Staiger to talk about collaborative portrait project

By Page H. Gifford

On March 6, at 10 a.m., at the Fluvanna County Public Library, artist Linda Staiger will discuss the collaborative portrait project, Looking Back Seeing Now at the monthly meeting of the Friends of the Library.

The original idea for the project began before the Covid pandemic when Tricia Johnson, the executive director of the Fluvanna County Historical Society, approached area artists regarding creating visual references for freemen and slaves before photography became the visual recorder. Throughout history, painters have recorded history visually, but this was for the wealthy and elites who could afford them. Anyone of less means, including the enslaved, left historians and their descendants wondering what they looked like. Historical data suggests that text descriptions were the only way to identify what these people may have looked like.

The idea was to have artists create portraits of these people based on descriptions in early texts. Staiger was one of the artists who was approached with the idea. A retired orthopedic physician, she has a strong understanding of anatomy and thought about it but declined to commit to doing a portrait, feeling that she might not be able to portray the person as well as a Black artist might.

It was a while before she mulled over the idea again. During this time, a close friend of Staiger’s and a member of the Black community took her to church and other events where Staiger said she was greeted with warmth and friendliness.  After the pandemic, in 2023, she took a different view of the portrait project. She was also influenced by Horace Scruggs’ films about Fluvanna’s history regarding slavery and the Black communities that emerged and evolved. 

Staiger saw this as an opportunity to bring Black and White artists together with Black descendants who would model for the portraits while learning about them and their history. This would help the artists shape their images through a perception of the model’s history and self-expression.

“I wondered about the project and that everyone would have a different point of view and I wanted it to be what they wanted and how they saw themselves,” she said. She added that the artists have done several portraits. The models are encouraged to dress for self-expression. A musician came dressed in a dark blue suit, fedora hat, red shirt, argyle socks, red patent leather shoes, and his acoustic red and white guitar. Mozelle Booker had a more sober look while wearing her old school sweatshirt – S.C. Abrams High School – with her graduation photo next to her, reminding us of her struggle with segregation and that education is key.

The artists use a variety of mediums, from paint to ink, to pastel and different styles. The artists are encouraged to engage directly with the model in person. Bringing everyone together brings a new understanding and helps see things on a deeper level.

The artists and models meet monthly at various venues around the county, on the third Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Lighting is provided by the organizers. The work is finished later in the artist’s studio.

“All artists and sitters who want to participate are welcome,” said Staiger. For more information on this project contact Linda Staiger at 434-962-8463 or Nadine Armstrong at 434-824-2717 or e-mail

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138