Morris County & Arts Community Unveil Plaque to Viki Craig
Published on June 16, 2022
Late Co-Founder of “Art in the Atrium” Championed African American Art
Art in the Atrium (ATA) Co-founder Viki Craig was honored tonight with a plaque unveiled in Morristown by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners, The Craig Family and Morris Arts during a ceremony at the Morris County Administration and Records Building in Morristown, where ATA began 30 years ago.
Charles Craig and Lauren LeBeaux Craig, Viki Craig’s husband and daughter, hosted the ceremony with Morris Arts Director of Galleries Lynn Seibert and Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director John Krickus next to the plaque on the 5th Floor of the Atrium Gallery.
“It’s been three years since we lost Viki Craig and two years since we first planned a dedication here to this wonderful, brilliant and visionary woman, and I want to say thank you to Charles and Lauren for continuing her legacy. … It is so fitting that we are going to have Viki Craig’s plaque here, overlooking the atrium where she founded Art in the Atrium,” said Commissioner Krickus.
He noted that Morris County has only two other plaques of honor on the 5th Floor of the atrium: One for Frederick W. Knox, Jr., who served as a Freeholder from 1978 to 1988, and the other to Ilene St. John, who served as Clerk of the Board from 1991 to 2008.
“I am just so proud to represent my parents who had the vision and tenacity to keep this going for all these years. And I am excited that my mom has her plaque, and I’m trying not to get emotional too early. It’s a culmination of just so much,” said Lauren LeBeaux Craig.
The plaque is located just outside the Morris County Commissioners public meeting room. ATA took its name from the county’s five-story building atrium, where the Craig Family launched their nonprofit volunteer art organization with the mission to educate and exhibit African American fine art in Morristown.
The plaque unveiling was timed to coincide with Juneteenth celebrations this weekend, which honors the date June 19, 1865, two months after the Civil War ended, when Union General Gordon Granger delivered the news to enslaved communities in Texas that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier.
ATA’s annual exhibition, the largest of its kind in the state of New Jersey, has been a successful showcase of art by both emerging and established artists. Viki Craig died in December 2018, but her family continued her work.
During 2020 and 2021, when the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to keep the Atrium Gallery open to the public, a planned plaque dedication to Viki Craig was postponed. But ATA still showcased its artists virtually with the support of Morris County and the Board of Commissioners.
This year, ATA’s atrium exhibit is part of Morris Arts’ new exhibit, REEMERGENCE AND RENEWAL, which was set up last month and will run through Sept. 2. It exhibits a total of 138 artworks by 46 talented artists who offer a sense of renewal through their vibrant imagery, vivid colors, compelling designs and their underlying sense of humanity.
The fourth and fifth floors of the atrium exclusively showcase ATA’s presentation -- 70 works by 24 African American artists entitled “Black Revival!” The works include a wide range of styles and media – utilizing acrylic, multimedia assemblages, textiles, and photos in abstract and figurative compositions.
Most of the artworks are available for sale, with details and pricing provided in the free catalogues available in the elevator lobby areas on each floor. The catalogue also is available online at www.morrisarts.org.
The Atrium Art Gallery is free and open to the public during business hours, 8:30 am-4:30 p.m.
Morris Arts is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1973 dedicated to building community through the arts. Using the arts to inspire, connect and engage, Morris Arts serves as a resource for Morris County with a special focus on arts programming in the community and in the schools, arts advocacy, and support of the Morris Area community of artists and arts organizations.
Top Right: Lauren LeBeaux Craig, Commissioner Krickus and Charles Craig pulled a veil off the plaque honoring the late ATA Co-Founder Viki Craig.
Top Left: The Viki Craig plaque now on the 5th Floor of the Atrium Gallery.
Center Right: “Busted Bouquet,” a piece by artist Armisey Smith, 2021, displayed in the Atrium Gallery by ATA.
Bottom Left: Lauren LeBeaux Craig at the podium, with Commissioner Krickus behind her, addressed a large crowd who attended the unveiling.