Mackenzie Meleski, Contributing Writer
Richmond is a canvas for spreading positivity and inspiration for artists Andrea and Kevin Orlosky who create sculptures, murals and interactive art at their studio and around the city.
The Orloskys actively include community members in their creative endeavors and make art that is accessible to everyone, according to their website.
“Richmond has a wonderful, welcoming arts community, and there are so many talented artists in this town,” Andrea Orlosky said. “And the culture of the arts community here is very collaborative and collegial.”
The Orloskys, a married couple based in Richmond, both graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2004, according to their website. They currently own and operate the Orlosky Studio located in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood in Richmond. They create murals, sculptures and interactive installations at the studio.
Before opening their art studio, the couple created the non-profit art program Art on Wheels in 2007. The program provides art enrichment in underserved communities and uses art as physical and emotional therapy for members of the elderly, disabled and hospitalized communities, according to the Art on Wheels website.
The program is still active in Richmond today and run by Interim Executive Director Kathleen O’Connor.
“The core of the program is this deep expression of care and concern for communities and their wellbeing,” O’Connor said.
The art studio’s creations in Richmond include a print that honors over 200 people affected by cancer and a sculpture created using a medieval ballista to honor veterans, according to their website.
The Orlosky Studio contributed a tower of poems about positivity to the annual Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens’ Dominion Festival of Lights in December 2021. The festival included “millions of lights and decorations for the holiday season,” according to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens’ website.
The Poems of Positivity Towers was a collaboration between the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens staff, the Orlosky studio and community members of Richmond. The Orloskys published a Google Forms survey asking what makes people feel positive which received over 100 responders. The responses provided words and phrases that resonated with them, which were then crafted into towers of poems, according to Andrea Orlosky. The poems are made from acrylic, ink and wood with LED lights to illuminate them.
Beth Anne Booth, Guest Engagement Specialist at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, helped to organize the festival and the Orlosky Studio’s involvement. She felt that the collaboration between Orlosky Studio and Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens was in line with both organizations’ missions.
“We are very much a community garden. Having something specific to community was really reflective of our mission of connection and community,” Booth said.
To start their creative process, Kevin Orlosky said that the couple identifies a message they want to convey to the public. They then figure out how to communicate said message through a project that involves community members and local artists.
“The production process will differ whether it’s an interactive piece made at an event, or a finished piece that is temporary or even permanent,” Kevin Orlosky said.
For example, the studio created an interactive piece titled “Together Apart,” an installation that people could interact with and contribute their own ideas, according to their website.
Community members were asked to paint rocks describing something that they miss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1,362 rocks were placed together in the shape of a hand for the temporary installation, according to the Orlosky Studio website.
The goal of “Together Apart” was to illustrate similarities as well as the different ways in which people dealt with the pandemic, as well as how to bring people back together as a community, according to their website.
The Orloskys said their hope for the future is to commission a community based art project outside of Richmond, with their biggest goal being to expand internationally.
“We couldn’t imagine a better life than traveling from city to city, town to town and creating meaningful and memorable public art everywhere,” Andrea Orlosky said.