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126 Artist & History Studio Cooperative Program

126 is a research lab that is activated for Art & History cross-disciplinary collaboration. 126 is a residence annex of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History that houses a Research Center; a Conference Room; several offices and four bathrooms, a bedroom and a fully stocked kitchen. The 126 Research Building welcomes students, professional studio artists and historian scholars as well as creative researchers to operate 126 at the intersection of public art, historical research and service. Striving to strengthen stewardship of public cultural platforms and discourse, while working to bring awareness to issues of social and cultural concern, 126 offer organizational structures that support and promote cultural connections in the Danville region through advocacy, outreach, and educational programming. 126 focuses on how important it is for more people to be involved in caring for our common communities and to re-address access to the arts and history as a commons. 126 will launch its first year in January of 2020 through 2021 and will initially host 12 visiting artists/scholars/writers that would impact programming that has the potential to reach 3,000 – 5,000 visitors at the DMFAH historical Sutherlin Mansion and its downtown Satellite Gallery at 536 Craghead Street. This Satellite Gallery location in historic downtown Danville is situated near the restored train station, the Science Center and the Community Market, as well as outdoor arena. The Sutherlin Mansion is located about 1.1 miles away in the Old West End Historic District, between Sutherlin and Holbrook Avenues.

We thank Danville Regional Foundation (DRF) For their generous support of this community outreach program.

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Past Residents

June Summer Artists Residencies supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts – ARP grant that “Kept On Giving.”

Funding through the VCA-(ARP) grant was used to fund two artist residencies: One Printing Residency by Harper Reaves and a Ceramic Studio Residency for Edwina Chen. Both residencies were conducted during the busiest "post pandemic" summer Public School sessions the museum has experienced up to date. It started a June 3 meeting with Board Member Charles Crumpler and 10 school administrators and three teachers from the EXCITE: Exploring Careers through Industry Teacher Externship. During this session the needs for school tour groups were discussed and decided that the summer residencies would serve the first school groups, and camp groups from the PEACE Center as well as the Governors School Groups coming through for History & Art tours, would get an opportunity to interact with the Swanson Studio.

Harper ReavesHarper Reaves

Residence (June 2022), Print Making

Harper Reaves is the Art Teacher at Prospect Heights Middle School in Orange, VA. She did her teacher Assistantship training through Averett University in Danville, VA where she also studies printing under Robert Marsh. During her teacher assistantship she observed classes at Tunston Middle and High School; Chatham High School; George Washington High School and Johnson Elementary. Harper Reaves has also done substitute teaching through the Pittsylvania County Public Schools at Tunston Middle School. She believes art education and the fundamentals of art can inform students and impart skills they can use throughout their lives. Harper has also worked with local Danville artist Linda Gourley at the Swanson Studio in the past.

“My reasoning for this proposal is because I want to help the younger generation of the community I grew up in to get the opportunity to be introduced to different forms of art. I want them to be able to express themselves through art with the help of the Danville Museum.

For Harper Reaves' community engagement, she focused on printmaking, specifically a form of screen-printing on T-Shirts and intaglio printing on paper. Students had hands-on experience and created their own designs and layout for their prints. She focused on using organic and geometric shapes and would go over the vocabulary that is connected to the process. She used a variety of different shapes and colors and grounds. Students and Interns experienced the inking process, and how to do this on their own with supervision, ensuring it is done correctly – and also offering the opportunity for personal exploration. Harper went over the printing process for intaglio. Her goal for this project was for students to learn and understand the printmaking process and have them experience it for themselves by pulling a series of intaglio prints. Her outcome for this project was that each student has a series of prints they can exchanged with one another and also take home a series of prints they had designed and created. 

“When looking through the museum's collection for inspiration for my artist in residence pieces I would create, I knew I wanted something that would also fit with the lesson for community engagement. While looking through the museum's collection I noticed a wood print of a Christmas card by WPA artist Carson Davenport.”

While this woodprint is very different from intaglio – one style uses the surface and the other style uses the grooves, it offers a great teaching opportunity to showcase the diversity of different printing methods.

