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A Look at All Creation

A Look at All Creation

August 17, 2017

Ten people were notified August 1 that they would receive a Creation Grant of $3,000 from the Vermont Arts Council. This is the Council’s most competitive program; there were 99 applicants this year. A panel of arts experts selected the most promising projects as described in well-constructed applications. The resulting art will be as varied as the artists themselves.

This summary of the forthcoming work is built from each of the grantee’s responses to three questions: What inspired you to pursue this specific project? What has happened so far that you didn’t expect? And, what is the best possible projected outcome of this work?

FY2018 Creation Grants

Christal Brown, Middlebury

creating a dance collaboration around “What We Ask of Flesh”

Inspired by …

“I have been inspired to work with the text of Remica Bingham for the past two years. I have also been conjuring a physical reaction to the shifting political and social landscapes as they pertain to mortality.”

Didn’t expect …

“I did not expect to begin the work as a solo.”

Best possible outcome …
” … that the work becomes a catalyst for dialogue about difference, expectation and human capacity.”


Jay Craven, Barnet

creating a film based on the novel “Martin Eden”

Inspired by …

“I’ve always been interested in Jack London — as a writer and as a character in real life. His novel, ‘Martin Eden,’ is his autobiographical tale of all-consuming love, the social dynamics of class, and the impossible demands of a life committed to the arts. These themes resonate for me, personally, and I’m excited to explore them.”

Didn’t expect …

“I got the VAC grant! And the characters have begun to inhabit my imagination in unexpected ways. We’ll see where it leads.”

Best possible outcome …

“A completed film that resonates for audiences, including younger audiences.”


Nancy Hayden, Jeffersonville

creating an ecological memoir about family, food, biodiversity, and 25 years as regenerative organic farmers

Inspired by …

“This project … was inspired by my love of our amazing farm, of the plants and animals — including insects — that live here with us, and the desire to share our story with the world.”

Didn’t expect …

“Competition for Creation Grants is fierce, so even though I thought it was a great project, I didn’t fully expect to get the award. I am thrilled to know that the Vermont Arts Council and the panel of reviewers found this project important enough to fund.”

Best possible outcome …

“The goal for this project is to publish it and share it with others. The best possible outcome is that it helps spark and inspire a regenerative agriculture revolution with a successful model that is a healing force for the environment and society!”


Tito Heiderer, Burlington

writing and recording the musical score for the documentary “The Underdog”

Inspired by …

“I think what inspires me to write the music for ‘The Underdog’ is the subject of the film itself, Doug Butler. I’ve known him for many years and he continues to blow me away. I hope to do right by him and make music that helps tell his story honestly.”

Didn’t expect …

“When it comes to art, I think it helps to embrace the unexpected. Recently, I have been playing a lot of percussion on my own time and am finding it sneaking into my compositions more and more. I think I’m going to (drum) roll with it.”

Best possible outcome …

“Success is something we all have to define for ourselves. For some film score composers, it would mean winning an Academy Award. For me, my ultimate outcome would be to surpass the expectations of the film’s director Tommy Hyde, and the film’s subject, Doug Butler.”


Eddie Merma, Waitsfield

creating an outdoor structure in the woods of the Mad River Valley

Inspired by …

“The original inspiration came from witnessing the exhilaration of children at the Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California. Spending time with structures designed and built by kids made me wonder about the characteristics of play spaces that spark the imagination, and about the environments in which kids learn.”

Didn’t expect …

“I learned about mud kitchens in my research into play spaces. Mud kitchens consist of furniture, utensils, and structures that encourage play with mud and natural materials. The range of potential experiences is vast and provides stimulus for exploring the natural world.”

Best possible outcome …

“To inspire artists, educators, and architects to re-imagine the learning environment and to help kids realize that they are more capable then they know.”


Madsen Minax, Burlington

making film shoots for “At the River”

Inspired by …

“As cliché as it sounds, this project is really a vehicle to process and mourn a set of life experiences that have shifted the way I think, feel, and perceive the world. I want to offer social critique and aesthetic/filmic shape to this set of experiences, in order to challenge normative viewership, but also to make a project that is individually and collectively constructive — that adds and builds upon already existing dialogues.

Didn’t expect …

“Working with my family of origin is a wealth of surprises. I expected that I would make a film that somehow occupied the framework of ‘documentary.’ I now find that what I am making is actually an essay film. I thought I would make a film about my family. The film is really about me and how I relate to them. A project that requires collaborative input from a group of folks whose interest in said project varies, makes for a project in constantly flux.”

Best possible outcome …

“The best possible outcome for this work has to do with audience connection. If folks can see this work and feel deep, meaningful resonance, then the work is doing its job.”


