ON DISPLAY Growing Food, Growing Farmers makes visible the experiences of a community of farmers that exists within a growing network of local food production in Vermont.
Richard Brown’s recently published retrospective—The Last of the Hill Farms: Echoes of Vermont’s Past—showcases the photographer’s most cherished subject: Vermont’s hill farmers. This exhibition, which bears the same name, offers the chance to experience the Vermont that Richard entered and began to photograph in the 1970s. On display through July 2018.
On display at Highland Center for the Arts, Greensboro, Vermont, through December 2, 2018. For nearly fifty years, Ethan Hubbard drove the back roads of rural Vermont in search of old-time Vermonters. In barns and fields, from forest walks to kitchen tables, Ethan’s photographic portraits and audio recordings transport us to rural Vermont and to the moments he shared with the people he met there.
On display at the Bennington Museum through June 11, 2019.
After Minnie Griswold passed away in 1952, her sons locked up their mother’s house in Pawlet, Vermont and left all her belongings in place, unaltered. Thirty years later, Pawlet documentarians Susanne and Neil Rappaport would enter the home at the invitation of one of the brothers, Charlie, and go on to produce a collection of hand-colored photographs of Minnie’s home.
Family Traits: Art, Humor, Living explores the creative world of Stanley Lyndes—examining how a family builds identity and makes meaning through the celebration of its quirky characters and the peculiarities of everyday life. ON DISPLAY: Vermont History Museum, Montpelier, VT, through January 26, 2018
West Fairlee rug braider Delsie Hoyt was inspired by the unique creative vision that her Great-Grandmother, Annette “Nettie” Nelson, of Ryegate, Vermont, brought to the craft over a century ago. “I seek to challenge conventional notions of what a braided rug can be through experimental designs that range from swirling galaxies to pastoral Vermont landscapes,” explains Hoyt.
GRACE, Grass Roots Art and Community Effort began in the 1970’s when Don Sunseri moved to Vermont to “get away” from the competitiveness and hustle of the New York City art scene. Working as a dishwasher at the St. Johnsbury Convalescent Center, Don had the idea that a “well of untapped creativity might be lurking in the halls and common rooms around him in the nursing home.”
With permission from the center’s administration, he began offering workshops—providing art materials, encouragement and a supportive environment, and letting the residents explore on their own. He describes having “discovered a new sense of authenticity by witnessing the emergence of these grassroots artists.”
His impulse, and those early workshops with residents, formed the foundation of what would become GRACE—a now forty-year effort to discover, develop, and promote self-taught artists throughout Vermont.
Amazing GRACE celebrates the works of more than twenty-five current and past artists supported through GRACE’s hundreds of annual workshops in nursing homes, adult day centers, mental health agencies, or on-site at GRACE’s Old Firehouse facility in Hardwick, Vermont.
While certain elements of continuity run throughout—the role of pattern, a sense of space, a visible joy of drawing—the myriad of styles and mediums employed by the artists reflect the deeply personal, and often autobiographical, nature of the works.
Sunseri believed that each of us is in possession of a well of experience. “To draw from that well is to draw from the source of all art,” he said.
“We feel a sense of common cause with the GRACE philosophy around an emphasis on, and curiosity of, an individual’s personal experience,” explains Ned Castle, the Vision & Voice Gallery Coordinator. “To draw from that well—the knowledge of everyday living—is to draw not only on the source of all art, but on the source of all folklife, too.”
Five years ago, Tropical Storm Irene changed the landscape and lives of many Vermonters. Chris Triebert was one of them—an artist living and working along the Rock River in South Newfane. Vermonters processed the chaos of the storm, destruction, and recovery in different ways—for Triebert, with time, her experience turned to art making as a way to create visual and emotional order from the chaos.
Remnants of the flood’s aftermath – piles of rocks, strewn debris and littered sand – gave form to the close-up and abstract photographs created by the artist following the flood.
“When the storm ended, debris, sand, gravel and rocks were strewn all over our property, which sits along the banks of the Rock River in South Newfane. In the following weeks of clean-up, I set aside some of the objects of the flood’s aftermath and observed them closely. I noticed how the rock surfaces, the shapes of debris, and patterns in the sand seemed to reflect each other in an underlying grid of line, form, color, and texture,” she writes.
Triebert printed these photographic made landscapes on wood panels and arranged the pieces into a quilt-like pattern, called GEOMORPH, which fills the main gallery wall at the Vermont Folklife Center.
GEOMORPH / Things Change and They Change Again is a two-part exhibition showcasing Triebert’s Irene-inspired oeuvre—GEOMORPH—along with an ethnographic case study of sorts that explores her motivations for creating this work in response to the storm.
