Recent VCUarts Graduates Maintain Their Creative Practice in VisArts’ Studios

May 02, 2018 Features

For recent VCUarts graduates, the Visual Arts Center of Richmond is an inviting space where they can continue making art.

Jonah Hacinas, Austin Miles and Elson Bickford are part of the first wave of studio monitors who VisArts brought on board to help supervise the center’s 15 studios during designated open studio hours. Students have always been able to work independently in VisArts studios, but in January the center began offering paid access to people who aren’t taking classes.

The trio of new grads is part of growing community of artists who are taking advantage of the art-making spaces and resources at VisArts.

Hacinas works in the wood studio. At VCU, she studied interior design and earned a minor in crafts with a focus on woodworking. During her quiet Sunday morning open studio hours, Hacinas explores the tools in the shop and practices new skills.

“All the tools and machines you need are right there and it just gets your brain rolling,” she said.

She started by creating a few cutting boards and charcuterie boards, then worked up to building a side table with joinery techniques she learned at VCU.

Hacinas also said the communal aspect of the studio is a perk that’s allowed her to share her skills with beginners and learn from more experienced artists. A recent highlight was working alongside Quirk+VisArts Artist-in-Residence Trish Tillman, who tackled several advanced woodworking projects for her exhibition at the center. “It was great to learn about Trish’s process,” Hacinas said.

Austin Miles graduated from VCU in December 2017 with a degree in communication arts and a minor in painting. She was looking for a space where she could continue to paint and take classes. Miles said joining VisArts’ open studio program has proven to be a good way to maintain her creative practice and meet other artists. “It’s been great for building a community outside of VCU,” she said. “It’s a networking opportunity and a good way to meet new people.”

Elson Bickford, a 2016 VCUarts graduate who studied photography, discovered VisArts’ open studio program at a time when he was lacking a creative space to get back into photography. Working in a studio with other photographers has been essential for drawing inspiration and meeting new people, he said. “I feel really fortunate that, now that I’m out of VCU, there’s still the opportunity to work in a really nice, large darkroom space,” he said.

In addition to working on photography projects, he’s excited about the opportunity to explore other media taught at the center. “I think that’s a big draw for VCU students who’re graduating because I know that at VCU they’re always pushing students to extend their media and integrate those extended media into our work,” he said.

Learn more about paying for studio access at VisArts.