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Art 180's 'Images of Perfection and Doubt' reflects identity onto RVA youth

Posted by: brad – Jan 19, 2017

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In Art 180’s latest exhibit, Images of Perfection and Doubt, Richmond youth explore identity and community through mixed media collages and poetry.

The exhibit opened earlier this month at their Jackson Ward gallery Atlas at 114 W Marshall St. Richmond teens were led by local artists Sydney Collier and Tomiko Tamashiro using watercolors and yoga practices to dive into different aspects of identity with a different theme each week.

Opening night was made special by one-time performances. Poets Roscoe Burnems and Paula Gillison led a group of students in a self-reflective poetry program resulting in both personal "I AM" poems and a collaborative piece that was performed twice during the opening night of the gallery.

“They tried to get us inspired first, so we watched a lot of poetry videos,” said Daquan Stith, a Huguenot High School student who participated in the event. “After a bunch of workshops, when it came time to write [the poems], we just wrote what we were feeling at the time. I wrote two and chose the best of the two.”

These works were then written on square mirrors that hung in the gallery space. Latasha Dunston and Ian Horwitz led a group of teens in the process of discovering themselves and their relationship to the city by creating multi-media maps of their neighborhoods.

One large collage was shaped like a fist and the other was shaped like an ankh or cross.

"Images of Perfection and Doubt" catered to a strong turnout and allowed for gallery viewers to engage in self-portraiture. Volunteers from the community also came to support and facilitate the group activity.

For 18 years, the non-profit organization has worked with youth (especially at-risk-youth) in the Richmond area to create art that explains and illustrates their feelings, thoughts and experiences.

“This past summer in 2016 they asked me to facilitate a writing workshop. Kind of like a one-day thing a couple hours,” said Shavontae. [Working with younger artists {is] super cool, because they are super young and very unedited – a lot like you when you were a young artist. It’s pretty refreshing,” she said.

The spirit of collaboration among artists and youth in the community reverberates through the Atlas space and the group activities held there. Wall to wall, Atlas is filled with donated and in-house art installations.

“Come and experience [Atlas] yourself on the days when events are going down. Or if you just want to experience yourself when not a lot is going on here,” said Stith. “Even when not a lot is going on [here] you can still feel the hard work and dedication between the writers and their work or artists and their work. It's kind of hard to not to look at somewhere that’s not inspired by art.”

While the "Images of Perfection and Doubt" wraps up next week, 1/27, Art 180 will open a new show, "Grouped," tonight featuring work by a myriad of RVA artists.

Words by Tico Noise

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