Melanie Lenora Buffington
Sept. 14, 1973 – Sept. 16, 2020
Dr. Melanie Lenora Buffington, 47, of Richmond passed away Wednesday, September 16, 2020, at her home. She was Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Art Education Department at VCU. A distinguished scholar and passionate advocate for the arts and justice, Melanie was recognized by the National Art Education Association as 2015’s National Higher Education Teacher of the Year. She also received the Marantz Distinguished Alumni Award from The Ohio State University in 2019. Melanie earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Art Education from Ohio State and her B.S. in Art Education at Penn State.
She is survived by her parents Dennis and Anna Carol Buffington, sister Kristin and brother-in-law Darryl, niece Margaret, and nephew Daniel.
Melanie had many skills and gifts that she readily shared with others. She was a prolific baker who spoiled her friends with homemade goodies, a talented knitter who crafted amazing sweaters, and a superb gardener who loved to grow and enjoy flowers. She always had a card, a meal, and a hug for a friend, neighbor, family member, or colleague in need.
Melanie loved the city of Richmond and its people. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to one of her favorite Richmond charities.
Neighborhood Resource Center, 1519 Williamsburg Rd, Richmond VA 23231
Feed More, 1415 Rhoadmiller St, Richmond VA 23220
The Carver Promise Mentoring Program, 2922 W Marshall St, Suite 2, Richmond VA 23230
Melanie was such an inspiration in her dedication to the arts, history, and education. I will forever be changed by her teaching. My condolences to everyone that knew and cared for this remarkable woman.
Praying daily for you Mrs. Anna Carol, Mr. Dennis, Kristin, Darryl, Margaret and Daniel. Love Collette Diez and family
My condolences to Melanie’s family. She was a wonderful teacher and I learned so much from her during my time at VCU.
I was so sad to read this news. I worked with Melanie as an outside reader on Practice Theory. She was a scholar who made important contributions to the field of art education and was a sensitive and concerned mentor and teacher. May her memory be a blessing to her family and all those who knew and admired her.
Thank you , Melanie, for all your words and wisdom. I only hope we can honor you with our continuing work in the field.
My heart goes out to everyone who knew and loved Melanie. She was kind, thoughtful, and smart. Words cannot describe the very special and wonderful person that she was. Thank you, Melanie, for sharing your love and wisdom with us all. We love you.
A prayer, a flower, a candle and sad tears of pain on your grave, our dear Melanie. We love you and cherish every moment we had with you. You were my family in Richmond. In this sorrowful time, I would like to extend to Melanie’s family my heartfelt condolences. I am truly sorry for our loss.
I am deeply saddened by the news of Melanie passing at such a young age. We met in Qatar, where I got to know her as a most wonderfully inspiring art teacher. What a loss. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. She will be sorely missed
My heart goes out to Melanie’s family, friends, students, and colleagues. She has passed away far too soon. She has made an indelible mark on art education and education as a whole, and generations of children and teachers will benefit from her work.
My heart goes out to her family and friends and her students. She was a wonderful, kind, dedicated art educator and the works is a worse place with her in it.
Melanie was a true best friend, the kindest and forever friend you found once in a lifetime. She was thoughtful, heartwarming, caring, supportive, understanding, none-judgmental, adventurous, and inspiring! I miss her terribly. My prayers are with the Buffington family— Mr. & Mrs. Buffington, Kristin and her family— Darryl, Margaret, and Daniel.
Heartfelt condolences to the Buffington family. Her memory and contributions to the field of art education live on in the hearts of all she touched. Her research brought attention with data visualizations and impactful activism regarding the absence of recognition of feminists working toward social justice, and women of color in art education curricula, teaching resources, and Wikipedia entries. We worked on projects and presented together, shared resources and strategies. Her generous and loving spirit touched many lives and she lives on in our hearts. Her scholarship has and will continue to reshape the field of art education toward social justice.
The Data Visualization Working Group (DVWG) mourns the loss of Melanie Buffington. Melanie was known for her research in critical thinking and social justice studies in art education, providing a voice for feminist teaching and challenging the racist legacy of confederate monuments. Melanie joined DVGW in 2017, and since then she has been involved in DVWG’s annual panel session at the National Art Education Association Convention.
In 2018, Melanie was one of the DVWG representatives attending the 7th World Chinese Arts Education Symposium and International Society of Education through Art Regional Conference in Hong Kong. She pointed out the lack of diversity in commercial art teaching resources, urging curricula developers to close this gap in teaching materials. In 2019 NAEA, she followed up her study and received positive responses from art teachers. She was very excited to hear one of the attendees approached me in the hallway and remarked on how Melanie’s visualization on the minimal representations of women of color in teaching resources was impactful.
