IN RESIDENCE 2020 Vermont College of Fine Arts ALUMNX MAGAZINE
inside this issue Faculty View: YOON SOO LEE Life After the MFA: JENN BAILEY, JAMES CURRY, UKAMAKA OLISAKWE Remote Gatherings Yield Connections Partnership & Community Class News
Prakash Wright on piano (’20 MC), Ethan Foote on bass (’20 MC), and Keith Butler, Jr., on drums (’22 MC) perform in the February 2020 Composer Performer Showcase.
Features 4 Art on Campus 10 Connection in Place 12 Remote Gatherings 18 Faculty View YOON SOO LEE
20 Partnership & Community 22 Life After the MFA
IN RESIDENCE 2020
Vermont College of Fine Arts
JENN BAILEY JAMES CURRY UKAMAKA OLISAKWE
43 Remembering Ralph Angel
Alumnx Focus 3 President’s Letter 6 Program Highlights 14 Faculty News 25
LIKE MINDS by Vanessa Littrell (’19 MC)
28 Class News 43 Above: Photo by Fred Bubbers (’19 W)
On the cover: “Hope Soon” by Dannell MacIlwraith (’17 GD)
44 Giving at VCFA 48 Report of Gifts
Angela Paladino design
Sian Foulkes Foulkes Design contributing writers
Cathy Donohue Cameron Finch contributing photographers
Stefan Hard Brittany Powell
Volume 8, Number 1 © 2020
VER MO N T COLLEG E OF FI NE A RTS 36 College Street Montpelier, VT 05602 firstname.lastname@example.org www.vcfa.edu
Dear Alumnx Community, Lately, when I talk to friends on the phone or run into neighbors at the grocery store (staying appropriately distanced) I often get remarks like, “Quite a time to be running a college!” or the more blunt question, “If you had known then what you know now, would you have still taken the job?” The answer is a definite “yes.” I could never have predicted a pandemic, or the challenges it would bring to our small arts college, when I accepted the president’s role in December, but addressing the ongoing crisis with this community has been remarkable and gratifying in so many ways. In our mission statement we commit to continuously redefining what it means to be an arts college. The reality of the pandemic has catapulted all of us—faculty, staff, students, and alumnx—into doing that in a profound way. We all know connection is paramount to the creative process. With avenues for in-person workshops, exhibitions, musical performances, readings, and film screenings closed since March, our community sprang into action.
We all know connection is paramount to the creative process. Faculty and staff began brainstorming and reimagining residencies: our Graphic Design program led the first remote residency in April, and by mid-August Music Composition had delivered our seventh. Director of Alumnx Affairs Jericho Parms and graduates from our writing programs organized virtual readings and book launches; our exhibition committee, led by Visual Art Program Director Thatiana Oliveira, live streamed a dynamic and engaging artist talk to celebrate the on-campus exhibition of alumnx work we had to cut short; our Graphic Design program hosted a virtual lecture event highlighting seminal research and scholarship by our faculty and alumnx on missing chapters in the history of Black graphic designers. Director of Development Libby Johnson quickly recognized the need for increased scholarship funds because of COVID and, with incredible support from faculty and alumnx, launched Connection in Place, a month-long event providing our community with a chance to connect through virtual lectures, performances, interviews, and readings while also raising an additional $50,000 for tuition assistance. Crises stress organizations, particularly small ones like ours. They compel a distillation of values and priorities that often requires hard choices, but also uncovers opportunities and highlights strengths. Even in the midst of this pandemic, or perhaps because of it, we are extremely optimistic about our future. We have tested the strength of our low-residency model to successfully provide outstanding arts education offering quality mentorship and high value during a crisis. We have seen what can be accomplished when an institution invests in and builds the support of a strong community at its core. We will continue to harness the innovative energy this pandemic has unleashed and apply it to broader questions of how we move forward as a leading arts college serving the needs of the next generation of artists. It is not an exaggeration to say that each staff and faculty member and so many alumnx dug deep and poured their heads, hearts, and hands into recreating what it means to be an arts college over these last many months. My gratitude is deep, and yes, I couldn’t be happier that I said “yes” to continue to lead this amazing community. As we look to the future, we will continue to practice reflection and thoughtfulness as we chart our path forward, knowing that fostering the excellence of artists means fostering the critical work of connecting us all in service of our greater humanity.
Sincerely, Leslie Ward (’16 W) President
Art on Campus 4 :: art on campus
Since 2017, VCFA has mounted a series of exhibitions separate from those held during residencies. Participation in these exhibitions has included VCFA alumnx, faculty, current students, and staff, as well as artists from the wider community, including alumnx of the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson.
The most recent exhibition, in winter/spring 2020, was “Either I Woke Up, or Come Back to This Earth”, featuring the work of three VCFA alumnx: A_Marcel (’18 GD), Melissa McClung (’18 F), and Corey Pickett (’17 VA). The exhibition considers how we mediate the past—through the potency of objects, digital and physical archives, and ever-reaching technologies—to contend with our present conditions. Video is a common medium among all three artists, and they use their videos to confront issues of immigration, gentrification, racism, nostalgia, and more. Their approaches are absurd, supernatural, surreal, and arresting. Additionally, the show featured two pieces from Pickett’s Revolver series of soft sculptures. Posed facing each other in the center of the College Hall Gallery, a gauntlet through which visitors must walk, the large, soft guns cast ominous shadows on the wood floor. These artists exhume the past to mobilize the future, making tools of playfulness and humor to challenge histories of political violence and the anaesthetic of nostalgia. The work nudges (or pushes) us to wrestle with past worlds, while we co-imagine and hurtle forward to new ones.
In fall 2019, the Exhibition Series presented “Gender Riot,” curated by Sheila Pepe and featuring work from 14 artists from the VCFA community and beyond, including alumnx from the Visual Art and Graphic Design programs.
“We all work from our own subject position and thus, reveal—intentionally or not—what we know, how we think, and what we see in the world. We all share the condition of gender in a society that demands a clear expression from each individual. In this context many of us intentionally make work that addresses our experience of gender, both as an embodied, subject/self, as well as one acting in, and formed by enculturation.”—Sheila Pepe
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VCFA Exhibition Series Participating Artists And now it’s not just the semiannual, month-long exhibitions and days-long residency shows that enliven our campus: thanks to MFA in Visual Art Program Director Thatiana Oliveira and the Exhibition Committee there is a rotating gallery of student and alumnx art gracing the halls and rooms of many VCFA buildings. The Dewey Cafeteria, the College Hall third-floor east hallway, and other sites feature this work throughout the year. Additionally, the College Hall elevator now has its own soundtrack drawn from the work of the MFA in Music Composition program. You can hear the soundtrack even when you’re not riding up and down College Hall by visiting tinyurl.com/y2t4o83a. The Exhibition Committee is hard at work matching more student and alumnx work with more locations on campus, so stay tuned for further developments. You can learn more about their ongoing work by visiting the Art on Campus page at vcfa.edu/art-on-campus.
Either I Woke Up, or Come Back to This Earth winter/spring 2020 A_Marcel (’18 GD) Melissa McClung (’18 F) Corey Pickett (’17 VA)
Gender Riot fall 2019 Sheila Pepe, curator Todd Bartel Heidi Blunt (’21 VA) Kim Darling (’10 VA) Feral Fagiola (’20 VA) Angela Grossmann Amy Jenkins Vincent Kral (’20 VA)
Kayla Leach (’20 VA) Dannell MacIlwraith (’17 GD) A_Marcel (’18 GD) c. marquez (’18 VA) Anastaci Pacella (’19 VA) Andrea Ray Marcy Rosenblat (’10 VA)
Program Highlights 6 :: program highlights
While 2020 was not the year anyone expected, VCFA’s academic programs have shown themselves to be models of creativity and adaptability. Amid changes and challenges, the programs have brought on brilliant new faculty members and visiting artists, launched new initiatives and collaborations, and hosted virtual events that help keep this community together despite the physical distance.
MA in Art & Design Education The spring brought tremendous challenges to Art & Design Education students, as they struggled to adapt to teaching K–12 students virtually in response to COVID-19 school closures, while juggling the demands of the master’s program. Many were forced to radically change their Capstone research plans when they left their classrooms in March. The class of 2020 graduated in July, presenting truly impressive Capstone work that showcased their incredible versatility as art educators and highlighting the core work of the program. In summer 2020, the remote residency format allowed guest artist-educators BROOKE HOFSESS and WILLIAM ESTRADA to join the program for two rich workshops: “Correspondence and Care as Artful Activism” and “Radical Acts of Solidarity.” The program maintained the studio component that faculty and students look forward to each summer by shipping art kits, with materials for each workshop, around the country, and by building open studio time into each day’s Zoom schedule. ADE rolled out its first virtual professional development series in July as a beta test to explore ways to share the program’s work at the intersections of art, education, social justice, and public pedagogy with a wider audience. Moving forward, in an effort to extend the reach of the program, recruitment of new students will pause while staff and faculty assess and explore more affordable models of sharing the content and pedagogy of the program with a greater number of educators.
MFA in Film In fall 2019, the MFA in Film program welcomed three new faculty members: LUIS GUZMAN, GUY MADDIN, and RISA MICKENBERG. Faculty and guest screenings included LATE NIGHT (with Executive VP at FilmNation MIKE JACKMAN), 900 DAYS (with faculty JESSICA GORTER), THE GREEN FOG (with faculty GUY MADDIN), and HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING (with filmmaker RAMELL ROSS), and sound designer SYLVAIN BELLEMARE presented a lecture. During the remote residency in spring 2020, an array of special guests joined the residency, including DARREN ARONOFSKY, STEVEN BOGNAR, HAMPTON FANCHER, TAMARA JENKINS, HEIDI LEVITT, ALISON MACLEAN, TERENCE NANCE, JULIA REICHERT, ADRIENNE WEISS, and RICH WONG.
Alumnx BRAD HECK (’19) joined the staff as MFA in Film Program Director in August 2020. He is a co-founder of Haptic Pictures, a production company that focuses on social justice, and he has years of experience as a filmmaker, producer, educator, and administrator. Opposite, top: Teal Doggett, MFA in Graphic Design thesis exhibition (detail), Fall 2019
MFA in Graphic Design
Just after the spring 2020 residency, SEREINA ROTHENBERGER joined NIKKI JUEN as Faculty CoChair, taking over for DAVID PEACOCK, who had served as co-chair since fall 2016. The visiting designers at the fall 2019 residency were ROBERT BRINGHURST and JESSICA BELLAMY. Bringhurst is known to most designers and typographers as the author of The Elements of Typographic Style, a beloved book that is now in its fourth English edition. International speaker, Adobe Creative Residency alumnx, and awardwinning infographic designer Jessica Bellamy was also a guest designer at the residency, where she floored everyone with her knowledge, passion, and kindness. She later wrote a powerful piece on her experience visiting the program at medium.com/@jessicabellamy.
MFA in Music Composition The MFA in Music Composition program launched a dedicated YouTube channel where visitors can hear the full range of genres and approaches to new music that students explore at VCFA. Another new venue for sharing student and alumnx work is the Elevator Music Project. The elevator in College Hall now features the sounds of captivating performances from the program, with more than 70 submissions from students, alumnx, and faculty. In summer 2019, guest ensembles included HUB NEW MUSIC, KYLWYRIA, and ANNA’S GHOST. In winter 2020, the program welcomed JOANNE HARRIS, The Housewarming Project’s JEREMY SISKIND, and
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As the first program to hold a remote residency in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MFA in Graphic Design paved the way for all the programs whose residencies came afterward. While there were a few glitches along the way, the April 2020 residency was a success overall, and featured esteemed visitors the DESIGN JUSTICE NETWORK (DJN) and STEVEN HELLER. Members of the DJN Steering Committee shared stories of graphic design projects from moments of crisis and reflected on these stories through the lens of the DJN Principles. Participants then had an opportunity to examine and analyze current design relief efforts around the COVID-19 pandemic. Steven Heller, one of the most distinguished writers and historians in the field, led a town-hall style discussion and fielded questions from the audience based on his books and scholarship.
AARON WYANSKI (’15) as guest presenters and THE HOUSEWARMING PROJECT, INVOKE, and MOBIUS PERCUSSION as visiting ensembles.
August 2019 brought the launch of the first-ever MFA in Music Composition alumnx mini-residency. Twenty alumnx attended, with representatives from the very first class to the most recent. Learn more about the Music Composition AMR on page 25.
MFA in Visual Art During the summer 2019 and winter 2020 residencies, the MFA in Visual Art program welcomed an exciting slate of visiting artists and scholars, including CAROLINE WELLS CHANDLER, SANTIAGO ECHEVERRY, LARA EVANS, RICH HOLSCHUH, MARK JEFFERY, NILS KARSTEN (’03), SHANA LUTKER, ELANA MANN, ALLYSON MITCHELL, SHAW OSHA (’09), and PAUL ZALOOM. The artist-in-residency for the summer 2019 residency was interdisciplinary artist and writer GELARE KOSHGOZARAN, and for winter 2020 the artist-inresidency was interdisciplinary artist KATE-HERS RHEE. KATE DONNELLY (’18) took over as Exhibition Coordinator, and the program welcomed ESHRAT ERFANIAN as a core faculty member. The first group
of students attended a newly restructured postgraduate semester launched in winter 2020. During the College Art Association’s (CAA) 2019 conference, the MFA in Visual Art program and the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) co-hosted “In Conversation: Faith Wilding and Mira Schor.” The event included a reading and book signing for Faith Wilding’s Fearful Symmetries, a retrospective of 50 years of Wilding’s work edited by Shannon R. Stratton and published by Intellect in early 2019. In September 2020, Thatiana Oliveira became the MFA in Visual Art Program Director. She had served as Assistant and then Associate Director of the program since October 2016.
