One of the reasons I moved to Richmond was its renowned artist community. As a ceramic artist, I was looking for a welcoming environment to practice and grow my artwork. Richmond seemed like the perfect place, and I have become a part of the city’s blossoming arts community since I moved here. Yet there is still so much room to grow. The community is limited by a lack of communication, initiative, and leadership.
As it is, the Richmond Art Center is the hub of the artist community in the city. The RAC serves as a great introduction to art for many people, but they don’t reach the needs of everyone. I would like to see a more active and viable artist community where individual artists are communicating with one another to plan activities, host open studios, and organize community art projects.
Any true effort will need to happen organically. That’s how I became a part of the city’s arts community. When I moved here I started volunteering, taking classes, and attending lectures at the RAC. I met many artists through that engagement, and I eventually got hooked up with the Point ArtGuild.
The Guild was a group of local artists. Some were in ceramics, one was a gourd artist, another was a bead artist — it was a really varied group of people. Each month one of us would host an event in our studio and share an activity in our milieu. I had everyone come over to my studio and work with clay and we started doing pit fires. It was a nice way of sharing our media through a less formal teaching experience.
My experience with the artist community in Richmond has truly been a joint give and take in every direction. I got into the Guild and met many people, which gave me the opportunity to give back. It was then that I first had the chance to help spread the love of ceramics in the community.
My teaching has expanded since my informal classes with the Guild. New friends — and friends of friends — approached me, wanting a ceramics class in a more intimate environment than public classes provided. Now I have fostered a community of passionate, caring artists in my own studio and we have a great time working together.
However, there remains a lack in the artists community. The Guild became defunct as members aged out, and nothing has really filled the void left. I know of some artists in my neighborhood, but I’m sure that there are more out there. I would like something more cohesive dedicated to the arts. The first thing I’m looking for is more communication among artists. We need a forum to communicate about our ideas and activities in order to really grow.
In addition, a leadership figure —a Moses of sorts for the arts community — is needed to help corral these scattered individuals. Until that happens, the artist community will continue to feel loose. As it is now, I hear rumors of activity going by in the air, and I try to track it down — but it’s difficult. A consistent forum would take care of the problem.
In the meantime, I am open and available to any interested artists in the community. They can reach me on email at [email protected]. I would love to help foster this community or just show someone around my studio and garden sometime.
By: Christina Barrett, Richmond Resident and local artist