Vermont Arts Council

Past Creation Grantees

Our highly competitive Creation Grants support the creation of new work by Vermont artists. Reviewed by independent panels of practicing artists and arts professionals, the top criteria for applications is artistic excellence.

This page lists biographies and project descriptions for Creation Grantees awarded in years past.

FY2024 | FY2023 | FY2022 | FY2021

View our most recent Creation Grantees here.


Kellam Ayres | Rita Banerjee | Francesca Blanchard | Ann Dávila Cardinal | KeruBo | Jesse Kreitzer | Travis Laplante | J Lazar | Nancy Winship Milliken | Mikahely | Modern Times Theater | Xander Naylor | Liam O’Connor-Genereaux (WalrusDice Productions) | Danielle O’Hallisey | Rachel Portesi | William Ransom | Jes Raymond | Sonia Scherr | Ruth Shafer | Bronwyn Sims | Rebecca Valley | Diana Whitney | Sam Wyatt

Kellyam Ayres seen from the neck up.Kellam Ayres

Kellam Ayres’ poems have appeared in New England ReviewThe Cortland Review, and B O D Y. She’s a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and the Bread Loaf School of English, and she works for the Middlebury College Library.

Kellam’s grant will support the completion of a poetry manuscript titled In the Cathedral of My Undoing.

Rita Banerjee seen from the neck up, smiling.Rita Banerjee

Rita Banerjee is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Co-Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing program at the George Polk School of Communications at LIU Brooklyn. She is the author of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative WritingEcho in Four Beats, the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps, and Cracklers at Night. She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, her MFA from the University of Washington, and her BA in English Honors from Rutgers University, and has lived and worked in Montpelier, VT. Her work appears in Hunger MountainIseleNat. Brut.Poets & WritersAcademy of American PoetsLos Angeles Review of Books, Vermont Public Radio, and elsewhere. She is a co-writer of Burning Down the Louvre (2022), a documentary film about race, intimacy, and tribalism in the United States and in France. Her writing is represented by Folio Literary Management, and you can follow her work at

Rita’s grant will support the creation of a memoir and manifesto of how female “cool” subverts social, sexual, and economic pressure. One of the opening chapters of this new memoir, “Birth of Cool” was a Notable Essay in the 2020 Best American Essays.

Francesca Blanchard seen sitting with her knees to her chest.Francesca Blanchard

Francesca Blanchard is a French-American singer-songwriter and producer based in Burlington. Her work blends soaring pop arrangements with complex emotional subtleties—most recently demonstrated in her critically acclaimed 2020 full-length album Make It Better and its Redux EP follow up, both co-produced with fellow Vermonter and musical collaborator Christopher Hawthorn. Francesca’s 2015 debut bilingual LP Deux Visions catalyzed national and international touring opportunities in the early stages of her career. Across multiple cross-country tours, Francesca has shared the stage and supported the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Suzanne Vega, Joan Armatrading, Yuna, and Grace Potter. Her work has also been featured on WBUR’s syndicated program Here and Now, Los Angeles NPR music affiliate KCRW, and on a number of hit tv shows including Grey’s AnatomyWorkin’ Moms, and Trinkets. When Francesca isn’t on stage or in the studio, chances are she’s hiking a mountain somewhere.

Francesca’s grant will support the recording of a full-length concept album.

Read our interview with Francesca.

Ann Davila Cardinal seen from the waist up.Ann Dávila Cardinal

Ann Dávila Cardinal is a novelist and director of recruitment for Vermont College of Fine Arts where she earned her MFA in Writing. She comes from a long line of Puerto Rican writers, including poets Virgilio and José Antonio Dávila, and fiction writer Tere Dávila. Ann’s young adult horror novel Five Midnights, released by Tor Teen in 2019, won a 2020 International Latino Book Award, and was a finalist for the Bram Stoker. The story continues in Category Five, a nominee for a 2021 International Latino Book Award. Her first adult novel, a work of Puerto Rican magical realism entitled The Storyteller’s Death, will be released from Sourcebooks in October 2022. Ann lives in Morrisville where she enjoys fiber arts, cycling, and preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Ann’s grant will support the creation of a middle grade novel based in Vermont with a Latinx main character.

Listen to our interview with Ann on our podcast, Vermont Made.

