VisArts is lucky to have Gerry Nixon. One of our longest-running volunteers, Gerry has been with us for the past few years, helping out with our big events (Collectors’ Nights and the Craft + Design Show), along with other events . Gerry is a talented seamstress and has spent her time in VisArts’ studios exploring other realms of the visual arts. She is also a former SOHO mentor and comes by weekly to help us with a variety of tasks in the office.
In April, during National Volunteer Week, we recognized Gerry as our exemplary volunteer through The Spark Mill’s Power of Good event. In honor of all RVA’s hardworking and giving volunteers, The Spark Mill, in partnership with artist Tiffany Glass Ferreira, created Shrinky Dink Selfies for volunteers.
Tell us your volunteer story! How did you end up becoming a VisArts volunteer?
As retirement approached, I talked to some folks about working with nonprofits, and someone mentioned VisArts, so I went to a volunteer orientation and ended up sewing banners that same day. I was really interested in the SOHO program, and was able to serve as a mentor one year. Besides helping with major events, I usually stop by about once a week and do whatever is needed.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering at VisArts?
It’s such a fun place to be — really nice staff, beautiful things to see, lots of activity, variety of tasks/ways to help. My husband doesn’t understand why I am willing to clean out closets at VisArts, but don’t enjoy doing that at home. I told him that VisArts has fun stuff in their closets. I enjoy handling the materials that go into making art.
Are you an artist or a maker? If so, what do you like to make?
I have known how to sew since I was a child, and grew up making most of my own clothes, then things for our home, then prom/homecoming dresses for my daughter, but hadn’t really tried other things. Since coming to VisArts, I have used my volunteer credits to take classes in weaving, stained glass, glass fusing and slumping, glass bead making, steam punk jewelry making, and clay (mostly hand-building). Twice, I have taken the Pottery for Everyone class with a teenager that I met through SOHO or Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT). As more than one teacher has told me to do, I enjoy the process of making things, regardless of the outcome.
What’s your favorite local Richmond haunt?
We recently moved from Chesterfield to Church Hill, so we’re looking forward to trying all the great restaurants in the neighborhood. My husband had a major heart issue a few years ago, so our eating habits changed drastically after that, but he gets one splurge meal a week, so it will take us years to try all the possibilities even once!
Tell us a little about yourself! (Where do you work? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Where are we likely to find you on a Friday night?)
I’m a retired biochemist. After spending over 30 years in an industrial research and development environment, the only science I do these days is related to tutoring or volunteering to screen projects and judge science fairs through the Math Science Innovation Center. I volunteer with Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT), serving as a tutor and a life skills class sewing teacher. I also participate in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and serve as children’s leader in that program. We have a 7-month-old granddaughter, so I enjoy spending time with her whenever I can. Since I’m retired, every day is one for doing something I love, so Friday nights are not really different from any other.