Galleries encourage discussion

Published 2:36 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA) partnered with the Moton Museum for a Nov. 3 exhibition at the LCVA that featured artwork and photographs delivering stark messages.

In the piece “End Hate,” by VL Cox, a series of doors with names of different people groups are listed. One door, titled “human beings,” is covered with a chain.

Cainan Townsend

Photography taken by Dr. Alec Hosterman, Assistant Communication Studies professor at Longwood University during the August Charlottesville rally showed the extent of brutality and hope that took place.

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During an opening reception for the two galleries Friday evening, Cox showed participants different pieces representing issues regarding racism, women and reproduction and constitutional rights.

“There was a lot of emotional response, which is what the work is supposed to do, it’s supposed to be very brutally honest,” Cox said about community members’ response to the gallery, “and I tried to be as honest as I could with the work and as open with it.”

“I enjoy talking to people and trying to get people to open up about their stories and their questions and their fears, and their hopes,” Cox said.

She said people from the area who attended the gallery were “amazing.”

“They’re compassionate,” Cox said about community members who attended the gallery. “They truly, truly care about other people, and deep in my heart I believe most people are like that, but they really show it there.”

Gallery Director Rachel Talent Ivers said the reception had a slightly higher attendance than expected, and said some who attended the ceremony were from out of town. Ivers said while some of the works elicited strong emotions, she said the conversations surrounding them had been a needed experience.

“We were really thrilled with the way it was received,” Ivers said. “There were a couple of people who had tears in their eyes, which I was not anticipating.”

Ivers noted that Cox’s art is based from personal experience.

“Each one of those works came out of something she was responding to or that she felt or that she experienced,” Ivers said, who noted Cox began the series in 2015. “So I think … she was able to pour that emotion into the work.”

About Hosterman’s photography, Ivers said the photos offered a regional face to the issues presented.

“He was sharing that work, the photographs, on Instagram when he was in Charlottesville,” Ivers said. “I thought it provided a very contemporary context for VL’s work, and a somewhat local, regional context.”

Hosterman said the stories involved in the photographs capture the way local leaders and even members of Hosterman’s family was involved in the rally.

“I think the timing of this show is critical given the public events of the past year,” Hosterman said. “VL’s work is, at times, hard to look at, but it opens up the doors for conversations about race, culture and hate speech. I am honored to be part of that dialogue with my images of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville back in August. In a way, it contextualizes the issues VL brings up and shows they’re still something we need to work on as a country.”

Cainan Townsend, Director of Education & Public Programs with the Moton Museum, said the gallery offered a way to continue a needed conversation.

“This exhibit is timely, contemplative and uniting. Having the VL Cox exhibit here in Farmville is absolutely incredible,” Townsend said. “These messages about hate and divisiveness must be taught so we can have a conversation about how to combat them. We at the Moton Museum have enjoyed working with the LCVA on programming to help contextualize the exhibit. We hope people will attend, and continue the conversation.”

The galleries will run until Feb. 18.