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Personality: Hamilton Glass

Spotlight on founder of Mending Walls RVA

9/10/2020, 6 p.m.
If you’ve been in Richmond for any amount of time, you’ve likely seen some of muralist Hamilton Glass’ distinctive work ...

Mr. Glass cites recent events as his inspiration for starting Mending Walls, whose name was taken from a 1914 Robert Frost poem.

“As an artist, I needed to create to process all of the emotions that have been heightened with the pandemic and the social unrest,” Mr. Glass says. “I knew that if I was feeling that way, my fellow creatives were feeling that way, and the community as well.”

He points to a mural created for ALB Tech as both the moment he considered himself an artist and when he realized the impact his work could have. The controversial mural led to a suite of responses and conversations.

Mr. Glass already is looking “to explore what’s next for Mending Walls” and what it could mean for the city.

“My hope for Richmond is that the artwork for Mending Walls helps continue the conversation we are having in these heightened times,” Mr. Glass says.“I hope Richmonders see themselves and challenge themselves to see others in the work in a way they may not have before.”

Meet conversation-sparking public artist and this week’s Personality, Hamilton Glass:

Volunteer title: Artist and founder of Mending Walls RVA.

Date and place of birth: May 27 in Philadelphia.

Where I live now: Richmond.

Occupation: Artist.

Community involvement: Public artist.

Alma mater: Bachelor’s in architecture, Hampton University.

Family: Wife, Taekia Glass, and two children, Sanaa Glass, 10, and Amai Glass, 4.

Mending Walls RVA is: Mending Walls is a public art project that brings together public artists from different cultures and backgrounds to create murals that address where we are now in society and how we can move forward through understanding and collaboration. Mending Walls pairs artists of different backgrounds to create unique connections and give them an opportunity to tell their story collaboratively in an effort to express healing through connection. In this moment, we all are searching for more understanding and this project will serve as a tool that would fuel connection through storytelling. The hope is to bring about healing through public art while adding something meaningful to the conversation of Black Lives Matter.

Mending Walls RVA’s mission: To bring artists of different cultural backgrounds together to create art that inspires empathy and connection.

Inspiration for Mending Walls RVA: As an artist, I needed to create to process all of the emotions that have been heightened with the pandemic and the social unrest. I knew that if I was feeling that way, my fellow creatives were feeling that way, and the community as well. With all of the conversations, or lack thereof, happening, I wanted to create space for people to have a moment to talk and create together.

Story behind the project name: Mending Walls was derived from a Robert Frost poem published in 1914. Mending Walls narrates a story of two neighbors working on a wall between their two farms. As the men work, the narrator questions the purpose of a wall “where it is we do not need the wall,” but as the story goes on, his neighbor replies twice with the proverb, “Good fences make good neighbors.” It’s these hard conversations that the Mending Walls project is looking to help facilitate through public art. Oddly enough, this is the second time Robert Frost has been an inspiration for my art. I discovered him through a song that sampled his work.