Natalie Romero and Liz Zhang have both been awarded the first-ever Freeman Artist Residencies, which provide emerging artists with a studio in Charlotteville for 12 months, a materials stipend, an end-of-residency exhibition, and monthly mentorship from UVA Studio Arts faculty and selected visiting artists. FAR awardees are asked to undertake socially-engaged projects within the region.
Romero (she/her) is a queer Latina printmaker and artist. She studied Global Development Studies and Sociology at the University of Virginia with a focus on U.S. intervention in Latin America. Romero is passionate about bringing communities and families together through relational organizing and artistic expression. Screen printing, painting and poetry are tools that she uses to show others that creation can be empowering, affordable and locally sourced. She believes that sharing movement, music, earth, and lived experience are modes of liberation and community building. Romero’s work inspires reflection to discuss trauma, generational healing, insecurities, and societal issues. Romero uses her art to process and unpack the stigmas and norms surrounding body, beauty, responsibility, community and the environment.
Natalie Romero. Cargas. 2020. Acrylic on paper. 11.75 x 8.25”
Zhang is a painter and printmaker. Her work is characterized by the use of figures to explore isolation, alliance, community, and coexistence. She seeks to create implied narrative through the subtle interactions of figures within their environments, playing with gestural languages of the body and utilitarian languages of human-made structures. She draws inspiration from moments of work, play, sport, and ceremony as well as family stories that have been passed down to her, which range from mundane anecdotes of the home to the revolutionary politics of twentieth century China. She was born and raised in Yorktown, Virginia and received her BA in Studio Art from the University of Virginia in 2019. She has shown locally in the Charlottesville area, including a solo show at Welcome Gallery in 2019.
Liz Zhang. Horse-Rope-Boys. 2020. Monotype on fabric. 15 x 12.5”
About FAR: Founded in 2020 by UVA Assistant Professor of Studio Art Neal Rock, the Freeman Artist Residency (FAR) is named after Welsh painter and educator Michael Freeman, who mentored Rock during his formative years in South Wales. Freeman’s teaching, funded by WEA Cymru (Workers Education Association Wales), impacted communities whose access to the visual arts were restricted by socio-economic conditions. FAR honors Freeman’s life and work by offering the gift of time and space to artists at an early stage of their careers. FAR’s mission is aligned with the founding values of the WEA – facilitating cultural access and equity – by giving priority to BIPoC & first-generation college graduate artists. FAR is generously funded by the Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation and supported by UVA Studio Arts in the College of Arts & Sciences.