Honoring Artists with and without Disabilities Who Leveraged Their Creativity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Mildred W. Spicer Arts Fund, a Charlottesville-based initiative designed to enhance artistic discovery and creativity, is pleased to announce the winners of its annual Arts Award. This year’s award, which is now in its seventh year, celebrates seven “Art Heroes” in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area who used the power of art during quarantine and beyond to help themselves and others with disabilities since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“The annual Mildred W. Spicer Arts Award has historically recognized an artist with a disability or an individual or organization promoting art opportunities for those with disabilities within the Charlottesville-Albemarle area,” said Sarah Blech, Mildred W. Spicer Arts Fund coordinator and adaptive recreation manager for the City of Charlottesville. “While we postponed the Arts Award in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re proud that the award has returned in 2021 with a special emphasis on those who used art and creativity to uplift their community during the recent health crisis. And instead of featuring just one winner of the award this year, we felt that it was important in the seventh year to recognize seven art heroes who used the power of art during quarantine and beyond to help themselves and others with disabilities.”

Nominations for this year’s award, honoring anyone making a difference through art in their life and/or the lives of others during the pandemic, were accepted from October 4 to October 31, 2021. The winning recipients selected for the 2021 Mildred W. Spicer Arts Award include:

Rachel Pompano Mclaughlin: Honored for making art accessible, approachable, and fun for community members with disabilities during the pandemic, thanks to her creative use of Zoom and for her exemplary support of people with disabilities in the arts.

Nancy Lineweaver: A talented artist, Lineweaver is honored for her use of art to inspire love, joy, and kindness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite losing her job during the pandemic and having her favorite art classes canceled, Lineweaver used her time to create gifts of art that honored special memories for each recipient.

Mary Anna Dunn: Despite the COVID pandemic, Dunn continued to provide access to, and creation of, art opportunities for post high and high school students with disabilities in Charlottesville and Albemarle County schools. She also found new ways to present her successful poetry workshop, PopNPoems, through Access Arts while respecting social distancing to keep participants safe.

Greg Morgolione: As a popular local musician, Morgoglione has brought his love for music to area nursing homes for years as part of a series of volunteer performances. During the pandemic, he has served as a “Nabor” at Naborforce in an effort to provide companionship – and music – to older adults isolated during quarantine.

Robyn Miller: A celebrated local artist, Miller has displayed her paintings and poetry as part of Access Arts Charlottesville/Albemarle. She recently published The Moonlight Series: Out-Speaking in the Year 2020 as a way to process the challenges she and others have faced in recent years. In addition, Miller regularly gifted the art she created to others throughout the pandemic.

Robin Hoffman: For over 12 years, Hoffman has hosted A Day A Minute with Artist Robin Hoffman on CPATV with the goal of celebrating the creativity of our region, including local artists of all ability levels. Hoffman found new and creative ways to continue her television program to celebrate the arts during the pandemic. When she wasn’t hosting her show and creating her own art, Hoffman, who is also a registered nurse, administered COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the community.

Amy Keenan-Amago: As an experienced art educator, who is currently working on her dissertation for her Ph.D. in arts education, Keenan-Amago recently launched a new art program for artists with disabilities in collaboration with the Arc of the Piedmont. In addition, she helped to build an art studio filled with art supplies at the Arc of the Piedmont and has filled the building with framed art by her students to provide an inviting, creative environment that celebrates the students’ abilities and accomplishments.

“This year’s seven art heroes represent the wide variety of ways that community members, with or without a disability, are making a difference in the lives of others through the power of art and artistic expression,” said Blech. “We are honored to celebrate this year’s recipients of the Mildred W. Spicer Arts Award and hope that their community contributions will continue to inspire others to create and to promote inclusive art opportunities for everyone.”

About the Mildred W. Spicer Arts Fund
The Mildred W. Spicer Arts Fund was created in May 2013 in honor of Mildred Spicer’s retirement from Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department after 33 years as therapeutic recreation supervisor. In addition to recognizing a local artist/mentor, musician, writer or organization supporting the arts, the Mildred W. Spicer Arts Fund provides individual scholarships to take classes and workshops related to the arts and to further develop individual art skills and expression.