KeruBo seen from the shoulders upKeruBo

KeruBo is a Vermont-based singer-songwriter born in Kendu Bay, Kenya. She has been a working musician for more than 20 years. Her musical influences range from traditional African music, to gospel, blues, and Afro-Jazz. She was a background vocalist and dancer for legendary Afro-Jazz African artists such as Achien’g Abura and Suzanna Owiyo who travelled extensively throughout the world. They have been her strongest influences in her love for Afro-Jazz and the World Music genre. Her songs tell stories, from lamenting the struggles of life, to encouraging words of self-acceptance. She is active in embedding intentional social engagement opportunities through community education and consciousness-raising efforts.

KeruBo’s grant will support the creation of a video script involving music to bring awareness about the unjust loss of land ownership for African Americans.

Read our interview with KeruBo.
Watch Kerubo’s music video, “Forty Acres and a Mule.”

Jesse Kreitzer seen from the shoulders up.Jesse Kreitzer

Jesse Kreitzer is a filmmaker from Marlboro, VT, who produces documentary and narrative films exploring folk cultures, family lineage, and preservation. Using archival material as creative conduit, Kreitzer’s work is predominantly rooted in rural and agrarian life, its folklore, bygone traditions, and rituals. His films have been exhibited at festivals, galleries, and museums worldwide, including The National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), Museum of the Moving Image (NYC), Biografilm (Italy), Raindance (UK), and Oldenburg Film Festivals (Germany), and have received Oscar®-qualifying and regional Emmy® awards. Kreitzer received his MFA in Cinema and Comparative Literature from the University of Iowa, and his BA in Visual & Media Arts from Emerson College. He is a Kodak Motion Picture Grantee, National Arts Strategies Fellow, LEF Foundation/Flaherty Fellow, and recipient of the VTIFF James Goldstone Award for Emerging Vermont Filmmaker.

Jesse’s grant will support the creation of a storyboard animatic for the short dramatic film Delta Bell.

Travis Laplante seen from the waist up, holding a large saxophone.Travis Laplante

Travis Laplante is a saxophonist, composer, improviser, and qigong practitioner who is based in southern Vermont. Laplante leads the acclaimed tenor saxophone quartet Battle Trance and Subtle Degrees; his duo with drummer Gerald Cleaver. Laplante also recently composed long-form works for new music ensembles the JACK Quartet and Yarn/Wire while performing alongside them. Laplante is also known for his raw solo saxophone concerts and being a member of the avant-garde quartet Little Women.

Laplante has toured his music extensively and has appeared at many major international festivals such as The Moers Festival (Germany), Jazz Jantar (Poland), Saalfelden (Austria), Jazz em Agosto (Portugal), Earshot (Seattle), Hopscotch (North Carolina), and the NYC Winter JazzFest.  As a composer, Laplante has recently been commissioned by the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), the JACK Quartet, Roulette (Brooklyn, NY), Yarn/Wire, Yellow Barn Music Festival, and The Jerome Foundation. As a qigong student of master Robert Peng, Laplante has undergone traditional intensive training. His focus in recent years, under the tutelage of Laura Stelmok, has been on Taoist alchemical medicine and the cultivation of the heart. Laplante is passionate about the intersection of music and medicine. He and his wife are the founders of Sword Hands, a qigong and acupuncture healing practice based in Putney.

Travis’ grant will support the composition, performance, and recording of an album for tenor saxophone and string quartet.

Jen Lazar seen from the shoulders upJ Lazar

J Lazar is a writer and co-founder of the Field Academy, a school that seeks to make learning and life indistinguishable. She is currently working on a family memoir exploring whiteness and erasure through stories of alchemy and migration. Presently an MFA candidate at the Jackson Center at Hollins University, Jen is grateful to be quarantined with the best mammals she knows: her partner, Daniel, her daughter, Artemis Grace, and their provocative housecat, Radio.

J’s grant will support the creation of a nonfiction book tracing five generations beginning in Iran and ending in Vermont.

Nancy Winship Milliken seen standing in one of her works.Nancy Winship Milliken

Nancy Winship Milliken, has a place-based environmental art studio committed to building community through collaborative expressions of reverence for the land, humans, and animals. Milliken creates sculpture, installations, prints and photographic enactments concerning the health of the land and surrounding communities, aiding in the desired change for the (socio)environmental course of our society.

Nancy’s grant will support the creation of a limestone monument of natural field elements in an urban setting.

Mikahely seated with a guitar on stageMikahely

Mikahely is a singer/songwriter from Madagascar who draws upon traditional rhythms to create a unique style of soothing roots & groovy jazz fusion on guitar and valiha. His songs highlight pressing social and environmental issues facing Madagascar and the world, such as climate change, biodiversity conservation and children’s rights. Having toured in Madagascar and Europe, he now brings his music to new audiences in the United States. Since settling into the Burlington community in 2018, he has gained local recognition across the state, giving workshops to university students and performing at festivals such as Burlington’s Discover Jazz Festival, and playing with notable musicians such as Paul Asbell and Dwight & Nicole. He has also been the recipient of several grants, including the Creation Grant from Vermont Arts Council to record his new album.

Mikahely’s grant will support the completion and release of the artist’s first U.S. album.

Read Mikahely’s I am a Vermont Artist feature.

Rose and Justin of Modern Times Theater playing instrumentsModern Times Theater

Modern Times Theater has been making and touring puppet shows, variety acts, and novelty music, and creating public community events since 2007.

“We are pursuing a radically divergent model of art making. If theater is a four-lane highway, we are off-roading in a buggy.

We do not belong to one physical space, but believe in creating venues in unlikely locations, as well as revitalizing the historic, run-down, and defunct. We make work in conversation with our environment and community, building shows and events in response to the needs and particular culture and possibilities found in our small rural region. And sometimes we take our work on the road, and experiment with what works in other contexts.

We are old-fashioned entertainers, and also civically-minded artists who have defied the limits of categorization for more than a decade.”

Modern Times Theater’s grant will support the creation of an original theater piece for touring to small venues.

Read Modern Times Theater’s Art in the Time of Covid Q&A.

Xander Naylor seen sitting in a stairwellXander Naylor

Xander Naylor is a guitarist, improviser, and composer who gathers the vocabularies and core energetic forces of avant jazz, post-rock, and Indian classical music, into a singular new sound, described by The Critical Masses as “a language all his own.” Rooted firmly in the culturally-rich NYC music scene, his music has brought him to perform all over the world, including the South by Southwest Festival (Austin, Texas, USA), Assomniak Festival (Brest, France), and most recently a month-long tour of India (2020).  Born of his own spiritual journey and deep study of multiple Eastern and Western traditions, Naylor’s music gives vital breath to the most fundamental questions we face today as a culture, and as human beings. Naylor is a ground-breaking guitarist, and a fearless searcher, forging new techniques, extended sounds, and employing rhythmic acrobatics, all in service of a visceral experience which fosters and promotes greater understanding.

In addition to maintaining a career as a performer, Naylor is an established educator, with a specialty in promoting understanding in crossing between Western and Indian musical languages.  In 2008 he began an ongoing relationship with tabla maestro Samir Chatterjee, with whom he has studied the music of India, adapting its sounds and techniques onto the guitar and within the Western styles of rock, pop, and jazz. He currently teaches at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (NYC), while also teaching private students and conducting workshops.  He has performed and conducted workshops throughout the NYC area, including at Columbia University, Drew University, The New School, Manhattan School of Music, and Chhandayan Center for Indian Music, and Global Music Institute (Delhi, India).

Xander’s grant will support the creation of a music composition fusing jazz and Indian classical elements.

Liam O'Connor-Genereaux lying in the grass with two sheep.Liam O’Connor-Genereaux (WalrusDice Productions)

Liam O’Connor-Genereaux (he/him) is a filmmaker from Ryegate, VT. He likes to tell stories that start in this world—and then end up somewhere you can usually only see with your eyes shut. Liam’s most recent film, Zephyr (the story of a band of thieves who became rock stars to escape the mob), earned Best of Fest at the Endless Mountains Film Festival and Best Feature at the Smoky Mountains, Milwaukee Edge and Frostbite International Film Festivals. Zephyr also screened at the 2nd annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

Liam enjoys skiing and making monster dolls, and he was once run over by a bale of hay. Liam currently lives in VT with his partner and collaborator, Seana Testa.

Liam’s grant will support the post-production process of a film entitled Butterfly Queen following two 20-somethings who must escape a nightmare dimension that runs on art.

Listen to our interview with Liam and co-producer Seana Testa on our podcast, Vermont Made.

Watch the official trailer for Butterfly Queen.

Danielle O'Hallisey seen from the neck upDanielle O’Hallisey

Danielle O’Hallisey is a classical/electronic/jazz fusion guitarist and composer, who studied jazz and harmony with the late, legendary “godfather of fusion,” Larry Coryell, and classical guitar with the Hartt School’s Richard Provost. She has composed extended works for her ensemble, Yellow Sky, incorporating electronics (guitar synthesizer, heavily effected string instruments) into her performances. She is currently collaborating as guitarist and co-songwriter with London-based composer Heather Kane on her soundtrack for the upcoming independent film, Crime of Passion. Danielle is a transwoman, whose life informs her work through both hardship and joy. Hers was a powerful voice in the creation of Vermont’s 2007 Employment Nondiscrimination Act for transgender persons. Her work and interviews have been featured on Vermont Public Radio and used as incidental music in various network and cable TV shows. Her extended multimedia composition Women of Aeronautics will be performed by TURN Music in the spring of 2022. Danielle is a founding member of Burlington’s emerging Community of Sound, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of both artists and audiences through concerts, workshops, classes and resource-sharing.

