Vermont Arts Council

I AM… 2021 | Featured Artists

Blanchette’s musical talent is unquestioned. Whether singing at a pow wow with the Blackhawk Singers or performing solo at Vermont’s Flynn Theater, his voice makes listeners stop and take notice. A Native American Elder once told a young Bryan, “You have the voice of a warrior.” He plays multiple instruments, writes his own music and lyrics, and sings with a powerful, captivating Abenaki warrior voice.

Blanchette is a New England native and member of the Nulhegan Band of the Abenaki tribe. He studied music at the world renowned Berklee College of Music. He started pow wow drumming in 1996. His group, The Blackhawk Singers are extremely popular and have performed internationally to critical acclaim. They have released two CDs. He began writing Abenaki language songs in 1998. His contemporary music has also played to critical acclaim throughout New England.

Bryan is currently living in N’dakinna, the Abenaki homeland, Graniteville, Vermont.

For booking information and performance calendar, contact [email protected].

Evans has toured North and South America, Europe and Asia, sharing stages with a  multitude of New Orleans notables and legendary artists, including James Brown, B.B.  King, Dr. John, Aaron and Charles Neville, Sheila Jordan, Terence Blanchard, Donald  Harrison Jr., Michael Franks, Poncho Sanchez, Katie Webster, Bob Dorough, Irma  Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty, Duke Robillard, Levon Helm, Jaimoe (of the  Allman Brothers), and Sam Kininger.

The New Orleans Times Picayune named Evans’ debut CD, Give Me a Moment, the fifth  best new release of 2002. She has recorded two other full-length CDs as a leader, My  Little Bodhisattva (2007) and Hot Club: Live at the Vermont Jazz Center (2009), in  addition to several downloadable singles. She has also appeared as a featured or  supporting vocalist on other artist’s recordings in New Orleans and New England.

Evans dedicates time to perpetuating American Jazz and blues music. She is currently an  Artist Associate in Jazz Voice at Williams College, and offers vocal instruction from her  home studio. She founded the “Ladies in Jazz” series to highlight collaborations between  female singers and musicians, and the “Sam’s Sunday Set and Shed” musical mentoring program to spotlight artist-protege relationships in the region. In New Orleans, Evans  participated in the Blues Schoolhouse sponsor

Hurricane Katrina caused Samirah to relocate to her husband’s hometown of Brattleboro,  Vermont. She has since been performing in venues and festivals throughout the northeast  with her band, Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils as well collaborative projects  with fronting other New England artists.

Learn more and purchase music at Samirah’s website.

William is the author of Billosophy: meditations on God, movement and miraclesSacred & Sacrosanct: a collection of poems, and his latest project “#ApoemAday” a year-long project of daily poems. He hosts and produces the Billosophy101 podcast and the Billosophy101 vlog on the Billosophy101 YouTube channel. William grew up in Hammonton, NJ where life on a farm nurtured his creative imagination. In 2017, he was selected to be a U.S. State Department cultural exchange Ambassador for the Arts, making two trips to Turkmenistan. William was summer camp director at Circus Smirkus in Greensboro, VT in 2019 and 2020. The proud father of 3 beautiful children, William has called Brattleboro, VT home since 1998. His creations are supported by patrons on, sales of his book through and sales of merchandise at William’s website for more of his work.

Also a sculptor, dancer, instrument builder and educator, John holds a  B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art of Temple University and the West  Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham, England and an M.F.A. from  the University of Wisconsin in Madison. John has taught sculpture,  drawing and design in schools and universities across the United States  including The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Skidmore College.

John has studied the music, song and dance of West Africa for over 29  years, training with numerous master drummers and dancers from Guinea  and Mali, including Mamady Keita and Famoudou Konate. As a Kora  player, John is entirely self-taught and has, thus, developed a style all his  own. Having intently studied traditional kora music for 10 years before he  even touched the instrument, however, his playing is deeply rooted in the  ancient Mande tradition.

