New American Voices

New American Voices

We are excited to announce a new Vermont Folklife Center Initiative! “New American Voices” is a community-based, youth-focused storytelling initiative beginning this year. The goal of New American Voices is to provide more opportunities for New American youth in Vermont to feel heard, visible, and valued. The project will address needs of refugee youth in Vermont (ages 12-24) by providing resources, training, and support for exploring their experiences through digital media.

The Dames Visit "The Dames"

The walls of the Vision & Voice Gallery are currently adorned with large-format color portraits of members of the Colonial Dames--the culmination of a four-year oral history and portraiture project that yielded the exhibition, The Dames. The portraits all but fill the gallery walls, and in early June, the rooms were all but filled as well--you guessed it, with the Dames.

Members of the National Society of the Colonial Dames Vermont Chapter traveled from around the state to see their family members’, friends’, and fellow Dames’ portraits, to read their biographies, and listen to audio excerpts from oral history interviews conducted by a team of volunteers from the Dames organization working in collaboration with Vermont Folklife Center staff.

Watch a short film of the gathering, including reflections from the participating Dames, the Vermont Folklife Center gallery director and the photographer, Ned Castle--as well as the background story behind the “signature” exhibit photo of Jane Childs at Hildene in Manchester, VT.

During the event, project collaborator and third generation Colonial Dame, Barbara Benedict, outlined the process of assembling the exhibition, from collecting oral histories to scheduling photoshoots. Vermont Folklife Center gallery director and photographer, Ned Castle, explained his approach to working with each Dame to create her respective portrait. Elsie Smith, the current president of the Vermont Chapter, talked about her experience joining the Dames and the organization’s bright future. Barbara Benedict concluded the talk by appreciating the collaborative efforts of all involved.   

Meet Mary Rizos!

Meet Mary Rizos!

Through time spent with people learning about their experiences, on the border, and across the country in barbershops, bookstores, laundromats, and at jobs at newspapers and farms and schools, I have been constantly reminded that we all have a story to tell and that we form connections wherever we are, whatever our differences, and that seeking and sharing our stories helps us understand and build relationships and community.