Danielle’s grant will support the recording and release of a composition/documentary entitled Women of Aeronautics.

Read our Art in the Time of Covid feature about Danielle. 

Rachel Portesi in studio behind a cameraRachel Portesi

Rachel Portesi received a BA in Sociology and Photography from Marlboro College, VT. Her work as a black and white documentary photographer was complemented by the acquisition of her first Polaroid Land camera in 1991. Ten years later, with a move to New York City and no access to a darkroom, Portesi’s practice shifted exclusively to the immediacy of the Polaroid. Working this way resulted in a body of work produced over more than two decades ending a few years ago when an older, even more finicky and time-consuming way of making “instant pictures” caught Portesi’s attention—the wet plate collodion tintype. Her recent work explores how female indentity is redefined by motherhood and aging. Portesi’s photographs have been exhibited at various venues in New England and in New York, and have been written about in VogueForbes, and Musée magazines among others. She works and lives with her family in Saxtons River.

Rachel’s grant will support the creation of a series of photographs of women over 50.

Photo by Madelin Lyyli Aho.

William Ransom sitting on a stone wall.William Ransom

William Ransom received an MFA in Sculpture from Claremont Graduate University in 2008 and a BA in Sculpture and Architecture from Bennington College in 2004. His work has been included in exhibitions at Arena 1 Gallery, the Torrance Art Museum, Greene Exhibitions and Fellows of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Ogilvy and Mather in New York, Open End Gallery in Chicago, the Albany International Airport and at the Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota among others. He has had solo exhibitions at Chime and Co. in Los Angeles, the Lenzner Family Gallery at Pitzer College, John Davis Gallery in Hudson, New York and most recently at the Staniar Gallery at Washington and Lee University.

William Ransom was born and raised on a dairy farm in Vermont and his work and life continue to be informed by his early material experiences and engagement with the cycles and rhythms of the natural world. Balance has always played an important role in his life and work; as the son of a bi-racial union, balance between black and white; as a farm kid living in the city, balance between rural and urban, city and soil; as a diabetic, balance between a sweet tooth and insulin injections. Ransom’s work often reflects this sense of balance, suggesting flux, movement, things in a state of becoming or diminishing; a transitory provisional state, rife with an inherent unease and uncertainty. The forces brought to bear on the material pull into sharp focus the tensions and underlying instabilities and stresses of our world’s current state and the ever-present potential for flare-up or collapse.

After a decade in Los Angeles, he has returned with his family to Vermont where he now lives and works.

William’s grant will support the creation of an interactive sculpture/installation at the Brattleboro Museum.

Jes Raymond seen from the shoulders up.Jes Raymond

Jes Raymond is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and visual artist. Her work is at the intersections between place, story, and community. She draws from the deep well of American Roots music and blends it with modern sounds and songwriting to try to connect the day to day with the timeless. Jes lives in Wilder, VT, with her husband and young son.

Jes’ grant will support the creation of a new composition and Vermont virtual choir with hybrid live/video performance.

Sonia Scherr seen from the shoulders up.Sonia Scherr

Sonia Scherr grew up in Norwich, which she still considers home. Her short stories have appeared in literary journals, including Gargoyle MagazineJabberwock ReviewBlue Earth Review and poemmemoirstory (now NELLE). In addition, she has participated in writing residencies at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Hambidge Center, Wildacres Retreat, Vermont Studio Center and Blue Mountain Center. Perhaps because of her background in journalism and communications, she is especially drawn to fiction writing projects that involve research and that address contemporary social issues, including her Morocco novel-in-progress that has received support from a Creation Grant. Most recently, she taught English to speakers of other languages in Ukraine and Morocco and, since the pandemic, has continued to work remotely with teachers and students abroad. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Swarthmore College and master’s degrees in English and writing from Middlebury College and the University of New Hampshire, respectively.

Sonia’s grant will support the creation of the first draft of a novel about Jewish-Muslim ties in Morocco.

