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Spotlight Gallery

In-house Exhibits by Vermont Visual Artists

The Arts Council's gallery is open to the public and located in the corridor and conference room of our offices at 136 State Street in Montpelier. Exhibits generally run for a two-month period. There are times when the conference room is not available, but the corridor exhibit is always open during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Digging for Roots: Wild-Crafted Artwork by Nick Neddo

through February 26

Inkwells and paint dishes made from local clay, shells, bones, and stones. Photo by Susan Teare, property of Quarry Books.

Artist Statement

My Art Tools and Materials

The moment I begin working on a piece happens much earlier than that of the first pen line or brushstroke. Before a pen or paintbrush mark hits the blank paper, a significant amount of time and energy has already been invested in procuring the art supplies. Preparation includes days and weeks of searching the landscape, gathering raw materials, processing and refining the elemental components and hand-crafting them into high quality tools and materials. With so many artist supplies easily available on the market, why do I choose to get them the hard way?

Making your own tools (and processing materials for doing so) from the landscape is unbelievably satisfying on a profound and even instinctive level. Much of this satisfaction comes from the process of transformation that occurs each time we make something from another thing. One of the results of making things from the landscape by hand is the unavoidable deepening of one’s knowledge of (and relationship to) the local bioregion where we live.  Through working with raw materials, we begin to learn to speak the language of that particular material. We have to use our awareness in order to observe the specific characteristics, strengths and limitations that are unique to the material. Through this level of interaction a conversation begins, where we learn to be receptive to the feedback the raw materials provide as we manipulate them to take the shape and function that we desire. Ultimately this level of participation with the landscape is a path to help us remember that we are part of its natural history and ecology, not just a visitor like an astronaut on a foreign planet.

Neddo drawing with a bamboo pen and pine soot ink. Photo by Susan Teare, property of Quarry Books.

I find the materials themselves to be inherently attractive, and so I aspire to make tools that are as beautiful in their function and that retain as much of their raw form as possible.

About the Artwork

The work on display is made from art mediums that I craft from raw materials which I forage from the landscape. I transform these fibers, furs, berries, beeswax, muds, sticks and stones into pens, paintbrushes, crayons, charcoal, inks, paints, paper, inkwells and sketchbooks.

My intention with the subject matter within most of these compositions is to represent the creatures who provided the raw materials to make the medium in which they are depicted. When using ink I made from black walnut trees, with a pen I made from a black walnut twig I am compelled to make images of this tree. A crayon drawing of bees on honeycomb is a direct homage to the bees who made the wax I used as a base for the crayons. Other pieces are less intertwined in this way, but are included to show examples of artwork made with wild-crafted tools, with their uniquely rustic and surprisingly elegant characteristics. The mediums seem to have a unique life of their own; a dynamic personality, if you will, that accentuates the special characteristics of all the species and entities therein. This brings the medium alive to me in exciting and refreshing ways that I do not experience with modern manufactured artist materials. So why do I make art the hard way? Simply stated: I like to.

Past Exhibits

Bhakti Ziek

Tony Conner

Art Costa

Piper Strong

Diane Donovan

Jeff Clarke

Alexis Kyriak

Janet Fredericks

Robert Gold

Exhibiting Your Work

If you are interested in having your work in the Spotlight Gallery, send samples, information on the proposed exhibit, and an artist’s statement/resume or biography by email to Thaddeus Gibson, or by postal mail to: Vermont Arts Council Spotlight Gallery, Attn: Thaddeus Gibson, 136 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05633-6001.

If you are chosen for exhibition you will receive a detailed floor plan and special instructions for hanging your work to be fully accessible. Work is displayed in two spaces in our offices: the conference room and the main corridor. The work hangs from a picture rail; approximately 20 average size paintings (or other two-dimensional media) can be hung. Exhibits should fill both spaces and be accessible to people using wheelchairs.