Meet the Artists:
Unicia Buster & Alfonso Acosta Perez

Artist in Residence -- Unicia Buster & Alfonso Perez Acosta, artists in residence. Image by Claudine ReyesRESTORE: The Healing Power of Nature features an array of experiences that highlight the interconnectedness of people, plants and water. Through participatory programming, we hope visitors gain an appreciation and understanding of the vital connection between humans and nature, and are inspired to take action towards restoring themselves, each other, and the natural world.

We are delighted to announce Unicia Buster and Alfonso Pérez Acosta as Artists in Residence at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Both of these artists reflect a deep connection to human resilience in their artistic practice. The equation of nature plus art is a beautiful combination to start healing and restoring ourselves.

Alfonso Pérez Acosta

Alfonso Pérez Acosta was born in Colombia. He studied in Bogotá, graduating with a Fine Arts degree and a Masters of Education and he’s been very involved with art education as a teacher for various schools and nonprofits. He moved to Richmond in 2015 with his family and has lived here since.

Artist Statement

Richmond is a place where my artistic practice has grown significantly, connecting me to different people, communities, organizations and institutions to work on creative healing projects and ways of visualizing a change of narrative into our different cultural identities. In 2019 my work was recognized as the cover story for the Top 40 Under 40 in Style Weekly Magazine, highlighting my role as an Art Program Director with Sacred Heart Center. That same year I organized and presented the first celebration of National Immigrants Day in Virginia, with a dance and drawing project called Migration Flow and gave a TEDxYouth@RVA talk on the different ways we can use Creative Languages to transform barriers into opportunities.
In 2020, my creative response to the beginning of the pandemic was a portrait project called Green Portraits, with daily virtually posted portraits of people who had recovered from COVID-19 around the world. Also this year my mural practice grew significantly and I was part of the Mending Walls project about social justice through public art. Again we celebrated National Immigrants Day with a project named Portraits Of Immigrant Voices, partnering with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to highlight language diversity and open a wider perspective on immigration stories in RVA.

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Unicia Buster

Unicia Buster, a native of Richmond, Va., received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Cornell University and a master of arts degree from George Mason University. She won the juror’s choice award for the inaugural 48-to-Create at the Visual Arts Center and she was a recipient of a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Artist Fellowship. Buster has been a featured speaker at various events in Richmond including TEDxRVA and the Good Grief Conference. She has been featured in various media including Richmond Free Press, WWBT NBC12, Nest Realty’s Magazine, B-Side Collective Magazine, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In 2020, Buster was selected to design the poster for the annual 2nd Street Festival. Besides creating, Buster enjoys exploring nature and its inhabitants with her son.

Artist Statement

Life itself is an interesting experience, one which I constantly explore. Although another person can relate, each individual life is unique and can only be truly experienced through their own eyes. My art is a reflection of my experiences in life, my observations of the world around me, and my imaginings of a world yet to exist. One series of my art focuses on the societal and cultural impact of African/African American hair and how it speaks specifically to the stories, history, culture and personality of a race of people. Moreover, as I seek to celebrate our hair in my art, we often have to face, conversely, its denigration in society at large. A new series has a concentrated interest in preserving our natural environment and all who live within it; as well as evaluating the role I have played in creating climate change, deforestation, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. I enjoy working with many different media and I allow the process to guide my art.

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“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us.  So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” -Artist Andy Goldsworthy