From the west coast to the east coast, the innovative artist collective John Q is getting attention nationally for a cluster of activities designed to showcase memory, history, archives and issues through a gay lens.
This spring, the trio--which includes VCU Libraries' Wesley Chenault, Ph.D.--presented their latest work, The Campaign for Atlanta, at Atlanta's historic Cyclorama. Their so-called "visual essay" was a culmination of public discussions at the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco, during the National Queer Arts Festival, intensive reseach visits in Georgia and California, and two sessions at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center.
According to the organizers' press materials, The Campaign for Atlanta tells intertwining stories of migration, memory and the visual representation of history. The Cyclorama's large-scale, panoramic painting of the Battle of Atlanta is itself an artifact that traveled from city to city before landing permanently in Atlanta. A century after the Civil War, a young photographer and gay man Crawford Barton left his hometown of Resaca, Ga. - a key Civil War battle site - to migrate to Atlanta and then San Francisco. In the heady days between Gay Liberation and the AIDS epidemic, he created photographs of San Francisco gay culture that are now considered iconic.
The Campaign for Atlanta features Barton's super-8mm movies of 1970s San Francisco, Resaca, and Atlanta, and uncovers connections between 19th-century landscapes and 20th-century counterculture; between military history and museum display; and between movements across painting and the cinema screen, and from city to country.
This is just the kind of untold story John Q tells.
Formed in 2009, John Q is an artist collective consisting of Wesley Chenault, Andy Ditzler, and Joey Orr. Chenault is head, Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library.
More about John Q
- June, 5-19: John Q has a residency (2013 Southern Constellation Fellows) at Elsewhere, a Greensboro, N.C. based arts organization and museum.
- October-December, Migrating Archives traveling exhibition, will be on view at VCU Libraries. E.G. Crichton, who teaches art at the University of California at Santa Cruz and created the traveling exhibit, will be in Richmond to speak and take part in programs tied to the exhibition.
- Fall of 2014, John Q is part of a group show at the Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw State University, Ga. As part of an ongoing conversation about collaboration and memory, the museum is producing a catalogue about John Q's work that will put its work in an expanded scholarly context.
Save the dates of Oct. 21-25 for the 2013 VCU Friends of the Library Book Sale. As in the past several years, the sale will be held in the basement of James Branch Cabell Library, in room B7. Expect another wide selection of books of all varieties, from novels to medical texts, as well as comics, audio books, music CDs, DVDs and much more. All proceeds from the sale will help to fund VCU Libraries collections and programs. For additional details, please see the event website.
To help make this year's sale another great success, please consider making a donation of books or other materials. Donations are accepted year-round, and donors may arrange to drive up to Cabell Library so that library staff can help unload. A donation form and guidelines for what types of books and materials we can and cannot accept may be found on our donations page. For additional questions or to schedule a time to make your donation, please contact Gregory Kimbrell at (804) 828-0593 or email@example.com.
Having consulted and discussed reviews written by volunteer readers, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award committee in the Department of English has narrowed down the list of 14 semifinalist books for the 2013 contest to three finalists:
- "No One Is Here Except All of Us," by Ramona Ausubel (pub. Riverhead Books)
- "When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man," by Nick Dybek (pub. Riverhead Books)
- "Girldchild," by Tupelo Hassman (pub. Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
All three books have been gathering acclaim. Ramona Ausubel's book, about a remote Jewish village in which the residents reimagine their history when confronted with the outbreak of WWII, was chosen as a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and has been named one of the best books of the year by The Huffington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times Book Review describes it as "fantastical and ambitious" and "infused with faith in the power of storytelling." Nick Dybeck's book takes readers to an island off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, where a boy's life is changed by his father's involvement in the fate of a local fishery. Malcolm Forbes, for The Daily Beast, calls the book "a complex and riveting tale about deception and betrayal." Tupelo Hassman's book has won the 2012 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and the 2013 Alex Award and has also appeared on a number of lists of the best books of the year. Popular author Aimee Bender says of the book, which follows a young girl trying to escape life in a trailer park by reading literature, "This amazing debut spills over with love but is still absolutely unflinching and real."
The three finalist books have been given to a panel of three judges including last year's winner, Justin Torres, for the selection of this year's winner. Stay tuned for an announcement in the coming weeks and an update on the celebratory event to be scheduled for late in the fall semester.
