ABOUT THE AFRICA HOUSE STAFF
Hiawatha Johnson, Jr.
Hiawatha Johnson, Jr. is a musician, magician, producer, director, actor, dancer, and choreographer. His unique talents and performance style have garnered him the respect of educators, artists, and laymen throughout the Unitied States and abroad. Mr. Johnson was instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Lynchburg where he was on the board of directors and a founder of The Ellington Fellowship Playhouse, and Riverviews Artspace. He is also the founder of KTMA Performing Arts Ensemble, which is a national consortium of performing and visual artists based in Lynchburg, Va. In 2007 he became the first full-time artist to receive "The Mayor's Award of Excellence'".
Hiawatha was feartured in the ground breaking 1998 PBS television special, The Art of Magic where he was described as '. . .making ancient skills unique through quiet showmanship". Since 2004 he has been a general consultant for Siefried & Roy Presents Darren Romeo, and in 2010 he became the magic and artistic consultant for illusionist Elliot Zimet. In 2011, Hiawatha joined the creative team of endurance artist/magician David Blaine.
Mr. Johnson is currently involved with three film projects. . . Magic Camp - a documentary about Tannen's Magic Camp where he is a teacher/mentor; Desperate Acts of Magic - a romantic comedy to be released in 2013, where he is a general consultant and actor; and Dust to Dust - a science fiction film to begin filming in 2013, in which he is on the production team and a lead actor.
He was on the faculty of the Virginia School of The Arts as accompanist and teacher of improvisation, as well as his own technique which focuses on breath, balance, rhythm, strength and intent. Since 1985, Hiawatha has served as the accompanist/artist-in-residence for the Department of Dance at Randolph College.
BARRY DONALD JONES
A native of Rustburg, Virginia, Mr. Jones graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College with a major in History, and a minor in French. He then journeyed to England where he attended Oxford University, and received a MA in Modern European History and Modern French Literature. In addition he did special studies in Toulouse and Rennes, France.
After returning to the States, Mr. Jones utilized his skills in a variety of social and community based organizations. He taught French language and literature at the Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts, and he worked for the Campbell County Department of Social Services as a Housing Specialist. In addition, he was the founding secretary for the Virginia Housing Coalition.
In the arts and humanities, he was the founding secretary for both the Friends of Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation, and The Legacy Project here in Lynchburg. He now utilizes his skills as an art critic and curator. Mr. Jones has been with Africa House since its inception in 2008.
Ms. Mitchell has loved art since she was a young girl growing up in Danville, Virginia; however, she did not start collecting until the early 70’s when she was introduced to ethnic art. In the early 90’s Violet and several co-workers formed an art group with the goal of showcasing ethnic artists. The goal was to make the artists and their work more visible in the community. At the same time they learned how to curate exhibitions by working with a gallery in New York city.
Working closely with artists and galleries helped Ms. Mitchell learn more about various styles and techniques. She curated her first exhibit while employed with The New York City Department of Homeless Services. The art work and sculptures belonged to the clients, and she thought exhibiting their art would help bring attention to their plight, as well as provide them with much needed income.
In 2004 Violet relocated to Lynchburg where she was introduced to various local artists. In 2008 she co-curated with Ann Van De Graaf the grand opening exhibit at Africa House.