The building was elevated to its current position high above Johnson's Main Street while the old foundation was removed
Congratulations to Sonya Larson, winner of the 2017 VSC ALSCW Fellowship! Sonya will spend 4 weeks at VSC later this fall.
Sonya's short fiction and nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Best American Short Stories 2017, American Short Fiction, The American Literary Review, Poets & Writers Magazine, The Writer's Chronicle, Audible.com, West Branch, Salamander, Memorious, Del Sol Review, The Red Mountain Review, and The Hub. She has received awards and honors from Best American Short Stories 2017 and 2015, Glimmer Train, Meridian, Salamander, the American Literary Review, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is at work on a novel about a Chinese community living in rural Mississippi in the 1930s, which earned her an Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation. This is Sonya’s second fellowship to attend VSC; in 2016, she was awarded the Grace Paley Fiction Fellowship.
Sonya received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she served as editor of The Madison Review, and her MFA from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
VSC is delighted to continue our partnership with the ALSCW, whose mission is to "promote excellence in literary criticism and scholarship," and to "ensure that literature thrives in both scholarly and creative environments." The next VSC ALSCW fellowship will be offered at VSC's February 15, 2018 Fellowship Deadline.
This year’s 13 Creative Access Fellows will attend residencies at PLAYA, the Ragdale Foundation, the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI), and the Vermont Studio Center (VSC).
The Creative Access Residencies Program, funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Creating Opportunity & Independence Project Grant, is expanding opportunities for artists and writers with spinal cord injury (SCI). This exciting residency fellowship program helps to further the creative careers of artists with SCI while championing accessibility and inclusiveness within the larger sector of artist communities/residencies.
Each Creative Access Fellowship includes a fully subsidized studio residency at one of four partner sites across the continental U.S.: PLAYA (Oregon), Ragdale (Illinois), SFAI (New Mexico), or VSC (Vermont); generous stipend support for each artist; and room, board, and travel stipend for a personal care assistant (PCA) if necessary. Application and selection for the Creative Access Residencies Program are managed by the Alliance of Artists Communities.
2017 is the first year of a three-year partnership that will make the personal creative development, career advancement, artistic exchange, and life-changing experience of a 2- to 8-week studio residency available to as many as 36 talented artists and writers living with spinal cord injury. In this round, the opportunity was promoted over the winter through a broad range of artist and disability networks. From that open call, thirteen artists were selected by a panel of residency directors and esteemed judges for 2- to 8-week residencies to be completed during 2017 across the four program sites.
“The Alliance of Artists Communities is proud to be leading the research and administration of this grant with funding from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to support artists with spinal cord injury,” said Lisa Hoffman, Executive Director of Alliance of Artists Communities. “We are dedicated to identifying and expanding opportunities for artists with disabilities, and aim to develop tools for residency programs and to advocate for greater resources to assist residency programs in serving artists with disabilities.”
The collaborative nature of the project and inclusion of the Alliance of Artists Communities as a partner presents a strong catalyst for far-reaching and sustained changes to improve standards of accessibility and promote a broader level of program inclusivity throughout the artist residency sector. In the words of 2015 VSC Creative Access Fellow Melissa Allensworth,
“I have been able to accomplish more here at VSC during my residency than I would have ever thought about doing back home. Having my own personal studio space has been something I’ve never had before… I was able to start working on larger pieces… and I will continue this in the future. The exposure I’ve had to other residents and VSC visiting artists and writers has been fantastic. I had the opportunity to discuss my work… [and] I received great advice and suggestions that have helped me to delve deeper into my work… My time here at VSC was an amazing experience and has made a major impact on my future painting career.”
The 2017 Creative Access Fellows are:
Erin Oliver, visual artist, Durham, NC
Javier Flores, visual artist and university professor
Ocean, writer, Olympia, WA
Molly Aubry, visual artist, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Anthony Tusler, visual artist/photographer and disability consultant, Pennegrove, CA
Susan Odgers, writer and disability columnist, Traverse City, MI
Moira Williams, multimedia installation artist, Bushwick, NY
Tony Boatright, writer and ADA expert, Republic of Panama
Reveca Torres, photographer and filmmaker, Chicago, IL
Vermont Studio Center
Mark Braunstein, writer and artist, CT
John Greiner, artist and illustrator, Cleveland, OH
Catherine Peterson, sculptor and chef, Bellaire, MI
Elizabeth A Sachs, journalist, book reviewer, editor, and author, Tuckahoe, NY
In 2018, the Creative Access Residencies Program will offer 12 more fully-funded studio residency fellowships to artists and writers living with SCI. The application portal opens September 1, 2017. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2017. The unified application is free.
