Northam and VMFA announce winners of Virginia Visual Artist Relief Program


Northam announcing the winners of the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program. (Photo: Will McCue)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The VMFA and Gov. Ralph Norham announced the 40 winners of the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program on Tuesday.

The program was created to assist visual artists impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each winner received a $5,000 grant.

“Art has a profound way of inspiring, healing, and providing meaning during challenging times—and we need that now more than ever,” said Governor Ralph Northam.

In total, the program is giving away $200,00 to artists across the commonwealth. Funding came from the museum’s Artist Fellowship Endowment.

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“Artists’ livelihoods and their ability to continue making art have been directly impacted by cancelled exhibitions and gallery and museum closures as a result of the pandemic,” said Alex Nyerges, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Director and CEO. “We sought to use resources we have available to help sustain artists in Virginia through this critical time.”

The endowment was founded in 1941  from a gift made by John Lee Pratt. Pratt gave them money saying the funds were only to be used to support professional artists in Virginia. Since then, the VMFA has awarded almost $5.8 million dollars to artists in the commonwealth.

Northam standing with some of the grant winners. (Photo: Will McCue)

Here are the winners:

  • 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.


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