Various mediums of art intertwine nature, human body at exhibition

Gallery5’s latest exhibition ‘Botanical Bodies’ features various mediums of artwork exploring nature and the human body. Photo by Jessica Vigil.

Jessica Vigil, Contributing Writer

Joshua Miklos, Contributing Writer

Works of various mediums exploring nature and the human body were featured at Gallery5’s 19th-anniversary celebration, which showcased its new exhibition “Botanical Bodies,” according to the Gallery5 website

The “Botanical Bodies” exhibition was curated by Gallery5 founder Amanda Robinson and freelance artist Brit Austin after they stumbled upon the idea during a casual conversation. 

The event occurred alongside the RVA First Fridays event on Friday, April 5. RVA First Fridays, a Richmond tradition, is an art walk through Richmond’s Art District in which galleries, shops, restaurants and musicians bring the community together by displaying diverse forms of art, according to the Culture Works website

Gallery5 has brand new exhibitions during each RVA First Friday, according to Robinson.

Gallery5 also invites local bands and other live artists to perform in their space every First Friday after 7 p.m., according to Robinson. Featured at the opening of “Botanical Bodies” were local Richmond bands Glowr, We Never and Sweet Potatoes.

The combination of musical art with visual art and community involvement is what makes up the full experience of Gallery5, Robinson said.

One of Gallery5’s core values is to incorporate many different mediums of art, especially within the graphic arts, Robinson said. On display as a part of “Botanical Bodies” were paintings, drawings, photo prints, sculptures, pyrographic designs and more. Many artists utilized multiple mediums in their pieces. 

Gallery5 has worked to promote and uplift emerging artists for 19 years, Robinson said.

“When you’re working on creating an exhibition, you’re thinking about works that play off of each other, but also works that really embody the mission of the show,” Robinson said.

Robinson and Austin received nearly 600 individual art piece submissions from over 125 artists for the exhibition, Robinson said. The duo aimed to create a theme that resonated with Richmond’s community.

“Richmond has a lot of amazing local artists, and supporting local artists is worth doing,” Austin said.

Through various forms of art, the “Botanical Bodies” exhibition demonstrates how the human body and the natural world intertwine, Austin said. The exhibition aims to reinforce the naturality of the human body in a world that idealizes unrealistic beauty standards.

“Whether it’s morbid, as the decay of the body, or it’s the celebration of the human form, I feel like we need to see more of that,” Robinson said. 

Viewing the art is like “looking into a mirror,” Austin said. 

Austin and Robinson also explained how space limitations and the mediums of art displayed go into the curation process.

“The color choices, the details, and the subject matter — even all those little things really play off one another because it tells a different story if you switch things up,” Austin said. 

The purpose behind “Botanical Bodies” is to provide a space for the community to reflect on their individual perceptions of nature, Austin said.

“Richmond is a city that loves its plants and nature, but also loves its crumbly brick,” Austin said.

The exhibition offers a non-judgemental space for people to enjoy art while being immersed in the community, said Dev Temu, a Richmond local and event attendee.

Not only did the opening of “Botanical Bodies” bring together people from the Richmond area, but it attracted the larger Virginia community as well.

“A whole car-full of us drove out from Charlottesville to come see it,” said Jess Mink, a friend of one of the exhibition’s featured artists.

The gallery aims to provide a space for both artists and art appreciators in the Richmond community, according to the Gallery5 website.

“Gallery5 believes in the power of the arts to promote change and engage diverse communities through inclusive collaborations and accessible programming,” according to the Gallery5 website.

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