John has been teaching drumming classes and workshops across the U.S.  And Canada for the past 25 years, maintaining weekly classes in  Northampton, MA and in his studio in Brattleboro, VT.

John is available for hire to play concerts, perform at weddings, parties, etc. Learn more at John’s website.

She feels that these notable, strong-minded, female singers effectively used their  music as a powerful medium to bring awareness to social issues and to rebuke  social injustices. They sang candidly about issues without worrying  about consequences.

KeruBo’s music is about healing, preserving African culture and heritage, while  highlighting social issues affecting vulnerable minorities such as women and  children.

KeruBo is a member of the Windows to A Multicultural World teaching artist team at  the Clemmons Family Farm.

Music video (gallery items 4 and 5) credits:

  • Artist: KeruBo is the singer and songwriter. She collaborates with her husband Michael Webster on composition, arrangement and production.
  • Instrumentalists on “Baba Djei”: Michael Hartigan on piano, Cody Sargent on drums, Mame Assan Coly on percussion, Michael Webster on guitar, and Mikahely Antone on valiha.
  • Instrumentalists on “Inga Obwanchani”: Michael Hartigan on piano, Cody Sargent on drums, Mame Assan Coly on percussion, Michael Webster on guitar and percussion, and Mikahely Antone on valiha.
  • Videography: Michael Webster

Her desire is to be a lighthouse no matter what the weather is doing.

It took a while, but her search revealed that the word ‘error’ comes from Latin, ‘errorem‘ and means wandering, straying or meandering. After all, the path of the heart is not always a straight line.

Her curiosity has led her to appreciate, explore and connect many strands such as writing, clowning, circus arts, performance, theater, healing arts, and the natural world.

Once, when she was 6 years old, her mom looked out the kitchen window and saw her running back and forth, crunching the autumn leaves and singing at the top of her lungs. When asked what she was doing, Nettie answered, “Playing with God.”

Visit Nettie’s website to learn more about her work.

5. “Darkness”

A personal and poetic musing on our spectacular demise…or rise?

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They have taught dance technique, adaptive skills, and communication/consent for various colleges, the New England Center for Circus Arts, Inclusive Arts Vermont, and other organizations. Toby is also a published poet and author of speculative fiction; their debut collection If Not Skin was published in 2018 by Aqueduct Press.

Exhibited photos and videos are part of Toby’s work A Singular They, currently in progress.

A Singular They is a full-length solo dance work for ground, aerial, and mobility equipment. It includes eight different solos, five co-choreographed with guest choreographers. Each explores a different aspect of identity and embodiment—such as disability, pain, masculinity, freedom—through the lens of change. It is still in development, slowed down by covid-19, but I am planning for its full public premiere post-vaccine.

A Singular They is made possible with funding from the MAP Fund, the Vermont Arts Council’s Creation and Artist Development grants, and by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ New Work New England program, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Seedlings Foundation, the Fund for the Arts at NEFA, and individual donors. It is supported with fiscal sponsorship from the Vermont Dance Alliance.

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Finally, the lightest, airiest and most dense material of all: words. She is the author of a novel An Obese White Gentleman In No Apparent Distress, first published by North Atlantic in Berkley, now out of print and self-published in a revised edition, and the editor of It’s A Lot Like Dancing with several anthologized short stories. She leads writers workshops for the Burlington Writers Workshop along with retreats. She is presently in lockdown in the Champlain Islands.

5. “How to Catch a Hound in a Pandemic” (excerpt)


An excerpt from a short story by Riki Moss called “How to Catch A Hound in A Pandemic.” Read by the author.

Listen to Riki reading “How to Catch a Hound in a Pandemic” (approx. 16 minutes).

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1. “Night”

An earlier version of the essay “Night” first appeared in Brevity, January 2016. 