Program Highlights 8 :: program highlights
MFA in Writing In 2021, the MFA in Writing program will celebrate 40 years since its founding. In 2019–20, the program recruited five new faculty members: poets PARNESHIA JONES and PHILIP METRES, fiction writer HASANTHIKA SIRISENA, and creative nonfiction writers ELENA PASSARELLO and TERESE MARIE MAILHOT. The VCFA Reads selection for 2019 was American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin, 2018) by TERRANCE HAYES, and for 2020 it was The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (Riverhead, 2018) by FRANCISCO CANTÚ. Visiting writers included EMILY BERNARD (CNF, winter 2020), CHEN CHEN (poetry, winter 2020), DEWAINE FARRIA (’19) (fiction, summer 2020), VIEVEE FRANCIS (poetry, summer 2020), DIANA GOETSCH (’12) (poetry, winter 2020), TERRANCE HAYES (poetry, winter 2019), GARRETT HONGO (poetry, summer 2019), KIESE LAYMON (CNF, summer 2020), SYDNEY LEA (poetry, winter 2020), CARMEN MARIA MACHADO (fiction, winter 2019), TERESE MARIE MAILHOT (CNF, winter 2019), JENNY OFFILL (fiction, summer 2020), WENDY C. ORTIZ (CNF, summer 2019), KIRSTIN VALDEZ QUADE (fiction, winter 2020), LIARA TAMANI (’10) (fiction, winter 2019), AMY WALLEN (’14) (CNF, summer 2019), and SUNIL YAPA (fiction, summer 2019).
MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults The winter 2020 WCYA residency featured visiting writers PADMA VENKATRAMAN and CHARLES R. SMITH JR., both of whom got students thinking about the body, body language, and movement in their stories. ANN DÁVILA CARDINAL (’07 W) presented the 2020 Darrow Lecture, titled “Writing from the In-Between: Navigating Identity as a Writer Between Worlds.” The program was also thrilled to have alum GILBERT FORD (’15) as visiting illustrator, sharing details about his processes as a writer and an artist with Picture Book Intensive students. During the same residency, DEBORAH MARCERO, a writer and illustrator of books for young readers, joined the ranks of recent new faculty including COREY ANN HAYDU, ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE, and JENNIFER ZIEGLER, who all started at VCFA in July 2019. In summer 2020, WCYA welcomed nonfiction writer LOREE GRIFFIN BURNS and writer and editor DEB NOYES (’93 W) to the faculty as well. Loree and Deb joined in with enthusiasm for the program’s first-ever remote residency. Without the space constraints of campus dorms, the program brought on a record 15 graduate assistants for the summer residency, supporting 25 faculty and over 120 students with technological know-how and great humor. A silver lining of being fully online this summer is that VCFA was able to connect with its sister program in Bath Spa University for a series of lectures from BSU faculty including DAVID ALMOND, LUCY CHRISTOPHER, and MARCUS SEDGWICK. BSU and WCYA students also participated together in genre discussions, something WCYA hopes to continue as both programs learn more about the wonders of Zoom. In addition to wonderful visiting writers and accomplished new faculty, WCYA also kicked off a new academic project this winter. On top of lectures and workshops, students are now taking part in seminars. Seminars are hands-on, craftfocused experiences where student interaction is encouraged and faculty get to teach in new and exciting ways. The winter seminars were a smashing success (the comment heard most was “MORE, PLEASE!”), and the program will be featuring them in all future residencies. Finally, due to COVID-19, the program stepped in to help graduates and current students who had books come out in an uncertain spring by hosting Book Birthday Parties via Zoom. Participants read from their recent releases and answered questions about their books and their craft. They were such a hit that the program will continue them this fall. Be on the lookout for emails about how to attend these monthly events!
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MFA in Writing & Publishing In fall 2019, VCFA launched the Certificate in Publishing, a one-semester, 16-credit program that allows writers and professionals to gain experience and insight into the creative writing publishing industry. New faculty included IBRAHIM AHMAD, TAVIA GILBERT, JEFF KLEINMAN, CAITLIN LEFFEL, KELLY MCMAHON, ROB SPILLMAN, AND JANAKA STUCKY, along with existing MFA in Writing & Publishing faculty. In addition, the Writing & Publishing program welcomed a number of new faculty: FRANCES CANNON, ARIEL FRANCISCO, AMAHL RAPHAËL KHOURI, RUBEN QUESADA, ELISSA SCHAPPELL, DAVID SHIELDS, JANAKA STUCKY, and DAVID HESKA WANBLI WEIDEN. Filipina writer MICAH DELA CUEVA was the recipient of the 2020-2021 Emerging Writer Scholarship, the program’s most distinguished merit-based scholarship, providing free tuition and a housing stipend for one student in each incoming class. The program once again offered its series of Community Enrichment Writing Classes for central Vermont residents, led by student fellows REBECCA JAMIESON (’20) and VIRGINIA BOOTH (’21) and featuring Writing & Publishing students as volunteer instructors in courses focused on writing poems, essays, stories, and travel blogs. Over two years, the series has had 115 registrations from community writers engaging in classes. When VCFA’s operations went online in response to COVID-19, the MFA in Writing & Publishing program moved its Friday Night Reading Series online, too. Four
readings were held on video conferencing platforms. These readings remained open to the public; in fact, public attendance was higher than ever! Online readers included KENZIE ALLEN, DAVID HESKA WANBLI WEIDEN, ERIKA T. WURTH (March 27); ANN DÁVILA CARDINAL, DEBOTRI DHAR, SEAN PRENTISS (April 17); TRINIE DALTON, YI SHUN LAI, CARVELL WALLACE (May 1); and the MFA students in their end-ofsemester reading (May 14). In order to better serve students with increased flexibility and affordability, starting in June 2021 the academic content of the Writing & Publishing program will be offered through VCFA’s low-residency MFA in Writing Program. Director Rita Banerjee and and Hunger Mountain Editor Erin Stalcup will be working with MFA in Writing faculty to transform the outstanding multi-genre and publishing curriculum that students have enjoyed into the lowresidency format.
Connection in Place This May, the VCFA community came together to connect, learn, give, and share as we launched a series of remote engagement events called “Connection in Place.” The Connection in Place campaign also provided opportunities to support scholarships for VCFA students affected by COVID-19; together, we raised more than $50,000! All month, we streamed readings, performances, lectures, interviews, artist talks, and other events to connect with our VCFA community even as we were “sheltering in place” around the globe. We extend our deepest gratitude to the students, alumnx, faculty, staff, and friends whose generosity made Connection in Place possible possible (listed below), as, as well everyone who tuned in. Will Alexander Kathi Appelt ’82 Rafael Attias ’15 Tricia Thibodeaux Baar ’06 Beth Bacon ’06 Jenn Bailey ’16 T.A. Barron Marion Dane Bauer Susan Berardi ’18 Martha Brockenbrough Tami Lewis Brown ’06 Charles Bunting Cynthia Carau ’20 Ann Dávila Cardinal ’07 Mo Charles ’19 George Colis Valerie Colis Sarah Crow ’20 David Daniel Meredith Davis ’11 Debbie Dunn ’06 Eshrat Erfanian Harrison Candelaria Fletcher ’06 Folio Literary Management Mary Foulk ’20 Pamela Galvani ’14 Sondra Graff ’15 Joan Grubin ’03 Katie Gustafson Caitlin Gutheil Rachael Hatley ’13
Dwight Hilson ’15 Michael Hogan Jonathan Bailey Holland Natalia Ilyin Mario Inchausti ’18 Luis Jacob Jeniah Johnson ’19 Nikki Juen ’16 Carla Kihlstedt A.S. King Edna King & Cara Armstrong Samuel Kolawole ’19 Ravi Krishnaswami Uma Krishnaswami Viê.t Lê Yoon Soo Lee Jacqueline Lipton ’16 Vanessa Littrell ’19 A_Marcel ’18 Cory McCarthy ’11 Melissa McClung ’18 Shawn McSweeney ’20 Matthew & Tammy Monk Donald Moss Silas Munro Anne Myles ’21 Leanne Pankuch Beverly Parayno ’09 Katherine Paterson Corey Pickett ’17 Wendy Powell ’15
Gigi Priebe ’21 Helen Pyne ’11 Humberto Ramirez Debra Rook ’19 Jill Santopolo ’08 Liz Garton Scanlon Susan Schmitt ’19 Sue William Silverman ’88 Ingrid Silverstein ’08 Louise Simone ’04 Jackie Smith-Nielsen Linda Stillman ’03 Anne-Marie Strohman ’20 Laura Tonwe Heidi & Jim Tringe Dr. Dori Tunstall Sarah Twombly ’12 Nance Van Winckel Janyth Vaughn-Gruler ’10 Yvonne Ventresca ’22 Megan Vered ’17 Bridget Verhaaren ’22 Jeff Wiggins ’09 Faith Wilding Vicki Wittenstein ’06 Aaron Wyanski ’15 Roger Zahab Rosamond Zimmerman ’16 Stanley Zumbiel ’08
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Remote Gatherings Yield Surprising—and Surprisingly Rich—Connections 12 :: remote gatherings
Just three weeks before the start of the spring Graphic Design residency, COVID-19 safety concerns and international travel bans upended residency plans, requiring it to be reconfigured into a remote experience. The Film residency as well as the monthly Writing & Publishing Reading Series both followed suit. While the shifts were unprecedented, the results have been remarkable. “We approached it from a mindset of ‘what are the opportunities that this limitation imposes on us and how can we make the most of it,’” said Matthew Monk, VCFA Academic Dean and MFA in Graphic Design faculty. The Graphic Design team, along with VCFA’s IT department, led the way in moving seven days of in-person shared learning and community building to a remote format. “VCFA was at its best, with everyone so committed to seeing it work. The Graphic Design residency itself was really smooth, with just a few hiccups to figure out while underway,” Monk said. Using Zoom, Slack, and Google Drive in combination with “graphic designers who are trained to see new ways to cultivate relationships” led the remote format to feel “super-close to what we do on campus,” said GD Faculty Co-Chair Nikki Juen. “To be in a space where education is this agile is groundbreaking.”
There were some surprising experiences, too. Take, for example, the Graduating Thesis Critiques held via Zoom. Juen says of the experience, “A Zoom critique, while not perfect, allowed us to be creative with the pedagogy, which was unexpected.” There was also greater participation. “In person, it can get overwhelming in a group of 60 [to offer comments],” said Juen. “But in a private space, there’s a chance to think and write, and it was easier for more to participate.” Some of the longer GD Zoom events included 15-minute breaks during which the connection stayed open for chatting. During a quiet moment, a student asked if she could read a poem and grabbed a book of Poe when all responded with a resounding “yes!” It was well-received, Monk said, and afterward he reached out to the MFA in Writing & Publishing for student poetry to be read aloud during breaks—an activity that also built a bridge between these two programs. Remote readings have connected the MFA in Writing & Publishing and the low-residency MFA in Writing as well. Writing & Publishing’s Friday Night Reading Series gathers writers, students, faculty, and guests each month—usually on campus in Café Anna and now via a remote format. “The remote series has led to some cross-pollination between the Writing and This page: Class photos look a little different in spring 2020. Here, the MFA in Graphic Design class of spring 2022 strikes a pose.
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W&P programs,” said Lizzy Fox, then MFA in Writing & Publishing associate director. The series is attracting students, faculty, and alumnx from both programs, Fox said, along with past readers and friends and family members of the readers, too, as distance is no longer an impediment to attending. “People from all over the world can tune in—and are!” ssaid Rita Banerjee, director of the MFA in Writing & Publishing. And as writers draw their wider community to the readings, more of the public gets to learn about VCFA programs as well, she said. The revised format has also altered the feel of the events. Before, the readings were followed by snacks and networking time, Banerjee said, while the virtual format is “more democratic and participatory, like an online salon,” with structured Q&A conversations after the readings. The MFA in Film, too, discovered the silver lining of altered schedules: “Guests who wouldn’t have been able to participate [in the Film residency] because of the logistics of travel to Vermont and busy schedules found it easier to say yes,” said Nina Davenport, Faculty Chair of the MFA in Film. The film screenings showcased this, with directors and producers offering their time and actors unexpectedly joining in. For instance, actor Kathryn Hahn “Zoombombed” the discussion with Tamara Jenkins, writer and director of PRIVATE LIFE, and actor Jackie Chung joined the conversation after the screening of COMING HOME AGAIN. Director Darren Aronofsky led a Q&A about his movie PI, with actor Sean Gullette joining in as a surprise guest. The residency also included more guests than might be possible to accommodate in a typical schedule because of the ease of moving from session to session via Zoom, Davenport said. Before the residency began, then Program Director Carol Beatty worried about creating community: “Will a bunch of Zoom sessions feel contrived?” she wondered. But she found that “community happened because of the way students were able to interact, to see each other’s work, to hear faculty feedback, and to join in. There’s a strong sense of ‘place’ with VCFA and the ‘place’ is the campus, but it’s also the group of people that come together,” said Beatty. Film alumnx, too, were invited to participate, and “faces popped up [on Zoom] who were from the first Film cohort, which was really nice,” Davenport said. The remote Film residency was “surprisingly successful and fulfilling, and students were really happy to connect and felt inspired to do their work at the end of it,” Davenport said. “But in-person is the way to go,” she added. Nikki Juen would agree. “Under the circumstances of a pandemic, we were able to sustain the community in what felt like a value-added way. I don’t want it to be permanent, but it worked really well. We will use what we learned when we get back to campus.”