Edwina ChenEdwina Chen

Residence (June 2022), Ceramic Studio

Edwina Chen is a multidisciplinary artist using her skills as architect, Film -maker and opera singer. She has 15 years of experience in architecture and project management. She is currently working on a project envisioned in two parts: a 2-hour documentary film and a 10-hour episodic documentary series: “Door Poem”, which sets the context and explains the significance of the door poem to Chinese culture and history while examining geneology. The finished product is intended for accession into the Library of Congress or National Archives and the Chinese National Archives, where it would be available for future scholars and researchers. Edwina Chen also seeks to create a template for others to follow as they search for their own roots. The Door Poem Project is a universal immigrant story told through a Chinese lens with global reach. It highlights the rich contributions of immigrants and preserves cultural heritage for future generations.

During her DMFAH residency as guest artist in the Swanson ceramics studio she designed a community engagement activity for a three-week interaction that could be replicated by others.

Week 1   Slab clay construction with stamps
Week 2   Bisque Fire painting with glaze
Week 3   Retrieval of fired pieces on location by diverse participants.

She made 100 pieces to give away. Her main goal was to learn kiln firing for her documentary project of a family reunion, 13 villages in China, and to write a poem to name the next 16 generations of children through genealogical research. Historically, her original family was 3000 members in one village. During a change of empires in 600 BCE/ AD her family was disbanded and fled across the globe because the new emperor feared a family who could feed 3000 at one meal sitting. The family rice pot, which cooked 3000 bowls of rice, was smashed into 297 shards and the family was scattered throughout the empire. She is recreating a Rice Pot to make 3000 bowls of rice – starting with 297 shards. Edwina Chen is intrigued by the “lost” or scattered civil rights history at the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. The African American families here – are like me – assembling families who have been displaced from the South during segregation.

 Edwina Chen Portfolio The following is a link:

On June 20 through June 28 the DMFAH A.I.R. Program offered workshops for teachers participating in the City-wide program called EXCITE: Exploring Careers through Industry Teacher Externship. Governor’s school brought through groups of students and the public schools came through with Mrs. Mary Jennings. The PEACE center participated in tours and activities. Dana Wilson at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and Kelley Weems at Goodwill of the Valleys, provided the museum with interns this summer. Through the internship-training program the art workshops had an extensive impact - skill sets translated from Artist in Residents to teachers and interns and staff, and then from Interns and staff to school groups had a far reach for community engagement that continued through the summer.

 This Summer A.I.R. Project was supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.  

Virginia Commission for the Arts Logo      National Endowment for the Arts

Cali Earp

Residence (December 2021), Lead two workshops on Papermaking and Bookbinding

Cali Earp leads two bookbinding/bookmaking workshops on December 4th and December 11th from 1pm - 4pm. 

Cali Earp is a Danville native that studied art and art education at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and Averett University; she graduated with BFA and MEd degrees. She has taught middle school art for the past seven years at Halifax County Middle School, and exhibits her personal work online and at various art shows.

Deborah Sue Kleisch, passed away on October 22, 2020. For those who loved her, she will be remembered through this Artist’s Residency for Public School Teachers. Her love for the arts and teaching were always connected. Friends donated to the Deborah Sue Kleisch Memorial Fund through the Danville Museum of Art and History, so they may continue creating and teaching with the Stratford Arts equipment Debbi toiled with in her college years. In 2020, Debbi Kleisch’s family donated all her studio materials to the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. Along with a $500 stipend, the resident artist will also receive supplies from Debbi’s studio to put towards instruction. This residency gives a public school teacher the opportunity to develop a new SOL based Art curriculum, and to connect with the DMFAH community (Staff, interns, volunteers and the Swanson Artists). This is a great opportunity to engage with the Danville Museum Swanson Studio Site, the Danville Museum Collection, and to offer a community engagement - two workshops.

Kathryn CaineKathryn Caine

Residence (October 2021), Musical Performance for Smithsonian Exhibition "Crossroads"

Kathryn Caine performed at the opening event for the Smithsonian Exhibition "Crossroads" and the Caron Davenport | 2021 Retrospective exhibit in Chatham, VA, on October 14-15, 2021. On October 14th, Kathryn performed solo and on October 15th, she performed with her daughter and son.

Kathryn has spent the majority of her life working as a musician. Art and writing were a way of funding her recording projects, so one form of art fueled the other. She began writing songs at 15 years old and never stopped. She now performs with her children, Isabel and Evans. Isabel is currently a sophomore in the School of Art and Design, and Evans is a distinguished Goodnight Scholar, both at NC State.

