Vermont Arts Council

2022 Vermont Arts Awards Recipients

Left to right: Christal Brown, Larry Bissonette, Judy Dow, Jarvis Green, Robert Resnik, Eugene Uman.

Each year the Arts Council recognizes outstanding individual and organizational contributions to the arts in Vermont. We are pleased to introduce our six awardees for 2022 through short video tributes. The films were created by Haptic Pictures based in southern Vermont.

Nominations for the Vermont Arts Awards are welcome throughout the year. Submit a nomination.

Anchor2022 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts

This award is the most distinguished recognition bestowed by the State of Vermont. Accordingly, it is reserved for Vermont artists who have had a profound impact on their field within the state of Vermont and beyond. The Governor selects the recipient from a list of nominations compiled from across the state and vetted by the Arts Council. This year there are two award winners in this category. Read more about the Governor’s Award.

Larry Bissonnette of Williston is a disability rights advocate and artist who has been painting, drawing, and taking photographs since he was a young child. His work has been exhibited regularly both locally and nationally. In 2015, he had a solo exhibition of his work, “Looking Out: The Self-Taught Art of Larry Bissonnette” at the Amy Tarrant Gallery in Burlington. His art also appears internationally, including in the collection of the Musée de l’Art Brut in Switzerland. At age 34, Bissonnette learned to communicate through typing and began combining words with his art to express his thoughts and ideas. Over the past 25 years, he has been a featured presenter at many national educational conferences and has written and spoken on the topics of autism, communication, and art. Bissonnette is also both the subject and writer of an award-winning film about his art and life, called “My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette” (2005), and starred in a feature length documentary directed by Gerardine Wurzburg about adults with autism called “Wretches and Jabberers” (2010). He also is a contributing author to “Communication Alternatives in Autism: Perspectives on Typing and Spelling for the Nonspeaking (2019),” a book edited by California Lutheran University professor Edlyn Pena. Read more about Bissonnette.

In the video, Larry paints in his Burlington studio. Larry’s longtime aide Pascal Cheng of the Howard Center assists with communication as Larry uses a machine to facilitate verbal communication.

Jarvis Green of White River Junction is the founder of JAG Productions, a Vermont and New York City-based Black theater company established in 2016 in White River Junction. He is the recipient of the New England Theatre Conference Regional Award for Outstanding Achievement in the American Theatre for his work with JAG in its inaugural year. Every year he produces five new plays, nurturing the work of five budding playwrights at JAGfest, one of the nation’s leading incubators of new works by Black playwrights. In 2020, he launched the Black Joy Project, a three-tiered project: a Black Theatre methodology, a play embodying the method, and a documentary film capturing its inception. Green was acknowledged by the advocacy and networking nonprofit Native Son as a Black queer man who impacted the world in 2020. Green sees himself playing a key role in bringing actors and stories from all over the diaspora to stages worldwide. In 2021, Green was one of only six millennials chosen worldwide, and the only representation from North America, to be featured in the Deloitte short film, “Resilience.” Green is a New England Foundation for the Arts National Theatre Project Advisor, a member of the Black Theatre Artist Council at the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, and serves on the Board of Trustees for Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Read more about Green.

In the video, Jarvis watches a performance of the band Britton and the Sting at Theatre on the Hill in Norwich, a joint venture of JAG Productions and King Arthur Flour.

Anchor2022 Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts

The Walter Cerf Medal is presented to individuals who have made a sustained contribution to the arts and had an impact on Vermont’s cultural life. It may be awarded to artists of renown or to those in a closely related field, such as philanthropy, administration, production, education, advocacy, or mentoring. Read more about the Walter Cerf Medal.

Christal Brown of Middlebury is the Founder of INSPIRIT, Project: BECOMING, and the creator of the Liquid Strength training module for dance. She also serves as an Associate Professor of Dance, Posse Mentor, Twilight Artist in Residence and Director of the Anti-Racist Task Force at Middlebury College while also serving the public sphere as the Chief Visioning Officer of Steps and Stages Coaching, LLC. Brown is a native of Kinston, NC, where she remembers accompanying her mother to NAACP meetings and performing at Black Caucus rallies. This early exposure to social responsibility innately produced a strong desire in Brown to tell the stories of the oppressed and develop physical narratives that inspired power. Most recently, Brown created “Same but Different” in collaboration with Lida Winfield, a dance theater work that explores race, age, and gender through the lens of curiosity and friendship. Her new work for INSPIRIT, “What We Ask of Flesh,” supported by Jacobs Pillow and The Kennedy Center is scheduled to premiere in the Spring of 2023. Brown is a powerhouse whose evolution combines her creativity, educational gifts and love for people into a dynamic life of making meaning and sustaining change. Read more about Brown.

