RVA Community Makers 2022

Heilman Dining Center Lobby, January 9-20, 2023

Created by Richmond artist Hamilton Glass in collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, RVA Community Makers is a public art project to engage the local community with storytelling and art.

Featuring portraits by Sandra Sellars, RVA Community Makers 2022 celebrates local luminaries who have garnered accolades for their positive impact on the Richmond community and who shine a bright national spotlight on the Richmond region.

S. Ross Browne

A professional studio artist with over 27 years of experience, S. Ross Browne has exhibited works in galleries and museum throughout the world, and many are in private, public, and institutional collections, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and The Valentine Museum. He is the recipient of a VMFA Fellowship, and his media credits include MSNBC’s “The Griot,” the Huffington Post, Washingtonian, Ebony, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond Free Press, the Washington Post, and other out lets. Ross was the art specialist for the VCU Health System, practicing art therapy and teaching art to patients. He was an art edu cator for various support groups including Living Well for pediatric cancer support and the Richmond Brain Tumor Support Group. Browne was an instructor for the Resident Associate Program at the Smithsonian Institute and has taught art and design to inner-city and at-risk youth for the Fresh Air Fund of New York City, Weed and Seed, Project Ready, and Art 180. As an illustrator, he has worked for MacMillan Publishing, the McDonald’s Corporation, Pulp Literature, Press of Canada, Jacaranda Books of London, and the University of Virginia Press. Browne studied at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Corcoran School of the Arts in Washington, DC, and is an alumnus of the Miller School of Albemarle.

“My philosophy is that being of service is a pathway to the highest self. It is my intent that by creating works of art and teaching others how to express themselves through art, I can somehow serve to inspire an enduring and positive change in how we experience the world around us and, hopefully, to see ourselves in one another. My artwork seeks to communicate the shared human experience through allegories that challenge preconceived and apocryphal cultural perspectives, see beyond the historic myopia of political hubris and apathy, then encourage meaningful dialogue celebrating our connections instead of fearing our differences.”

James A. Gordon III

An educational champion for children, teachers, and communities, Gordon is the principal of Oak Grove Bellemeade Elementary in Richmond. He was recently named a Disney Magic Maker honoree for his contributions to his students and community. Gordon aspired to become an educator since he was a child and credits his mother for motivating him to pursue his passion. A graduate of Highland Springs High School, James Madison University, and Virginia Commonwealth University, Gordon is pursuing a doctorate at Regent University. He is happily married to NaKeisha Gordon and the father of Leilani, Olivia, and Ali.

“HOPE: There is still hope for each of us. Each day we remind our students of the limitless positive possibilities for their lives. This work is heartwork and hardwork that requires each of us to dig deep and remain committed to the success of our scholars. As a principal, my role is to serve as a beacon of light and HOPE.”

Julian Maxwell Hayter, PhD

Dr. Julian Hayter is a historian and associate professor of leadership studies at the University of Richmond. His research focuses on modern US history, African American history, and the American civil rights movement. He is the author of The Dream is Lost: Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia. His work has been published in the Journal of Policy History, the Washington Post, New American History, and other national publications. He also regularly contributes to national and local media outlets.

“History matters the past isn’t done with us. It continues to act upon us whether we know it or not. In fact, history isn’t merely a record of past events but a narrative about those events. And narratives are matters of values and morals (they remind us of what and who we value). People constantly rethink stories—just as individuals reimagine their own pasts based on new experiences. It’s commensurate with growth.”

The Moon Sisters

“The JXN Project, also known as JXN, is a reparative historic preservation project dedicated to driving restorative truth telling and redemptive storytelling by capturing the pivotal role of Rich mond, Virginia, in particular Jackson Ward, in the evolution of the Black American experience.”

Affectionately called “The Moon Sisters,” Enjoli and Dr. Sesha Joi Moon co-created The JXN Project, a reparative preservation nonprofit organization dedicated to driving restorative truth telling and redemptive storytelling by capturing the pivotal role of Richmond, particularly Jackson Ward, in the evolution of the Black American experience. The project has been featured on the “PBS NewsHour”, and recently received Historic Richmond’s 2021 Golden Hammer Award for “Best Placemaking.”

Enjoli Moon is the executive director of the Afrikana Institute, as well as assistant curator of Film and Special Programs with the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is the creative director of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival and deputy director of The JXN Project. She is also the founding chair of BLK RVA, a Richmond Region Tourism initiative designed to connect Richmond residents and visitors with Black-owned businesses in the area. She and her work have been featured in Style Weekly, the Huffington Post, BET, Essence, Black Enterprise, Travel Noire, The Root, and “Virginia Currents” on PBS. She was recently recognized by Virginia Business magazine as one of the People to Meet in 2021 and has received the VCIC Humanitarian Award, as well as the Richmond Times-Dispatch Strong Voices Award. She is also the recipient of Style Weekly’s Women in the Arts Award and Top 40 Under 40. However, her greatest accomplishment is being a mother to her son, Jonah, an artist and aspiring filmmaker at Emerson College.