Melanie enjoyed research, combing through databases and seeing things in different light. Despite her battle with cancer, Melanie participated in DVWG’s webcast in April 2020. Showing her passion and dedication to a field that she held dear to her heart.
Lady M, as we nicknamed her, was a kind-hearted friend. She made sure to find time and grab a cup of coffee with colleagues in between sessions at conferences, or shared a slice of cake as a surprise for her colleagues. Most importantly, she listened and offered advice.
We will forever cherish her in our heart.
My deepest condolences to Melanie’s family and friends. I and my students read, learned and respected Melanie’s work and contributions to the art education field and teacher training. She will be missed. Rest In Peace.
oh This hurts. I’m going to miss you Melanie. Thanks for everything.
Melanie is the most positive person I have ever known.
I have never known a person with the best out look on life. She was surely given so many obstacles and accept the challenges and moved on. I know with great confidence you are with our savior which gives me comforted ,but still my heart is sad. I know we will see you again. I ask God why ? My aunt told me he only wants the best and you are the best !
My heart goes out to the entire Buffington family. It was an honor to know and word with Melanie as we started our careers together as first year teachers. Melanie was selfless and brave. I pray she is at peace now and Heaven now has a new angel. You will be forever missed Melanie…
Melanie and I met as graduate students at Ohio State. We had such fun times together. My deepest condolences to the family. I will always treasure our friendship and memories of her.
I worked with Melanie when she was a graduate student at Ohio State. She was exceptionally creative and a wonderful collaborator, but her sweetness and her generosity distinguished her. We worked together for a short time but stayed connected on social media. I was so sorry to learn of her passing–she was a remarkable woman.
I share in the sadness of Melanie’s untimely passing and offer my sincere condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, and students. I have some delightful memories of her. May her light continue to shine through her manifold and relevant contributions to the art education profession.
Melanie will be missed. I went to school with her at OSU. She was dedicated to the field of art education through her research , publications, and leadership. My condolences to the Buffington family. May fond memories of her ease the grief. Rina
Melanie’s courageous fight with breast cancer and the Buffington family’s loving care for her were extraordinary. Even though Melanie was succumbed to the disease, her spirit for everything she loved and advocated for will live on. I knew Melanie since OSU. She was my colleague at Eastern Michigan University. Melanie, Chris, and I worked together to revamp EMU undergraduate and graduate art education programs. Her grace, dedication, and perseverance genuinely impressed us. I would like to express my deepest condolence to the Buffington family, Melanie’s friends, neighbors, students, and colleagues for the unspeakable grief and sorrow that we all share. Also, now and forever, with you all, I cherish the fond memory and stories of Melanie.
My sincere condolences to Melanie’s family, colleagues, and students. Melanie’s writings and projects have inspired so many people, and she will be deeply missed in our field as a friend and professional colleague.
I am so sorry to hear about Melanie’s passing. My condolences to her many loved ones. She has inspired many–I regularly use her writings in my classes. She will be missed.
My deepest condolences to Melanie’s family and friends. She was a caring and lovely friend, colleague, and teacher. I will miss her goodness and cherish the memory of those moments we hang out, work, and laugh together.
Melanie was a light for scholarship and social justice. When she got sick, I only just learned of our shared interest in knitting — and one of the last emails she sent me was filled with beauty and appreciation for this craft. I will miss my VCU colleague deeply! My deepest condolences to her family and friends.
I had the good fortune of knowing Melanie the past six years through a variety of NAEA groups and we ended up being able to publish together, present at conferences and even travel to Hong Kong. She always picked out great restaurants and I enjoyed getting to know her. She was an inspiration and someone I looked up to as a scholar and leader in our field. She handled herself with grace and strength and was strong in her convictions. I will sorely miss her as a scholar, and as a friend.
I am still stunned and heartbroken by this news. Melanie was remarkably kind, brilliant, and compassionate. She was a wonderful colleague and collaborator. My heart goes out to her family, especially her niece and nephew, who she loved so dearly. I will miss you, Melanie.
A wonderful person to work with. So much sadness in my heart.
Melanie was a shining star at VCU and in our Richmond community. She will be deeply missed everyday. Her contributions to community-engaged teaching and learning through her service-learning classes significantly impacted her students, Richmond residents and the entire VCU community.