- Caitlin Klimavicz: The starchy scent of cooking rice filled the small home of a young mother in La Hicaca, Honduras. Located in the rural mountains of Northern Honduras, La Hicaca has no running water or electricity. I traveled to La Hicaca in June with HOMBRE, a group of doctors, residents, medical and pharmacy students from MCV. We lived in La Hicaca and provided basic medical care to local patients in clinics each day. Since there is no reliable source of clean water, poor water quality is a major determinant of health in the region. Due to deforestation, wood is a precious commodity used only for cooking, not for boiling water. HOMBRE has distributed simple water filters to address this need for several years. As we traveled around the village to test water samples from the filters we were greeted warmly in many homes like this one.
- Elizabeth Diaz: A couple members of the Richmond Global Health Alliance taking in the breathtaking view during a morning hike. Hiking at such a high altitude is challengingand requires a lot of break, however, you can tell that the view was worth it. It's nowonder the locals call Pampas Grande "El BalcÃ³n Suspendido entre el Mar y el Cielo" translated as "The Balcony Suspended between the Sea and the Sky".
Elizabeth Diaz: Brothers waiting for their mom to finish up her visit in the clinic
- Kristin Bell: Photos from the Christian Medical & Dental Association (CMDA) Medical Mission trip during Spring break 2012. Medical, Pharmacy and Dental students traveled with practitioners to San Salvador to provide clinics in cooperation with La Casa de mi Padre and medical students from San Salvador.
On Friday, May 3, hundreds of students preparing to graduate from VCU gathered at the Science Museum of Virginia for the event Your Passport to the World. Held annually, the event celebrates the achievements of the students with a soirée featuring international food from local vendors, music and dancing. Students also have the opportunity of visiting with representatives from many VCU departments to learn more about how to stay connected with the university after graduation and what resources it has to offer for helping graduates to advance their careers. VCU Libraries was, of course, there this past May 3 to talk about the VCU Friends of the Library and our extensive community programs. More importantly, though, we wanted to congratulate the students, every one of whom had visited Cabell Library or Tompkins-McCaw Library, whether in person or online, countless times during their studies. Best wishes for the future, and please keep in touch!
As the 2013 spring semester ends and the summer begins, we look back on an academic year packed with public events. A glance through the list reveals an astonishing variety, from an exhibit of fossils to an exhibit focusing on medical outreach, from a panel about library technology to a presentation by a comics and fantasy artist. These events would not have been possible without the concerted efforts of the entire VCU Libraries staff, the VCU Friends of the Library, the James Branch Cabell Library Library Associates, and many other library supporters around VCU and the Richmond community. To everyone, a big thanks for your help.
And in case you missed any events, a number of them can be watched in video form on the VCU Libraries YouTube channel (see below for individual links).
"Books You Carry with You" exhibit | August 6-September 27
This exhibit, on loan from the Richmond Public Library, featured the reflections of more than 50 Richmond leaders about the children's books that had taught them invaluable lessons. For its appearance in Cabell Library, it was expanded to include a wall on which visitors could post their own thoughts about the children's books that they loved. The wall accumulated hundreds of Post-it Notes featuring everything from Aesop's fables to "Harry Potter."
"Australopithecine!" exhibit | August 20-December 18
The VCU School of World Studies anthropology program arranged this exhibit of facsimile fossilized skeletons of two specimens of Australopithecus sediba, a human-like primate thought by some researchers to be an ancestor of Homo sapiens. Students from the anthropology program conducted special instructional sessions for high-school classes that came to see the exhibit.
Robert Browning exhibit | October 18-December 7
In conjunction with the 2012 Victorian Institute Annual Conference held at VCU, this exhibit offered library visitors the opportunity to browse vintage papers, books, ephemera and other materials pertaining to English poet Robert Browning. All of the items came from the extensive collection of Mark Samuels Lasner and were on loan from the University of Delaware.
CHEC 10th Anniversary Lecture | October 18
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Community Health Education Center (CHEC), VCU Libraries and VCU Health Systems hosted this lecture by John J. Nance, popular novelist and authority on patient safety. Nance proposed a model of healthcare in which the various branches of medicine worked together to provide the highest possible degree of service to patients.
