across the school. Joy has been an undergraduate teacher’s assistant in our Future Studio program since its inception, serving as a mentor for local and often underserved high school students being introduced to sculpture for the first time at an intensive level. In this role Joy has been a critical liaison between these students and the arts, and we know that her presence and engagement have attracted many of them to apply to college here at VCUarts, building a future population of students more diverse than anything we have seen in our history.

Joy was instrumental in the exhibition I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance which she organized in collaboration with fellow Black students in the sculpture department in February 2018. Inspired by the work of Sojourner Truth, the exhibition explored aspects of Black life and celebrated the Black archive through images, text, and sound. Joy contributed significantly to the contents of the exhibition, sourcing rare archival material on the Black experience. As a team member she was also a pillar of strength and moral support for her colleagues all through the project. In short, Joy played a vital role in the success of this exhibition which generated important conversations in the VCUarts community.

Black History in the Making was founded in 1983 by Dr. Daryl Dance, the distinguished scholar of African American and Caribbean literature who served as Program Coordinator during the 1983–84 academic year.

See the full list of winners from 2019.

Learn more about the award.


May 30, 2019