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Three Artists in the Studio

Every year Richmond Art Center awards three artists with a Spotlight Award to have their work featured in our galleries. These artists in 2020 are Laura Kamian McDermott, Steven Morales and Leslie Plato Smith. While the exhibition of their work is currently on hold due to COVID-19, presented here are three videos that offer an opportunity to meet our Spotlight Artists virtually, see them at work in their studios during shelter-in-place and learn a little about their creative processes.

Jagged Skylines of Car Keys

Laura Kamian McDermott is a textile artist who uses labor-intensive techniques to make work that insists on the value of creative labor in an era that shows little respect for such a pursuit. Inherent in her work is the belief in the power of the handmade to address social ills, support mental and community health, and bring out some of humanity’s more positive traits. Through her woven, knitted, and embroidered techniques – meticulously studied and executed – she produces high-quality textiles. McDermott studied Painting at Reed College and Textiles at San Francisco State University. She was born in Oakland and currently resides in Richmond.

Separation 2020

Separation 2020 is the title of the work Steven Morales has been developing since shelter-in-place started. Morales’ says of this time of quarantine, “What permanent changes will evolve from this long, temporary period of separation is what we will be experiencing for years to come. Will this year mark the beginning of a new and profound way of living or will we go back to the way things were before?” Richmond-based Morales is a practicing architect whose creative interests also include photography and collage. Many of his collage works incorporate construction materials such as joint compound, wood and sheetrock along with paper and occasionally house paint.

Black, White and Pink

Educated at UC Santa Barbara, Tulane, and UC Berkeley, Leslie Plato Smith spent much of her career as Associate Vice-Chancellor of Governmental Relations for City College of San Francisco. Highlights from her career include receiving a national award for bringing together 60 different art departments to create 125 life size statues to visually show how budget cuts negatively impact students and to fight for public education, and exhibiting at the European Cultural Centre’s Venice Biennale exhibition. Plato Smith’s grandfather was born on the Choctaw Reservation and her orphaned grandmother was born to immigrant parents from Denmark and Sweden. Migration, immigration and resettlement are key themes that resonate through Oakland-based Plato Smith’s creative practice and professional work.



RAC’s new initiative – the Online Project Space – was created in response to the multitude of ideas and new forms of creative expression we see artists tackling as they shelter-in-place due to COVID-19. The Online Project Space will highlight new artist projects that represent how artists are adapting, responding and imagining during this period of self-isolation.

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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804-1600


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