Learn more at: vcfa.edu/remote-residencies-at-vcfa. This page: A nature walk via Zoom during the Graphic Design residency, a Q&A with PRIVATE LIFE filmmaker Tamara Jenkins during the Film residency, and the spring 2020 Film graduation.
faculty news 14 :: faculty news
RITA BANERJEE’S (WP) essay “American Caste” was published in the inaugural issue of Isele Magazine, a literary journal founded by Ukamaka Olisakwe (’20 WP) and edited by Tracy Haught (’20 WP), Rebecca Jamieson (’20 WP), Amara Okolo (’21 WP), and Cameron Finch (’19 WP). In February 2020, Banerjee was interviewed by Vermont Public Radio for the feature segment “Representation & Writing: Who Gets to Tell Whose Story?,” and her interview “Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump: A Conversation with David Shields” appeared in The Nervous Breakdown in June 2020. Her essay “The Female Gaze” is forthcoming in print and online from PANK in spring 2021. Iterant magazine featured her poetry in their August/September 2020 issue, and her interview and work will appear on the Ruth Stone Foundation podcast this autumn. Banerjee also served as a judge for Sustainable Montpelier’s 2020 “What Comes Next?” Writing Competition.
MARTHA BROCKENBROUGH (WCYA) published a picture book, This Old Dog, on Levine
Querido in 2020. A paperback update of the hardcover version of Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump was released by Feiwel & Friends in 2020. Also in 2020, Scholastic released Bigfoot Wants A Little Brother, a book for young readers. In 2021, Martha will publish four books: Frank and Sunny, a chapter book from Levine Querido; I Am An American: The Wong Kim Ark Story, a nonfiction picture book from Little Brown; Artificial Intelligence, a YA nonfiction book from Feiwel & Friends; and an untitled YA fantasy novel from Scholastic.
MICIAH BAY GAULT’S (WP)
accepted a new teaching assignment as Assistant Professor in English/ Creative Writing at CalState University East Bay. She notes that she just relocated to the Bay Area from Joshua Tree and encourages NorCal VCFA alumnx and current students to reach out. In December 2019, Los Angeles art gallery The Pit published Dalton’s book of miniessays and fictions, Destroy Bad Thoughts Not Yourself, a limited risograph edition for which she made typography and collage in each text.
short story “Ferry” appeared in the spring/summer 2020 issue of The Harvard Review. The May/June 2020 issue of Poets & Writers included Gault’s essay “Young and Adorable: Rewriting the Narrative of Women Writers’ Success,” in which she reflects on her writing career and the cultural myths about success, youth, and appearance that women writers must navigate. Gault’s debut novel, Goodnight Stranger, was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Awards in the Novel category. DOUGLAS GLOVER’S (W) essay collection The Erotics of Restraint: Essays on Literary Form was published by Biblioasis in
New faculty member LOREE GRIFFIN BURNS’ (WCYA) picture book, You’re Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration, was released by
Charlesbridge in 2020. She has two picture books forthcoming from the same publisher: Come on a Dragon Hunt: Studying Your Insect Neighbors and Honeybee Rescue: A Backyard Drama. FRANCES CANNON’S (WP)
SAMUEL “BLITZ” BAZAWULE (F) was named a Guggenheim Fellow for 2020. He and this year’s other winners were selected from a pool of nearly 3000 applicants.
TRINIE DALTON (W&WP)
essay “‘Sandorkraut’ and the Truth about Rot” was included in the summer 2020 issue of Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies. The piece is an interview with fermentation maestro Sandor Katz. She also had work published in Poetry Northwest, North American Review, Ethel Zine, and Well Poetry Review in 2020. Her most recent book is Walter Benjamin Reimagined: A Graphic Translation of Poetry, Prose, Aphorisms, and Dreams (MIT Press, 2019), and Predator/Play is forthcoming with Ethel Press in 2020. LAURA COLELLA’S (F) film
BREAKFAST WITH CURTIS made it onto Barbara Scharre’s “Top Ten List of the Decade” on rogerebert.com.
JOHN FITZ ROGERS (MC)
released a recording and video of the new composition “Under Strange Stars” on YouTube in January 2020. The piece was performed by the University of South Carolina percussion ensemble. ABBY FRUCHT’S (W) Maids
was named a finalist or semifinalist for the Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose, the Slope Editions Book Prize, the Marie Alexander Poetry Series, the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, and the Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize, before being published by Matter Press in January 2020. Sergio Troncoso, author of Crossing Borders and A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son, has this to say: “Abby Frucht’s prose poems, Maids, read like metastable stories flickering in and out of time, testing questions on race and class in a quivery narrative then and now. I loved the experience of reading and re-reading Maids for this new form of life they create on the page.”
August 2019. Several of the essays began as lectures at VCFA. The Fiction Writers Review published an interview about the collection, “A Barbarian on a Pillaging Expedition: An Interview with Douglas Glover,” by Benjamin Woodard (’12 W) in November 2019. A major essay about Glover’s career and work written by Bruce Stone (’02 W) was published in 3:AM Magazine in July 2019. In April 2020, the Los Angeles Review of Books published “A Genealogy of Style: A Conversation with Douglas Glover,” in which English critic Victoria Best interviews Glover on his short story-writing process. In July 2020, the LA Review of Books published Glover’s essay “All the Sad Clowns: On Francis Carco’s Novel Perversity.” LOUISE HAWES’ (WCYA) YA novel Big Rig is forthcoming in 2021
from Peachtree Publishers.
on Simon Pulse in 2020. A middle grade book, One Jar of Magic, is forthcoming with Katherine Tegen books in 2021. BARBARA HURD’S (W)
LUIS JACOB’S (VA) book Form Follows Fiction: Art and Artists in Toronto will be published in
October 2020 by Black Dog Press in partnership with the Art Museum at the University of Toronto.
essay “Haunted by the Future” was published on Terrain.org in January 2020. This piece was a collaborative work with photographer Michael O. Snyder. Published in the summer 2020 issue of Orion magazine, Hurd’s essay “Sinking into the Arctic” explores the High Arctic and asks what it means when so much of what we thought stable begins to wobble.
NATALIA ILYIN (GD) released a new book, Parallel Narratives, the
result of an ongoing undergraduate assignment that Ilyin and Elisabeth Patterson give in their co-taught, junior-level course of the same name at Cornish College of Art and Design. This class unearths and examines stories of design that did not gain entrance into the current, commonlytaught “canon” of design history.
poem “Black Orchid” was reprinted in Turn It Up!: Music in Poetry from Jazz to Hip-Hop, edited by Stephen Cramer, from the Sundog Poetry Center and Green Writers Press. “Black Orchid” has also been translated into Chinese by Hungya Yen and is forthcoming in an anthology of jazz poetry from China’s Dark Eyes Publishing. VARIAN JOHNSON (WCYA) published Twins (Graphic Lit/MG)
with Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic in 2020, who will also release Ant (MG) in spring 2021. Faculty Co-Chair NIKKI JUEN (GD) spoke at Design + Diversity Chicago in August 2019. Nikki presented alongside some of design’s most inspiring luminaries, including past VCFA Guest Designer Sadie Redwing. A.S. KING’S (WCYA) novel Dig.
received the 2020 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. A new book is forthcoming from Dutton in 2021.
In October 2019, DAVID JAUSS (W) was a featured writer on The Short Story Project. Two of his stories were featured: “Glossolalia” and “Torque.” “Glossolalia” also appeared in The Lascaux Prize, Vol. 5, edited by Camille Griep, Stephen Parrish, and Wendy Russ, from Lascaux Books in 2019. Jauss’ story “Firelight” was reprinted in Home: An Anthology, edited by William Burleson, from Flexible Press in 2019. Jauss’ essay “The Flowers of Afterthought: Premises and Strategies for Revision” was published in Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts in February 2020. “A Conversation with David Jauss,” an interview conducted by Vivian Dorsel (’06 W), appeared in Upstreet No. 16 in summer 2020. Also in 2020, his
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COREY ANN HAYDU (WCYA) published the YA novel Ever Cursed
In May 2020, Finishing Line Press released Take Five, a book of prose poems by RICHARD JACKSON (W), Deborah Brown, Susan Thomas, Barbara Carlson (’90 W), and Laura Baird. A chapbook of Jackson’s work in the Strays series by Foundlings Press will be published in fall 2020. Where the Wind Comes From, a collection of monologues spoken by Biblical characters speaking to our own political and social ills, is due out on Kelsay Press in March 2021.
BRIAN LEUNG’S (W) novel Ivy vs. Dogg: With a Cast of Thousands! was nominated for a
2020 Indiana Authors Award and has been included on the fiction shortlist. BRET LOTT (W) published an excerpt from the novel Save Me a Place in the November 2019 issue of Ascent. Cherries on the Golan, Olives in Jerusalem, a
work of nonfiction, is forthcoming in 2021 from Slant Books. Lott has two essays forthcoming: “Sabbath” in Brevity, May 2021, and “Genesis” in The Best of Brevity, ed. Dinty Moore and Zoë Bossiere from Rose Metal Press, 2020. He also judged the 2020 River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. IAN LYNAM (GD) has been
JANE KURTZ’S (WCYA) book for young readers Urban Chicken Romp is forthcoming from West
promoted to the rank of Associate Professor at Temple University Japan. He also was a winner of the 2019 STA 100 for his 112-page booklet, Visual Strategies for the Apocalypse. Contributors to the project include faculty members Natalia Ilyin, Nikki Juen, Yoon Soo Lee, Matthew Monk, Dave Peacock, and Lorena HowardSheridan, and alumnx Matthew Scott Barnes (’17) and Michael Scaringe (’15). Awarded by the Society of Typographic Arts, the award recognizes “the 100 best examples of typographic excellence produced each year.”
faculty news PATRICK MADDEN (W) published Disparates, a new
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collection of “disparate” personal essays, with University of Nebraska Press in April 2020. The book includes collaborations with featured guests and plentiful borrowed forms (eBay auction, Elements of Style, wordsearch puzzle, and more). Guiding the book is the principle that what seems frivolous or nonsensical is often subtly important and more effective than rhetorically direct engagement with issues. Humor and cleverness abound in surprising and joyful ways.
Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan in 2020, as was Miss Meteor, co-authored with Tehlor Kay Mejia, on HarperTeen. Another YA book, The Mirror Season, is forthcoming on Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan in 2021.
New faculty member DEB NOYES (WCYA) published We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P.T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman (YA) with Candlewick Press and A Hopeful Heart: Louisa May Alcott Before Little Women (MG/YA) with Random House Studio (formerly Schwartz & Wade) in 2020.
ADAM MCOMBER’S (W) second novel, Jesus and John, was
SEAN PRENTISS (WP) published Crosscut: Poems with
published by Lethe Press in May 2020.
University of New Mexico Press in February 2020. The book is a memoirin-poems about Prentiss’ time leading a trail crew in the Pacific Northwest. Prentiss also co-edited the collection The Science of Story: The Brain Behind Creative Nonfiction, published with Bloomsbury Academic in February 2020. The collection draws on the latest developments in cognitive neuroscience and includes a diverse range of writers responding to this question: What can contemporary brain science teach us about the art and craft of creative nonfiction writing? Prentiss was the resident poet for Backcountry Magazine, and he has been awarded a Bride Fellowship to visit European wildernesses once the pandemic subsides. Prentiss also runs a textbook series through Bloomsbury Publishing. He has a new textbook, Advanced Creative Nonfiction: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology, coming out in 2021. Further, the textbook series has three new books under contract that deal with fiction, fantasy, and professional writing skills.
ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE’S (WCYA) YA novel Dark and Deepest Red was released on
New faculty member DEBORAH MARCERO (WCYA) released In a Jar, a picture book she wrote and illustrated, on Putnam’s Sons/ Penguin in 2020, and Haylee and Comet is forthcoming from Macmillan in 2021. She has three books of graphic literature forthcoming in 2022, for which she will be author and illustrator. CORY MCCARTHY (WCYA) published the YA novel Sword in the Stars (co-authored with new
KEKLA MAGOON (WCYA) has five books forthcoming: The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy
(illustrated by Laura Freeman) from HarperCollins in 2021 (PB); Until All Are Free: The Black Panther Party’s Call to Revolution from Candlewick in 2021 (MG/YA); and three graphic novels in The Blue Stars Series (written with Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Molly Murakami) from Candlewick— Mission One: The Principal Problem in 2022, Mission Two: The Community Crisis, and Mission Three: (TBA).
faculty member Amy Rose Capetta) with Little, Brown in 2020. A picture book, Hope Is an Arrow: The Story of Lebanese American Poet Kahlil Gibran, is forthcoming from Candlewick in 2021. Three books in the middle grade B.E.S.T. series are forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Ace Takes Flight, B.E.S.T. World Book 1 (2021), Some Assembly Required, B.E.S.T. World Book 2 (2022), and one more as yet untitled, B.E.S.T. World Book 3 (2023).
Shrapnel Maps, PHILIP METRES’ (W) fourth book of poems, was published by Copper Canyon Press in April 2020. Metres was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2020 in the field of poetry. He will be completing a book of poems dealing with human migration and the search for refuge and home. TOMAS Q. MORÍN’S (W) memoir, Let Me Count the Ways,
is forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press in 2022. The book explores Morín’s relationship to mental illness, fatherhood, and growing up in a small Texas town surrounded by poverty and drug abuse. SILAS MUNRO (GD) has been
promoted to the rank of Associate Professor at OTIS College of Art & Design. He also participated as a Typographics 2020 Conference speaker and served as jury member for the much-lauded design competition 50 Books, 50 Covers, held by AIGA.
CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH’S (WCYA) Hearts Unbroken
for young readers, was released on National Geographic in 2020.
received the 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Award (Young Adult category). Cynthia also launched Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint, with Rosemary Brosnan at HarperCollins Children’s Books. Launching in winter 2021, Heartdrum will offer a wide range of innovative, unexpected, and heartfelt stories by Native creators, informed and inspired by lived experience, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. Smith is anthology editor for a middle grade collection, Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, forthcoming from Heartdrum in 2021. Heartdrum will also release Smith’s middle grade book Sisters of the Neversea in 2021. Three graphic novels in The Blue Stars Series (written with Kekla Magoon, illustrated by Molly Murakami) are forthcoming from Candlewick, as well: Mission One: The Principal Problem in 2022, Mission Two: The Community Crisis, and Mission Three: (TBA). Candlewick will also publish Smith’s Truth Be Told (YA) in 2022.
SEREINA ROTHENBERGER (GD) and DAVID SCHATZ (GD)
(dba Hammer) have joined the faculty at the Jan Van Eyck Academy. NATASHA SAJÉ’S (W) book of personal essays-memoir, Terroir: Love, Out of Place, is forthcoming
in November 2020 from Trinity University Press.
LIZ GARTON SCANLON (WCYA) published three picture books in 2020: Thank You, Garden
with Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, Frances in the Country with Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, and Full Moon Pups with Putnam/Penguin. Two other picture books—Would You Come, Too (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster) and I Want A Boat (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House)—are forthcoming in 2021.
SUE WILLIAM SILVERMAN’S (W) fourth memoir, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences, was published
by University of Nebraska Press in March 2020 and was named as one of “9 essay collections feminists should read in 2020” by Bitch Media. Silverman held virtual events in support of the book’s release, including a Virtual Book Club event hosted by AWP and an online group reading with fellow VCFA faculty members and University of Nebraska Press authors Patrick Madden and Robin Hemley. How to Survive Death… was included in the list of “The Best of the University Presses: 100 Books to Escape the News” in May 2020. HASANTHIKA SIRISENA (W) was awarded The Gournay
two books forthcoming on Atheneum Books for Young Readers: Almost There and Almost Not (MG) in 2021 and School for Santas (working title) (YA) in 2022. ROBERT VIVIAN’S (W) collection of dervish essays, All I Feel Is Rivers, was published by University
of Nebraska Press in March 2020 and was featured in The New York Times Books’ New & Noteworthy section.
DAVID HESKA WANBLI WEIDEN’S (WP) novel, Winter Counts, was released in August 2020
by Ecco/HarperCollins. The book tells the story of Virgil Wounded Horse, a hired enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, was chosen as a Best Book of August by Amazon and Apple Books, and was an Indie Next Great Reads Selection for September.
Prize given by The Ohio State University Press/Mad Creek Books for her essay collection, which will be published by The Ohio State Press/ Mad Creek Books as part of The 21st Century Essays Series in fall 2021. The collection features lyric, braided, personal, and graphic essays exploring themes of immigration, identity, and loss. This is her second book.
FAITH WILDING (VA) had three
DAVID SHIELDS’ (WP)
film, LYNCH: A HISTORY, the documentary film directed by DAVID SHIELDS (WP), is now streaming at Amazon Prime. First Look Media, and Sundance/AMC. Hua Hsu of The New Yorker called it “the culmination of Shields’ career...a gradient of American carnage.”
LINDA URBAN (WCYA) has
NOVA REN SUMA (WCYA)
was co-editor and co-author for a YA anthology, Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA, released by Algonquin in 2020.
works on papyrus included in the ecofeminist exhibition, “Earthkeeping / Earthshaking,” in the municipal gallery of Lisbon, Portugal, from July through October 2020.
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MARY QUATTLEBAUM’S (WCYA) Hedgehogs, a book
Faculty View Art as a Practice of Love and Joy A conversation with Yoon Soo Lee, Graphic Design You are loved. You are not alone. These are the messages that Graphic Design faculty Yoon Soo Lee wishes to share—not only in her own creative work and her pedagogy, but with every cell of her being. In a time when isolation and distancing reign at large, Yoon Soo’s message is all the more impactful and necessary. But according to Yoon Soo, love, just like art, is an ongoing practice. “I love the word ‘practice’ because it is both an action as well as a description. It is a process-oriented word and is
generous and forgiving,” she says. “The idea of ‘practice’ doesn’t judge a book by its cover and doesn’t assess a human of their worth by its portfolio or resume.” The word practice came to Yoon Soo when she began painting in 2003. She found herself in need of a title for her seriesin-progress. “I realized the work was about love. And about how to practice love. Not the Hollywood love, but all the other types of love. The kind that feeds your spirit and creates a hospitable environment for you to grow and flourish,” she says. Her series of paintings, “Practice Love,” is the manifestation and meditation of her process as an artist. Colors materialize and migrate like petals whirling in wind, like bubbles rising to the water’s surface, as Yoon Soo constructs and deconstructs her identity on the canvas. In her artist statement, she says, “My paintings
are the outcome and by-product of my pursuits. These pursuits include: finding a balance in contradiction, finding harmony in chaos, finding where the contemporary and history coexist—breathing the same air, living, dying, and re-birthing within the same space. Pursuits to try and understand crimes, punishments, redemption, and love. Mistakes and how to fix it. The relationship between surface and the underlying history of love, surviving, being, dominance, giving in, giving up, letting go, moving on, and returning home. I honor process like I honor time.”
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“I love the word ‘practice’ because it is both an action as well as a description. It is a process-oriented word and is generous and forgiving”
with her students at her home institution. Although the world felt overwhelmingly antagonistic for many of her formative years and early adulthood, she says that through learning with her students she finds meaning and joy. “It is the desire to connect with these humans that fuels a large part of why I share what I make.”
After a decade of painting and practicing love, then came the joy. “Or my resistance to joy,” Yoon Soo counters. She confesses that for a long time, she thought that to laugh was to be shallow or idle. “But joy is to celebrate. Joy is to be grateful. Joy is to be connected. With other creatures, humans and with earth,” she says. “Practice joy does not conform, is not contained, is resilient to ridicule and sarcasm.” In a capitalist society where both art and success are governed by “productivity,” Yoon Soo’s practice joy is her daily dedication to hope, love, and resilience.
Yoon Soo says of the VCFA community, “When I first walked into the culture of VCFA, I was asked to come as myself—my full self as a designer, artist, writer, critic, mother, friend, partner, Korean, American, and woman. I didn’t have to compartmentalize myself into a smaller version of myself to make others comfortable. And as much as I have wanted to be seen my entire life, there is also something terrifying in being seen. Every time I come back to VCFA, I practice being a whole human and meet other whole humans to share, laugh, cry, think, and feel.”
Practice joy and practice love are also at the heart of her method of teaching. Yoon Soo, who has been a Professor of Art and Design at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth since 2001, shares practice joy and practice love
A published scholar and presenter of pedagogical principles and practices, Yoon Soo encourages her students to dive into their own humanity and empathy. “My approach to education is to interview the students. Education has very little to do with what I know and think. It has everything to do with what the learner thinks, feels, and wants to learn more about. The course of study during an MFA is learning how to learn. The format I give my students is simple: DO, MAKE, THINK.” She explains: “DO is our connection to the outside world. MAKE is our connection to our bodies. THINK is the meaning-making part of our endeavors.” With these three steps, Yoon Soo invites her students to practice their own kind of connection with themselves, their communities, and the great flow of time itself. Stemming from her study of the role of relationships and dialogue in the classroom and in the artistic process, Yoon Soo’s teachings always circle back to her home base of love. In an attempt to resist traditional educational systems that rely on art and design students to forever “prove themselves,” Yoon Soo emphasizes the need for love. By gathering life stories. By witnessing them and honoring them. She says: “I believe the next step of our evolution is to postpone judgment. To postpone judgment with love and hope.”
Partnership & Community 20 :: partnerships & community
We all know we can’t do it alone. Even when the best thing we can do for our community is stay home by ourselves, it takes collaboration from all of us to make that happen and keep the world safe. It also requires collaboration from those of us who can’t stay home, in order to keep things running safely and smoothly. Partnerships are vital to our health and happiness, and they’re also vital to uniting the wideranging VCFA community. In the past year, VCFA has developed partnerships with four media platforms and arts organizations: 88 Cups of Tea, Filmwax Radio, the Poetry Society of New York, and the American Literary Translators Association. All these content-driven partnerships provide a loudspeaker for alumnx success.
Ranked in the top 15 in iTunes literature podcasts, 88 Cups of Tea is an online platform and podcast for creative writers. In partnership with founder Yin Chang, over the past year VCFA has featured podcasts and published essays from over a dozen alums of our WCYA program, including Victoria Wells Arms (’19), Julie Berry (’08), Linda Camacho (’14), Amy Rose Capetta (faculty &’12), Kekla Magoon (faculty & ’05), J. Albert Mann (’17), Yamile Mendez (’17), and more. In Chang’s words, “We’re spotlighting their experiences in a transparent and heart-driven way. From topics exploring the art of writing and the heart of writing, to carving sacred writing time and breaking out of creative blocks, to the specific steps of craft; there are stories that will resonate, guide, and uplift every Storyteller in our community.”
Adam Schartoff, founder and host of the Filmwax Radio podcast, interviews faculty and alumnx from the MFA in Film on the show in an ongoing partnership with VCFA. Guests in the past year have included Ian Cheney (’18), Nina Davenport (faculty), Brad Heck (’19), Amy Hesketh (’18) pictured below, Michel Negroponte (faculty), Michael Staffieri (’17), George Nicholas (’18), and Jason Rosenfeld (’18). Filmwax Radio has been spotlighting the independent film community since 2011, with over 400 episodes produced so far.
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In summer 2019, VCFA sponsored the annual New York City Poetry Festival, presented by the Poetry Society of New York. Sponsorship included a prominent festival stage reading featuring four alumnx of the MFA in Writing program: Victorio Reyes Asili (’14), Lizzy Fox (’17), Diana Goetsch (’12), and Patricia Spears Jones (’92). Fox deeply valued the opportunity to share the stage with fellow alumnx, noting, “It was exciting to spend time with poets from across many of MFAW’s graduating classes—some of whom I knew and others I had never met before.” For Reyes Asili, “Starting from the moment the ferry took off towards Governor’s Island, I felt the energy of the NYC Poetry Festival. What an honor it was to represent VCFA on stage at this venue, where countless literary heavyweights have shared their work over the years. This was yet another moment where I learned that being an alumnx of VCFA meant not simply holding a degree from an institution but being a member of a genuine literary fellowship, one that is strongly connected to the much larger world of literary arts.” Another partnership providing opportunities for alumnx and faculty to present their work was the American Literary Translators Association’s ALTA42 Conference held in November 2019. As a conference sponsor, VCFA was invited to feature a panel of alumnx and faculty who presented “‘Translation is Writing,’ or, Where Literary Translation Meets Creative Writing.” Panelists included Patty Crane (’04 W), Evan Fallenberg (’01 W), Allison Grimaldi-Donahue (’16 W), A. Anupama (’12 W), and Tomás Q. Morín(faculty).
While the future of academic and industry conferences is unknown, we continue to value our partnerships and the opportunities they offer to our faculty and alumnx. And no matter where you are, you can catch up on great articles, stories, and interviews on 88 Cups of Tea and Filmwax Radio. Our strong, collaborative community knows that a little thing like distance can’t really keep us apart. This page: Winter 2019 MFA in Visual Art residency exhibition (detail), Felice Gittelman (‘20 VA)
Jenn Bailey(’17 WCYA)
Believes in the Power of Kindness How do we find our friends? Who will make a good one? And what do we do if we don’t find a friend right away? These are just a handful of questions that are at the core of Jenn Bailey’s newest picture book, A Friend for Henry. Winner of the ALA Schneider Family Honor Book Award and recently named a 2020 Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Book of the Year, A Friend for Henry tells the quietly compelling story of a young boy on the autism spectrum who, on a particularly difficult school day “full of too close and too loud,” discovers kindness and understanding in the form of a new friend. “It is a story about acceptance,” Jenn says, “of ourselves, of those who form our community, and of those who become very close and special to us. We don’t have to have everything in common with our friends, and everybody may not be a perfect fit in our lives. But we can always be kind to each other.” Jenn mentions that she is often asked why she does not explicitly state in the book that Henry is on the spectrum. “Because that isn’t what Henry would tell you about himself,” Jenn says. That’s the power of perspective. Because the story is told from Henry’s point of view, his world is defined through his thoughts and observations, not by his diagnosis. Jenn continues, “He doesn’t do things in a certain way because he has Asperger’s. He does things a certain way because he is Henry. I needed to keep that very much front and center as I told his story.” The character of Henry is especially significant to Jenn, as one of her own children has autism too. “For a number of years, I had an idea about writing a picture book from the perspective of a child on the spectrum,” Jenn says. “I wanted to give that child a voice and let him be seen by his peers. I wanted to do it well and I wanted to do it honestly.” The MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults was the supportive community that Jenn needed in order to find Henry’s voice…and her own.
“Going to VCFA was definitely one of my better life choices,” Jenn says. During her time in the MFA program, Jenn worked with faculty Kekla Magoon, Alan Cumyn, David Gill, and Shelley Tanaka, all of whom Jenn says made her “adventurous,” “bold,” “thoughtful,” and “vulnerable–in the best way.” Her creative thesis was a multi-genre compendium, consisting of a YA novel called Once, a short story, and a picture book, which became A Friend for Henry. Jenn says that she has plans to return to the YA novel, but for now she is developing several new picture and chapter books. Like Henry, it is in the lifelong writing friends she met at VCFA where Jenn found joy, motivation, and gratitude. “Writing is solitary enough,” she says. In this year of quarantine, Jenn encourages the new class of graduates to heed this advice: “Remember how good it felt to come to residency, immerse yourself in stories, and share time with the people who understood what it’s like to create them? So, keep doing it. Keep connected.”
life after the mfa
22 :: life after the MFA
“We don’t have to have everything in common with our friends, and everybody may not be a perfect fit in our lives. But we can always be kind to each other.”