Ruth Shafer lying on the floor wrapped in one of her sculpturesRuth Shafer

Ruth Shafer sculpts at the intersection of craft, domesticity, and feminism. Textiles define our spaces and intimately surround us at our most vulnerable, by swaddling us in bed or welcoming us into the arms of an easy chair. Meanwhile, traditional fiber craft and unpaid domestic labor have been similarly dismissed and undervalued throughout history. With humor and abstraction, Ruth uses secondhand fabric and repurposed fluff to explore where the home ends and the body begins. She is based in Brattleboro.

Ruth’s grant will support the creation of a soft sculpture show exploring the relationships between the body and the home.

Read about Ruth’s show.

Bronwyn Sims seen from the shoulders upBronwyn Sims

Bronwyn Sims is a creator, performer, choreographer, and educator. She has appeared in film and on television including a role in the Emmy award winning first season of The Sopranos, and she has numerous stage, choreography, and directing credits in New York City and regionally. Bronwyn was a lecturer in Acting at Yale School of Drama, and was on the faculty at New England Center for Circus Arts. She has conducted guest master classes throughout the United States. She holds an MFA in Devised Physical Theatre Performance from The University of The Arts and Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training. She holds a Certificate in Acting from Circle in the Square Theatre School. Bronwyn has been awarded grants from The Vermont Community Foundation Arts Endowment Fund, The Vermont Arts Council, and a NET TEN Grant from The Network of Ensemble Theaters. Bronwyn is co-founder and producing director of Strong Coffee Stage, a physical theatre company based in Vermont.

Bronwyn’s grant will support the creation of a new devised physical theatre work about criminal justice.

Rebecca Valley sitting at a table laughingRebecca Valley

Rebecca Valley is a poet and essayist from Saint Albans, Vermont. Her work has appeared in Black Warrior ReviewRattleTinderbox Poetry JournalGreen Mountains Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook The Bird Eaters was published by dancing girl press in 2017, and she has a book of true crime stories for middle schoolers forthcoming from Ulysses Press in 2022. She received her MFA in Poetry from UMass Amherst, where she was awarded the 2019 Academy of American Poets Prize. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on marginalized authors and books in translation. Her work has been supported by the Young Writers Project, the Vermont Studio Center, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and other organizations.

Rebecca’s grant will support the creation of a memoir about the death of the artist’s uncle, a mentally ill prisoner in Vermont.

Diana Whitney seen from the waist upDiana Whitney

Diana Whitney writes across the genres with a focus on feminism, motherhood, and sexuality. She was the longtime poetry critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, where she featured women poets and LGBTQ voices in her column. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, Glamour, and many more. Diana’s poetry debut, Wanting It (Harbor Mountain Press) won the Rubery Book Award, and her new anthology You Don’t Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves, was released by Workman Publishing to critical acclaim and became a YA bestseller. She lives with her family in Brattleboro, where she teaches yoga and poetry and works as a freelance editor.

Diana’s grant will support the creation of a poetry collection about girls, rape culture, and excavating female adolescence.

Sam Wyatt sitting on a stone benchSam Wyatt

After graduating from Massachusetts College of Art with a degree in sculpture, Sam Wyatt pursued a career in designing and building gardens. The moss and stone gardens of Japan became his obsession and taught him how the power of natural beauty could transport and transform. Having completed a twenty-year profession as a garden designer, he is now circling back towards painting as an artistic expression in hopes to continue this exploration. Instead of solely focusing on ‘nature’ for inspiration, Sam is taking a deeper look at its intersection with man-made ‘ugliness,’ and realizing that the distinction between the two is not that clear. Sam paints and teaches at his studio gallery in Burlington.

Sam’s grant will support the creation of paintings which depict graffiti as a reflection of this moment in our culture.





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William Alexander | Sarah Audsley | Misoo Bang | Big Teeth Performance Collective | Frances Cannon | Kate Donnelly | Mary Lacy | Toby MacNutt | Brian McCarthy | Rachel Moore | Otto Muller | Estefania Puerta | Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees | Stefania Urist | Dana Walrath

Author William Alexander headshotWilliam Alexander

William Alexander writes fantasy, science fiction, and other unrealisms for young readers. Honors include the National Book Award, the Eleanor Cameron Award, two Junior Library Guild Selections, a Mythopoetic Award finalist, an International Latino Book Award finalist, a Cybils Award finalist, and the Earphones Award for audiobook narration. Will is Cuban-American. He studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at Clarion. He currently serves as the faculty chair of the VCFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is represented by Marietta B. Zacker of the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

William’s grant will support the creation of a young adult fantasy novel inspired by the artist’s Cuban-American heritage.

Read our interview with William.

