VCU School of the Arts announces Inclusion Infusion Initiative

Artists, performers and scholars invited to explore diverse aspects of identity

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts is raising its students’ level of social-identity engagement through its Inclusion Infusion Initiative. Through the $100,000 initiative, faculty and students have proposed programs to bring to campus artists, performers and scholars whose work is a catalyst for dialogue about diverse aspects of identity — such as culture, class, race, gender, sexuality and religion.

Inclusion Infusion was developed in response to students’ interests in how current and historical social issues have been variously experienced and interpreted. It’s also meant to expose students to ways that the arts expand our awareness of diversity, celebrate a multitude of identities, and challenge us to redress inequities.

“The overarching objective has been to create an environment where issues of diversity and inclusion are a regular topic of conversation, at the forefront of people’s minds rather than something at the margins,” said James Frazier, Ed.D., interim dean of the School of the Arts. 

Among the 16 proposals that have been selected for funding, a range of topics will be explored, including race and representation, sexual identity and creative practice, artmaking and social change, violence and reconciliation, virtual reality and empathy, and cultural tradition and gendered identity. 

Upcoming events:


Shaping Bodies Symposium

Friday, Feb. 24
Grace Street Theater, 934 W. Grace St., 9 a.m. to noon
The Depot, 1 to 5 p.m.

The one-day symposium hosts Heather Cassils, Chelsey Johnson, Jenni Sorkin and Kara Thompson — artists and scholars who are engaged in conversations about the body, gender identity, race, social justice and material culture/histories. The distinguished speakers will present their individual research, followed by an open-table guided discussion with the attendees.


Cobi Moules and Cupid Ojala Show at Iridian Gallery
Friday, March 17, 7 to 9 p.m.
Iridian Gallery, 1407 Sherwood Ave.

Cobi Moules and Cupid Ojala present their two-person show, chaired by Chris Norris, faculty member of the VCU School of the Arts Art Foundation Program.


Visiting Artist Lecture: Cobi Moules and Cupid Ojala

Monday, March 20, 10 a.m. to noon
Commons Theater, 907 Floyd Ave.

Cobi Moules and Cupid Ojala present back-to-back lectures. Explorations of queer and transgender identity are the focus of Moules’ work, navigating the complexity of individual experience through documentation, the subtle reimagining of physicality and the creation of fantasy worlds. Ojala’s work focuses on the visibility of queer bodies, tropes of masculinity and exploration of erotic territory as experienced in a transgendered body.


Salsa for Social Change – John Santos

Monday, March 20, noon to 7:50 p.m. (VCU students only) Tuesday, March 21, 8 to 10 p.m. (open the public; tickets are $7 advance, $10 at the door and free with VCU student ID)
W.E Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, 922 Park Ave.

As part of his three-day artist-in-residency, seven-time Grammy-nominated percussionist John Santos, one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today, will present “Salsa for Social Change,” which draws upon the historical role of salsa music and its precursors as documenter of a social reality from the perspective of resistance — and how that positive thread remained vital despite commercial, industry and other internal and external pressures.


O.J.: Made in America

Saturday, April 15, and Saturday, April 22, noon to 4:30 p.m.
Grace Street Theater, 934 W. Grace St.

A screening of the eight-hour documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” which explores issues of race and celebrity through the life of O.J. Simpson, whose trial for the murder of his wife brought attention to the stark divide between white and black America in the mid-1990s. The April 22 screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring producer Ezra Edelman, Nick Forester and VCU faculty talking about issues of marginalized identities, social justice, athletics, law, journalism and the media.

For more information on the Inclusion Infusion Initiative, visit Additional events in this series can be found at by searching “Inclusion.”

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 225 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Seventy-nine of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The VCU Health brand represents the health sciences schools of VCU, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit and