HEArts Program


Exploring Health Equity and Arts

HEArts 2018-2019: EQUITY IN ACTION!

Art and creative expression are powerful agents of change. Using art as a communication tool and artists as change makers has the potential to encourage enduring social change by engaging communities to imagine a future where inequities do not exist; building and strengthening bonds between people engaged in a common cause; forging new relationships across the lines that divide us; and fostering and igniting hope. Whether by means of dreams and representations displayed through paintings, acted out in plays, spoken word, murals or festivals, art and creative expression can touch the hearts and minds of participants and viewers.

Having experienced art as a powerful tool for engaging the community in the first iteration of HEArtS in 2017, RMHF will focus on using art, artists, and non-profit partners to put EQUITY IN ACTION! in this next round of grantmaking. Drawing on the range of creative disciplines from the fine arts to photography to textiles to storytelling to performance, HEArts will be an integral part of the core work of the Foundation’s effort to (1) promote health equity and/or (2) increase awareness about the critical need for quality, safe, affordable housing for all people who call the region home. RMHF will fund projects that facilitate collaboration between non-profit organizations and artists working as communicators and community activists in the pursuit of health and/or housing equity. Preference will be given to projects that are hyper-local, focusing on place and population, engagement and driven by data. Non-profit organizations working with artists are eligible for one-year grants up to $20,000.

2017 HEArts Program

The Visiting Artist grants program is an important signal of RMHF’s commitment to fostering an equitable and healthy Richmond region. Participating artists can help illustrate how social, economic and structural conditions contribute to poor health outcomes. Through creative disciplines — from the fine arts to photography to textiles to performance to storytelling — RMHF seeks to better understand how individuals and groups conceive of an equitable and healthy region, and to share and exhibit this work with the broader community. As part of the experience, RMHF encourages creative projects that are interactive and participatory with populations who are experiencing inequities.

2017 Program

Hannah Ayers & Lance Warren, Field Studio

With “Richmond Health Equity: Video Portraits,” the documentary filmmaking team created five two-minute video portraits of individuals and families in Richmond. The portraits, touching on themes of elder care, hunger and homelessness, addiction, and incarceration, placed a human face to issues of health equity.

Lauren Desimone

“Local Natives” engaged Richmond residents in community conversations about food access through photographic projections of community gardens on vacant store fronts in neighborhoods considered to be food deserts. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as an urban neighborhood located more than one mile from a grocery store.)

Free Egunfemi, Ashley Hawkins & Kelley Libby

“HEALTHY + WEALTHY + WISE” empowers young people to collect our community elders' wisdom about positive health choices, displaying this work via a series of interactive street art installations, enhanced with open-access audio interviews, that beautify Richmond’s urban landscape one neighborhood at a time.

Barry Wilder O'Keefe

This project expands on an ongoing series of social sculptures entitled “Open Inbox” with the creation of hand-carved wooden sculptures for two Richmond neighborhoods. The sculptures served as functional community message boxes. The design and intricate carving of these boxes drew on the history and culture of each neighborhood.

Kevin Orlosky & Art on Wheels

“With These Hands” created a series of casts depicting hands that provided a visual representation of the community while drawing comparisons and contrasts between socioeconomic statuses. The project acted as a catalyst for discussions about otherness, challenging assumptions often made about people and groups.

Eva Rocha

“ReCast” examines the mental health impact of human trafficking, a problem that plagues many communities along the Interstate 95 corridor, through a series of castings of immigrant women who are victims of this serious crime and human rights violation.

Hamilton Glass

“The Unity Street Project” created a mural in Jackson Ward in collaboration with the Girls for a Change Program. The project gave these young girls a platform for public expression and deepen understanding of racial and social inequities in this region.

Alfonso Perez Acosta

“SERE” (I Will Be) is series of portraits of Latino immigrants in Richmond, showing them in the way they would like to be in the future. All of the drawings are incorporated into a multi-media web platform with voice recordings and videos.