Kathryn has recorded 11 CD’s all available on digital outlets: Whiteville, The Kathryn Caine Band, Better, Down Home Girl, When I Was His Wife, Kathryn Caine’s Christmas, Kathryn Caine and The Small Band, Love and Mercy, A Very Love and Mercy Christmas, The Best of Kathryn Caine’s Christmas, The Gospel according To Kathryn Caine and Rogue Chapel (The Family Band).

Kathryn has a degree in Art History from the College of Charleston and a Masters of Arts in Art Education from UNC Pembroke. She has worked as a portrait artist for over 20 years, and has also published articles on different types of art, artists, art history, and music.

Calder Brannock
Calder Brannock
Residence (June - July 2021), Wanderlove Yarn Bombing Installation

After graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a sculpture MFA in 2010, Calder Brannock began working as an art handler with a shipping and installation company that frequently worked with the Smithsonian and other museums in the DC area.

In 2010 Calder Brannock received international attention for his MFA thesis project, a renovated 1967 Yellowstone camper retrofitted as a pristine art gallery complete with white walls and hardwood floors. Blake Gopnik, Washington Post chief art critic, said he was “especially keen” on Calder’s project because he “gave up the standard job of making the art in favor of providing an occasion for others to make work and show it.”

And this is what Calder did for Danville – he facilitated the installation of Wanderlove: A Stitch In Time – a Fiber Art Yarn Bombing Exhibition that opened on July 4th, 2021 along the River District walking trail between the Martin Luther King Bridge and the Pedestrian Bridge, behind the Danville Museum Science Center. On Sunday, June 27, Calder gave his first workshop at the New Pop-up Gallery in the 500 Craghead Block in the River District. Calder’s enthusiasm, while working with community groups, as well as his talent and craftsmanship as installer helped to push this exhibition over the finish line as Danville’s first community engagement art project involving 25 community groups. 

Adam Hurt and Beth Williams Hartness
Residence (March 2021) 

Adam Hurt and Beth Williams Hartness perform duets of traditional music from the Appalachian south and elsewhere with clawhammer banjo, fiddle, fingerstyle guitar, and vocals. Their engaging program will appeal to players and fans of old-time music as well as those who may be getting their very first taste of this captivating genre. 

5X Event_Logo
The 5X Walk-thru Music Event

The 5X Walk-thru Music Event offers an opportunity for five local performers to play inside the 500Block Craghead Gallery Space while those passing by, or through, the gallery can enjoy a 5-part series of small musical engagements in the River District. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a live performance and an exhibition while distanced. This is also a great opportunity for young Danville Musicians to test-drive a performance venue while building their repertoire and live audience experience. During COVID19 there is a limit of five people in a walk-through audience group.

John Sheridan - Residence (February 2021), Piano 
Local Pianist John Sheridan started this February series off on Friday, February 26, from 5-8pm by playing keyboard compositions inspired by the work of David Douglas in the exhibition SHADOWS OF PLACE. John was part of the 5X Walk-thru Music Event, giving young non-professional performers an opportunity to showcase their talents in public.

Stacey AbramsStacey Abrams

Keynote Speaker in Residence (January 2021)

Stacey Abrams, former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader and 2018 gubernatorial candidate spoke on Sunday, January 17, 2021 during a Zoom event to launch Averett University's annual America's Sunday Supper in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. week. The Sunday Supper was a result of a partnership among Averett University, CCECC and Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History. Other community partners participating in this lecture series were Middle Border Forward, the Commonwealth of Virginia, History United and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. This event was broadcasted from the Danville Museum Civil Rights Exhibition: The Movement.

In passionate Averett speech, Stacey Abrams says building community requires trust, imagination, action. To read her talk in its entirety, click here.


Veronica Jackson
Veronica Jackson

Artist in Residence (December 2020)

THE BURDEN OF INVISIBILITY - An exhibition by Veronica Jackson

Saturday, April 18 - Sunday, May 23, 2021

Veronica Jackson’s work is autobiographical, stems from her position as a black woman marking space, and responds to the travails of her ancestors. She has a multidisciplinary visual-art practice based on an interpretive exhibit design, and architecture career spanning more than three decades. Jackson tells stories using quotidian objects such as felt-lined bulletin boards, clothing, hair, handmade paper, timecards, and text. Her work addresses several internal queries arising from her plight as a black woman in America: What does it mean to be invisible? How does the designation of invisibility affect her identity and sense of self? 