Dr. Sesha Joi Moon is executive director of The JXN Project and the chief diversity officer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology with the US Depart ment of Commerce, where she has received the US Patent and Trademark Office Bronze Award for Superior Performance, Commerce Spirit Award, and Spotlight on Commerce for LGBTQ+ Pride Month. She is a senior fellow of the Excellence in Government Fellowship with the Partnership for Public Service and senior research fellow with the Conference Board’s Engagement Institute. In addition to recently completing an executive education program with the Harvard Business School, she received an MS from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and a BA in Black Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as a PhD in Public Administration and Urban Policy from Old Dominion University. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., as well as a board member with the St. Jude 5K Walk|Run DC and Virginia Criminal Justice Services Board. She lives in Northern Vir ginia with her wife, Janice Pritchett, and cockapoo, Benji, but her heart is forever at home in Richmond.

Valerie Cassel Oliver

Valerie Cassel Oliver is the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She joined VMFA in 2017, leaving behind a stellar professional career in Houston, where she served as senior curator from 2000 to 2017. During her tenure at VMFA, Cassel Oliver has organized several exhibitions including Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen with Naomi Beckwith (2018), which was named one of the most influential exhibitions of the decade, and Cosmologies from the Tree of Life (2019). In 2021, she organized the critically acclaimed exhibition The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, which was named one of the best exhibitions of 2021 by the New York Times and Art in America. Cassel Oliver is the recipient of a Getty Curatorial Research Fellowship, a fellowship from the Center of Curatorial Leadership, the David C. Driskell Award, the Arthur and Carol Kaufman Goldberg Foundation-to Life Fellowship, and the James A. Porter Book Award. From 2016 to 2017, she was senior fellow in curatorial studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in 2020 served with Hamza Walker as a senior fellow for Viewpoints at the University of Texas at Austin. Cassel Oliver holds an Executive MBA from Columbia University, an MA in art history from Howard University, and a BS in communications from the University of Texas at Austin.

“My guiding principle has always led me to celebrate histories, art, and artists that are hidden in plain sight. My sincere hope is that, in the years to come, my work here will enable all visitors to see themselves reflected in this museum. I am so very proud of this institution and the Richmond community at large, who have welcomed the inclusion and presentation of diverse histories, experiences, and cultures. I am deeply honored to be recognized knowing that I stand on the shoulders of so many who have come before me.”

Michael Paul Williams

Michael Paul Williams is a metro columnist whose opinion pieces appear on the op-ed page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He was awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary “for penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city’s monuments to white supremacy.” Williams has also been recognized four times by the Virginia Press Association for column writing. He was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. He received the George Mason Award for outstanding contributions to Virginia journalism, given by the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, a Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, and the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Williams, a Richmond native, is a graduate of Virginia Union University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

“Documenting or potentially affecting events as a columnist at my hometown newspaper has been a privilege. Our arts community has been a catalyst driving positive change in Richmond. I’m thrilled to be an honoree for the 2022 RVA Community Makers, working with such talented and community-minded artists as Sandra Sellars and Hamilton Glass. I can’t wait to see what they come up with, in tandem with the community. Thank you for this honor.”

Hamilton Glass


Hamilton Glass’s career as an artist stems from his architecture and design background. Despite working in the archi tecture field for seven years, his passion for public art pushed him to start a career as an artist. Public art has always been a big inspiration for Hamilton because of its power to influence and inspire the surrounding community. With every opportunity Hamilton is given to create, he tries to convey a message that connects his art to the community. Using his background in architecture, he creates images that reference architectural drafting practices, which are represented in the sharp lines, scale, and balance of the piece. The bright colors and unpredictable lines and shapes are used to convey energy and movement in each piece. Hamilton’s work isn’t just a single canvas, print, or mural. One of the things he enjoys most is creating multilayered projects that amplify many voices. In 2020, Hamilton founded two large projects, Mending Walls and All In Together, which were created to address the civil unrest and pandemic raging in our country. This was a way for Hamilton to process current events and share that opportunity for expression with others through art. Hamilton is always looking to use his art as an inspiration and healing tool in the ommunity, as well as being a great example of a working Black artist.

Sandra Sellars


Sandra Sellars is an award-winning photojournalist with the Richmond Free Press and the photographer for the Louis Draper Archive at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She is a storyteller, searching for adventure and beauty everywhere.