“The panels offer infinite possibilities of assembling the images into different grid systems, and each new pattern suggests its own universe of endlessly rearrangeable elements. Just as in nature, no form is permanent,” explains Triebert.
The signature GEOMORPH piece is complemented by materials in the adjoining rooms—then and now photographs, archival footage, candid snapshots of volunteers, scrapbook materials, interviews with Triebert, and an interactive makers component—that invite visitors to explore the progression that lead her to, and through, the creation of this work.
Triebert graciously welcomes this inquiry into her process—and in sharing her own experience, gives visitors an intimate point of reference to reflect on how Vermonters across the state responded to, recovered from, and moved on from Tropical Storm Irene.
A reception and artist talk will be held on October 6th from 5:30-7PM at the Vermont Folklife Center.
The Vision & Voice Gallery is free and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The program is generously underwritten by the Rotary Club of Middlebury, VT, Cabot Creamery, the Vermont Community Foundation, and our membership at large. The Gallery is ADA accessible on the first floor of the Vermont Folklife Center headquarters building at 88 Main Street in Middlebury.
The Vermont Folklife Center's mission is to broaden, strengthen, and deepen our understanding of Vermont and the surrounding region; to assure a repository for our collective cultural memory; and to strengthen communities by building connections among the diverse peoples of Vermont.
Discovering Community proudly presents a showcase of documentary media pieces produced by students working in collaboration with our educational outreach programs locally and internationally. Let us celebrate their accomplishments with an opportunity to view their work and learn from the young minds behind the projects.
Completed during classes, workshops and after-school programs at schools and non-profit organizations around the state—and beyond—the array of projects in Vermont span from documentary films and photography, to podcasts, and artwork made by students from elementary to undergraduate levels. Stories gathered by youth nationally and internationally enter the conversation through our collaborative working partnerships with the World Story Exchange, Conversations from the Open Road, Stories of Hope, and the Freedom and Unity project.
The Vermont Folklife Center’s Discovering Community model gets students out of the classroom to learn from their diverse communities—using media-making tools to document and ultimately share their experiences. The program supports educators in providing the context for students to achieve required proficiencies through real-life learning, and holds the potential to promote personal growth by deepening students’ understanding of themselves and others. It can also enhance students’ sense of identification with, and caring for, their home community and help to ensure their future involvement in its civic life.
Discovering Community Education Sponsors / Bay and Paul Foundations, Victoria and Courtney Buffum Family Foundation, Jane’s Trust Foundation, Walter Cerf Foundation, Orton Family Fund, Robin Foundation, and private contributions of our many members.
Exhibit underwriters / Cabot of Vermont, Rotary Club of Middlebury, VT, Vermont Community Foundation, and the Vermont Arts Council.
On display at the MAC Center for the Arts in Newport, VT through May 18, 2019.
“I want to tell a story about me. It’s a true story; its not a story that people write.”
Through the pairing of acrylic paintings and audio excerpts, the exhibit reflects Hom Pradhan’s experience growing up in a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal. As a child, Pradhan experienced challenging conditions among 120,000 refugees expelled from Bhutan. Despite these conditions, Pradhan found the incentive to make art, which helped him find and maintain peace and happiness within himself.
Hom Pradhan began to paint and draw at the age of seven. As a teenager, while still in the Bhutanese refugee camp, Goldhap, he completed the advanced course at the Institute of Fine Arts and Commercial Arts (IFACA). He then became a student instructor at the IFACA, where he taught fine arts, sculpture, and commercial arts to other refugees.
In late 2012 Pradhan was relocated to the United States, which presented a whole new set of challenges, including language barriers and cultural differences. His painting, however, has allowed him to navigate past these challenges as a visual, universally understood representation of a difficult time in his life. He is a resident of Winooski, Vermont, and is currently enrolled in an early college program at Burlington College where he is pursuing a four-year degree in fine arts. He plans to share the peace he has found in himself through his artwork with the communities that surround him.
This exhibit is available to travel! Click on the Exhibit Specifications below to learn more about Life Under the Shadow as a traveling exhibition.
The Photo Voice project gave cameras to nine residents of Rutland City’s Northwest neighborhood, challenging them to use photography to reflect, record, and relay what is important about where they live and the everyday matters that mean the most to them.
The Photo Voice photographers are as diverse as their photos: a high school teacher who runs every morning, a retired stone cutter, two sisters who are middle school students, a city alderwoman, an artist, a Dismas house resident, a high school student, and a mediator.
Embodying the key concepts of visual anthropology, the Photo Voice exhibit offers the opportunity to see Rutland’s troubled yet treasured Northwest neighborhood through the eyes of those that live there—quite literally. Through the kaleidoscope of 90 images created by nine photographers a nuanced and textured vision of this neighborhood comes into view.
