A Space of Her Own Gets a New Name

September 21, 2016 News

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond has renamed one of its most popular outreach programs. A Space of Her Own will kick off the 2016-17 academic year under its new name: Make Space.

A Space of Her Own, often called SOHO for short, was established in 2008. The program pairs 12 sixth grade girls at the Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School in Richmond’s East End with 12 early- to mid-career women for a one-year mentorship program.

The girls and women come together on Thursday evenings for an entire school year, creating art and decorative items in VisArts’ studios. At the end of the year, they work together to makeover the girls’ rooms, incorporating the projects they’ve made together.

Girls get an inspiring space where they can dream but the biggest transformation happens inside each girl and woman. The curriculum emphasizes trust, confidence, communication and self-efficacy, and helps both the girls and women tap into their own leadership capabilities.

A Space of Her Own was modeled after a comparable program in Alexandria, Virginia. For many years, the two organizations shared the name. This year, the Alexandria program changed their model, which meant VisArts needed to find a new name for its program.

“We took this charge very seriously,” said Stefanie Fedor, executive director of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. “A Space of Her Own was a name that encapsulated not just the surface-level changes we make to each girls’ room, but the deeper effect the program has on each girl’s inner world. We feel that the new name, Make Space, both captures the spirit of the program and will allow it to continue to grow with us.”

VisArts reached out to past participants—both mentors and girls—as well as instructors, staff and funders for feedback on the program and what they wanted to see in a new name.

“Everyone wanted a name that emphasized the art-making process,” said Nicki Stein, VisArts’ exhibitions and art programs coordinator. “More than the room makeover, what the girls say they remember is the time they spent together with their mentors in the studio.”

VisArts also invited its members to submit name ideas. In the end, Make Space was an easy choice.

“The Visual Arts Center of Richmond is a space where girls can come together to make art, make friendships and make space for the things that matter,” said Fedor.