Richmond artists combine art and activism in new coloring book

Richmond Now! documents the city's changing history and landscape in activity book

Richmond artists combine art and activism in new coloring book

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - From protests to debates over monuments, there is a lot happening in Richmond right now.

For some people, young or old, it can be confusing. So, two friends decided to take it upon themselves to explain what’s happening in a fun way, and they are using their shared passion for art to do it.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but snapshots of the recent protests in Richmond inspire some to turn those words into action.

“Art and activism have always gone hand-in-hand,” said Richmond Now! co-founder Rian Moses.

Moses and Virginia Murphy are two artists who share a 13-year friendship filled with both collaborations and, most recently, deep conversations.

"When George Floyd was murdered and I think everyone was trying to process it, and we had our first protest in Richmond, I was just so taken aback by how amazing this moment was in Richmond and the history that was happening. As I was talking to Rian, I was like, 'well, what can we contribute?' " said Murphy.

"Art is our specialty. So we decided to take photos that other people had taken at the protests, and turn them into coloring pages," said Moses.

And with that, given permission from the various photographers, they created their newest project called Richmond Now!.

It's a coloring book for children and adults, with images documenting the changes happening in the city and why.

The book also includes lots of lessons between the lines.

"I actually try to put the words inside of the image so that as you are coloring it, you're reading it once again and filling in every shape," said Murphy. "I imagine a parent and a child can sit at their table and work on these together and talk about what the image says, what it looks like, who is in it, what are the roles people are playing and what does that mean."

Coloring for context. It is a way these artists hope to educate and empower people through images of a changing city.

"Right now, in the 2020s, I think art is going to be a powerful tool," said Moses.

The activity book also includes puzzles.

The book is offered through a downloadable file. It is also free, however, donations to area organizations are encouraged.

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