Gov. Northam, VMFA announce COVID-19 relief grant recipients

Virginia artists receive $5K in COVID grants

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam, First Lady Pamela Northam and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Director and CEO Alex Nyerges announced 40 Virginia artists who will receive $5,000 grants through a special program to help visual artists impacted by COVID-19.

“It’s almost like a lottery because there’s so many tremendous artists throughout the nation,” said visual artist recipient, Steve Prince.

“It’s encouraging, inspiring and it’s just going to keep me motivated to do my work,” said conceptual artist recipient, Veronica Jackson.

Jackson is a conceptual artist from Bedford who tells stories of what it means to be a black woman in America. She says this grant lets her know that her work is making a mark within the community.

“It means that I matter, that my art matters, someone wants to hear my voice,” said Jackson.

As for Prince, he’s based in Williamsburg but often travels to share his artwork that he says focuses on injustice in America.

He says COVID-19 has caused him to cancel several major projects.

“A number of my gigs that I normally have, have been canceled and pushed to online and doing Zoom, and that’s very different than I’m used to doing,” said Prince.

Both of these artists agree COVID-19 has been a challenging picture to paint but says it’s time to adjust, and this money will help get them back on their feet.

“Use it to support the work and keep doing the work I do in the studio,” said Prince.

“Going to pay some bills, and it will also allow me to buy some supplies and make some work,” said Jackson.

In total, the grant distributed a total of $200,000 in funding and the artists say it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program grant full list of recipients include:

  • Emine Sermin Ciddi (Alexandria)
  • Veronica Jackson (Bedford)
  • Mojdeh Rezaeipour (Burke)
  • Tina Curtis (Charlottesville)
  • Eliza Lamb (Chester)
  • Nikki Painter (Chesterfield)
  • Jordan Shanks (Chesterfield)
  • Alfonso Perez Acosta (Chesterfield)
  • Michael Childers (Fairfax)
  • Soomin Ham (Fairfax)
  • Jun Lee (Falls Church)
  • Wendy Werstlein (Floyd)
  • Lorie McCown (Fredericksburg)
  • Sandy Williams IV (Glen Allen)
  • Kemi Layeni (Hampton)
  • Ethan Brown (King William)
  • Noah Velez (Leesburg)
  • Scot Turner (Newport News)
  • Kimberly McKinnis (Norfolk)
  • Khalil Riddick (Norfolk)
  • S. Ross Browne (Richmond)
  • Hamilton Glass (Richmond)
  • Alicia Little (Richmond)
  • Jaydan Moore (Richmond)
  • Barry O’Keefe (Richmond)
  • Eva Rocha (Richmond)
  • Ricardo Vicente Jose Ruiz (Richmond)
  • Leigh Suggs (Richmond)
  • Luis Vasquez (Richmond)
  • Kendra Wadsworth (Richmond)
  • Susan Jamison (Roanoke)
  • Suzanne Stevens (Virginia Beach)
  • Nastassja Swift (Virginia Beach)
  • Steve Prince (Williamsburg)

Six other artists, who asked not to be named, from Charlottesville, Centerville, Lynchburg, Monroe, Richmond and Roanoke rounded out the list of grant recipients.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) received more than 350 applications for this program.

The Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program is funded utilizing the accrued excess balance of the museum’s existing Artist Fellowship Endowment established in 1941 through a generous gift made by the late John Lee Pratt of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Through this endowment, VMFA has awarded nearly $5.8 million to Virginia artists in the Commonwealth over the past 80 years.

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