Nature’s Peace and Tranquility Planned for Recovery Residence
Designs for the publicly commissioned artwork for the new Vermont Department of Mental Health Recovery Residence in Essex have been finalized after careful community involvement with the artists and stakeholders.
Artists Carol Langstaff of Sharon, VT and Kathryn Wiegers of Rutland, VT were selected as the winning artists in the competition launched earlier this year. Throughout the last months, Langstaff and Wiegers have worked with the staff, residents, and a committee comprised of selected building employees, community members, and visual arts experts to finalize the design.
Langstaff will create a series of 14 nature photographs printed on aluminum for the interior common areas. Her work reflects a series of flowers in masses that give a sense of lushness, water images, and Vermont landscapes. “I chose photos of the elements in nature to calm and comfort, or to promote extending ourselves,” Langstaff said. “Our surroundings can nourish us. By seeing images of the elements in nature we can feel connections, and our imagination can be free to explore possibilities.”
Wiegers will paint a large-scale mural of woodland and wildflowers on a nonwoven material that will cover the entire front of the exterior of the existing gymnasium at the site. “This mural will give a sense of continuing nature, with the painted trees on the building blending with the real trees in the background,” Wiegers said.
On the west wall, Wiegers will also paint an eight-by-eight foot mural of a flying heron, a species Wiegers chose because it is native to the nearby Winooski Valley Park District and Woodside Natural Area. “With this mural of a blue heron flying, my goal is to help bring people together,” she said. “The heron connects the community that resides within the residence to the public that hikes the trails.”
The designs are intended to help create a welcoming and tranquil environment for the recovery residence currently under construction. The new 16-bed facility at 26 Woodside Drive will serve Vermonters who no longer require an inpatient level of care but continue to require significant support as they transition to a lower level of care. The facility has been designed to feel more like home than an institution and to allow easy access to nature to help residents feel safe.
Both artists will fabricate the work over the coming winter months. It is anticipated to be installed in March and April of 2023.
The commission is part of the Art in State Buildings Program, a partnership between the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services.
Funded by the Art in State Buildings Act, the Art in State Buildings Program allows up to two capital construction projects to be selected each year. A second public art commission is also underway.
Since 1988, the program has commissioned artwork from over 60 artists to appear in 35 state-owned buildings and public spaces across Vermont.
For more information on the Art in State Buildings program or other public art projects, visit https://www.vermontartscouncil.org/programs/public-art.