Benjamin Wigfall, Things My Father Told Me, Tall Man II, 1977. Intaglio on wove paper, 27 9/16 x 39 1/4 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment.

Benjamin Wigfall and Communications Village

Benjamin Wigfall

November 4, 2023 - March 24, 2024
  • Anne Noland Edwards Gallery

About the exhibition

Explore the life and legacy of Richmond native Benjamin Wigfall (1930–2017) — artist, educator, and champion of arts equity. This exhibition, the first retrospective of Wigfall’s pioneering career, highlights the period from his early years in Virginia in the 1950s to his founding of Communications Village, a community art space in Kingston, New York, in the 1970s. Wigfall’s roots in Richmond and in Hampton, his stellar artistic achievements, and his lifelong commitment to building community are topics addressed in the exhibition, which paints an intimate portrait of his artwork, impact,and legacy.


From Richmond, where his passion for artmaking began, to his pursuit of higher education at Hampton University and Yale, to his professorship at State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz, Wigfall recognized inequities and dedicated his life to providing access and opportunity. Wigfall’s experience at Hampton University, where he enrolled in 1949, was critical to his career. He graduated with a degree in art education in 1953 and went on to earn an MFA from Yale University in 1959. Wigfall returned to Hampton as an assistant professor of art in 1955. He remained there until 1963, when he accepted a position at the State University of New York (SUNY) in New Paltz, the school’s first Black professor of art.


While teaching at SUNY, New Paltz, Wigfall selected a close-knit Black neighborhood in nearby Kingston for the location of his studio because it reminded him of Church Hill in Richmond. Named Communications Village, his studio became a place for making art and mentoring youth. In this inclusive and vibrant setting, Wigfall invited leading African American artists of the era to engage with the local community and to experiment with printmaking as an art form. With work ranging from abstract painting and printmaking to assemblage and social practice, Benjamin Wigfall and Communications Village showcases the development of an artist whose importance spans modern art, arts education, and community activism.


Benjamin Wigfall & Communcations Village is organized by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Artat SUNY New Paltz and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.


Special thanks to our generous sponsors:

City of Newport News

Towne Bank




Ramona and Robert Deal

William and Janice Grace

Mary Katherine Evans Hogg

Elizabeth Holt

Larry King Law

Terri ’86 and Matt McKnight

Mary Neale­­­­­

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