“A great movie can broaden the mind, enlighten, and make us more compassionate.” 23 :: vermont college of fine arts
Illuminates Hope Through Film “When we were kids, Brian and I would create mixes called masterjams. Masterjam is a term I use to describe my state of mind after losing my brother, mother, and father,” says Minnesota-based filmmaker James Curry in his documentary film, MASTERJAM. “Brian, this one’s for you.” MASTERJAM is an autobiographical investigation into the death of James’ brother, Brian, who was described as “the glue that held everything together.” Through interviews with his relatives, James attempts to make sense of the circumstances of Brian’s suicide and the role that music, prescription drugs, and mental illness have played in his family’s life. As the family’s “unofficial historian,” James had accumulated years of “home video” footage, all of which he reencountered as he began to piece together the facts leading up to Brian’s death. “Sifting through footage was both therapeutic and traumatic. It was bittersweet to rummage through content of loved ones and reminisce. I really only knew one way to unpack it all, and that was to just dive in. I tried to create enough safe space at home and work to allow myself to deal with any emotions the process brought up,” James says. “It was always my intent to face what may’ve been suppressed since the five or six years that had passed between his death and my investigation.” Early encouragement from MFA in Film faculty member Michel Negroponte was critical, James says. “[Michel’s] patience in allowing my indulgence in lengthy and unfocused assemblies was generous, and MASTERJAM wouldn’t be the same without our collaboration on narrative, structure, and voiceover.” In addition, learning from the work of his fellow students was transformative for James’ growth as a filmmaker. “The program’s greatest attribute was the latitude allowed for failure and the luxury to follow one’s own muse,” James says, referring to the liberation and perspective he received from the program’s low-residency model.
After graduating from VCFA in 2017, James completed MASTERJAM and entered it into various film festivals. The film earned numerous awards, including “Best Documentary” at the Twin Cities Black Film Festival in 2018 and “Chairman’s Choice” at the BEA on Location Creative Competition 2019 in Boulder. Festival organizers and viewers alike have praised James’ work for its bravery, courage, approach, and structure, and many of the post-viewing Q&A sessions have jumpstarted intimate conversations around grief and loss. The Denton Black Film Festival, where James’ film was featured as a 2019 Official Selection, convened a panel around MASTERJAM, social justice, and the stigma of mental health in the Black community. James is currently working on a new restorative justice piece about the ongoing racial reconciliation between the predominantly white town of Hastings, Minnesota, and the descendants of the Black pioneering families who founded the town; it’s a piece that pulses with everincreasing urgency after the death of George Floyd. Through this important work, James hopes to explore Minnesota’s systemic segregation and the “collective generational trauma” that stems from it. Roger Ebert once said that a movie is “a machine that generates empathy.” For James, “a great movie can broaden the mind, enlighten, and make us more compassionate,” and the filmmaker brings that hope and desire for understanding into every project he sets his mind to. MASTERJAM is no exception.
life after the mfa
James Curry (’17 F)
Photo: Camilla Motta
Ukamaka Olisakwe (’20 WP)
Is Carving Space for Women to Be Free and Speak Freely Ogadinma Or, Everything Will Be All Right, the newest
novel by Ukamaka Olisakwe, is already being praised as “a modern feminist classic in the making.” Released in September by UK-based publisher The Indigo Press, the novel introduces readers to Ogadinma, a naïve and trusting teenager battling against Nigeria’s societal and sexual expectations in the 1980s. The idea for the novel was the result of a conversation between Ukamaka and her cousin on how marriage and childbirth stunt a woman’s growth. “This is a sensitive topic in my community, especially because many of our mothers, even the women in my generation, including me, married when we were only teenagers,” Ukamaka says of her upbringing in Nigeria. “All we knew was how to be daughters to our fathers, then wives to our husbands, and later mothers to our children. Many of us couldn’t carve a space for ourselves within all these stories, couldn’t explore our potentials aside from being caregivers; many will never know what it feels like to live on their own terms, to be selfish.” For Ukamaka, writing Ogadinma provided her the opportunity to ask herself, “Who am I outside of my marriage?” Although Ukamaka didn’t begin writing until 2010, she says that storytelling is “what I have always wanted to do, what I am built to do.” Ukamaka first left Nigeria and came to the US in 2016 when she was awarded a writing fellowship by the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Then in 2018, she won the VCFA Emerging Writer Scholarship and enrolled in the MFA in Writing & Publishing program. “Vermont has been a joyful journey for me,” Ukamaka says. Life in Montpelier allowed her the “necessary distance to confront some of the stories I ordinarily wouldn’t have dared to write at home.”
Working closely with program director Dr. Rita Banerjee and faculty member Erin Stalcup, Ukamaka composed a brand new book for her thesis—a novel that was inspired by her experiences with childbirth, postpartum depression and complication, and motherhood. “I have always wanted to tell this story in full, to change the single story of childbirth and motherhood I grew up hearing,” Ukamaka says. “It took a lot of courage to tell this story, and I hope that when the book eventually goes out into the world it will stir more conversation about what happens to the body of a woman after her child is born.” Since graduating in May, Ukamaka has continued to amplify the necessary stories of mothers and their bodies. She recently launched The Body Conversation, a digital initiative dedicated to “women who have had children, those who want to have children, and everyone who wants to learn a few things about what happens to the woman’s body before, during, and after childbirth.” In the fall, Ukamaka will begin her next chapter in the PhD in English program at the University of South Dakota, where she will instruct creative writing courses as part of a teaching assistantship.
life after the mfa
24 :: life after the MFA
“I have always wanted to tell this story in full, to change the single story of childbirth and motherhood I grew up hearing.”
The Music Composition Alumnx Mini-Residency by Vanessa Littrell (’19 MC) 25 :: vermont college of fine arts
In my final semester of the MFA in Music Composition there were many conversations about collaboration. As we planned for graduation, and strategized for the “afterlife” or post graduation, promises were made and contact information exchanged: And then real life set in, sending us towards the everpresent pull of family, work, and other interests. The glow of creating art threatening to dim itself as unattended tasks or forgotten naysayers reappeared in our foreground. I won’t dare to speak for everyone, but there are many reasons art takes a back seat once the MFA is in hand. And yet, just as the tides of indifference, apathy, or lack of time and space were threatening to suffocate, there was a text, or a post, or a real, live phone call bringing the magic of VCFA back into focus. This is the true collaboration. Yes, we can make awesome songs together, and sometimes we do. But the greater influence, the greater gift, is this sense of being a community. I call it the grand puppy pile of artists. What we have in common is a need to create art. And sometimes just the mere mention of our times at VCFA is enough to reenergize that creative force. That is what brought me to the Alumnx Mini-Residency event in August 2019: setting the intention to reconnect, to have real conversations about the business side of art, and to commune with like minds. I could regale you with the minutiae of what we did in our sessions. We sculpted our artist statements, created new elevator speeches, looked at our websites through different lenses, and helped each other find our greatest strengths as artists. This alone was worth the trip back to VCFA. And then there were side conversations with faculty. These moved beyond the stress of trying to meet performance deadlines and into the juicier know-how of applying art to life. Reconnecting with our mentors allowed whole new exchanges about searching, connecting, collaborating, pulling it all together. Over soup, on the way to a lecture,
I had many invaluable conversations about creating space for art and continuing a network of support. These talks were the most valuable asset to this event: the unquantifiable experience of saying “yes” to art and “yes” to supporting each other. Following through on promises to stay in touch, I have had multiple conversations and accountability sessions with other alumnx since the event. Jenny Davis (’18), Tiffany Pfeiffer (’19), and I have been strategizing how to support each other as female recording artists. We meet every five weeks and are working on a business plan. [Editor’s note: The result, Three Penny Records, has since launched. Read more about it on pages 39 & 41.] Jan McBride (’19) and I meet monthly to recap our work or general “arty” thoughts. This is essential as we reinvent ourselves in the professional realm. Carl LaMark (’19) and I connect to discuss what we are doing, and where it goes next. We share our perspectives on musical theater— what works, what doesn’t. Nick Creed (’19) has come to my studio several times to help with vocal arranging and assist with male vocals on my demo projects. With his assistance, we reworked one of the duets from my musical into a beautifully emotional piece. All of these interactions help my work stay fresh and invigorated. It is these collaborations born of the VCFA alumnx mini-residency that I hold dear. These are the fruits of my alumnx connections. These are the rewards of spending time with like minds. Vanessa Littrell is a vocalist and composer who sculpts with lyrics and melody. Carefully crafted in the traditions of folk, rock, and popular music, her work taps into the audience’s imagination, coaxing them to lean in a little closer. Always looking for a new experience, she has dabbled in traditional, abstract, choral, spoken word, techno, symphonic, political rant, and lullabies.
Detail view of thesis exhibition by Suzi Cozzens, fall 2019
At VCFA this past year we’ve learned a lot about what it means to meaningfully pivot—to turn or change direction, to alter course—while effectively maintaining our connection and commitment to our community of alumnx artists. As VCFA’s program residencies shifted to remote formats in 2020, we’ve been grateful for the opportunity to invite more alumnx to tune in and engage with residency content. In lieu of gathering at conferences and hosting regional events, we’ve been thrilled to connect with many more of you in alternative virtual spaces as we launched alumnx reading events, micro-lectures, and artist talks. In the coming year, as we continue to enhance communications and maintain opportunities to connect virtually, we also look forward to renewing our in-person programming. Last summer and fall we hosted alumnx mini-residencies for the Music Composition and Writing for Children & Young Adults programs, both of which drew an inspiring showing of graduates to campus. We are eager to welcome more of you back to VCFA and to meet you in your own cities when circumstances allow us to gather again.
I’ve come increasingly to believe in the ways in which VCFA is a grounding point for a growing network of artists across the country and the world. The following Class News is a representation of the many alumnx accomplishments that show just how wide-ranging and robust this community of artists truly is, and just how well many of you have responded in your own ways to a fast-changing social and professional landscape, maintaining creative focus and connection to your fellow artists as you celebrate album releases, screenings and exhibitions, new publications, awards, and other achievements. Despite the ways we may find ourselves pivoting, what has consistently—and most certainly—held true is the strength of our VCFA alumnx community. In that sense I’m acutely aware that the word pivot is not just a verb, it is also a noun—a central point or fulcrum on which a mechanism turns. I’ve come increasingly to believe in the ways in which VCFA is a grounding point for a growing network of artists across the country and the world. Your willingness to show up to support each other and the programs we all hold dear is what keeps VCFA innovative and invigorated as we pivot and turn as needed, and as we all continue forward.
Thank you for being part of this community.
Jericho Parms (’12 W) Director of Alumnx Affairs
27 :: vermont college of fine arts
During an historic year marked by cultural movement and a global pandemic, a word that has been floating around a lot is pivot.
class news 1983
28 :: class news
Alison Deming’s (W) newest book, The Sardine Dress, will be released by Counterpoint Press in fall 2021. It is a nonfiction work of environmental and cultural history ranging from the fisheries of the Canadian Maritimes to the artisanal dressmakers of NYC, speaking of micro-habitats of human making that have faded or are fading away. Deming received a Guggenheim Fellowship that funded the research and writing of this book.
Richard Lutman (W) published Creek Bait, a collection of 14 short stories, with New Meridian in January 2019. Red City Review called it “everything a short story collection ought to be: impressively varied; compulsively readable; and displays a natural writer’s talent for capturing plot, tone, and character quickly, as short fiction requires.”
Susan Aizenberg’s (W) new chapbook, First Light, was published in July 2020 in a limited, fine arts letterpress edition by Gibraltar Editions. New poems also appear or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, SWWIM, and On the Seawall. In November 2019, Aizenberg taught two one-day poetry workshops at the Iowa Writers’ House in Iowa City.
D. Kathryn (Kronemeyer) Pressman (W) published Where the Light Gathers, a historical novel about Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi, in October 2019 with Delphine Books. Alumnx and former faculty member Chris Noel (’88 W) edited the book.
Nancy Jensen’s (W) second novel, In Our Midst, was released by Dzanc Books in April 2020. Drawing upon a long-suppressed episode in American history, when thousands of German immigrants were rounded up and interned following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the book tells the story of one family’s fight to cling to the ideals of freedom and opportunity that brought them to America.
On October 7, 2019 Irene Zabytko (W) participated in a panel at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute of Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies called “Envisioning Ukrainian Literature 2019: Versions and Demarcations, Part II,” in which she and four other writers discussed the current and future state of Ukrainian literature in the American diaspora and beyond.
Phyllis Barber’s (W) newest book, The Desert Between Us, was released by University of Nevada Press in April 2020. The Chicago Review of Books chose the book as one of its top ten picks for reading in the month of April 2020. Barber was faculty in the MFA in Writing program at VCFA for 19 years.
Mark Fleckenstein (W) planned to publish a new book of poetry, A Name for Everything, in June 2020 with Çervená Barva Press. The publication date has been postponed due to COVID-19, but the book is forthcoming.
Bill Walsh’s (W) newest book, Fly Fishing in Times Square, was released in January 2020 by Çervená Barva Press.