Sarah Audsley headshotSarah Audsley

Sarah Audsley is an adoptee born in South Korea and raised in rural Vermont. She has received support for her work from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and residencies from the Vermont Studio Center and the Banff Centre’s Writing Studio. She is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and served as the Staff Artist and Writing Program Coordinator at the Vermont Studio Center from 2019 – 2020.

Sarah’s grant will support the creation of a poetry collection which traces and weaves experiences of growing up as a Korean American transracial adoptee in rural Vermont.

Read our interview with Sarah.

Misoo Bang self-portraitMisoo Bang

Misoo Bang was born in the Bronx, NY then moved to Korea when she was a year old and was raised there until she was eighteen. When she returned to the United States, she started painting as a way to communicate her feelings. Her work consists of her emotional self portraits, a side she doesn’t often share with the public or her peers. Each work of art contains her soul, which she says reflects the vulnerable innocence she felt from her dark and creepy past that scare her. Currently her work reflects the feelings and fear toward her daughter. Misoo graduated from Florida Atlantic University receiving an MFA in Painting in 2014. She lives in South Burlington, VT and continues to show her work, give artist talks, and attend artist residencies around the world.

Misoo’s grant will support the creation of a series of paintings entitled the Giantess Project that serve as a cultural response to patriarchy and male dominance by reversing the male-female power dynamic.

Dancers in Big Teeth Collective performing together.Big Teeth Performance Collective

Big Teeth Performance Collective is a five-women ensemble based in southern Vermont. Emerging from the field of “new circus,” Big Teeth works at the intersections of acrobatics, physical theater, and dance. Their first full-length show, “Ordinary Creatures,” toured the East coast from 2018-2020, bringing to the stage an evening of monstrosity. The collective is currently developing new work concerning cotton mills and land reparations in the local ecologies of southern Vermont.

Big Teeth’s grant will support the creation of a theatrical show involving acrobatics, dance, physical theater, and aerial arts that engages audiences around the realities of mass extinction, climate catastrophe, and processing loss.

Author and artist Frances Cannon headshotFrances Cannon

Frances Cannon is a writer and artist of hybrid mediums, currently teaching creative writing, fiction workshops, and literature courses at Champlain College and the Vermont College of Fine Arts, as well as visual arts and writing courses at the Vermont Commons School. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Iowa, and a BA in poetry and printmaking from the University of Vermont. She has recently been published by MIT Press, her book of experimental literary translation, Walter Benjamin Reimagined. Several of her books in various mediums have been published: her graphic memoir, The Highs and Lows of Shapeshift Ma and Big-Little Frank, with Gold Wake Press; a book of poems and paintings, Tropicalia, with Vagabond Press; and a collection of poems, Uranian Fruit, with Honeybee Press. She has a poetry chapbook forthcoming with Ethel Zine and a book of hybrid text and image with Prompt Press. Frances was born in Utah and has since lived in Oregon, Vermont, California, Maine, Iowa, Italy, Guatemala, France, and Mexico making art and writing books. She has also worked as an editorial intern and contributor at McSweeney’s Quarterly, The Believer, The Lucky Peach, and The Iowa Review.

Frances’ grant will support the creation of a graphic novel entitled Vernal Thaw that centers on women’s bodies, bodies of water, trauma, and tenderness.

Read our interview with Frances.

Artist Kate Donnelly headshot.Kate Donnelly

Kate Donnelly is an artist, curator and educator working at the intersection of feminism and care. Synthesizing documentary, conceptual, and surreal forms, she explores notions of fragmentation, constructs of happiness, and feminist consciousness through performance, installation, sound, and video. With a focus on the reproduction and position of women in the role of caregiver, Donnelly uses humor as a central device to disrupt sentimental notions of the labor of love. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Recent exhibitions include Paadmaan Video Event in Tehran, Iran, and AIR’s 10th Biennial in Brooklyn, NY. Donnelly has received grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman, Vermont Arts Council, the NEA and the Vermont Community Foundation and a full fellowship from Vermont Studio Center. She was the 2013 recipient of the Barbara Smail award and was artist in residence at Burlington City Arts and Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Her current endeavors include the co-founding of the artist run space Snake House in Burlington, Vermont and Single Channel, a quarterly event highlighting the history, practitioners, and genres of the moving image and time based media through collaborative viewings and discussions.

Kate’s grant will support the creation of a body of work that explores the concept of caregiving resulting in a live video performance.

Read our interview with Kate.

