The fall art show at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will showcase six decades of work by acclaimed artist Jane Lillian Vance.

Described as “painted journalism,” the exhibits will include extraordinary works from her travels in the name of hope and healing to Africa and South Asia as well as her efforts as vice president of the national nonprofit Help Save the Next Girl. It will be an extravaganza of art, decades in the making.

The show, titled “Jane Lillian Vance: The First Sixty Years,” will open Sept. 24 with a viewing and reception at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke starting at 5:30 p.m. The event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

“Jane’s engagement with our school has been especially meaningful over the years,” said Dave Trinkle, associate dean for community and culture. “Not only is she extremely active in Help Save the Next Girl, which was founded by our Vice Dean Dan Harrington and his wife Gil, but also much of her work is dedicated to physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. We are more than honored at the opportunity to feature her collections.”


With more than 100 paintings, the show marks the first time Vance’s three major collections have been on display in one show. The first collection, her Africa Series, reflects her seven years of traveling with Gil Harrington to Zambia as part of the Orphan Medical Network team, where they worked wound care stations at medical clinics set up in remote, impoverished tribal regions.

“My Africa Series answers why it’s worth traveling into places of extreme poverty, corruption, and disease to save lives, a relevant point of activism right now.” Vance said. “These are strong paintings.”

In addition, several of the paintings in the exhibit address Vance’s decade of work with Gil Harrington with Help Save the Next Girl, an organization formed in honor of the Harringtons’ daughter Morgan who, at age 20, was abducted and murdered. Help Save the Next Girl’s mission is to help educate young women and girls about predatory dangers.

Vance taught Morgan when she was a student at Virginia Tech several months before her death. A permanent gallery of Morgan’s artwork hangs on the first floor of the medical school, and a memorial scholarship helps offset the financial needs of future medical students. Read more about the Morgan Dana Harrington Memorial Scholarship.

The second series of paintings, from South Asia, depicts Vance’s decades of work with Tibetans and her years of living in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The paintings uniquely link religious stories of Southwest Virginia with images from Buddhism and Hinduism.

“These works form a global spiritual bridge along which the East and the West lose doubt and fear of each other,” she said.

Currently, Vance is illustrating a children’s book written by retired American Ambassador Scott DeLisi, to be published next year. The book is a true story about DeLisi finding his unexpected soul mate, a dusty, blue-eyed puppy in the Himalayas. The first five paintings for the book will be displayed for the first time, and DeLisi, who represented the United States in Eritrea, Nepal, and Uganda, will be in attendance.

Known for her naturalist detail and contemporary landscapes, Vance exhibits these characteristics especially in the third and final series in the show, which is comprised of her many sumptuous flora and fauna paintings. These are sure to delight gardeners, animal lovers, and fans of folk art, among others.

Many of the overarching themes of Vance’s work — healing, understanding, compassion — lend themselves to the medical school’s Creativity in Health Education Program, which encourages medical students to embrace the arts and understand the role that art can play in both education and the practice of medicine.

“My paintings are infinitesimally detailed, socially edifying, global, and spiritual,” Vance said. “They are aesthetic soul food for Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s young healers-in-training.”

Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Vance decided to become an artist at the age of two. For a dozen years, she taught The Creative Process at Virginia Tech. Vance has been a presenter at TEDxVirginiaTech and a contributor to National Public Radio’s StoryCorps. She was selected as the first artist-in-residence at Carilion Clinic as part of the Dr. Robert L.A. Keeley Healing Arts Program. When she’s not building cultural and spiritual bridges in remote parts of the world, Vance resides in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her works are housed in private collections in four continents.

The show runs through Dec. 20, 2019.

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