Judith Chalmer (W) published her second poetry collection, Minnow, with Kelsay Books in February 2020. Sue D. Burton (‘96 W), author of Box, called it “affirmation...ritual, a thanksgiving for the natural world and for love,” and Steel author Alison Prine raved, “Sensuous, vivid, and richly detailed, Minnow wakes us to the urgency and grace of natural landscapes and intimate connections.”
Laurie Kuntz (W) was nominated for Poetry Breakfast magazine’s Best of the Net poetry award for her poem “Self Portrait.” Kuntz also had poems published in 50-WordStories, iO Magazine, and Roanoke Review Anthology. Moira Linehan’s (W) third collection of poetry, Toward, was published by Slant Books in June 2020. Her other two books, If No Moon and Incarnate Grace, were published by Southern Illinois University Press.
Dale Boyer (W) published Justin and the Magic Stone with OhBoy Books January 2020. This children’s book, with 54 gorgeous illustrations by Dan Holder, is ideal for “tween” readers and adults who love children’s books. Sally Stiles’ (W) sixth book, Like a Mask Dancing: A Tanzanian Story, was released by Pale Horse Books in April 2020. The story unfolds as Anna Chadwick discovers and responds to what she encounters living in a rural Tanzanian village.
And Luckier, Leatha Kendrick’s (W) fifth collection of poems, was released by Accents Publishing in April 2020. She notes that her time in the MFA in Writing program “made my poetic self possible in so many ways. I will always be grateful to Mark Cox, Sydney Lea, Jack Myers, and Leslie Ullman for their brilliant and compassionate teaching.”
Brad Davis (W) has had poems published in Presence, LETTERS, Rock & Sling, and Fielder’s Choice Magazine in 2020, including one that was a finalist for the 2020 Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. Elizabeth Powell (W) published her fourth book, Atomizer, with Louisiana State University Press in September 2020. The LSU catalogue says of the poetry collection, “A work of fearless social satire and humorous yet painful truth, Atomizer offers a cultural, political, and sociological account of love in the present moment.”
Vincent Zandri’s (W) newest standalone thriller, The Girl Who Wasn’t There, will be released in hardcover by Oceanview Publishing in October 2020. Oceanview will also be publishing the New York Times bestselling author’s novel Paradox Lake in 2021. Zandri, who was nominated for an SMFS Derringer Award in 2019, is also the editor for The Big Cheat, a short hard-boiled mystery anthology for Down & Out Books, published in fall 2019. Down & Out Books also published his standalone crime novel Deadly is the Night in spring 2020.
Jabberwock Review published Jody Lisberger’s (W) story, “Animal Teeth,” in summer/fall 2019. In March 2020, Lisberger gave a presentation at the Northeastern Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Annual Conference in Boston called “Plutonium: The toxic silences and illusions behind patriarchal notions of safety and remediation, as exposed in Sharma Shields’ 2019 novel, The Cassandra.” She’s currently revising a novel called You Don’t Know the Half of It and compiling a story collection called House Pets and Other People.
Deb Hall (VA) participated in “Futurespective”, an exhibition of multimedia installations exploring the process of DesignInquiry as a collective practice of thinking and making, at Maine College of Art in OctoberDecember 2019.
Maggie Paul’s (W) latest book, Scrimshaw, was published by Hummingbird Press in 2020. (This is the same press that published her previous book, Borrowed World, in 2011.)
In November 2019, Suzanne S. Rancourt (W) co-led—with fellow veteran Al Miller—training sessions to help Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) create and offer a new writing program for veterans and their families. According to the AWA, “No matter what the issues facing workshop participants, it is almost a given that military personnel can feel isolated through their experiences when returning home. Some are afraid of upsetting others with stories of service. Sharing our stories is a powerful part of our identity and of creating community.”
Louella Bryant’s (W) sixth book, Cowboy Code, a coming-of-age historical novel, was released by Black Rose Writing in August 2019. It was a finalist for the Exeter Novel Prize.
THE MINOR VIRTUES
Sandra Miller (W) published a memoir, Trove: A Woman’s Search for Truth and Buried Treasure, with Brown Paper Press in September 2019. John Solaperto (VA) retired from Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA, in June 2020, following 27 years of service. He will continue to serve as adjunct faculty there in the School of Humanities, teaching photography courses, as well as continue to pursue his musical interests.
Rick Skogsberg (W) was part of a year-long group show at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore that opened in October 2019. Later that month, he was a featured artist of BigTown Gallery, showing at The Outsider Art Fair in Paris. In January 2019, he was one of five artists selected for mention and praise at The Outsider Art Fair in Manhattan.
Nash Hyon (VA) was part of “heArt & mind”, an exhibition at the Silvermine Galleries in New Canaan, CT, in late 2019. The exhibition focused on how creativity can heal, nurture, and sustain lives worth living. Along with other artists from across the country, Hyon exhibited three large encaustic paintings. Barbara Rockman’s (W) second poetry collection, to cleave, chosen by Hilda Raz for the Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series and published in 2019 by University of New Mexico Press, received the National Federation of Press Women Poetry Book Prize.
Kevin McLellan (W) received Honors from the 19th Massachusetts Book Awards, given by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, for Ornitheology (Word Works). EXORDIUM, a film McLellan cowrote, co-directed, and co-produced with Laura Knott, was accepted into the Cadence: Video Poetry Festival run by the Northwest Film Forum and screened virtually in April 2020 in the “Better Left Unsaid” showcase.
“Lynn Levin’s The Minor Virtues is such a lovely honoring of the small, the minor sweetnesses that a life is made of.” ROSS GAY, author of The Book of Delights
Lynn Levin (W) published her fifth collection of poems, The Minor Virtues, with Ragged Sky in May 2020. The second edition of her co-authored textbook, Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, (Texture/ Blurb, 2019) was a finalist in Writing/ Publishing in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Garrison Keillor read her “Song of My Cell Phone” on the Writer’s Almanac. Recent prose appears in The Saturday Evening Post and The Smart Set.
29 :: vermont college of fine arts
In July 2020, Yvonne Zipter (W) published Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound, a collection of poetry, with Terrapin Books. Former faculty member and trustee emeritus Sydney Lea says of the collection, “Early in the book, the poet complains, ‘I wish I’d been around when the world was new / and everything needed names,’ and yet her own naming makes everything new again.” Zipter’s ongoing poetry project—a machine at two locations in Chicago that dispenses her published poems (106 and counting) to raise money for a local nonprofit arts organization—was featured on the public television show Chicago Tonight in November 2019. The project began in 2015 and will run indefinitely.
class news 2001
30 :: class news
Renne Emiko Brock (VA) was named the 2020 Thinkerer Award recipient by the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education organizational committee: “The Thinkerer Award is presented to an individual whose deeds and actions have shown a consistent selfless service towards the promotion of learning, community, educational practices, and who exemplifies the spirit of cooperative development within immersive environments.” Brock is an instructor in the Multimedia Communications department at Peninsula College. In August 2019 she published actionpacked superheroes: your guide to revealing and utilizing your superpowers. xtine burrough (VA) collaborated with Sabrina Starnaman and technical director Dale MacDonald on the digital project “Epic Hand Washing in a Time of Lost Narratives” through London’s The Photographers’ Gallery in May-July 2020. The piece is a “speculative remix [that] confronts Epic Kitchens, a dataset of first-person cooking videos, with literature written during or about pandemics such as the bubonic plague and the global influenza pandemic of 1918-19. The selections from fiction placed in conversation with domestic washing expands the directive to ‘wash your hands’ during COVID-19 into a centuries-long story of washing, sheltering in place, and illness.” Karin Huxman’s (WCYA) book The Colorado Coal Field War: Massacre at Ludlow, illustrated by Lisa Greenleaf and published with Muriel Dubois (’01 WCYA) at Apprentice Shop Books, was a Bronze Winner in the Non-Fiction Chapter Book Category of the 2019 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and a Gold Winner in the Teen Nonfiction category of the 2019 Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Award.
Sheri Sinykin’s (WCYA) book Calling Cobber will be released by Green Bean Books and on Amazon in December 2020.
Laurette Folk (W) published The End of Aphrodite with Bordighera Press in April 2020. Carla Panciera, winner of AWP’s Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, called the novel “a beautifully rendered work narrated by a collection of characters whose faith is inspired by the beauty of art, the power of the ocean, the remnants of ancient religions, and the many mutations of love.” Collette Fournier (VA) participated in “Visions 1020,” an exhibition of black-and-white photography by African American artists curated by Brooklyn photographer Beuford Smith. The exhibition’s title was drawn from its span, in the decade from 2010 to 2020. Many of the photographers in the exhibition are members of Kamoinge, a collective of African American photographers based in New York City. Due to COVID-19, the exhibition at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba House was held digitally March-June 2020.
Monica Berlin’s (W) newest collection of poems, Elsewhere, That Small, was released by Parlor Press in January 2020. Her previous collection, Nostalgia For a World Where We Can Live, won the Crab Orchard Review Open Competition Award and was published in 2018.
Cathleen Twomey (’02 WCYA) reached out to us in celebration of the posthumous publication of Jeremy Wailes’ (WCYA) book, How Suraj Became Famous: Adventures of a Young Elephant, on Penumbra Press in June 2020. Wailes’ widow, Margaret Wailes, worked hard to bring these stories to publication, and his graduating class of January 2002 remembers him fondly.
Bachelor of Art
Linda Stillman’s (VA) art exhibitions have included “Summer Show” at the Bernay Gallery in Great Barrington, MA (August 2020); “FOCUS: Fish and Dish – A Fresh Take on Still Life,” juried by Jason Andrew at the Woodstock Art Association & Museum in Woodstock, NY (March 2020); “Winter Workspace Artists: Returning to the Source,” curated by Jennifer McGregor, Eileen Jeng Lynch, and Jesse Bandler Firestone at Wave Hill House in Bronx, NY (January 2020); and “HILLSDALE” Show at LABspace Gallery in Hillsdale, NY (November 2019). The LABspace show also included the work of Joan Grubin [’03 VA]. Barbara Buckman Strasko’s (W) second full-length collection of poetry, The Opposite of Lightning, was released in April 2020 by Word Poetry Books. The book ponders the individual’s responsibility to effect change through social action.
Joan Cohen’s (W) book, Land of Last Chances, was released by She Writes Press in August 2019. In it, a surprise pregnancy upends the life of a 48-year-old unmarried executive who doesn’t know which of two men is the father. She learns she may carry a rare hereditary gene for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and must struggle between her responsibility to herself and to her unborn child.
Ayaz Pirani (W) published the chapbook Bachelor of Art with Anstruther Press in June 2020.
Joan Grubin (VA) participated in four exhibitions in 2019: “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” a group show at the Re Institute in Millerton, NY, in July; “In-Faux-Structure,” a group exhibition at the Opalka Gallery on the campus of the Russell-Sage Colleges in Albany, NY, in August; “Parallel Play,” a two-person show with Ruby Palmer at the Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, NY, in October; and “HILLSDALE,” a group show at LABspace in Hillsdale, NY, in November. Featured piece from “Parallel Play”: “Stack” (2019) acrylic on paper, found objects, 82” x 44” x 3”)
Tony Van Witsen’s (W) story “Dewey Defeats Truman” was published in the winter 2019-2020 issue of The Writing Disorder.
Bethany Hegedus (WCYA) published Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou with Lee & Low in August 2019. The picture book biography, the first fully illustrated book detailing Dr. Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and received a starred review from School Library Journal. Nancy Richardson’s (W) poetry book Going Home was released in August 2020 by Kelsay Books. The book is a memoir that spans the years of the poet’s childhood in a dying industrial town to her adult search for justice in the halls of government, painting a picture of injustice in America. Sarah Sullivan’s (WCYA) latest picture book, A Day for Skating, was released by Candlewick Press in November 2019. [Editor’s note: The publisher was incorrectly listed as Penguin Random House in the 2019 issue of in residence.]
Classmates Tami Lewis Brown (WCYA) and Debbie Loren Dunn (WCYA) published Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future with Disney/Hyperion in October 2019. The book received a starred review from Booklist and was a Junior Library Guild selection. The picture book charts the pioneering work of computer programmers Betty Snyder, Kay McNulty, and Jean Jennings, and their mammoth machine ENIAC, the world’s first electronic computer. In October 2020, the pair will publish another book, Perkin’s Perfect Purple, with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. This picture book tells the story of William Henry Perkin, a boy who became the accidental inventor of the first synthetic dye in 1856.
Tami Lewis Brown’s (WCYA) picture book, We Really Do Care, edited by Jill Santopolo (’08 WCYA), was published with Philomel Books in September 2019. Inspired by current events, the picture shows the importance of compassion and empathy and demonstrates how even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference. Janet Filomeno (VA) celebrated a one-person exhibition titled “The Rising”, featuring selected work 2012–19 at Walter Wickiser Gallery in NYC in June–July 2020. Due to COVID-19 gallery closure, this exhibition became an online viewing. Several of the paintings in this show have not been exhibited before. Filomeno was one of seven women artists from the Philadelphia region featured in “Rising Tides: Contemporary Art and the Ecology of Water,” an exhibition curated by Laura T. Igoe at the Michener Art Museum in late 2020. Filomeno’s piece Blue Crystals Revisited no. 19 (2018), included in the exhibition, recently became part of the permanent collection of the Michener.
Catherine Linka’s (WCYA) YA thriller, What I Want You to See, about an art student so desperate to hold onto her scholarship that she becomes a pawn in a masterful crime, was released by Disney/Freeform in February 2020. In a starred review, Booklist called it “clear-sighted and heartbreakingly true...a genuine portrait of a girl in quiet crisis learning to see things as they are.”
