Richmond Families Initiative and Virginia Poverty Law Center to sponsor panel discussion on poverty and photography

October 20, 2009

Experts from Richmond and Southwest Virginia will discuss poverty and the use of photography as a tool for shedding light on social justice issues at a program Oct. 29, 6 p.m., at University of Richmond Downtown, 626 E. Broad Street.

Open to the public at no charge, the program is sponsored by the university’s Richmond Families Initiative and the Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC). It will begin with a half-hour reception, during which guests can view a photography exhibit on loan from VPLC. The exhibit, titled “Through Different Eyes: The Faces of Poverty in Virginia,” has been touring the state for several years.

A panel discussion will connect the issue of both urban and rural poverty with the photographs. Panelists include Doug Hicks, professor of leadership studies and religion at the University of Richmond; Jeffrey Allison, Paul Mellon Collection educator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and John Whitfield, executive director of Blue Ridge Legal Services. Jay Speer, executive director of VPLC, will moderate.

“As poverty or near poverty becomes a reality for some Virginians in our current economic recession, we hope this event will encourage honest dialogue about urban and rural poverty in our state,” said Judy Mejia, program manager for Richmond Families Initiative.

“The Faces of Poverty exhibit is a way to educate the public about what it means to be poor in Virginia,” said Jay Speer, VPLC executive director. “VPLC primarily focuses on the legal issues surrounding the poor, but this exhibit was a chance to bridge the world of documentary photography and the law so that we could put a face to those men and women who struggle every day, but who are often invisible to the rest of us.”

For more information, contact Judy Mejia at 804-955-4006 or jmejia@richmond.edu or Urmila Oberoi at 804-782-9430 or urmila@vplc.org.