Jackson’s background encompasses the critical examination of visual culture. As an architect and designer, she creatively solved problems related to the structural systems within virtual and built environments. As an artist, she records, interprets, and makes aware the complexities in which humans exist and affect their social surroundings. Her visual art making practice is a combination of past professional disciplines, present lived experiences, and the cache of contemporary and historic research accumulated. Jackson’s initial and ongoing project—The Burden of Invisibility—is the physical manifestation of her evolution from designer to visual artist, as well as a reaction to the world around her. This work forms the foundation of Jackson’s practice which investigates how black women see, don’t see, value, or devalue themselves in visual culture, and how these attitudes affect their sense of agency in constructing their own imagery or endeavors to mark space.  

Jackson’s artwork is also grounded in the belief that studying visual culture elicits transformation. As an emerging cultural producer with a socially conscious practice, her goal is to engage audiences who may benefit from the ways visual art incites the imagination to see the world differently and eventually empowers them to creatively contribute to it.

To find out more about Veronica Jackson’s work please visit her website at:

Felice McWilliams
Felice McWilliams

Artist in Residence (September 2020)

Felice McWilliams, Founder and Director of Make Danville Smile, has been known in Danville for her interactive audience engagement project using “message” rocks placed throughout the city. "Small, happy things like positive messages on a rock can change the mood in a day," she said. As a persistent agent for positive and supportive messages, Felice put her paintings skills in action on the entrance portal to the DMFAH information hub, House 126, occupied by Smokestack, Dan-River Nonprofit Networks, Lucia Video and the Museum research offices.

Felice is a native Californian, who has been an artist, singer, songwriter and musician for 40 years. She is an alumni of Middle Border Forward and was nominated for Volunteer of the Year 2019. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Danville Art League and Rainforest U. 

Anna Timm
Anna Timm

Artist in Residence (September 2020)

Anna Timm, who participated in the painting of the mural with Felice McWilliams at House 126, understands that age should not hold anybody back from participating in larger meaningful art projects underway in the Dan River Region. Anna says she was given a lot of freedom while growing up to explore the world of art history through books and to enjoy the process of creating artwork on her own. She is inspired by the psychedelic art of the 60s and 70s, and especially by the surreal works of M. C. Escher. She enjoys painting most of all, but is not afraid to pick up a pencil or a pen. She finds that being a young artist growing up in the age of social media makes it easier to get her art out there into the world, and it presents more opportunities to connect with her local immediate community, too. In the future, she hopes to get more involved with local projects; she is always be open to learning what it means to be an artist.

Jennifer Zhang
Jennifer Ruchan Zhang 

Curator in Residence (August 2020) 

Jennifer Zhang will be working from our DMFAH 20th Century Art collection to establish a new curated exhibition detailing with the work of Harriet Fitzgerald and the New York City organization she founded called the Abingdon Square Painters. Located in New York, Jennifer Zhang will be working with the Abingdon Square Painters – located in Long Island City where Jennifer Zhang is also located – and our collections intern team, to establish the historical context of the work of Harriet Fitzgerald that we currently have in our collection.  

Jennifer Zhang is a recent Masters graduate from New York University. She received her B.A in Art History and French at Wellesley College where she participated in the foreign exchange program at Aix-Marseille University in Aix-en-Provence, France. She was a summer intern in 2018 for Christie’s where she performed data analysis on commercial history and Sotherby’s activity histories. In 2017 she worked for Galerie Dumonteil editing and translating twenty-one articles for special exhibition catalogues on Gaston Suisse and Camille Roche. 

Enjoy this youtube video by Jennifer, "Harriet & Friends" a 2020 interview with NYC Abingdon Square Painters, President Anthony Mavilia, and Harriet Fitzgerald Curator in Residence for the DMFAH: Runchan/Jennifer Zhang.

Haarriet FitzgeraldHighSchool_Harriet Fitzgerald

Artmobile VanVMFAH Artmobile - Three Curators in Residence

July 14-17, 2020 • 

VMFA’s state-of-the-art traveling museum and art studio launched in October 2018. The climate-controlled 53-foot Volvo trailer includes Wi-Fi to connect visitors with VMFA educators and interactive components to meet their 21st-century expectations. The main attraction of VMFA on the Road, however, is the opportunity for residents of the Commonwealth to see and experience works of art from the VMFA collection up close. VMFA on the Road is traveling to remote corners of Virginia by way of the museum’s Statewide Partners program, which includes 1,000 locations—from community centers and small museums to colleges and universities.