Robin Oliveira’s (W) novel Winter Sisters was a finalist for the 2019 Washington State Book Award in fiction. Kristi M Ryba (VA) received the South Arts 2020 State Fellowship (South Carolina), a state-specific $5000 prize awarded to the artists whose work reflects the best of the visual arts in the South. A national jury selects one winner per eligible state, for a group of nine State Fellows, based on artistic excellence that reflects and represents the diversity of the region. In November and December 2019, Ryba participated in the 701 Center for Contemporary Art South Carolina Biennial 2019, the center’s fifth survey exhibition of work by contemporary South Carolina artists. In October 2019 through February 2020, Ryba was part of another exhibition, “Coined in the South,” at The Mint Museum. The name referred not only to The Mint Museum’s origins as the first branch of the United States Mint, but also to the act of inventing and/or devising. In 2020, Ryba was one of the winners of a Money for Women grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. The fund was created in 1975 to give financial and moral support to creative women.
Kelly Bennett’s (WCYA) picture book Norman: One Amazing Goldfish, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones, was released by Candlewick in September 2020. This long-awaited sequel to Not Norman is a warm and wryly funny new story about being there for your fishy friend when he needs you most.
31 :: vermont college of fine arts
Jennifer Gennari’s (WCYA) second middle grade novel, Muffled, will be released in October 2020 by Simon & Schuster. It’s the story of Amelia, who hates noise but has to learn to play an instrument. In December 2019, Gennari taught an online, one-day workshop through The Writing Barn in Austin, TX, on how to write a story that resonates with meaning without moralizing.
class news 2008 10 × 10
Nancy Bo Flood
has a PhD in Experimental Psychology and Child Development. On the Pacific island of Saipan, she worked with families and educators to develop programs for students with disabilities so that all students could continue their education. She is the author of award-winning books including Warriors in the Crossfire; Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo; and Soldier Sister, Fly Home. She lives in Colorado. Visit her at nancyboflood.com.
is an illustrator whose delicate watercolor paintings are inspired by whimsical details of daily life and a childhood spent outside in nature. She has illustrated numerous picture books including Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America’s Children by Monica Kulling and the #1 New York Times bestselling We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines. Julianna lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at juliannaswaney.com. Jacket design by Karyn Lee Jacket illustration copyright © 2020 by Julianna Swaney Manufactured in China
Katie Mather’s (WCYA) debut YA debut novel, Rage Is a Wolf, was released by Vermont indie publisher whisk(e)ytit in February 2020 (as kt mather). As described on Mather’s website, the book is the story of 16-year-old Elaine Archer who realizes the Earth might really be screwed, so she talks her moms into letting her drop-out and write a novel.
TEXT AND ART NOT FINAL
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would-be dancers, Eva i
She has cerebral palsy. S
what dance looks like f uses a wheelchair.
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Atheneum Books for Young Readers Simon & Schuster • New York EBOOK EDITION ALSO AVAILABLE
Nicole Gulotta (W) published Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path with Roost Books in October 2019. The book is described as “a guide for the next generation of writers—self-care rituals, creativitygenerating rhythms, and personalized strategies for embracing a creative life.”
Flood • Swaney
32 :: class news
Ann Dávila Cardinal (W) published Category Five, the sequel to last year’s young adult supernatural thriller Five Midnights, with Tor Teen in June 2020. Set against the backdrop of a post-hurricane Puerto Rico, it deals with disasters natural and supernatural, and issues of colonialism, greed, and identity.
Patricia McInroy (VA) and Julie Puma (’08 VA) collaborated on a project called “Pink Progression,” a celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. A combination of documentary-style interviews and photo-based portraits, the project aims to address current/future voting among women. More specifically, it is intended as a glance back at the history and its relationship to the way women vote today. Women interviewed chose among a variety of topics, including climate change, health care, abortion, immigration, and gun control. The exhibition opened at the Arvada Center in Colorado in July 2020, with masks required and an occupancy limit for safety. In March 2020, McInroy was included in a curated group show at the Abend Gallery in downtown Denver with Artists Off Grid, a group of artists from around the United States and Canada that participated in a competitive residency in northern Colorado. During the residency, residents did not have access to running water or electricity.
created a class for dance
Maggie Nowinski (VA) was featured in a solo exhibition at the Newport Art Museum that opened in February 2020. The show, “Somaflora”, spanned three galleries and included two site-specific drawing installations, various works on paper, and intaglio prints. Working with layers of intricate pen-and-ink linework, Nowinski gives form to imagined specimens, which often appear as plant-animal hybrids, of which she says, “As they emerge I am aware that the lived experience in my body is vast and enigmatic and I think about the interplay of resilience and ache in these specimens—triumphant adaptations and self-sufficient, sometimes toxic, systems.” Visit us at simonandschuster.com/kids
[barcode box: $17.99 U.S. / $23.99 Can. ISBN 978-1-5344-3061-7]
From her first tentative m
studio to her triumphant
onstage, Eva knows that
she belongs. At last her l
of dancing has become a
written by Nancy Bo Flood
illustrated by Julianna Swaney
Nancy Bo Flood (WCYA) published I Will Dance with Atheneum/Simon & Schuster in May 2020. In a starred review, Kirkus called the book “a gorgeous, immersive celebration of dancing and the grace within all bodies.” Flood’s previous book, First Laugh, Welcome Baby, was named to the White Raven list of recommended international children’s and youth literature, selected by the Internationale Jugendbibliothek, founded in Munich in 1949 by Jella Lippman, a journalist. This year’s White Ravens’ catalogue features 200 titles in 37 languages from 59 countries. Margaret Nevinski (WCYA) is now represented by Jacqui Lipton (’16 WCYA) at Raven Quill Literary Agency.
Sarah Tomp’s (WCYA) YA novel The Easy Part of Impossible was released on HarperTeen in April 2020: “After an injury forces Ria off the diving team, an unexpected friendship with Cotton, a guy on the autism spectrum, helps her come to terms with the abusive relationship she’s been in with her former coach.” The book was a spring 2020 Junior Library Guild selection. Dianne White’s (WCYA) picture book Green on Green, with illustrations by Felicita Sala, was released by Beach Lane Books in March 2020. The book celebrates nature, the shifting seasons, family, colors, community, and the magic of them all.
Carol Allen (WCYA) published A Long Way from the Strawberry Patch: The Life of Leah Chase with Pelican Publishing in October 2020. The book is a middle grade biography of renowned Creole chef Leah Chase, who died at the age of 96 in June 2019. Chase collaborated with Allen on the manuscript until a few months before becoming ill.
David French (VA) was featured in a solo exhibition of new abstract work, “Living Inside Color,” at the TRAGERcontemporary gallery in Charleston, SC, in March 2020.
The third and final installment of Michelle Knudsen’s (WCYA) supernatural young adult horror/ comedy Evil Librarian trilogy, Curse of the Evil Librarian, was released in August 2019 by Candlewick Press.
Nancy Bryan (W) published her first book of poems, The Blue Lantern, in October 2019. Don Decker (VA) was awarded first place in the 2019 Creative Writing Contest for his poem “Family Trilogy.” The award was presented by the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Anchorage Daily News. Ben Westlie (W) has published or will publish poems in Arlington Literary Journal, The Voices Project, and The Talking Stick in 2019–2020.
Anne Bustard (WCYA) published a middle grade novel, Blue Skies, with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in March 2020. Bustard notes that she drafted this novel, about a girl awaiting her father’s return from WWII, with the help of three of her VCFA advisors in 2009 and 2010.
Suzanne Farrell Smith (W), Claire Guyton (’09 W), and Cheryl Wilder (W) launched Waterwheel Review, an online publication of “literature without labels,” in September 2020. They publish three short pieces of original written work on the first of the month, September through May, and do not categorize pieces by genre. They encourage submissions at waterwheelreview.com. Smith read from her debut memoir, The Memory Sessions, as part of Lycoming College’s Himes/Sweeney Visiting Artist Series in October 2019. During the same month at the Lewiston Public Library in Maine, she presented a reading and discussion on the art of memoir writing as a means of exploring and describing experiences of loss and memory. Tereza Swanda (VA), along with Ingrid Pichler and Fletcher Boote, created a site-specific installation, “In Suspension,” at the Emily Dickinson Museum Conservatory in July 2019. The installation converted the space, a small room where the poet maintained her link to the natural world across the seasons, into a mixed-media exhibition inspired by Dickinson’s poetry.
Cheryl Wilder (W) along with Suzanne Farrell Smith (W) and Claire Guyton (’09 W) gave a talk called “Why Write a Book?” at the Women’s Literary Union in Auburn, ME, in October 2019. Each author told the story behind the story, sharing the challenges and rewards that come with telling a personal story through a particular genre. Wilder, Smith, Guyton, and Sarah Twombly (’12 W) also participated in the “Crime Night” edition of Local Writers Read in Lewiston, ME, in October 2019.
Meredith Davis (WCYA) received the 2020 Crystal Kite Award for the Texas/Oklahoma region from SCBWI. This is a peer-given award to recognize great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world. Richard Farrell’s (W) debut novel, The Falling Woman, was released by Algonquin Books in June 2020 and named an Indie Next selection for June. Diana Hansen (VA) was hired in September 2019 to teach visual arts at Sterling College as an adjunct professor. Hansen also founded a business called Mountain Hollow Medicinals based on education on alternative wellness. Kate Hosford (WCYA) published A Songbird Dreams of Singing: Poems About Sleeping Animals with Running Press in November 2019. The book is a nonfiction poetry collection about wildlife, paired with explanations about the science behind animal sleep habits and illustrations by Jennifer Potter. Jodi Paloni (W) published the essay “One Heart, Two Places” in Decor Maine magazine in January 2020. The essay includes photos of Paloni’s home.
Eric Pinder’s (WCYA) book The Perfect Pillow, published by Disney/Hyperion, received the 2019 New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Work of Children’s Literature. David Spitzer’s (W) article “Ab-ruption: Towards a Poetics in Gustaf Sobin’s Early Work” was published in Mosaic: an interdisciplinary critical journal, vol. 52 no. 3, in September 2019. The piece developed from a critical essay Spitzer wrote during his time at VCFA, where a lecture by Tony Luebbermann (‘10 W) inspired him to read Sobin’s work. The article attempts to articulate some features of a poetics orienting Sobin’s earliest two collections of poems. Spitzer also led a panel at the 2019 American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) conference in Rochester, NY, called “On Non-Translation and Translation,” including presentations of Lithuanian poetry, translating (and not translating) musicality in Pindar, contemporary Francophone literatures, and multilingualism in the philosophic essays of Rabindranath Tagore. The panel explored the ways non-translation interacts with translation, and how inclusion of untranslated elements operates within a translation’s task(s). In January 2020, Philosophy’s Treason: Studies in Philosophy and Translation, a collection of writings on translation and philosophy edited by Spitzer, was published by Vernon Press. Melinda Thomsen’s (W) fulllength poetry collection, Armature, won Honorable Mention in the 2019 Lena Shull Poetry Contest sponsored by the North Carolina Poetry Society and will be published by Hermit Feathers Press in late 2020. Thomsen’s poem “Solar System” won first place in the 2019 Robert Golden Poetry Contest sponsored by Nexus Poets, and another poem, “Piñatas,” was first Honorable Mention in the Comstock Review’s 2019 Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest and one of their four nominees for the Pushcart Prize.
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Julie Berry’s (WCYA) picture book Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book! was released by Getty Publications in September 2019. This beautifully illustrated, charming story brings the Middle Ages, legendary beasts, and the medieval imagination to life.
Kim Darling (VA) and her husband, Bill Darling, exhibited their intaglio prints in the gallery of Fondazione Il Bisonte in Florence, Italy, February 19–28, 2020. The Darlings own Gatto Nero press in St. Johnsbury, VT, and have been teaching drawing, painting, and printmaking for 20 years at St. Johnsbury Academy, as well as leading groups of student printmakers to Florence for printmaking workshops at Il Bisonte School of Graphic Art.
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Elijah’s Violin, with libretto by Susan Levi Wallach (W) was performed in September 2019 as part of a series of operas at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio of San Francisco representing different faith traditions. The performance featured Metropolitan Opera bass/ baritone John Cheek as Elijah. Elijah’s Violin is Wallach’s first opera, and its first chamber performance, in which Wallach also appeared as the Narrator, was in North Carolina.
Kali White VanBaale’s (W) third novel, The Monsters We Make (as Kali White), was released by Crooked Lane Books in August 2020. The atmospheric 1980s family crime drama follows the disappearances of two paperboys from a small Midwestern city and the devastating effects on a single mother, her two children, and a local cop, and it was inspired by the real-life Des Moines paperboy abductions.
The paperback version of Andrea Rothman’s (W) debut novel, The DNA of You and Me, was released by William Morrow in March 2020. Rothman gave a presentation about fiction at the 2019 Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books.
Linda King Ferguson (VA) had a solo exhibition, “Listening Room”, at Lipscomb University’s Open Gallery in October 2019. The show featured her Equivalence Series. Renee Lauzon (VA) was awarded a month-long residency fellowship at Vermont Studio Center and spent June 2019 working on a new series of sound installations there.
Nora Shalaway Carpenter’s (WCYA) YA novel, The Edge of Anything, was released by Running Press Kids in March 2020. Emily Arnason Casey (W) presented “The Essay Exhibits: Beneath a Sky of Gunmetal Gray” at the Ilsley Public Library in Middlebury, VT, in December 2019. The exhibition, which Casey curated, featured new works from eight Vermont artists that offered visual responses to sections of Casey’s essay “Beneath a Sky of Gunmetal Gray,” from her book Made Holy: Essays (University of Georgia Press, 2019). Brian Cordell (W) published In Their Final Performance with Finishing Line Press in November 2019. The poems mourn the loss of musicians such as Townes Van Zandt, David Bowie, Gord Downie, and others, though the heart of the book is a tribute to singer/songwriter Jason Molina and his band, Magnolia Electric Co., and serve as elegy to the individual losses we all experience every day. Sarah Efird (W) published Revelationaries, a new collection of poems and essays by Refried Bean, as an e-book in September 2019.