Excerpt from “Night”:

“In my dorm room, on my desk, I had one of those Japanese lanterns, and he brushed the paper globe with his fingers. I don’t remember what his hands looked like, but the paper was the paper of mulberry trees, both fibrous and translucent, stretched over bamboo ribs. I imagined if we spun the lantern we might overcome all our brooding uncertainty, we might discover where we were meant to be, find somewhere without boundary or constellation, the land itself terra incognita—a time before the North Star of the Big Dipper, before the dimly lit planet of Buchenwald. A time before windows needed treatments, and night was something to draw closed. Before art and science and religion emerged as arbiters of history. When fragments were really just fragments. When love was simply love.”

Listen to Jericho reading from “Night.

2. “Sugar”

An earlier version of the essay “Sugar” first appeared in Upstreet, August 2020.

Excerpts from “Sugar”:

“Not lovely or girlfriend, starlight or boo. The difference between white and brown sugar is molasses, which is how my best friend’s older sister described D’Angelo’s voice, her lips oohing along to the title hit of his 1995 debut album Brown Sugar. A couple of years had passed, and we were less consumed with our calculator and receipt paper than we were with sizing up the boys in our class. I’ve described my mood at times in similar slow, syrupy terms, the way my mind moves, my inability to make decisions. An overall sweetness with a hint of something burning.”

“In the book of pet names and ornament, sugar might be the closest thing to love, from Sukkar, from Sanskrit, from cane to Chinese manuscripts, cooling in the open palm of India, from factory to dice-sized cubes. Sugar is not a word I would fall into bed with, but the confection—all powder and lace—reminds me of the widows of New York and New England. Or rather, the legacy of my grandmothers. Or rather, whatever woman I will become assuming I don’t lose sight of her. And if I do, perhaps I’ll find her in the diner on the corner, lifting sugar packets from the table and dropping them into the safe of her handbag which is stuffed with all manner of ephemera—eyeglasses and urns, sapphire and diamonds.”

Listen to Jericho reading from “Sugar.”

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1. When the Shadows Get Long

Mixed media. 2020

A crocheted blanket of a red and blue, radially symmetric, gradient pattern hangs from the wall. To the right hangs a photograph of a drip of chili oil on a dining table in a thrifted picture frame. Nestled in the corner between, a wicker side table with a fresh coat of teal paint rests upon a detached corner of the blanket on the floor. The two front table feet sit atop crocheted coasters. On top of a green placemat “rug” sits a miniature glazed ceramic living room set: a couch with a flax-seed-filled fabric cushion, floor lamp, side table and lucky bamboo plant. A brass locket with a photograph of 公公 and a hand carved maple wood hair barrette sit on the couch together.

2. Sitting on the Couch Together

Mixed media. 2020

Placemat/rug, glazed ceramic miniature couch, side table, floor lamp, and lucky bamboo. Flax-seed-filled red cushion, brass locket, carved maple wood hair barrette.

3. 鸡蛋番茄 Recipe Tray

Cherry hardwood, fabric, plastic, tomato, egg, scallion, salt, sugar. 15” x 21”. 2018

Oblong, rounded, wooden tray with handles on either side has indentations of various shapes. There are removable, spoon-like objects of the same material fitting just right into each of their respective places. The shape of each ‘spoon’ corresponds to and holds an ingredient used to make a commonly eaten, popular Chinese dish.

4. Leftovers 01 (From Last Night’s Dinner)

Leftovers, trimmings, remnants, extras, hardware. 14” x 14”. 2018

Daikon radish medallions connected with jump rings, carrot peel flower, ginger slice earrings, scallion root, mung beans in a glass jar, stained egg shell half, tiny soy sauce bottle, rice noodle bundle bound with embroidery thread all sit on a bed of rice. They shrivel and dry out over the course of the afternoon.

5. Tiny Kitchen

Ceramic stoneware with clear glaze. 3” x 4”. 2018

A tiny tea pot with a tiny lid that comes off sits next to a tiny mug with a tiny handle.

