Robert E. Lee Monument with graffiti, memorials inspiring Richmond artists

8News Digital Exclusive

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — From photography and memorials for victims of police brutality, to designs of unity and visual projections of George Floyd — the Robert E. Lee Monument has inspired creativity in Richmond over the past week.

Graphic designer Jake Van Yahres, who created the Kobe Bryant paper ball tribute in Richmond, made an image using Adobe Illustrator that shows two hands coming together to create the Unite RVA logo.

“The meaning behind it, for me, it’s not so much the black and white,’ Yahres said. ” For me, it’s right and wrong coming together. It’s different people from different backgrounds.

“That symbol, it makes sense. Because that’s kind of what Richmond is. It’s a whole bunch of different people. Really, its reflective of the city. That’s why it works, because of what Richmond does.”

Van Yahres said he plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from his design to Art 180, a non-profit organization that specializes in bringing art-related programs to young people in challenging circumstances.

For photographers like Marcus Ingram, the monument inspired visuals of elegance in hard times.

“Ballerinas are delicate … They’re strong but they’re delicate. It’s the same scenario with that statue. That statue is super impactful, but it also has sentimental value to other people,” Ingram said.

Richmond dancers come together at the Robert E. Lee monument 2
Richmond dancers come together at the Robert E. Lee monument on June 5, 2020, after Northam’s announcement to take it down as soon as possible. (Kennedy George on the left, Ava Holloway on the right. Photo: Marcus Ingram)

He took his Canon Mark II camera, photographed two local ballet students at the Robert E. Lee monument on Friday and shared his photos with 8News and posted them on his Instagram account. His Instagram post featuring the images went viral and was shared by celebrities like Courtney Love, Shaun King, and Wood Harris.

“It kept going, and kept going, and kept going, and people started messaging me and emailing me. Then the next morning I woke up and Shaun King had posted it. And I was like, ‘oh, this is super wild…,” Ingram said.

He also said his goal was just to be a part of something great.

“Throughout the week I was telling my own story through my photos and through Instagram,” he said. “From how my friends got affected on Broad Street, to how we had to board up our store, to going to one of the protests and just be there and capture the moment.”

“Be more impactful. Or try and be more impactful. Or do something for a greater cause, besides myself.”

Marcus Ingram
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