Q: Tell us about your work and the need it’s addressing in the community.
The mission of Studio Two Three (S23) is to inspire innovation in printmaking through artic residency, workshops, and exhibitions. Richmond has a significant arts scene. Many Richmond artists are graduates of VCUarts and the University of Richmond, and once outside of the school environment, these articles often lack access to studio space and a supportive artistic community. S23 provides critical support for working artists to create, promote, and exhibit innovative, contemporary art. S23’s Artist in Residency program addresses the clear demand from Richmond artists for professional, affordable studio space and a collective working environment. S23 is the only affordable communal printmaking studio in the region that sustains a network of artists with 24-hour access to studio space, a community of peers, continuing education and professional development opportunities.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I truly enjoy the sense of community in the print shop; it’s wonderful to see emerging artists learning from established artists. Historically, print shops have been rooted in community and communication, and it has been an inspiration to see our community grow over the past few years. There is such an environment of creativity, production, and mutual respect — and I’m gratified daily to be a resource supporting working artists. I love this city — we started this studio to ensure that Richmond was a destination for artists, and it is rewarding to know that the community of artists in the city is ever-growing.
Q: What’s coming next? What’s got you really excited?
This has been an incredible couple of years for us; we just finished steamroll printing our GIANT maps of RVA at the RVA Street Art Festival, where thousands of community members came out to see — and assist — with the project. What started as a crazy idea, turned into an amazing project, and we look forward to making this an annual event.
Thanks to a major grant from CultureWorks, we are starting our Digital Arts Lab this winter — this will provide community access to digital production technology for image design, web design, and video production. We are so excited that our print shop will be a place where traditional and digital technologies can merge to produce exciting contemporary art.
We are also holding our second annual Print Auction on November 2nd, which is going to feature work from emerging and established artists. This event specifically features fine art prints, and we are looking forward to highlighting the amazing work that Richmond artists are making.
Q: Is there anything else we should know?
Ashley Hawkins is the Executive Director and co-founder of Studio Two Three. She received a BFA in Painting and Printmaking and an MPA with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a member of VAFRE and AFP, and is an artist working in screen printing, etching, and lithography.