Beginning Spring 2020, VMFA on the Road will feature the exhibition A View from Home: Landscapes of Virginia. The paintings, photographs, woodblock prints, and engravings from the museum’s permanent collection represent various styles and periods. Featured artists include Adele Clark, Hullihen Williams Moore, George H. Benjamin Johnson, Miwako Nishizawa, and others. A View from Home takes the place of VMFA on the Road’s first exhibition, How Far Can Creativity Take You: VMFA Fellowship Artists, which included works by Sally Mann, Cy Twombly, Dennis Winston, and others.


Val-Rae Christensen Image
Val-Rae Christensen

Writer in Residence  (June 2020)

Val-Rae Christensen is a published author, essayist, and a content creator for Her historical fiction novels, Of Moths and Butterflies, and Cry of the Peacock, have allowed her to address issues of gender and class inequality as well as trauma recovery.

In October of 2018, Val-Rae founded the Health and Peace Initiative, a community outreach endeavor to take mindfulness practices and trauma education out into the public, providing individuals with the means to self-manage stress, anxiety, depression, and the effects of adverse experiences.

As the Danville Museum of Fine Art and History’s writer in residence, and through her project “Responsibility over Guilt”, Val-Rae will offer community conversations that can lay the groundwork for healing and understanding.

Josh Lucia Image
Josh Lucia

Storytelling Through Film (May 18-27, 2020)

Creating Virtual Content in Dialogue with contents of THE MOVEMENT Civil Rights collection.

Lucia is a graduate of Chatham High School and has an associate degree from Liberty University. Josh is the owner of Lucia Video, a local video production company. He also serves as Managing Director for Smokestack Theatre Company, a non-profit theatre that serves the entire Dan River Region with live performances, classes, and more. While many of the projects he works on with Lucia Video have a focus on marketing, every project includes creative elements. Josh has a passion for creative storytelling through film and video. He will be working on a virtual tour of the Museum’s current exhibit, “The Movement: Danville’s Civil Rights” and hopes to bring this important exhibit beyond the walls of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History.

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Kate McDannold
Kate McDannold

Virtual Education & Community Engagement (April 5 - 30, 2020)

Virtual Interactive Educational Content | Learning & Exploration Formats for Camilla Williams

Kate McDannold is a Museum studies Graduate student with a passion for developing unique learning experiences for all audiences. Skilled in program creation, historical research, community outreach, peer tutoring, and collaborative project development in a museum setting she developed the DMFAH virtual education formats for creative engagement. Working towards an MA in Museum Studies from UNC-Greensboro. As an education Department Intern Kate developed and hosted educational programming at the Children’s Museum in Greensboro and successfully led 500 students through summer activities there. She trained and supervised a team of 12 volunteers for this.

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Karen Williamson
Karen Williamson

Writing Legacy Narratives: Capturing & Celebrating Your Story (January 25 - February 5, 2020)

Workshop for All Writers | Creating Narrative Content Using Danville Timelines & Family Legacies

Karen Williamson, born in the mid-west, raised in the suburbs of Washington DC and currently living in Caswell County, NC, is a Board Member for the Thomas Day House/Union Tavern in Milton, NC. Williamson is the historian for the Danville, Virginia Chapter of the African American Historical & Genealogical Society (AAHGS). Williamson is a strong advocate of programs/information that advances the study and tells the rich stories of African American genealogy and history; especially those stories that originate from the Caswell County, NC, and Danville, VA areas. Karen is a 1986 graduate of James Madison University with a major in Marketing and a minor in Dance Theater. Professionally, she has been a sales rep for Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson/McNeil, and PepsiCo. Avocationally, she is an award winning artist in photography and reed weaving.

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Elise SchafferElise Schaffer

Virtual Tour Creator Training  (January 12-16, 2020)

Google Tour for Non-profits and Local Businesses | Creating Virtual Content Using Free Resources 

Elise Schaffer is a senior Arts Administration major (Class of May 2020) from Penn State University, Lehigh Valley campus in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. Elise has previously worked as an intern for the Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Ronald K DeLong Gallery, a Project Assistant for the Spotted Lanternfly: Zones of Syncopation community arts project and as a teaching assistant for the Virtual Education Department at Penn State Lehigh Valley. Elise’s undergraduate research focuses on virtual resources for arts and cultural organizations and accessibility adaptations for arts spaces. 

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