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‘A platform of influence’

As a community of artists, the students and alumni of VCUarts have a unique voice, one that can foster an understanding of different experiences, create space for difficult conversations, and even reshape society.

This has been especially evident in recent weeks. Here are just a few of the students and alumni who are creating new work to mark this critical point in our cultural history, and leveraging their creative platforms to advocate for social justice for Black lives.

Read more about their work.

Spotlight on the Class of 2020

The graduates in the Class of 2020 are inspired by questions of identity, current social and political issues, and the world around them. They have performed with symphonies and ballets, exhibited in the Anderson, and researched the role of the arts in the world today.

Read more about the Class of 2020.

Mindfulness in music

Amora Mikell, a cellist and music major, was awarded a research fellowship for her project, “The Effects of Meditation and Mindfulness on Musicians’ Self-Talk and Performance Anxiety.” She and mentor Tiffany Valvo, assistant professor of clarinet, will identify music students’ key difficulties and administer different work methods to test their effectiveness.

Read more about her project.

VCU wins $15,000 from NEA


The National Endowment for the Arts awarded VCU a $15,000 grant to support the production of a new documentary film by Sasha Waters Freyer, the professor of photo and film whose documentary on photographer Garry Winogrand aired on PBS in April 2019.


Read more about the NEA award.

The sculpture designed to spread and grow


Craft alumna Magdolene Dykstra (MFA ’18) has been creating work that explores the interconnectedness of humanity and how she fits into a population of billions. Her latest sculpture at the Gardner Museum in Toronto was intended to expand over the course of an exhibition as if it were a living, infectious ooze. But a real disease cut the show short—and underscored how much we need each other.


Read more about Dykstra’s exhibition.

Tawnya Pettiford-Wates promoted to full professor


Pettiford-Wates, or “Dr. T” as she’s fondly known in VCUarts Theatre, has achieved the highest ranking for a tenured professor at VCUarts. She is an award-winning playwright, director, actor, poet, writer and educator whose international career spans all aspects of the art of theatre. She has called VCU and Richmond home for more than 15 years.


Read more about Pettiford-Wates.

In memoriam: VCUarts Qatar founding director Paul Petrie


Paul Petrie was the founding director of the Shaqab College of Design Arts in Doha, Qatar—now known as VCUarts Qatar—and the former department chair of interior design at the Monroe Park Campus. His leadership at the School of the Arts, both at home and abroad, established a global standard of education that has touched the lives of thousands of students. 


Learn more about Paul Petrie.

Virginia Commonwealth University | School of the Arts

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