The tiny stove has a tiny towel draped over the door handle and a tiny wok sitting on the stove top.

A tiny bowl of noodles has a tiny egg and a tiny pair of chopsticks.

There is also a tiny stock pot and a tiny ladle for the pot, a stool for tiny sitting and a tiny apple pie.

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1. “I’m Gonna Let It Shine”

Poem and music © 2020 by Toussaint St. Negritude

“Greetings Dear Co-Survivors of Covid 19. Here’s a bit of hope, vision, clarinet and poem for all our heroic transitions through this storm. Wishing us all health of breath, health of mind, and health of soul, I wish us all blessings towards another beautiful day. PEACE!”

“I’m Gonna Let It Shine”

I stand on the banks of tomorrow
and my soul looks vast and wonders

how in the world
any other vision could ever be so fine.

I stand on the banks of tomorrow
and my soul looks vast and wonders

to which flowing glory
shall I rise divine.

I stand on the banks of tomorrow
and my soul looks vast and wonders

my feet may be bound
by the shores of a current denial

but with this little light of mine
I can fly like a bird in the sky.

I can fly like a bird in the sky.
I stand on the banks of tomorrow

wondering how in the world
any other vision could ever be so fine.

2. “A Sweet Date Of My Own”

I invited myself to dinner.

It was such an honor to be asked.
I love to cook for myself.
Tonightʼs dish is a derivative of multiple sources: lots of affirmation
on a wild bed of sheer gratitude
peppered with a generous hand of raw satisfaction
creating a particularly scrumptious blend of joy and
kisses all simmered in a one pot compendium of loving
forces topped with a courageous garnish
of personal resolve.

I love to cook for myself.

Thanks for coming.
Thanks for being.

Letʼs do this again.

© 2019 by Toussaint St. Negritude

3. “Rise and Shine (Or Seven Steps To Going Rogue)”

Place your spirit above your head.

Gently step forward
leaving all boundaries behind you.

Leap mountainously towards your highest aspirations.

Land each foot squarely upon the high forest floor.
Position your emancipation as the basis of all steps

With your stars beaming thusly

rise and shine the vastness of your own pristine
wilderness… summoning your freedoms

to blossom as foretold.

© 2019 by Toussaint St. Negritude

Veronica has been drawing and doodling since childhood. She believes that her past contributes to her artwork. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and arrived in the U.S. at age seven. Her past experiences as a child in the Russian orphanage system led to her yearning for a brighter reality. Veronica believes that her drawings reflect both her desire to escape the earlier surroundings of her childhood and her current experiences as an observer and hiker in nature.

At age 17, Veronica was accepted into the Early College Program in Performing Arts at Castleton University where she is currently in her sophomore year. Veronica plans to follow her undergraduate studies with pursuit of a law degree focusing on family law and the protection of children’s rights. She wants to help and be a role model for children facing adversity in their own lives.

Veronica is also an actor, singer, musician and dancer. Whether leading a Brazilian Samba band, starring in the Rock River Player’s production of The Fantasticks or opening for the headliners at the Vermont Ukulele Harvest Festival, the style, the smile and the energy is always pure Veronica.

Learn more at Veronica’s website.

1. No Place Like Home

Watercolor pencil and ink. 9 x 12. 2020

“The sun and the moon in the daylight and night sky represent the long, or seemingly long, journey home.  I love the expectation of seeing my family and pets when I arrive.  As they say, ‘The best part of going is getting there!'”

2. Honey Moon

Watercolor pencil and ink. 9 x 12. 2020

“The interplay of reality and fantasy permeates my drawings and this piece is no exception. Look closely—the dripping honey moon shines over a couple on their honeymoon.”

3. Celestial Dream

Watercolor pencil and ink. 9 x 12. 2020

“This drawing illustrates how colorful, out of place, and nonsensical dreams can be. Some aspects of this drawing such as the color palette and the landscapes, come directly from my childhood dreams”

4. Tree of Life

Watercolor pencil and ink. 5 x 5. 2020

“I like to make my drawings intricate enough that I can pull out a portion of the original and have it stand alone. This mandala-like design is the focal point of a larger watercolor pencil and ink drawing.”