Photographers Richard Brown (The View from the Kingdom, The Soul of Vermont), Peter Miller (Vermont People, Vermont Farm Women), and John Miller (Deer Camp, Granite & Cedar) have had an enormous impact on the ways in which people—both inside and outside Vermont—perceive the state and its inhabitants.
Each has photographed Vermont for over forty years, returning repeatedly to particular farmsteads, families, and individuals over extended periods of time. In the process they have created a richly nuanced record of the now historic culture of this region and a reference point for the dramatic changes that have occurred here over the past fifty years. But there is also a forward-looking dimension to the work.
The photographs presented in this exhibit are engaging because they capture things that matter to the photographers—and to us. Their work invites us to see the world around us as they see it and to value those aspects of Vermont that they value. We enter into dialogue with John, Peter, and Richard as we make our own personal connections with their images.
This exhibit brings the work of these photographers together for the first time and poses the questions, What do these photographs tells us about the culture of Vermont and the character of its people? How can we draw on the values embedded in these images as a resource for pondering the shape of our future?
Pairing photographic portraits and text drawn from interviews, Libby Hillhouse describes this exhibit as an expression of love for the world of which everyone is a part. As she explains, "In many Vermont communities there is a population of people living below the poverty line. In fact, in this difficult economic crisis, more and more of us have moved into the arena of ‘low income’ by virtue of events not in our control."
"’Parallels’ is my attempt to offer an intimate view into the lives of some of our low-income residents," she continues. "The courage and outlook of those who make their way through these circumstances mirrors, in wonderful ways, the lives of most middle-income people. I want to offer an opportunity for them to tell their stories, be heard, seen and, ultimately, known. Our lives may, indeed, be parallel. The unfortunate reality is that parallel lines do not meet."
Libby Hillhouse is a graduate of the School for International Training's Conflict Transformation Across Cultures program as well as a teacher for Speakers of Other Languages. She has lived and taught English in both Israel and the West Bank. Libby is also the past director for Kids4Peace, an interfaith cross-cultural program for peace. Currently she is based at the Community Restorative Justice Center in St. Johnsbury, Vermont with the prisoner re-entry program and is a Guardian ad Litem in Juvenile Court.
Working for social justice and cultural understanding have long been passions for Hillhouse, as has photography. This project is a blending of both of these interests, drawing together the intimacies of personal lives within the tension of social and cultural separation.
"Ultimately, I want people to view these photos, read the vignettes and come away with a new sense of this community as somehow more whole. It would be a bonus of we began to say hello as we pass on the street or even sit awhile to chat," Libby Hillhouse concluded. “Parallels” was first exhibited as a part of the Courageous Conversations through Art series at Catamount Arts in St Johnsbury.
Long after more urban states moved children into graded, multi-room schools, Vermont continued to have many one- and two-room rural schools dotting the countryside.
The turning point came during the late 1940s when, for the first time in state history, there were fewer rural schoolteachers than graded elementary school teachers.
In the early 1980s, when the photographs featured in this exhibit were taken, only eight schools remained in Vermont where children of at least six grades were taught together in a single room.
Diana Mara Henry’s photographs were a central part of a research project conceived and undertaken by Middlebury College Sociology Professor, Margaret K. Nelson. Recognizing that from the mid nineteenth century forward school teaching had been a major occupation for vast numbers of women, Professor Nelson had set out to explore this career path in order to better understand the lives of women in the first half of the twentieth century.
Over the course of her research Professor Nelson focused on those who had taught in one-room schoolhouses in Addison County, Vermont, interviewing about twenty such women and conducting archival research in town clerks’ offices and in the state library.
Diana Mara Henry’s photographs of one-room schoolhouses and teachers mark the end of an era. Coupled with interview excerpts and text compiled by Margaret K. Nelson, the exhibit offers a glimpse into a time when students of every age and grade level—and their teachers—gathered in a single room to learn the lessons of the day.
“New Lives/New England” features the work of New American traditional artists in Maine, Connecticut, and Vermont—Bosnian rug weavers, Somali Bantu musicians, Karen Burmese textile weavers whose artistry is an emblem of identity that bridges state boundaries and links communities in diaspora.
Weaving is often used as a metaphor for life, each experience a thread, which added to others creates something greater than its parts. Weaving a rug, applying henna at a wedding, or playing a drum at a community celebration, these traditions and their longtime practitioners remind people of who they are and where they came from, helping to create new lives out of whole cloth.
