Some local resources and activities
This last year has been remarkable for how much it changed and how much remained the same. I have found myself pulling inward to cope with all of the stresses - and looking at my own experiences, biases and what I contribute to making others feel safe and comfortable.
I normally celebrate all of these random holidays - like National Cotton Candy Day or National Iced Tea Day. You may have noticed that I didn’t publicly celebrate Black History Month or Womens’ History Month these last few months. In fact, I think the stories shared during these months should be part of history and not separate.
Having said that, I’ve tried to honor the meaning of the events from these last few months by highlighting some stories that deserve a wider audience - using several local resources. These are resources that I’ve explored to check my own privileges as a white woman. They offer my children role models that I can’t find in their own history books. They share stories that we might not have heard, and they help us grapple with the dichotomy of Charlottesville. These organizations also offer many local and virtual programs if you wish to explore yourself. And as always, I welcome commentary and suggestions for my own further education and to share with others.
As I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, I’ve learned so much more about the world, about needlepoint and design, about people, and about myself. The biggest lesson is that I have so much more to learn, and that opportunities for growth are everywhere. The more diverse my world, the richer it becomes. I hope to honor some people who are helping me along my journey. I also recognize the many privileges I have been afforded. And I recognize and acknowledge that what these organizations mean to me have different meanings to others.
Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
The Jefferson School City Center houses many different organizations under one roof, including Carver Recreation Center, The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Common Ground, Pearl River Catering (YUM), The Womens’ Initiative and several other health and education focused organizations.
I am going to focus on the programs that the Jefferson School African American Center offers. We are lucky to have such an organization in our community, as they honor and preserve the heritage and legacy of the African - American community. They promote, through their theatre, arts and lecture programs, a greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions of African Americans locally, nationally and globally.
In recent years, as part of their Living Education series, they offered August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle, a series of 10 plays which which chronicle the experiences and heritage of the African-American community in the 20th century.
What I’ve appreciated as I raised my own children is the programming and research for local educators to supplement their lessons with more information about African American history. They have several permanent exhibitions that celebrate African American art, as well as many temporary exhibitions by Afrian American artist.
Lastly, they offer virtual lectures, most recently highlighting the roles that African American women made in advancing the Nineteenth Amendment.
For more information, please visit them in person or virtually https://jeffschoolheritagecenter.org/
The Kluge-Ruhe Museum
The Kluge-Ruhe is the only museum outside of Australia dedicated to the exhibition and study of Indigenous Australian art. It is located near the grounds of the new Martha Jefferson/Sentara Hospital, and it is part of the UVA Arts program.
We salute the Kluge-Rule for its culture of inclusivity and respect for native and indigenous artists. As we explored the exhibitions, we were impressed by the sensitivity to the needs of the artists whose work is represented.
The museum highlights the challenges that many indigenous artists face. It gives the artists outreach and a voice to tell their stories. Some are stories of triumph, some of despair. Many have story lines parallel to the histories of Civil Rights and Native American Rights in the USA.
The museum’s efforts help open new markets to many of the artists they have showcased as well. Museum staff works closely with artists to establish trust. They respect the artists’ wishes about where and how their art is to be displayed. The museum is keenly aware of the egregious harm and appropriation that has been done to indiginous peoples throughout history. At Kluge-Ruhe, the artists represented have chosen to have their work shared with a wider, international audience.
When artists were able to travel here for residencies, the audience who heard their stories and saw their work was vastly expanded. In many cases, this opened up new art markets for these artists, giving them financial empowerment.
The museum offers in person and virtual tours of their exhibits, which include paintings, fiber arts and textiles. We are grateful they are part of the Charlottesville community. For a virtual tour of a recent exhibit showcasing Fiber Art, please follow this youtube link: With Her Hands: Women’s Fiber Art from Gapuwiyak | The Louise Hamby Gift.
For more information about visiting the museum, which is open by reservation, please visit them online https://kluge-ruhe.org/.