Applicants will need to submit a CV/resume, work samples, and a short description of their SCI and the impact it has had on their art process. All submissions will be juried by the consortium members.
The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation has been tireless in supporting both programs and scientific research to improve the quality of life for those affected by and living with spinal cord injury. Following the vision and values of Craig Neilsen, the Foundation focuses the majority of its grantmaking on furthering the promising advances in the field of spinal cord injury research. It supports research in areas of investigation relevant to improving recovery and works to coordinate its efforts with those of other federal and private funders.
The Foundation’s research funding is directed across a broad spectrum, including mechanistic, translational, clinical, and psychosocial research, with a goal of opening innovative areas of inquiry and emphasizing progress across the entire translational spectrum. Another main funding priority is the Creating Opportunity & Independence Portfolio that assists individuals affected by spinal cord injury today and builds stronger community and rehabilitative support.
The Foundation provides educational grant programs including postdoctoral research fellowships, Spinal Cord Injury Medicine Fellowships, and Neilsen Foundation Scholarships for students with spinal cord injury at selected colleges and universities. In addition, selected Special Projects related to spinal cord injury and Vision and Values Projects grants support other programs that reflect Craig Neilsen’s philanthropic interests.
The Alliance of Artists Communities (AAC) is a national and international association of artists’ communities and residencies—a diverse field with thousands of programs worldwide that support artists of any discipline in the development of new creative work. The Alliance gives a collective voice on behalf of its members, small and large, that leverages support for the field as a whole; promotes successful practices in the field; and advocates for creative environments that support the work of today's artists. Their role will be to coordinate outreach, to host a unified (and free) application for artists, and shepherd sustainable impacts of this program by publishing a report at the conclusion with case studies and best practices. (www.artistcommunities.org)
PLAYA is is a nonprofit organization supporting innovative thinking through work in the arts, literature, natural sciences and other fields of creative inquiry. Located in the Oregon Outback, Playa’s 75–acre property includes six fully-equipped and spacious cabins, two fully-equipped live/work studios, three studio/research spaces (including one shared living quarters), a large open shed, and outdoor field-research areas. Access to most facilities is barrier-free, and PLAYA has hosted programs specifically for performing artists and dancers who use wheelchairs. Residencies offer the gift of time and space to eligible applicants, and span two multi-month sessions each year. The intention of all of PLAYA’s programming is to support creative individuals who are committed and passionate about their work, and who will benefit from time spent in its inspirational remote location. (www.playasummerlake.org)
The Ragdale Foundation is a non-profit artists’ community located on architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s country estate in Lake Forest, IL, 30 miles north of Chicago. Begun in 1976, Ragdale annually hosts more than 150 artists, writers, choreographers, and composers at all stages of their careers for 18-25 day residencies. Ragdale offers a retreat setting where at any given time, a dozen creative individuals experience uninterrupted time for dedicated work, a supportive environment, dynamic artist exchanges, 50 acres of idyllic prairie, and a family-style dinner each evening. Ragdale has a universally accessible studio in the Barnhouse. The Chandler studio, a live/work space with a wheelchair-accessible private bath, accommodates visual artists or writers. The space is adjacent to the kitchen and dining facilities. Ragdale welcomes artists at all stages of their careers and seeks to create a mix of various experience levels in each group of residents. (www.ragdale.org)
The Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) is a cultural organization that cultivates creative practices, engage with diverse communities, and address the most pressing social issues of our time. Approximately 10 artists per month receive private living quarters with a private bath and working space, which is centrally located within Santa Fe’s vibrant and diverse cultural community. The SFAI facility, a nearly 17,000 square foot complex designed by Ricardo Legoretta, includes gallery and exhibition spaces, sky-lit studios, a growing contemporary art library, courtyards, laundry facilities, communal kitchen, and dining and living room areas. Visual artists are provided with a semi-private studio space as well as access to a large communal work space. Writers are welcome to use the library for writing and reading, as well as their own private rooms equipped with desks. SFAI’s facility meets all ADA requirements with complete accessibility for wheelchairs to studio and living spaces. Two resident rooms are equipped with bathroom facilities for wheelchair access, and since SFAI’s complex is one level, there are no stairs or barriers. A Residency Assistant is always available for residents on site. (www.sfai.org)
Vermont Studio Center (VSC) is the largest international artist and writers residency center in the U.S., hosting 55 artists and writers per month, year-round, in the northern Green Mountains of Vermont. VSC’s 15,000 alumni come from every state in the nation and 140 countries. Art and writing residents are provided with private studios with wireless internet, private rooms, all meals, access to shops (sculpture, ceramic, traditional and digital photo), critique consultation/mentorship with 6 Visiting Artists and Writers per month, gallery openings, art and literary libraries, Open Studios, readings and lectures, and opportunities for meditation and yoga. In May of 2017, VSC will be opening a new wing to our largest residency housing, with six additional private ADA and universally designed rooms open every month of the year. VSC welcomes creatives at all stages of their careers, and has offered Creative Access fellowships to artists and writers with mobility and sensory issues since 2002. (www.vermontstudiocenter.org)
2017 began with three new additions to our Development office: Development Assistant Staff-Artist Kieran Riley Abbott, Grants Coordinator Alice Dodge, and Development Director Sarah Judd.