VCU Friends of the Library Annual Book Sale | October 24-28
Every year, people from miles around Richmond travel to Cabell Library for the book sale sponsored by the VCU Friends of the Library. The book sale this past year was one of the most successful ever, thanks in part to enormous collections of comic books, audio books and classic series for children and young adults, such as "Nancy Drew" and "The Hardy Boys."
VCU Cabell First Novelist Award celebration | November 8
Justin Torres, winner of the 2012 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, read from his novel, "We the Animals," and was joined by his agent and publisher for a discussion, led by Richmond-based writer Valley Haggard, on the evolution of the novel and its unique style and thematic content. The event drew attendees from around the region, including many students from the Appomattox Regional Governor's School for the Arts and Technology.
"Moving up to the Cloud" panels | January 9
Librarians from Virginia and beyond gathered for this pair of panels focusing on the future of library information systems and on VCU Libraries' historic move to Alma, cutting-edge cloud-based software for cataloging and managing library resources. The panels featured important voices in the field of information systems, including Marshall Breeding, Mark Ryland of Amazon Web Services, and Mark Triest, president of Ex Libris North America, as well as VCU University Librarian John Ulmschneider.
Panel 1 video | Panel 2 video
11th Annual Black History Month Lecture | February 5
An audience of 400 packed the house for this lecture featuring Innocence Project co-director Peter Neufeld and exoneree Marvin Anderson. The discussion between the two touched upon inequities in legal preceedings and the important role of objective evidence such as DNA in initiating reform within the justice system.
Video | Photos
"Gabriel's Conspiracy" panel | March 13
In this panel, held in partnership with the VCU Year of Freedom Committee, prominent scholars Dr. Michael Nicholls and Dr. Philip J. Schwarz considered the genesis of the suppressed Richmond slave rebellion of 1800 and its impact on attitudes and policy throughout Virginia. Janine Yvette Bell of the Elegba Folklore Society moderated a fascinating conversation between the two scholars and the audience.
Video | Photos
"Digital Pragmata" series | March 26, April 25, May 2
Conceived as a forum for Richmond-based professionals in the digital humanities to share their work and to discuss issues in this rapidly evolving field, the "Digital Pragmata" series consisted of three panel events, all held in Cabell Library, featuring prominent speakers addressing faculty, staff and graduate students from VCU and the local community. Edward Ayers, president of the University of Richmond, gave the keynote presentation.
Session 1 videos | Session 2 videos | Session 2 photos
"Another Untold Story of Race and Richmond" presentation | March 28
Carmen Foster, a long-time support of VCU Libraries, discussed the history of Hartshorn Memorial College, a private school for African-American women founded in 1883 and now a part of Virginia Union University, and the challenges faced by its graduates because of the racial climate in the early-twentieth-century South. The event, held in Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives, overflowed with attendees.
28th Annual Brown-Lyons Lecture | April 4
Titled "What Gives Life Meaning? A Jewish Response," this lecture examined the age-old pursuit of meaning in life from a specifically Jewish perspective. Dr. Jack D. Spiro, one of the most popular speakers in the region, always draws a large crowd from across the VCU and wider-Richmond communities, and this event was no exception. With an audience of more than 500 people, it ranked among the best attended in VCU Libraries history.
"The Art of Magic Making" presentation | April 18
Aficiondos of comics and fantasy illustration gathered for this presentation and book signing. Charles Vess discussed his rise from a hopeful VCU undergraduate (and employee of Cabell Library!) to the renowned artist of hugely successful works such as "Sandman," "The Books of Magic" and "Stardust." Only a month after the event, the video recording on YouTube had already been watched more than 500 times, a record for VCU Libraries.
Video | Photos
"Rams Reaching Out" photo exhibit | April 18-September 30
For this exhibit, students in the health sciences submitted photos of their outreach activities. The photos, often touching and inspiring, illustrate the commitment of VCU students to serving the community and beyond. The exhibit is the fourth to appear on the rennovated gallery walls on the first floor of Tompkins-McCaw Library and will continue though the summer and into the fall semester of 2013.
