LEC: Vinegar Hill Monument Proposals Unveiled @ Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

On Friday, April 20th, the nationally renowned sculptors, Melvin Edwards, Preston Jackson, Lorenzo Pace and Rodney Leon will present their past works to the Charlottesville community as part of the jury process to create a monument about Vinegar Hill, the African American neighborhood destroyed by urban renewal in the early 60′s.  This is the first sculpture commissioned by the community since 1926.  It will be sited on the historic Jefferson School, originally founded in 1865 and currently being renovated as a City Center whose heart is the African American Heritage Center.  The event will take place from 5-6:30 at Burley Middle School on Rose Hill Drive.

Melvin Edwards is one of America’s foremost sculptors whose work can be found in the collections of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York the Modern Museum of Art, New York and the L.A. County Museum of Art, Los Angeles. Preston Jackson, a professor of sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago is best known for his figurative work, which can be found in the collections of Perdue University, Lakeview Museum, Peoria and the Waterloo Museum of Art, Waterloo. The design team of Lorenzo Pace and Rodney Leon is recognized for their lower Manhattan visitors’ center and slavery monument that marks the 18th century African burial ground.

Jurors for the competition are Carmenita Higginbotham, assistant professor of American art history specializing in depictions of race in American visual productions of the 1920s and 1930s; Sarah Tanguy curator ART in Embassies, US Department of State, as well as an independent curator and critic based in Washington, DC.; and Franklyn Walker, a local artist whose work describes the African American experience and who grew up in Vinegar Hill.

According to Jefferson School Foundation Chair Martin Burks, “the competition is yet another example of the way in which the Jefferson School Foundation and the African American Heritage Center look for meaningful partnerships that significantly impact the City’s cultural landscape.” He continues, “Partnering with the City’s Dialogue on Race allows us to leverage resources to produce a work that is historically significant, locally and nationally, and further establishes Charlottesville as a location where contemporary artistic production is celebrated.”

For additional information contact Elizabeth Breeden, vinegarhillmonument@gmail.com or 434-977-5411



Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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