Oh how I will miss this sweet, kind, and loving spirit. I have worked with her over 15 years with her art students and mine at the Carver Promise. She wanted each and every one of her students to know what the world could look like through love no matter how different people are. I will always remember you my dear and hope that you found peace. You were truly and angel on earth.
This is heart breaking. I was an undergraduate student of Dr. Buffington’s at VCUarts. Brilliant, tough, brave, warm & always so generous. I remember consistently being challenged by her throughout my time at VCUarts – she held me accountable but also empowered me to keep pushing, keep asking questions, keep going. She is one of my biggest inspirations as an educator, an advocate, and a friend. I wish we had more time. I am so grateful for our memories. Thank you for everything Dr. Buffington.
Melanie asked me if I made my scarf myself. I was just getting to know her and I was pretty in secure about my knitting skills. I asked her if she was making fun of me. Far from it! She said she could tell from the way I held it that I had made it and she was admiring my workl. I will remember Melanie as an attentive and kind colleague. My deepest condolences to her parents, sister, niece and nephew.
My heart aches at the loss of Melanie. As a scholar, a teacher, a critic, and a person, she was adored for her generosity, quiet humor, and passion. We have been so proud to claim Melanie as an alum of Ohio State and were honored to host her just last year as an award recipient. She again impacted an entire audience of scholars and students with her thoughtful research into issues of inequity and race. I miss her dearly already.
Melanie was one of those people who always quietly but profoundly showed up when it mattered. May I someday be able to move through the world with the same level of grace and care that she did. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have known her as a friend. My heartfelt condolences to her family.
Purpose. Significant impact. Melanie put her energies toward things that matter. A powerhouse scholar, a dedicated collaborator, a mindful and reflective teacher, an imaginative questioner, a superb knitter and baker…. I will so miss her ginger molasses cookies and all the other countless ways she impacted my life, our community, and the field of art education. My deepest condolences to the Buffington family and especially for her niece and nephew. May all of our lives be so positively meaningful.
Melanie was truly an angel walking amongst us. She blessed those who knew her with her caring heart, thoughtfulness, and compassion — and often the best baked goods you’ve ever had. Her passion inspired everyone around her, and her gentle, loving spirit will continue to lift us up as we fondly remember her.
I am deeply saddened to hear that Melanie, a young , vibrant educator and scholar has passed. My deep sympathies for her family, friends, colleagues and students.
Deeply saddened to hear of Melanie’s passing. My thoughts and prayers to her family, students, friends and colleagues.
As Melanie’s youngest cousin she was always just a text or a phone call away as I started getting treatment for my cancer. We would check in with each other after treatment or I would call with questions I had. I will greatly miss our talks and her words of encouragement.
I miss you dearly as I walk this road.
God is still Good all the time.
We will greatly miss seeing Melanie at our annual thanksgiving meal and the occasional waffle shop trip with the Buffington family. She was very kind and thoughtful. On one of our waffle shop trips she delivered a ready to go meal and banana bread to us. Anyone with young children knows how nice it is to have a delicious meal in hand with a night off cooking and doing dishes. Although we didn’t see Melanie often she was thoughtful enough to think of us and prepare the meal for us. Krissy and I were extremely appreciative of it and it is a practice we have tried to pass on to any of our friends with a newborn. Now we will always remember Melanie’s kindness every time we prepare a meal for someone else. Praying for the whole Buffington family, her colleagues and her friends.
James, Krissy, Ryan and Luke English
We always think about the sweet, kindness and caring she shared. I had a recent illness and I received letters and flowers from Melanie and Kristen that really helped me get through this difficult time. Melanie would rather think of others than herself. She would send me beautiful flower pictures from her garden and my daughters would send her pictures back from mine. We both loved gardening. Uncle Freddie and I always were excited to see her and her many creation at thanksgiving, boy she could bake. We will both really miss you!
Melanie’s smile and bubbly personality brighten any occasion. I have fond memories of seeing her at Thanksgiving. Her thoughtfulness and kindness
made me feel good. My thoughts and prayers go out to Dennis and Anna Carol and all that were touched by her life.
Melanie was my mentor as new faculty at VCU. She was so warm and giving, even offering her research contacts to me. She was a true inspiration, in all the ways, to me. I will dearly miss her.
Melanie was a valuable and thoughtful scholar in our art education community, which is how I knew her. Her kind presence and wise words will be deeply missed. I wish her family moments of peace amidst these difficult times.