Annual Residents Exhibition  (2022-23): Time Machines

Ayana Zaire Cotton, Curtis Newkirk Jr., Hien Kat Nguyen and Emily Okamoto-Green
March 10 – April 23, 2023 

Opening reception on Friday, March 10 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Artist talk begins at 5:30 p.m. 

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond presents “Time Machines,” an exhibition of work by the VisArts’ Annual Resident Artists for the 2022-2023 year: Ayana Zaire Cotton, Curtis Newkirk Jr., Hien Kat Nguyen and Emily Okamoto-Green.


The Visual Arts Center of Richmond presents Time Machines, an exhibition of work by the VisArts’ Annual Resident Artists for the 2022-2023 year: Ayana Zaire Cotton, Curtis Newkirk Jr., Hien Nguyen and Emily Okamoto-Green. While in residency, these artists used resources available at VisArts to develop their creative practices, explore varied media and make new work. Time Machines is guest curated by Asa Jackson. 

Time Machine; A device allowing people or objects to be transported into the past or future. 

The group exhibition is a conversation of people, places, and mythologies, a question of customs, and an honoring of generations come and gone. The work contains whispers from the past and shadows of the future, suspended in the now. While each artist wields different skill sets and is wholly unique in their approach, there is a shared ethos; a study of time, an excavation of culture, and a peek into hidden worlds. 


Ayana Zaire Cotton (she/they) is a queer, Black feminist, anti-disciplinary artist and cultural worker from Prince George’s County, Maryland. They are currently based in Dawn, Virginia — tucked in between the ancestral lands of the Mattaponi and Youghtanund — answering the call to steward land that has been in their family for four generations. Braiding code, performance, and craft Ayana speculates and worldbuilds alongside science and technology. Sankofa is a word and symbol of the Akan Twi and Fante languages of Ghana which translates to, “go back and get”. Centering a sankofa sensibility, they build databases as vessels holding seed data and experiment with shuffling algorithms to spin non-linear narratives. Ayana calls this methodology “Cykofa Narration”, generating new worlds using the digital and social detritus of our existing world — resulting in a storytelling form that embodies circular time and troubles human authorship. Through engaging with language, technology, and ecology, Ayana is cultivating a practice of remembering and imagining alternative modes of being and interspecies belonging.


Curtis Newkirk Jr. is an artist from Northern Virginia who resides in Richmond, VA. Curtis graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and has previously shown work at several exhibitions and won many awards over the years. Most recently, he was featured in the New American Paintings 2020 South Issue, as well as in the 2020 documentary, The Builder. Curtis primarily works with oil and acrylic on wood. His style of work involves bold colors, complex objects, and figures, mixed with abstract brushwork. His paintings are an extension of his identity and life experiences. They are inspired by black culture, heavily influenced by hip-hop, fashion, his southern roots, and his love for the city. Curtis strives to create work that portrays African Americans in a powerful and positive way and to represent black and brown people in the art community.


Hien Kat Nguyen (they/them) was born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam. In their studio practice, they seek to evoke empathy through sculptures that reflect the experiences of the immigrants in America, especially the first generation of Vietnamese. Immigrating to America challenged their sense of belonging and their understanding of their own racial identity. Using Vietnamese folklore and history, they enjoy and nurture the concepts that have anchored them. With wood and fabrication techniques, they create installations and game-like objects that facilitate interaction and are thought-provoking. Nguyen received their Bachelors of Fine Arts in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2022. They are the recipients of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ Undergraduate Fellowship, the Windgate-Lamar Fellowship from the Center for Craft and will be an artist in residence at Anderson Ranch Arts for 2023. They have exhibited work at VCUarts’ Galleries and The Anderson Gallery in Richmond, VA.


Emily Okamoto-Green is a half-Japanese essayist, poet, and animal lover. Originally from Shizuoka-ken, Japan’s green tea capital, her family relocated to Richmond, VA in 1998. A 2018 Graduate of George Mason University’s Honors and English Honors College, she graduated from GMU again in 2021 with her MFA in Poetry. Her accolades include the Virginia Downs Poetry Award, the Joseph Lohman III Poetry Prize, The Alan Cheuse International Writers Center 2020 fellowship, Yes Poetry Magazine’s Poet of the Month, and inaugural winner of the Berkey Essay Contest. Both her current written and visual work is an attempt at capturing the shared dreams/nostalgias/ghosts of her mother, grandmother, and all the women who came before them.