Here's a brief introduction from each of them, in their own words:
During my residency this past December I fell in love with VSC and am thrilled to now be here for a year as a staff-artist. I was born and raised in Minneapolis and received my degree in printmaking from the U of Minnesota in 2014. Since then I've worked for several nonprofits including Women's Studio Workshop in upstate New York and Castle Hill on Cape Cod. You can usually find me in the studio, listening to comedy podcasts and drinking La Croix.
I started at VSC in Mid-March. I'm a visual artist who recently moved back to Vermont after a decade in Minnesota, where I went to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and worked as an art librarian at Midway Contemporary Art. I live in Montpelier, where my husband teaches writing for kids at VCFA. I like to build things, and I'm very excited to get my first chainsaw.
I started at VSC in February. Before joining the staff here, I worked as a criminal law and civil rights lawyer, a consultant for international landmine and water organizations, and a fundraiser for schools, environmental nonprofits, and museums. I can tell you a lot about landmines, and the over 300 historical shipwrecks at the bottom of Lake Champlain. I am most inspired by Jane Austin and temporary art. I live in Burlington, VT with my husband, dog Trinket, and 3-legged cat Tipsy.
We're thrilled to welcome these incredibly talented women to the VSC team!
Two months ago, an accidental fire significantly damaged the Church Studios building and derailed the practices of the 12 artists whose studios were located inside. We reached out for help, and the VSC community responded with a tremendous outpouring of generosity and love.
In total, the VSC community contributed $17,961 dollars in donations to support the affected artists and begin the process of reconstructing Church. We also received several generous gifts of art supplies and materials that were distributed directly to those affected.
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, we were able to resituate the artists-in-residence whose studios were lost and supply them with the tools to keep their practices up and running, and we have been able to provide our displaced staff members with interim studio spaces in the time since. However, we have had to make the difficult choice to reduce the capacity of our residency for the next several months while we navigating the lengthy process of assessing the damage and returning Church to habitability.
We are so immensely grateful to all of our alumni, donors, and friends who pulled together to support us through this loss, and continue to feel so fortunate that no one was physically injured and that the building's structure is intact. Your gifts provided a necessary bridge of support for the community while the insurance process is underway to get the artists quickly back on their feet. A modest portion of these funds was also used to make a donation to the Johnson Fire Department on behalf of the entire VSC community. The Johnson FD is volunteer-run and relies on donations to support their training and equipment needs; their swiftness, professionalism, and dedication saved a landmark Vermont building from total destruction, and the care they took to preserve as many of the artworks, tools, and personal items as possible was both heroic and moving. Once the insurance process is complete, VSC will distribute the remaining Church fire donations between the artists affected and the building project itself.
There will be many challenges ahead, but generosity of the VSC community has provided us with the resources we needed to kickstart the process of restoration and recovery. Our hope is that Church Studios will be reopened by Spring 2017, but there are still many variables at play at this point. We will keep the community periodically informed as reconstruction proceeds.
Director of Development/Writing Program Ryan Walsh has left Vermont to move on to new opportunities and challenges, precipitating some staff updates in the Writing Program and the Development office.
Just after midnight on June 7th, there was an accidental fire in the upstairs of our Church Studios building.
Vermont Studio Center is proud to announce a new partnership with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) to sponsor an annual IAIA Creative Writing Fellowship awarding a month-long residency to Native writers who are alumni of the MFA Creative Writing program at IAIA.