Student lamp exhibit | April 26-May 10
Students from the VCU Departments of Interior Design and of Crafts and Material Studies teamed up to create the seven working light fixtures that made up this exhibit. Each light fixture was inspired by objects from Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives. The exhibit, held in Cabell Library during spring exam season on the Monroe Park Campus, caught the eyes of countless visitors.
American cartoonist Billy DeBeck (1890-1942) created many popular comic strips over the course of a career spanning nearly 40 years. Among his best-known strips are ones that involve characters Barney Google, a loveable ne'er-do-well and aficionado of gambling in various forms, and Spark Plug, Barney Google's blanket-covered racehorse, but perhaps DeBeck's most enduringly popular character is Snuffy Smith, a moonshiner from the backwoods of North Carolina. While working on the Snuffy Smith strips, DeBeck amassed a library of more than 100 volumes of fiction, anthropology and folklore focusing on Appalachia, the Ozarks and the American South. In 1990 VCU Libraries acquired the Billy DeBeck Collection, including this library, from DeBeck's former secretary.
Paul Robertson, research assistant in James Brach Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives and a doctoral student in VCU's Media Art & Text (MATX) program, will give a presentation on Billy DeBeck and his library at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 23, 2013, in the second-floor Multipurpose Room in James Branch Branch Cabell Library. Robertson will look critically at the nature and extent of DeBeck's research and at the character of Snuffy Smith and DeBeck's intentions for him. The talk will be free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided. For questions, please call (804) 828-0593.
Nearly 30 years of VCU history are represented in VCU Libraries newest digital collection, "VCU News Publications." The Office of University Relations produced these publications, which carried different titles over the years.
These periodicals tell VCU's official story in news articles, features, calendars and images of students, staff, faculty and leaders. Departments and schools submitted articles and news items. Letters to the editor, editorials and formal messages from deans and the president are also found in the 542 issues in this online collection.
The first of these official news organs was published in May of 1972 as the weekly VCU Today. (It was preceded on the MCV campus by the Medicovan, published from 1948 until 1973.) VCU Today was published on an irregular basis, often monthly, until the 1980s when it became a bi-weekly.
The staff included professional writers, photographers and editors, who represented the views of the university administration and highlighted news that the school wanted publicized. By the 1980s, the newspaper was circulated to full-time staff on both campuses and was also made available in a number of VCU buildings. It was probably the institution's best vehicle for communicating to the large university community.
In 1988, the newspaper became the VCU Voice. In 1998, it became the UniverCity News. In 2001, it became VCU News. It was published online in 2002 and is today's News Center.
Dates for the publications:
- VCU Today: 1972-1988
- VCU Voice: 1988-1998
- UniverCity News: 1998-2001
- VCU News: 2001-2002
Copyright for the materials in this collection is managed by the VCU Libraries. The use of these materials is subject to the stipulations specified in the VCU Libraries copyright page.
The VCU Department of English has just announced the 14 semifinalist books for this year's VCU Cabell First Novelist Award:
- "Fobbit" by David Abrams (pub. Black Cat)
- "Hope: A Tragedy" by Shalom Auslander (pub. Riverhead Books)
- "No One Is Here Except All of Us" by Ramona Ausubel (pub. Riverhead Books)
- "The People of Forever Are Not Afraid" by Shani Boianjiu (pub. Hogarth)
- "A Land More Kind Than Home" by Wiley Cash (pub. William Morrow)
- "Forgotten Country" by Catherine Chung (pub. Riverhead Books)
- "The Book of Jonas" by Stephen Dau (pub. Blue Rider Press)
- "When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man" by Nick Dybek (pub. Constable & Robinson)
- "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" by Ben Fountain (pub. Riverhead Books)
- "Girlchild" by Tupelo Hassman (pub. Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller (pub. Ecco)
- "The Yellow Birds" by Kevin Powers (pub. Little, Brown and Co.)
- "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan (pub. Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- "The Girl Below" by Bianca Zander (pub. William Morrow)
This group was chosen from almost 140 submissions based on reviews by readers from the Department of English, the VCU Friends of the Library, and others in the VCU community. Thank you to everyone who served as a reader and helped to make such an exciting selection of novels. Shortly, the three finalists will be decided from among the 14 semifinalists, and those three will then be read by the judges, who will choose the winner.