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Inherited Innocence: JaVori Warren & Megan Richards

The Bridge announces a new exhibition, Inherited Innocence by JaVori Warren and Megan Richards opening in The Bridge’s Belmont gallery with a reception March 4, 2022 5:30-7:00 pm and running through the month.

Inherited Innocence uses abstraction, violence, and the distortion of forms and bodily symbols as a way to explore both politicized limitations and expansive possibilities of the body. JaVori Warren and Megan Richards use material methods of abstraction and distortion to collapse politicized dichotomies that often permeate our mediasphere and cultural history.

Warren cultivates a politics of seeing, by working through how racialized perceptions of different individuals affect how we interact with the world around us. She is invested in the social and political consequences of leaving people unseen. Her work forces viewers to question who they are and what they do when in such spaces. Richards investigates creation and destruction in relation to desire, and her work explores the erotic and primal as a source of empowerment. She is interested in the relational dynamic between femininity and masculinity, beyond gender and in both the individual and in society. Her visual language is interested in inverting and subverting our visual language around whiteness, goodness and purity, and her use of whiteness reflects on her own whiteness within a larger societal context: its generational privilege and compounding destruction. 

Warren and Richards both consider the intergenerational consequences of trauma and the process of discovery through artistic practice. They explore projections upon reality, notions of a “true” reality, and the creative potency that projected realities have upon our lived experiences. 

Artist Statements

JaVori Warren 

My art explores the intersections of race, family, and politics. The amount of information available to the viewer varies in each portrait in order to reference fleeting memories and allude to the past. Each piece reflects my upbringing in majority minority spaces and later experience navigating predominantly white institutions. My work is rooted in my life experience and the collective memory of being a Black woman, military brat, and community activist. My art serves as a form of expressing both frustration and celebration of these conditions. 

My most recent paintings examine how White people employ race to render Black people simultaneously invisible and hypervisible in public space. This aspect of racism has had lasting ramifications on the physical body, psyche, and overall life experience of Black people for generations. In contrast, my drawings shed light on the power of such invisibility, visualizing the cultural belief that our ancestors are constantly around us. I have depicted historical spaces at the University of Virginia where this phenomenon is most potent, where I feel invisible ancestral figures are the most present.

Megan Richards 

Black Sun

Two blackbirds have sex in early February. The female blackbird is not black, so she’s more of, like, a bird. 

The season is unusually warm, and by early March a brood of baby birds hatches. The baby birds grow strong, perhaps, on a diet of worms, and after a few weeks, their mother pushes them out of the nest. 

The birds will have to fly or their fragile bones will be crushed upon impact when they hit the ground. You might walk past one of those crushed baby birds, but would likely not notice another dead thing on the ground.

The lives of the male and female blackbirds carry on, and though they continue to breed and care for their offspring, their relationship is altered. They no longer yearn to know what the other thinks about during flight or while hunting for worms. Their feathers have begun to molt.

The blackbirds appear to be monogamous, but upon investigation, a scientist discovers that up to 17% of the female’s eggs are not genetically related to the male with which she has mated. No evidence is found concerning the male blackbird.

At the start of September, the blackbirds join their flock in migrating to a warmer climate. Just before sunset, they take part in great murmurations, folding against the air, flying alongside thousands of their kin in large and strange formations. They soar across the sky, and feeling its warmth against their bodies, cover the sun.

Bios 

JaVori Warren (she/her(s))

JaVori Warren is an oil painter from Long Island, New York based in Northern Virginia. She focuses on portraiture and representations of Black people with intense consideration for politics and history. Warren received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Studio Art and Government from the University of Virginia in the fall of 2020. She is currently an artist-in-residence under the Freeman Artist Residency in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Megan Richards (she/hers)

Megan Richards is a multimedia artist and filmmaker based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her work is a means to sift through our shared legacies of emotional, gendered and colonial trauma. In her artistic practice, she explores the potential of empowered gender expression, shared vulnerability, and playfulness. Richards received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Studio Art and American Studies in 2019. She received the Aunspaugh Fellowship during the 2020-2021 academic year, and is currently an artist-in-residence under the Freeman Artist Residency in Charlottesville, Virginia.