In the video, Christal is interviewed in the Mahaney Arts Center at Middlebury College where she teaches dance. The interview is interspersed with clips of her dancing and teaching.

Anchor2022 Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award in Arts Education

The Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award in Arts Education is presented to individuals who have made a sustained contribution to learning in and through the arts and/or had a positive impact on the quality of education in Vermont. Read more about the Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award.

Jazz pianist, composer, and educator, Eugene Uman of Brattleboro has been director of the Vermont Jazz Center (VJC) since 1997. During his tenure, the VJC has grown into an esteemed concert venue where performances by internationally recognized jazz artists are complemented by community outreach and educational programs including a renowned summer jazz workshop that attracts students from around the world. Uman has produced over 320 concerts for the VJC including annual emerging artist and solo jazz piano festivals that feature educational programming. He has written and arranged over 150 jazz compositions for various musical ensembles, including a recent commission from the Juno Orchestra. Three of Uman’s original compositions were recorded by Latin Jazz star Sammy Figueroa on his 2005 Grammy-nominated CD, “In Walked Sammy.” Uman has taught a variety of classes and workshops to students of all age ranges, including teacher-training workshops. He currently teaches at the VJC and is adjunct professor of piano jazz at Amherst College. He taught for more than a decade at the Governor’s Institute of the Arts and is affiliated with the Universidad de EAFIT in Medellín, Columbia where he initiated their jazz studies program. Uman is a MacDowell Fellow. Read more about Uman.

In the video, Eugene plays piano with some of the student jazz musicians at the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro.

Anchor2022 Margaret L. (Peggy) Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy

The Margaret L. (Peggy) Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy is presented to an individual who has an established and well-deserved reputation in Vermont as an advocate for the arts. Read more about the Peggy Kannenstine Award.

Robert Resnik of Burlington has hosted the folk and world music show, “All the Traditions,” on Vermont Public Radio for 26 years. Despite a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, Resnik delivers the same encyclopedic knowledge of musical culture and history from Vermont and across the globe, with humor and delight that he has always shared. For 28 years, Resnik was a librarian at Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, where he performed live weekly musical programs in the children’s library. Resnik plays a stunning variety of stringed and wind instruments and performed with various Vermont artists. A respected critic and scholar, Resnik writes music reviews for local publications, serves as a program consultant for a variety of area concert venues, and is well-known in northern Vermont as a wild mushroom hunter and chef. In 2013, he wrote the book, “Legendary Locals of Burlington, Vermont,” and in 2019, he was awarded the Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts for his inspirational leadership. Read more about Resnik.

In the video, Robert works the sound board as he hosts the music radio program, All the Traditions. While sitting at home, he describes the joy he finds in being able to share music with others.

Anchor2022 Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts

Selected by the staff of the Vermont Arts Council, this award is given to a person or organization for meritorious service to the arts in Vermont. Read more about the Arthur Williams Award.

Judy Dow of Essex is a nationally known activist, basket weaver and teacher of traditional Abenaki culture and native practices for over 35 years. She is the executive director of Gedakina, a multigenerational organization that supports Indigenous youth, women, and families across New England. She has been widely recognized as an expert on Indigenous education and an influential guardian of Abenaki history and culture. Her baskets have been exhibited in museums around the world, including a recent international exhibit in England, Poland, and Romania, traveling to other places worldwide as the tour continues. Dow’s art is helping to inform the anti-eugenics movement, as one of her tapestries, “The Witness Tree,” was recently featured in the article, “From small beginnings: to build an anti-eugenic future,” published in one of the world’s best known medical journals, The Lancet. In 2004, Dow was a recipient of the Governor’s Heritage Award for Outstanding Educator. Of Winooski Abenaki and French-Canadian descent, Dow brings a Native American lens to reading the land, to teaching science and history, and to giving visibility to lost voices and hidden histories. Read more about Dow.

In the video, Judy teaches staff at Shelburne Farms and works in her home studio on her woven baskets and sewn tapestries.

Read the press release announcing the 2022 recipients.

admin-place July 28, 2022