Mary Lacy smiles to the camera from the bucket of a paint-smattered cherry picker.Mary Lacy

Mary Lacy, an artist living in Burlington, VT, paints large scale murals and uses it as a means for community building. When she was 24, she bought a bucket truck and drove it across the country on a year-long mural tour sponsored by Benjamin Moore, partnering with folks in each city or town to garner engagement and participation from the surrounding community. Some of her partner’s include the Rebuild Foundation, the Audubon Society, Bethel Revitalization Initiative, MJ Freed and the Artist Warehouse, and ArtPlace Mississippi. Over the years, she’s become more interested in the relationships that are built during a mural’s creation, which then the final piece serves to memorialize. Recently, she’s branched out into mosaics, teaching, and other smaller works. After some struggles with her health, she’s been exploring the body as her subject matter, making mosaics from dishes.

Mary’s grant will support the creation of geometric-style figurative and portrait mosaics.

Dancer and poet Toby MacNutt headshot.Toby MacNutt

Toby MacNutt is a queer, nonbinary trans, disabled choreographer, dancer, poet, and teacher. Their work often explores questions of embodiment and selfhood. Toby’s independent works include One, Two, an evening-length work on an integrated ensemble, 2014; Enter the Void, an immersive deep-space sci-fi dance and poetry installation, 2018; and the upcoming A Singular They, their first solo work. They have also danced with Murmurations Dance, Lida Winfield, Tiffany Rhynard, and Heidi Latsky’s GIMP, and in 2018, Toby participated in the first ever AXIS Choreo-Lab, as one of seven disabled choreographers, returning to work with the company in 2019. Find their work at or on social media, Twitter @tobywm, Instagram @tobymacnutt.

Toby’s grant will support the creation of a solo dance show for ground, aerial fabric, and mobility apparatus entitled A Singular They.

Saxophonist Brian McCarthy headshot.Brian McCarthy

Saxophonist, composer and arranger Brian McCarthy draws inspiration from the history of jazz, while maintaining a modern awareness. His debut nonet project, The Better Angels of Our Nature, began with a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council in 2014. Earning 4 ½ Stars from Downbeat Magazine, Brian Zimmerman called the work “a jazz album that makes a cavernous impression for its arresting beauty and conceptual brilliance.” Renowned author and journalist Bob Blumenthal says the project “is both timeless (as is all great music) and could not be more timely. Brian McCarthy has assembled an ensemble of brilliant players and given them music of deep roots and resonant meaning.” Brian is endorsed by Selmer-Paris saxophones and D’Addario Woodwinds, and has additionally released two albums of small group material. All About Jazz says McCarthy “touches those roads Joshua Redman travels on with a fresh footing. This band excels at building anticipation.” His latest quartet album Codex (2017), was awarded grants from the Vermont Community Foundation Arts Endowment Fund in 2015 and 2018 for a new nonet project “AFTER|LIFE,” and continues to perform in NYC, Connecticut and Vermont. Brian is also the Adjunct Professor of Saxophone at the University of Vermont and the Adjunct Director of Bands at St. Michael’s College.

Brian’s grant will support the creation of a full-length jazz ensemble album entitled AFTER|LIFE inspired by a Carl Sagan quote.

Artist Rachel Moore headshotRachel Moore

Rachel Moore received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she concentrated on sculpture, design, and collaborative work with a focus on socially and environmentally responsible projects, and her BFA from Alfred University. Whether through larger community or environmental projects, or through sculpture, photography, drawings, and video, Moore explores the complexity of relationships within cultures and subcultures, and within the environment, both built and natural, as affected by human activity. She is a co-founder of Spoke, an exhibition and event space in Chicago (2008-2011), and was a Fulbright Fellow in Greece (2009-2010). Moore has presented internationally on the topics of art as a catalyst for change, public art, curatorial practice, and on her own artistic practice. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries nationally and internationally including Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, TinT Gallery, and DYNAMO (Thessaloniki, Greece); Figge Art Museum (Iowa, USA); Muskegon Museum (Michigan, USA); Pamil Fine Art Gallery (San Juan, Puerto Rico); The Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, IL; BCA (Vermont, USA); Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan; Bellevue Arts Museum, Washington; among others. She has received grants from Seattle Art Museum (PONCHO Award), Artist Trust in Seattle, Vermont Arts Council; and has been an artist-in-residence twice at both Vermont Studio Center and Pilchuck Glass School. She was featured on Art21’s “Inside the Artist’s Studio.”

Rachel’s grant will support the creation of a mixed media installation addressing the effects of climate change that encourages civic engagement and activism with the viewers.