5. Ethereal Escape

Watercolor pencil and ink. 5.5 x 8.5. 2021

“Sometimes I like to play with the juxtaposition of simplicity against exquisite detail—in this case, the marked contrast of the stark, leafless tree against the geometrically patterned mountains in the background and the flowers, mushrooms, crystals and cairn in the foreground.”

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Shani has performed with Queen City Cabaret, Paint Cabaret, Green Mountain Cabaret, Capital City Queens, The Vermont Comedy Club, Vermont Pride, and has been a featured performer in drag showcases in Boston, Massachusetts, in addition to a growing number of virtual events.

He has been a featured guest on Vermont Public’s Vermont Edition, where he joined host Jane Lindholm and State Rep. Taylor Small to discuss Vermont’s evolving drag scene.

Recently, Shani was selected by the Emmy-nominated HBO docuseries We’re Here to represent the state of Vermont as part of GLAAD’s 2020 Get Out The Vote campaign.

This past year has given Shani the opportunity to redefine what it means to be a performance artist in rural Vermont. He hopes to use this platform to continue building creative relationships with other artists and performers in his community.

All gallery items are self-portraits.

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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.

Over the past 40 years, TwoTrees has received and shared teachings with the input, support and guidance of many indigenous elders. Through her work Practice for Living, Living Practice she continues to offer these teachings and practices through divinations, coaching and retreats. She has shared this work with individuals, communities and organizations (schools, healthcare, prisons, social change) as well as in cross cultural mediation.

Cai has been giving Chinese cultural and arts performances and individualized instruction for three decades, presenting for early childhood through college-level adults. She has been the organizer and leader of a study abroad program in China for high school students. Her residencies have included statewide arts events, public and private schools, homeschooling, summer programs, teacher training workshops, community festivals, online Zoom classes, the Vermont Studio Center, and an Emily Harvey Foundation residency in Venice in 2021. With a grant from Vermont Community Foundation, Cai designed and produced a program and book on student art and poetry inspired by Chinese characters. Envisioning kitchen-as-studio, the food and meal as art, Cai also explores food as healing and the Chinese Five Elements. She has worked in film, theatre and television doing scenic painting, costume, make-up and stage design. Her versatility in artmaking includes traditional Chinese brush, ink and calligraphy, abstract performance action painting, luminous landscapes, monumental portraits,  mixed media installations, and socially engaged art.

Cai’s Earth and Sky series has been inspired by the New England landscape and openings to the wide sky: “Since the early eighties, I have been playing with abstraction in my painting, which allows me to explore my emotion more freely. Since 2001, I have been with the beauty of the Vermont landscape. In the past 20 years, nature has taught me that my idea, desire and style are not important. Contemplating nature through painting is a way for me to acknowledge Nature’s gifts to us humans. There is a feeling of completely melting into each painting, an ongoing prayer for peace on Earth.”

Her live action painting, performance art, and art happenings have been presented on Vimeo, YouTube, in Boston and Manchester, Vermont, and in Brattleboro on the New England Youth Theatre stage, and filmed live for Brattleboro Community TV and in New York on WNYE. Cai has her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Collaborating with Brattleboro Museum, Cai was featured in the historic exhibition ‘Hot Pot: A Taste of Contemporary Chinese Art’, a panelist for ”˜Food As Artistic Expression’, and designer of ”˜Art As Food As Art’ museum dining and making one’s own edible art. Cai was featured on NPR’s ‘State of the Re:Union’, and in SevenDaysVT Food Annual.

The landscapes from the ”˜Earth and Sky’ series are presented and for sale at, and all her other artwork is presented and for sale through C.X. Silver Gallery.

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admin-place January 14, 2021