Artistic Adaptation

How one Virginia artist is driving her work further.

Photos by Christian Robinson.

“I’d say that maybe a third of my jobs got cancelled indefinitely, and another third got pushed back several months to reevaluate,” says Emily Herr, a Richmond muralist responsible for about a hundred colorful walls around the city. She’s in front of her studio, a cleared-out and painted van that presents messages of female empowerment and creativity. As a result of the current quarantine, she’s in the process of painting another one of her vehicles, this one her personal day-to-day car. 

The car, a 2007 Honda Fit, sits in a mostly-empty parking garage, the outside of which Herr is currently in the process of painting. It is covered in hues of light and dark greens, blues, and purples. Except the hood, that is, as the hood remains the car’s original color: a bright crimson red. “It’s tricky to compose around all these different features,” she explains, pointing to the headlights and hood. 

She’s participating in the 2020 Home MuralFest curated by Void Projects. This festival was created as an opportunity for artists to showcase their work from the safety of their own homes while continuing to follow social distancing rules. Unlike other mural festivals, the Home MuralFest takes place entirely on social media to create a massive, worldwide collaborative art presentation. The first wave of at-home murals took place in April with 67 international artists participating on their respective social media platforms. Each artist films the progress of their mural, usually using the outside of their homes as a massive canvas. This culminates in beautiful timelapses from all over the world on social media. 

Herr is participating in the April wave of the festival among 36 other artists. None of these other artists, however, are from Virginia. Asked about her inclusion as the only artist from the state, Herr says, laughing, “That was really interesting. I feel pretty good about that.” It felt especially good because many of her clients were forced to either cancel or postpone the painting of their murals. 

She sees the Home MuralFest as a good opportunity for her fellow artists, as well as herself, to get the motivation to complete some art for themselves. For Herr, these personal projects are lost amongst more lucrative and public pieces. She also sees it as a way to break up the monotony of quarantine in her community. “I also think it’s just important for new visible things to keep happening in ways that they can… Even just painting this in my parking lot, I think over three days of doing stuff I probably had four or five people a day stop by or ask what’s going on or have a look,” she says. 

Herr notes that onlookers aren’t the only ones enjoying her mobile mural, as the opportunity to participate in the Home MuralFest has positively impacted her as well. “It’s been really hard to focus on creating anything for this time, and having this specific push and prompt and reason to do it has really helped me,” she says. As things slowly make their way towards normality, a colorful Honda Fit headed from wall to wall in Richmond will be a glaring symbol that things never stay grey forever. VoidProjects.org

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