Otto Muller teaching at Goddard CollegeOtto Muller

Otto Muller is a composer, educator, and sound artist, whose work explores the dynamics of complicity, memory, and loss through installation, participatory performance, hybrid poetics, and chamber music. Muller has collaborated closely with the devised theatre company Theatre Témoin, choreographers Hanna Satterlee and Maura Gahan, and new media artist Sean Clute, with whom he started the Rural Noise Ensemble. His music has been performed internationally by Duo Stump-Linshalm, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Formosa Quartet, the Slee Sinfonietta, and other ensembles at festivals including Tzlil Meudcan (Israel), Zvuk i Vryska (Bulgaria), June in Buffalo (USA), and Klangraum (Germany). Muller received his PhD at the University at Buffalo, and has studied with David Felder, Amnon Wolman, Amy Williams, Chaya Czernowin, and Steve Takasugi. He teaches at Northern Vermont University and Goddard College, where he co-founded the BFA program in Socially Engaged Art. His research includes publications on noise aesthetics, rural sound practices, and critical arts pedagogy.

Otto’s grant will support the creation of a musical piece for mixed quartet and electronics that explores the concept of boundary resulting in an outdoor site-specific performance, studio recording, and hybrid text.

Read our feature story on Otto.

A portrait in collage of artist Estefania Puerta.Estefania Puerta

Estefania Puerta‘s work is made up of a wide range of materials to form new poetics of transformation and translation. Her practice is rooted in world making, border crossing, societies that do not fit into bodies, and creating an emotional language to these excessive shapeshifting experiences. Re-contextualizing mythologies, pulling apart the subversive nature of the decorative, and beautifying the grotesque are themes that often appear in her work.  Puerta works in various mediums such as sculpture, painting, writing, and performance and is deeply invested in the web created through working in multiple forms that does not have a fixed center or hierarchy. Estefania received her MFA from Yale School of Art. She was born in Colombia and currently lives and works in Vermont.

Estefania’s grant will support the creation of sculptural works that create “new empathic worlds that have no defined borders and embrace excess and multiplicity through the exploration of self-sustaining bodies.”

Artist Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees headshotKaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees

Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees is an artist/catalyst/guide who works across mediums, connections and social constructions focused on creating sacred space for deep remembering and reciprocal communication/relationship with Nature and the unseen world. Her work (performance, installation, sculpture, video, artist books) focuses on creative ways to evoke/invoke/provoke a regeneration of an essential relationship with Nature as a means of connection with the Sacred. She is a past recipient of the Lila Wallace International Artist Award and her work has been exhibited and in collections is US, Europe and New Zealand. She is currently Artist in Residence in the Masters of Leadership for Sustainability Program at the University of Vermont.

Kaylynn’s grant will support the creation of an immersive installation of video, paintings, and “vocables” entitled Falling into Language – A Travelogue.

Stefania Urist stands by one of her sculptures mounted on a wallStefania Urist

Stefania earned her BFA in 2013 from the Rhode Island School of Design’s Glass Department. Since graduating, Stefania has been working as a conceptual sculptor, addressing ideas about gender, growth, architecture, and the environment. Form, construction, and craft are key elements of Stefania’s practice; inherent in her work is a deep admiration for materiality, process, and transformation. Stefania has attended and created new stimulating sculptures at many vibrant artist residencies, including receiving a grant to attend the Vermont Studio Center. Most recently she completed a Maker Creator Research Fellowship at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Delaware where she researched the best practices for conserving outdoor sculpture. Stefania has shown her work in solo and group shows across the United States, including New York, Boston, New England and Colorado. In 2020 Stefania exhibited a solo show called Man-Made Mother Earth at Helmholz Fine Art in Manchester, VT and in 2019 she was the featured female artist of Sculpture Fest, a sculpture garden in Woodstock, VT. Stefania currently lives and creates new work in Londonderry, VT.

Stefania’s grant will support the creation of a sculptural installation that explores the past, present, and future of our forests and climate.

Writer and anthropologist Dana Walrath headshotDana Walrath

A writer, artist and anthropologist, Dana Walrath likes to cross borders and disciplines with her work. After years of using stories to teach medical students at University of Vermont’s College of Medicine, she turned to writing her own. Her award winning verse novel, Like Water on Stone, was completed during the year she spent as a Fulbright Scholar in Armenia. Her graphic memoir series, Aliceheimer’s has brought her throughout North America and Eurasia to speak about the role of comics in healing including talks at TEDx Battenkill and TEDx Yerevan. Her recent essays have appeared in Slate and Foreign Policy.

Dana’s grant will support the creation of a full libretto based on a graphic memoir about the artist’s mother’s dementia journey entitled Aliceheimer.

Read our interview with Dana.

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admin-place October 26, 2021