Cass Morgan, Saxtons River

creating a new musical theater work based on the life of artist and vaudeville performer Charles Henry

Inspired by …

“When I learned that Charles Henry (the painter of dozens of theater curtains, many of which survive all over the state of Vermont) was also a Vaudeville showman, I just knew that I needed to create a show that celebrated him and his many talents.”

Didn’t expect …

“When I first started looking into Charles Henry and who he really was, I discovered that his whole family toured and performed with him as he traveled the state creating these amazing painted curtains. I became more convinced that it had to be a play.”

Best possible outcome …

“To have a show with original music, that celebrates this unique part of Vermont history, and that can be performed first by the community theater company at Main Street Arts, and then tour other theaters around that state, connecting us all by the painted curtains of Charles Henry.”


Nicola Smith, Tunbridge

creating a theatrical piece documenting the stories of female veterans

Inspired by …

“I work for the Valley News and had done a story about a book group for women veterans. I was astonished by some of the stories the women told during their group sessions, and chagrined to realize how little I knew about women serving in the Armed Forces. That spurred me to try to talk to women who had served in nearly every American war since World War II. What are the commonalities between their experiences? What are the differences? Why are their stories relatively unknown by comparison to the men who served? That got me to thinking about how to try to weave together a piece of documentary theater that would call upon the voices and experiences of women veterans from New Hampshire and Vermont.

Didn’t expect …

“I am still in the interviewing stage. I am continually startled, although I shouldn’t be, by what some of these women have experienced, how they think about their lives in and out of the military, and how they shape their own narratives. They have given a great deal of thought to what role their service has played in their lives.”

Best possible outcome …

“The hoped-for outcome is to write a play — documentary theater — that would bring the voices of some of these women to audiences in the region, and perhaps beyond that. It would affirm the accomplishments of female veterans, while not glossing over some of the difficulties they have experienced in terms of gaining acceptance from fellow male soldiers, commanding officers, and the public. I can’t speak for every female veteran, obviously, but so far I have noticed that the ones with whom I’ve spoken feel that their contributions and achievements haven’t been recognized as they should be. The point is not necessarily to redress that in one evening of theater but to get people to think about the role that women have played in the American military, and what roles they are moving into now.”


Eric Wright, North Pomfret

creating a duet album featuring traditional and original fiddle music with Mairi Rankin

Inspired by …

“I am mostly inspired by the playing of Mairi Rankin. The idea of having her complementing American Old Time music is one that excites me to no end. Vermont and Cape Breton both have deep musical traditions, and I can’t wait to combine them.”

Didn’t expect …

“The writing process for this project has already started, and I’m surprised at how easily the music is coming along. It can be hard to manufacture inspiration, but the crossover between Old Time and Cape Breton music seems like a match made in heaven.”

Best possible outcome …

“We’re aiming to create a timeless body of music that can stand the test of time. The best outcome of this project would to have people listen to it and enjoy it long after I’m gone.”


Corrine Yonce, Burlington

creating ten portraits featuring Burlington Housing Authority residents

Inspired by …

“Returning from a cross-country trip which raised money for affordable housing, I was completely overwhelmed with the experience of meeting so many people across the country with intricate stories and in need of housing. The position of resident organizer at the VT Affordable Housing Coalition was open, oddly enough, for my return. During my interview, the director expressed interest in pursuing a story-sharing project, an idea already churning in my artist’s gears. It was all very serendipitous.”

Didn’t expect …

“All of it — the first ‘leg’ of the project was supported by the Burlington City Arts Community Fund. I learned so much in that first year of stretching out my ideas for Voices of Home. Especially powerful was my experience with the residents of South Burlington Community Housing- it was at that point I realized the project was built to work within the community it serves — not just a single person but a group.”

Best possible outcome …

“We have a lot of ideas of where to show this work, how to advertise, who to invite, but in the end, it is the impact the work has on the participants which matters. The first time I presented ‘Voices of Home’ at a Pechakucha event, I had audience members approaching me to say they truly did feel uncomfortable around some of the housing that I worked in, or didn’t notice it at all. I want to structure dialogue around making our city and state livable for everyone.”

— top left: FY2017 Creation Grant recipient Hannah Satterlee’s “Spring Dance Poem” at High Acres Farm. Photo by Jonathan Harris.

— Brown photo courtesy of Middlebury College

— Craven photo by Willow O’Feral

— compiled by Susan McDowell

read other featured stories

 

Tags: Cass Morgan, Christal Brown, Corrine Yonce, Eddie Merma, Eric Wright, Jay Craven, Madsen Minax, Nancy Hayden, Nicola Smith, Tito Heiderer


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