Projecting A Clear Message

by | Oct 16, 2020 | RICHMOND POLITICS

In Chesterfield County, one couple with strong feelings about the current political climate have begun to express themselves through signs and projections on the front of their house.

A Chesterfield man named Tim Barry — no, not that one — has turned his home into a giant political projector screen.

From a tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg after her death to a declaration that “Breonna Taylor Deserved Better” to a projection of Biden’s infamous retort to Trump — “Will you shut up, man?” — Barry’s unashamed political messaging has drawn both support and disdain from his neighbors. 

Tim and Lauren Barry have been involved in politics for a long time, having both worked for political campaigns in the past. Tim now works in public relations for a professional organization. They live in their Chesterfield home with their two young daughters.

Barry says that the first night they projected an image, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had just passed away. 

“That was sort of the impetus to start the projections. We were talking about how upset we were about the justice passing, and the plans the Republicans were making to replace her, and we were upset,” Barry said. “We were angry about the way things were going. We knew we had to do something, and this was something we could do using our combined skills.”

Barry says that his wife, Lauren, is the person who creates the graphics that they project on the house. 

“My wife is a really talented graphics artist,” Barry said. “I do the messages, and she makes them look amazing.”

The projections are not the Barrys’ first political display, however. Earlier in the year, the couple became caught in a battle with the county over a sign in their yard. 

Tim and Lauren erected three large yellow letters in their yard after the killing of George Floyd in May. The letters — which spelled out “BLM” — have been a source of conflict between the Barrys and Chesterfield county officials. A zoning ordinance in the county prohibits residential signs from occupying over 14 square feet of space.

Most of their neighbors, however, have been supportive. The Barrys received a note from one local resident that read, “Goodness… Can I tell you how much this BLM sign means to me?” The note described the lettering as a “huge sign of hope.”

“Our feedback has been 95 percent positive,” said Barry. 

Another neighbor, speaking to Channel 8 News in Chesterfield, said she was surprised that the sign was so “in-your-face,” and said she wished that it said ALM — all lives matter. 

The letters are still securely fastened to Barry’s trees, and he has no intention of taking them down. The process to appeal the county’s decision may take several months, Barry said. 

Unlike the BLM letters in the yard, there are no county ordinances against the projector images. The Barrys start the projector at sundown, and take the image down before they go to bed around 10:30 P.M. Unless it’s raining, they project images every night. 

Tim Barry said that he is afraid of drawing too much attention to the house, in fear that someone who doesn’t like their message will retaliate. 

“I don’t want to go in and make it contentious,” Barry said. “We are genuinely afraid that someone might do something to us.”

However, the house is already gaining popularity. According to Barry, at one point the house had its own instagram page with around 2,500 followers.

Local and state politicians have supported Barry’s messaging behind the scenes as well. When the county first sent a letter to the Barrys, warning them to take down their BLM sign, Tim Barry reached out to state Senator Ghazala Hashimi to ask for support.

“She put us in touch with a senior person from the county,” said Barry. “I’ve kept her office updated on what we’re doing.”

When Barry wanted to put up a projection image in support of congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, he informed her office beforehand so they could give permission. Barry says that other politicians have commented on photos of the house on Facebook.

“People are definitely noticing it,” Barry said. “But no one has asked us to put them up there.”

There was one more thing we had to ask Barry about. Readers of RVA Mag may notice that he shares a name with local musician Tim Barry. Barry says that he’s familiar with the musician, and that he’s encountered people who were disappointed that he wasn’t the other one.

“One time I went and got my hair cut at the barbershop, and people thought it was going to be him,” Barry said. “When I walked in, they were disappointed.”

Photos courtesy Ed Holten and Tim Barry

Anya Sczerzenie

Anya Sczerzenie

Anya is a senior journalism major/creative writing minor at VCU. She is from Leesburg, Virginia. She is also a contributing writer for the Commonwealth Times student newspaper. When she’s not working on a story, she likes reading, video games, podcasts, and walks in the forest.

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