The map of Richmond is the first noticeable thing on the wall on the 4th floor of the Anderson Gallery.
Pins on the map signify the various outdoor community projects thriving in Richmond. These projects include community gardens in the Carver Community Garden, Byrd Park Community Garden and Richmond’s only urban farm created by members of Tricycle Gardens, a local environmental non-profit organization.
The exhibition, “Portrait As Community,” is actually a course offered by the department of photography and film, VCU Libraries and the Anderson Gallery. The course is taught by Yuki Hibben, assistant head of special collections at Cabell Library, and Michael Lease, head of exhibitions and design for the Anderson Gallery.
This course was organized by the Anderson Gallery, South African photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa and American studies scholar Laura Browder.
“This whole exhibit began as a response to a project integration of Richmond public schools in the 60s and capturing the feelings of people who lived during that time period,” Lease said.
Katie Fowler, a senior art student at VCU, chose to do her project on undocumented immigrant communities.
“One of the hardest parts for me was the fact that I couldn’t speak any Spanish and also trying to identify those people,” Fowler said.
Fowler’s project, “On Hollow Ground,” featured distorted pictures of immigrants. Fowler wanted the distortion to portray the divide separating U.S. citizens from these immigrants.
“I wanted to give a voice to those communities that are often underrepresented,” Fowler said. Her project aimed to educate those who were unaware of the struggles of these immigrants.
“Students were asked to work, in class, as a community would and help each other out,” Hibben said. Hibben teaches the class that fed into the exhibition.
Another senior art student, Breonca Trofort, chose a subject that caught the eyes of several of the viewers at the exhibit.
“Lost But Not Forgotten” is an investigation, conducted by Trofort herself, of missing persons in Richmond. She did extensive research and took photographs where the victims were last seen or where their bodies were found.
“I could really relate to the families of the victims because one of my family members has been missing since September of 2011. I feel like now their voices can be heard through my project,” Trofort said.
“Portrait as Community” will be on display on the 4th floor of the Anderson Gallery from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9.