“New Lives/New England” explores the role traditional arts play in helping newcomers create a new home in New England. Central to the exhibit is the idea that continuing to practice familiar artistic traditions, as well as sharing them with new neighbors, is an important part of the acculturation process, especially as people negotiate and shape new roles and identities.
The exhibit brings together text, handcrafted textiles and objects, video, and photographs to explore the stories of these artists and their communities through the lens of traditional arts. After its time at the Vermont Folklife Center, the exhibit also toured to Hartford, Connecticut, and Lewiston, Maine.
“New Lives/New England” is a collaboration among Cultural Resources in Rockport, Maine, the Vermont Folklife Center, and the Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program at the Institute for Community Research. It is generously supported through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls, Connecticut Office of the Arts, Maine Community Foundation, and the Quimby Family Foundation.
The “Labor of Love” exhibit was created by Vermont Works for Women in collaboration with the Vermont Folklife Center in celebration of Vermont Works for Women’s 25th anniversary. Pairing portraiture and interview excerpts, “Labor of Love” recognizes and honors women who are passionate about their work, who are an inspiration to others, and who exemplify excellence in their field.
The honorees come from all parts of Vermont. They are farmers, doctors, tattoo artists, college presidents, electricians, and general store clerks. They hail from Newport to Vernon. They are young and young-at- heart, well-known and not.
"Through Labor of Love, we have the invaluable opportunity to discuss our experience of work … so let’s do it! Let’s talk about the choices we’ve made and the twists and turns of our individual journeys. These are stories worth sharing. And, because storytelling is an act of communion between two or more people, it has the potential to forge relationships that can support us over the long haul.” - Tiffany Bluemle, Executive Director of Vermont Works for Women.
“Labor of Love” features portraiture by Mary Claire Carroll in combination with excerpts from interviews conducted by young women from around Vermont and produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. The “Labor of Love” project was made possible by support from the Vermont Women’s Fund and FairPoint Communications. The Middlebury exhibition is supported by Chellis House, Women's Resource Center, Middlebury College; Clementine; Ingrid Punderson Jackson Real Estate; Macintyre Fuels; and the Vermont Bookshop.
The photographic exhibition Faces of Our Community represents the collaborative effort between Green Mountain College digital photography students and the 2012 Poultney Earth Fair. The Poultney Earth Fair committee sought nominations to identify those individuals in their town who contribute to creating a sustainable Poultney community. Students at Green Mountain College were then assigned to photograph these nominees and prepare the final prints for exhibition at the 5th Annual Poultney Earth Fair, which is hosted each year by the Poultney High School. The nominees ranged in age from eight to eighty, from student to retired professional, and from “green” minded individuals to those who just happened to be doing sustainable valuable work without any such label consciousness.
The “Faces of Community” photographic project was coordinated by GMC photography professor Kevin Bubriski and Poultney Outreach Coordinator for Sustainable Community Development Jose Glavez-Contreras. Bubriski and Galvez-Contreras value such photographic projects as a vital way to connect the GMC students with their larger community, and to connect both GMC students and the townspeople with a greater awareness of their shared concerns for sustainable communities.
At the 6th Annual Poultney Earth Fair, Bubriski and Galvez-Contreras worked with the Green Mountain College photography students on the community photographic project “A Day in Life of Vermont Farmers.” The GMC students photographed farmers and their farms in the towns of Poultney, Pawlet, Tinmouth, Dorset, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Castleton and Wells. The students were encouraged to keep in mind the collective documentary goals of the project while also exercising their individual creativity in their approach to the photographic assignment.
In the wake of Irene, the Vermont Folklife Center initiated the Story Circles Project, bringing our experience and expertise to bear in a collective community healing effort through storytelling. Over the course of a year we facilitated Story Circles in 14 communities, from Wilmington to Waterbury, recording for posterity the experiences of more than 140 Vermonters.
In partnership with the Story Circle communities we conceived an exhibit that explores Vermonters’ personal and community relationships with rivers—opening an opportunity for personal introspection and community conversation around the role of rivers in shaping Vermont communities, as well as the impact of Irene in framing future challenges. “The Power of Water” includes digital projections of Creative Commons-licensed photographs taken by novice, amateur, and professional Vermont photographers; river management materials created by river scientist, Amy Sheldon, and filmmaker, Joseph Defelice; narrative “tiles” from the Floodgates Art Project in Waterbury; images of Rochester created by noted photographer, John Penwarden; photographs and text curated by residents from Rochester, Mendon, Waterbury, and Wilmington; and audio excerpts from Story Circles sessions recorded by the Vermont Folklife Center in those communities.
Vermonters are encountering difficult questions about sustainable community planning, river conservation and management, and flood mitigation. Our objective is to use this exhibit as a platform that will stimulate awareness and conversation around these questions.