Artist’s NameVictoria Ferguson
Address2538 Maycrest St. NW
Roanoke 24012
United States
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Facebook Profile (if any)Victoria Persinger Ferguson
Tell us about you, the artist. Please include a few sentences of biographical information.

I am a long-time resident of Roanoke. I am an enrolled citizen of the Monacan Nation of Virginia where I serve as a historian. I consider myself multi-racial and understand the importance of truth in history and the need to tell inclusive stories so that there is wider audience appeal. As an Indigenous technologist I have many talents which have been on display in museums, but my most well-known gift has been the preservation of knowledge and the sharing and telling of that knowledge. I am a published author of a children’s book and in negotiations to publish the nonfiction book Fan Me with a Brick.

Please describe your artistic practice including the media you work in and your approach to your art.

I am a keeper of history and a teller of stories. My approach to being a knowledge carrier has been to listen to stories and attempt to use research methodologies to support oral and sometimes scientific theories so there is truth in the details of the research. I have served in the field of public history and in doing that work developed a knack for using stories to enlighten and entertain as art and culture can make change happen. I write stories and I tell stories. I look for opportunities to move stories beyond my space out into the world so they can help expand the understanding of diverse cultures.

Describe the proposed work or project.

In 1983 I spent time with my mother trying to find a family she had been taken from. This particular piece of work looked at the conversations we had and the research I performed to connect the dots for her in an attempt to find any remaining family members. The book and play which came from this work are not studies of genealogy; they are rather, a look at what that time was like in Virginia in the very early 20th century with the passing of miscegenation laws like the Racial Integrity Act and Sterilization Act of 1924. Those laws set the stage for extreme family upheaval and tribal paper genocide. It would take 60 years before the truth could be told and wrongs righted. The play, entitled, “Fan Me with a Brick,” came from my research on this subject. It is a local story. The first step of bringing this story to life in Roanoke needs to start with a staged reading of the work for an invited audience of potential stake holders in the community who have vested interest in the process of sharing this and other similar unknown/hidden histories and righting wrongs in the community.

How will the work advance wellness, justice, or inclusion in Roanoke? Consider a community issue that you hope to address, something you want to celebrate or a condition you want to change.

We have an opportunity to use history to illuminate the future. In this time of banned books and selective history, stories like Fan Me with a Brick are often overlooked for their importance. If we do not study how the “poisoned blood” or “one drop rule” changed the course of so many families not only in Virginia but across the United States and even in Germany, we may be doomed to repeat it. If we do not learn how people from marginalized communities were ushered into segregated mental facilities and then sterilized, we may forget it happened. In-depth knowledge of the past can help us look at today’s concerns in a different light. The important lesson is that with hope and dedication changes can happen and we can be uplifted at the end. Learning these stories through art changes us for the better.

When do you anticipate undertaking the work? If the project is tied to a set event or date, let us know.

2024 is the 100-year mark of the Racial Integrity Act being established. Anytime during the late spring into fall would be a great time to do the reading and open dialogue on this subject and this play.

Are there partners in this effort? If so describe the partnerships and what each partner brings.

The Playwright, Kenley Smith, is a graduate with his MFA from Hollins University. He lived and worked in the Roanoke area for many years. I have community support from Bob Leonard, a faculty member from the Theater Department at Virginia Tech. They are both willing to offer assistance to help get this story introduced to Roanoke and perhaps beyond.
We propose to use a reading of Fan Me with a Brick as a strategy to find project partners for a full production of the play cooperatively led with partners from amongst existing community institutions within the region of the Roanoke and New River Valleys. The invited audience for the reading will include representatives from such organizations as:
• NAACP chapters and other local organizations working for social justice
• Local historical societies
• Local theatre making organizations – not for profits and academic (high school and university)
• Appalachian Studies programs
• Local Virginia Organizing chapters
• Local Public Libraries
• Local faith-based organizations
• Local presenting organizations (theatres and civic centers)

Your theory of change: How will the work advance your efforts as an artist toward an established goal? How will you, a partner organization, or the community be changed?

This project will be the first step toward gathering interest in the region to do a full-scale production that could move into a few local venues and take the learning opportunity with it.
We know ourselves by the stories we tell ourselves. We know each other by the stories we tell each other. Telling stories that have been hidden or denied or otherwise silenced can change ourselves and can change how we relate with each other, a fundamental action for social change. We imagine this play can be a catalyst for this kind of cultural exchange leading to actions for social justice. We propose a reading of the play as a way to engage potential partners with shared goals for social justice to consider joining in a cooperative partnership for a full production of the play – a production designed specifically as a strategy for developing cooperative action for social justice. We imagine the full production would travel to multiple venues around the immediate region of the Roanoke and New River Valleys, as a way to encourage other, similar story sharing designed for cooperative action for social justice.

How much money do you need to accomplish the project? (The allowed range is $500 – $3,000.)This project should require the maximum amount available of $3,000.
What other resources do you need to accomplish the project?

We will need a space to practice and a space to offer the reading to the public. We will need to make copies of the play for each participant, director, and narrator. We want to include some type of promotional piece.

Attach a full budget for your project. Include all costs and revenues. This can be a spreadsheet, word document, PDF, or image.Fan-Me-Budget-for-Reading.xlsx
Submit your CV, resume, or brag sheet here.
Submit a PDF of up to five images representing recent projects or works. (Max file size 10 MB). This should be one file containing multiple images. This must be a PDF. Include captions describing the work. (A PDF can easily be made using the “print as PDF” function in MS Word or “Download as PDF” in google docs.)Fan-Me-with-a-Brick-Photos.pdf
Do you have general liability insurance coverage for your arts-based business, either through your own policy or through a project partner?No