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.