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Exhibit Space

The Women's Studies Department and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender host two exhibits per year in the main lobby of Lane Hall, 204 S. State Street. The exhibits, broadly related to issues of women and gender, are available for public viewing Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm.

Have an idea for a future exhibit? Read about the exhibit nomination process here.

January 9 - August 2, 2019

she was here, once

by nastassja e. swift

The mobility and displacement of the Black body, from port to holding cell, to ward and out, is a history that is embedded in our communities socially, culturally and geographically. Alluding to feelings of pain, otherness, power and triumph, she was here, once features work that illustrates a moment of remembrance and reflection on the women who have roamed these spaces before us. Consisting of wearable fiber sculptures, mixed media installation and film, the exhibition traces the ancestral footsteps of the Black woman in Richmond, Virginia. Nastassja Swift creates an immersive environment shaped from history, story and experience.

In summer 2018, Nastassja Swift organized a collaborative workshop and public performance in her home city of Richmond, Virginia. As a Black female artist working and learning within what was once the center of slave trading in the region, Nastassja sought to explore the journey of the Black female in this area, and how that journey has contributed to the stories and history of Black girlhood in the city. Using a range of choreographed movement, sound, and solidarity, eight Black women and girls, wearing large needle felted wool masks, traced the ancestral footprints of the arrival of the Black body in Richmond. The 3.5 mile walk began in Shockoe Bottom (the site of the importation of slaves into Richmond, and one of the largest sources of slave trade in America) and concluded in the Jackson Ward neighborhood (one of the largest Black communities in Richmond).The multi layered piece has produced a short film, mini documentaryphotography, and performance masks, on display in her solo exhibition, she was here, once in Lane Hall.

Nastassja Swift is a Virginia artist holding a Bachelors degree of Fine Art from Virginia Commonwealth University with a major in Painting & Printmaking and a minor in Craft & Material Studies. She is the owner and artist of D for Dolls, an online collection of handmade needle felted figures. Outside of being a doll maker, she works with paint, print, performance and fiber within her studio practice. Nastassja’s work is currently on display in a group exhibition at The Colored Girls Museum, and her solo exhibition at Harmony Hall Arts Center.  She has participated in several national and international residences and exhibitions, including her solo exhibit in Doha, Qatar, and fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center and MASS MoCA. More information can be found on her website

Artwork courtesy of Nastassja E. Swift

she was here, once is presented with support from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the Department of Women's Studies.