Richmond Community Arts Groups Attempt Record-Breaking Print to Honor Cancer Survivors 

click to enlarge Art on Wheels’ Kevin Orlosky stands between two panels that will help honor the lives of cancer victims as part of a record-breaking collaboration this weekend.

Scott Elmquist

Art on Wheels’ Kevin Orlosky stands between two panels that will help honor the lives of cancer victims as part of a record-breaking collaboration this weekend.

Creating a print big enough to make it into the Guinness World Records is one thing, but making it meaningful to the community is quite another.

For Kevin Orlosky, Art on Wheels’ director of programs, the notion of a giant print percolated in his head for years before finding its raison d’être. Having lost his stepmother and younger sister to cancer, he wanted a way to honor them

“I thought, what if we print clothing to represent people?” he says, speaking from Scott’s Addition, where Art on Wheels has had its studio since 2009 — long before the neighborhood was a hipster haven. “Personally, I’ve always wanted to do a big piece of art, something special to pay tribute to them for the struggles they went through.”

“Impressions of Courage,” done in conjunction with local printmaking collective Studio Two Three, will be Art on Wheels’ biggest community art project to date, with a portion of the event’s proceeds benefitting the Legal Information Network for Cancer.

More than 200 submissions were received after the group asked the community for loved ones and friends to honor. The result will be a massive print, roughly 7 and a half feet tall and 700 feet long.

Studio Two Three founding board member Jake Urbanski serves as the group’s liaison, organizing volunteers and helping plan the undertaking. Becoming involved with the project also offered him a cathartic experience. “Helping someone make an attributed collagraph plate with personally significant clothing was particularly meaningful,” he says of his job assisting people with both the technical and creative aspects of cutting, laying out and adhering the clothing to create the plate. Each plate carries the name of an honoree.

At the “Impressions of Courage” festival, the plates will be laid end to end beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday and inked in black by a team of 30 artists before being covered by the fabric and then a layer of blankets. It should take about an hour and a half for the steamroller from Richmond Machinery and Equipment — known as the oldest business in Scott’s Addition — to drive over the plates to create the print.

If time allows, a second piece of fabric will be laid out to make a ghost print, so-called because the plates aren’t re-inked, leaving a far fainter resulting image. The intention is to auction off sections as a fundraiser in the spring.

But to make it into the record book, there are some rules. Guinness requires two independent witnesses who must write letters documenting what they saw, plus photographic evidence to show variety and a sense of scale, and two cameras continuously shooting video — including drone video footage — of the printing and measuring processes.

Music performances, food trucks, beer trucks, artisan vendors and activities will run along Leigh Street. For those who weren’t able to have a plate created to memorialize a loved one, an activity table will allow people to create a small prayer flag to honor that person.
Orlosky and his wife, Art on Wheels executive director Andrea Orlosky, are working with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center to find a place for the record-breaking print to be unveiled during Artober next month.

Other events for Studio Two Three this fall include RVA Maker Fest (Sept.24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Science Museum, when it will steamroll print a new Giant RVA map and the By the Campfire annual auction (Sept. 30, 7 p.m) with music by Lobo Marino plus Belle Isle Moonshine cocktails and silent auctions to raise money for ongoing classes.

“Impressions of Courage,” happens Saturday, Sept. 10, from noon -5 p.m. on Leigh Street in Scott’s Addition. Information at artonwheels-va.org.

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