The Veterans' Impact Project, in the VMFA Sculpture Garden
Starting today, Art on Wheels’ Veterans’ Impact Project will be on display on the hilltop belvedere in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden. Veterans’ Impact was created in May by veterans and their loved ones at Richmond’s Dominion Riverrock Festival.
It is possibly the first crowd-sourced monument. Participants chose objects that they considered relevant to their veterans’ service or their own, meaning a mix of military-issued gear and seemingly random trinkets. Rubber casts were made of the objects, and then participants were encouraged to hurl either the cast or the original object at a wall of clay using an ancient Roman siege weapon, the ballista.
The finished piece, in the words of VMFA spokeswoman Suzanne Hall, is “embedded with all kinds of memory-evoking images from more than 100 veterans.” Veterans' Impact honors those who served from World War I to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The actual monument is a relief sculpture of all-weather polymerized plaster that used the clay wall as a mold. It’s in three panels that are mounted in a portable wall on top of the Belvedere. Each panel is 3 feet wide and 5 feet high.
Sculptor and principal artist James Robertson says on the Art on Wheels website that he hopes that the monument will be a way for veterans to “hit back in a way that is constructive and creative.” Art on Wheels strives to bring arts education to communities and individuals who would not have access to it otherwise. This includes group homes, special needs facilities, and hospitals as well as schools and community centers.
Hall says of the sculpture, “At VMFA, we say ‘It’s your art,’ and this work … is very much the art of the American people; made by our veterans.”
The Veterans' Impact Project will be on display at the VMFA until Nov. 24. Visitors will have a chance to meet Robertson and Art on Wheels co-founder Kevin Orlosky during a public reception on Nov. 23 from 2 to 4 p.m.
Because VMFA is a year-round Blue Star museum, all active duty, National Guard, and Reserves military and their families get free admission.