Cynthia Newberry Martin’s (W) debut novel, Tidal Flats, won the 2020 Gold Medal in Literary Fiction at the Independent Publisher Book Awards. She also participated in the “Why There Are Words” reading series in Sausalito, CA, in November 2019 and other readings. Lori Steel (WCYA) is now an agent at Raven Quill Literary Agency, founded in January 2020 by Jacqui Lipton (’16 WCYA). The goal of the agency is to develop the careers of unique, high-quality, engaging, and often underrepresented voices in children’s literature.
Leah Kaminsky’s (W) second novel, The Hollow Bones (Penguin Random House), won the 2019 International Book Awards in both the Literary and Historical Fiction categories. It also won the 2019 American Book Fest Best Book Award for Literary Fiction and was a finalist in the Historical Fiction category. Jenny Mason’s (WCYA) middle grade mystery podcast, Blister and Muck, is now available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Facebook, and elsewhere. Weekly episodes air on Wednesdays and provide beleaguered families a free way to connect, unwind, and laugh during the pandemic. In August 2020, her book Survival at Sea was published in the Survivor Series by Bigfoot Books. Another book, Aliens, is forthcoming. Timothy Miller’s (MC) string trio “Carmin solis et lunae” was performed in a concert at the Moscow Conservatory in Russia in September 2019. The concert, which was organized by Anton Rovner, was a collaboration between the New York Composers Circle and individual composers in Moscow. This was the fourth performance of the piece, which Miller wrote for and premiered at the 2017 Wyoming Festival – New Music in Mountains in Grand Tetons National Park, and the first outside the United States.
Emily Vizzo (W) had two poems published in Empty Mirror in July 2020: “Toward Openness” and “Tempering, Harmonizing: A Musing on Native Data.” The poems arose from an art residency she did with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis; the focus is how open data and data synthesis can help address the climate crisis.
Carol Wylie’s (VA) exhibition “They didn’t know we were seeds” will tour the province of Saskatchewan through 2023. The show explores trauma, resiliency, individual suffering, and triumph through the lens of the painted portrait, consisting of 18 large-scale oil portraits of Holocaust and residential school survivors, along with text shared from their firsthand accounts and reflections. The number 18, in Hebrew tradition, corresponds to the word “chai,” which means life, speaking to the light these survivors have created out of darkness. Wylie hopes that the resulting silent conversation between these portraits will encourage compassion. “They didn’t know we were seeds” completes a proverb that begins, “They buried us...”
Katie Crawford (W) founded MountainTop Writers Retreats. The seasonal, long-weekend retreats crafted for writers and creatives at varying stages of their careers and journeys are hosted at a private mountain lodge at 3,000 feet in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and the first retreat was held in November 2019. Heather Demetrios (WCYA) published Little Universes with Henry Holt & Co. in April 2020. The book explores the powerful bond between sisters, the kinds of love that never die, and the journey we all must make through the baffling cruelty and unexpected beauty of human life in an incomprehensible universe. A Booklist starred review called the novel “a gripping story…illustrating that blood ties aren’t necessary for deep, enduring sisterhood.”
Joe McGee (WCYA) signed with a new literary agent, Jennifer Soloway of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, in September 2019. In September and October of 2019, McGee published four new books: Peanut Butter & Santa Claus (Abrams), The Secret of Shadow Lake (Andrews McMeel), Crash! Bang! Boo! (Simon & Schuster), and The Monster Squad (Simon & Schuster). Jessica Muñiz-Collado’s (MC) piece “Arise & Go,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, was selected to be published by MalletLab Publications and premiered at the renowned MalletLab summer intensive. It was also recognized by Pearl/Adams percussion company as the first piece written for their newest electronic mallet product, the Pearl malletSTATION. Muñiz-Collado was also selected to serve as a music technology/beat-making judge for the 2020 Hit Like A Girl International Drum Contest. She also spoke at the 2020 NAMM Show on media scoring and music licensing, as well as two US Customs and Border Protection Hispanic-Heritage events where she spoke on the positive influence of Latin music in America and vice versa.
Naomi Elena Ramirez (VA) produced and designed Beaver the Exhibition the Book, released in September 2020. The collection of work by 20 artists is the fourth iteration of the Beaver Exhibition Event in a Book, a group show that brings together artists who delve into feminist perspectives on pornography, gender performance, and female sexual self-expression. In addition to Ramirez herself, artists include Amanda Joy Calobrisi, Becky Flanders, Bonnie Lane, Carol-Anne McFarlane, Caroline Dare, Chanel Matsunami Govreau, Damali Abrams (’08 VA), Julia Kim Smith, Kate Kretz, Katrina Majkut, Keren Moscovitch, Kristen J. Sollée, Leslie Tucker, Michelle Young Lee, Mirabelle Jones, mothertongues (Meital Yaniv & Kim Ye), Rebecca Sutton, and Tara Booth. Jess Rinker (WCYA) published two books: Out of Time: Lost on the Titanic (Andrews McMeel) in May 2020 and The Dare Sisters (Imprint/Macmillan) in September 2020. Out of Time is the first in a time-travel, historical fiction chapter book series, and The Dare Sisters is a middle grade novel about three sisters trying to find Blackbeard’s treasure to save their grandfather’s good name and foil a scallywag who wants the treasure for himself. Sophfronia Scott (W) was awarded a $3,000 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts. The Artist Fellowship Program provides competitive grants to encourage the continuing development of Connecticut artists. Scott’s project is a nonfiction book entitled The Seeker and the Monk. Scott’s essay “Hope on Any Given Day” appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Yankee Magazine. It centers on her teenage son’s ability to live joy despite loss in the years since the 2012 mass shooting at his school, Sandy Hook Elementary. Danielle Sunshine (WCYA) took a position as an editor with Angelella Editorial in January 2020. Ibi Zoboi (WCYA) published the YA novel Punching the Air, co-written with Yusef Salaam, on Balzar+Bray/HarperCollins in 2020.
Beth Bradfish (MC) was selected to receive a 2020 Individual Artists Program (IAP) grant—awarded by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)— for her ongoing tactile sound series called “Home Sounds.”
Melanie Donovan at Recorded Books bought audio rights to Tziporah Cohen’s (WCYA) debut middle grade novel, No Vacancy, published with Groundwood Books in August 2020.
Gilbert Ford (WCYA) illustrated a nonfiction picture book called Alice Across America by Sarah Glenn Marsh about the first all-female trip across the USA in a 1909 Maxwell automobile. The book was published with Henry Holt & Co. in February 2020. Ford’s debut middle grade novel, The Mysterious Messenger, started while in the WCYA program, was released by Henry Holt & Co. in July 2020. It tells the story of a psychic young sleuth on her quest to find a hidden treasure.
Sondra Graff (GD) presented an installation/performance, “o t i t o | one thing into the other”, at The Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art in December 2019. The work was co-created by Graff and Petra van Noort and developed with the support of DesignInquiry and the 2018/2019 participants. In September 2019, Graff gave an exhibition/workshop called “Bookmaking Investigations” at FIT in New York.
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Jennifer Barnes (WCYA) writing as Jenn Bishop, published her third middle grade novel, Things You Can’t Say, with Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in March 2020. The book was named a Junior Library Guild Selection. Publishers Weekly writes, “In a story about the aftermath of parental suicide, former children’s librarian Bishop tells a touching and believable story about the ways worries feed on each other, the difference that honesty makes to kids, and how much emotional growth a child Drew’s age can experience in just a few weeks.”
Ann Huang’s (W) film INDELIBLE WINTER was included in the UMass Dartmouth University Art Gallery’s online exhibition, held digitally from June through August 2020. The juror, Nato Thompson, Artistic Director of Philadelphia Contemporary, selected 49 artworks created by 39 artists from a pool of 745 submitted works. Their techniques range from photography, painting, conceptual art, fabric sculpture, digital illustration, drawing, and video to print on toilet paper.
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Melissa Matthewson (W) published Tracing the Desire Line: A Memoir in Essays on Split/Lip Press in September 2019. The book follows a writer’s journey of opening her marriage with her husband. The story—told through short memoirs, essays, lists, letters, and hybrid prose poems—is an intimate inquiry into one woman’s search for autonomy with detours into meditations on music, motherhood, religion, love, and wildness.
Illusory Borders, Heidi Reszies’ (W) first book of poems, was published by The Operating System in November 2019. This collection is a poetic sequence grounded in a process that incorporates fragments, lists, and reflections on ‘woman’s work.’ In the same month, Reszies’ second book of poems, Of Water & Other Soft Constructions, was released by Anhinga Press. This collection was chosen by Samiya Bashir as winner of the 2018 Anhinga Press Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. Bashir writes, “The poet shows her work, ‘a process not a fixed condition,’ as analog thread stitching toward the reader’s own location. Is this her magic? In naming her constraints, Reszies activates a kind of liberation that lets us really reckon with what poems can do.”
Katia Raina’s (WCYA) debut novel, Castle of Concrete, was released by Young Europe Books in July 2019. Set in the final year of Soviet Russia’s collapse, it tells the story of Sonya, a timid Jewish girl reuniting with her once-dissident mother and falling in love with a mysterious boy who may be an anti-Semite. All the while, Sonya’s mama is falling in love also—with shiny America, a land where differences seem to be celebrated. The place sounds amazing but so far away. Will Sonya ever find her way there?
Paula Allen’s (F) film BEEHOLD was selected as Audience Choice at the 2020 Reel Girls Film Fest. Allen directed and produced the film, and all the main animators were teen girls. Alumnx Bradley Turner (’17 MC) wrote music and did sound design. Laura Atkins (WCYA) presented on the book Biddy Mason Speaks Up as part of California Votes for Women: A California Suffrage Centennial Celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s California passage in November 2019. Atkins was also selected for a two-week writing residency at Mesa Refuge in Point Reyes, CA, for the first two weeks in November 2019, where she continued her work researching and writing under-told stories from California history.
The feature film MOVING PARTS, written and directed by Emilie Upczak (F) and produced by John Otterbacher (’15 F) was released on Amazon in January 2020.
In May 2020, TURNmusic livestreamed an album release celebration for Craig Pallett’s (MC) Meditations for Violin featuring violinist Mary Rowell. Wendy Briggs Powell (GD) participated in an exhibition called “Earthly Elements” at Paper Art and Design gallery in The Hague October 2019- January 2020. Theshow included work from Powell, Pat Alexander, and Anna Bludea-Hary, all artists whose works evoke the elements of nature.
Nate Trier (MC) released a new album of electroacoustic music for piano and accordion, Palehound in a Sea of Color, in October 2019. The music uses time-shifting and electro-acoustic techniques to create a wide range of timbres from a very limited selection of pitches. The album consists of two pieces: an 8-minute piece that explores the overtones of just three pitches, and a 61-minute remix that explores new tonalities and timbres. It is available on Bandcamp and all streaming services.
Martha Snell’s (W) poem “Beneath the Moon’s Umbra, India July 22, 2009” was accepted for publication in Cutthroat, a journal of the arts, and appeared in CT/25 in July 2020. In February 2020, Snell’s poems “Where Does Sorrow Take You?” and “Barred” appeared in Streetlight Magazine.
Abigail Hing Wen (WCYA) published Loveboat, Taipei with HarperTeen in January 2020. The book follows the journey of an AsianAmerican teen whose parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer at a program nicknamed Loveboat. Pamela Murray Winters (W) was featured on The Poet and the Poem, the long-running radio/ podcast program hosted by Maryland poet laureate Grace Cavalieri and sponsored by the Library of Congress. Alison Wisdom’s (W) debut novel, We Can Only Save Ourselves, will be published by Harper Perennial in early 2021. Aaron Wyanski (MC) accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Music Composition at the University of Maine at Farmington, starting in fall 2020. Wyanski and faculty member Jonathan Bailey Holland shared the stage in September 2019 in Boston, MA, in the 15th anniversary concert of the Junventas New Music Ensemble.
Beth Bacon (WCYA) published I Hate Reading: How to Read When You’d Rather Not with HarperCollins in June 2020. The book of tips validates the experience of reluctant readers and rewards them with laughter. Another book by Bacon, COVID-19 Helpers, won first place in the COVID-19 Children’s E-Book Competition sponsored by Emory Global Health Institute. The aim of the contest was to promote books that help families talk about the virus and validate children’s feelings during the pandemic.
Iron Horse Literary Review published Annie Bleecker’s (W) graduate reading (an essay titled “Waiting & Seeing”) in its July 2019 apocalypse-themed issue, along with an interview about the use of secondperson narration.
Susan David (VA) had a solo exhibition, “Emerge”, at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, LA, in September-November 2019. The sitespecific installation was supported in part by ArtSpark, an individual artist stipend supported by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and administered by the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Paige Garwood (MC) launched emergingcomposer.com in April 2020, including her first online music composition course.
In November 2019, Mary Heitkamp (W) launched fresh.ink, an appbased reprints magazine designed to connect writers with readers and readers with great stories. In February 2020, it was chosen as Apple UK’s App of the Day, and in May it was selected as App of the Day in the US. The magazine accepts submissions year round. Stewart Koski’s (F) film SASQUATCHES was screened as an official selection of the 2019 Videodrunk alternative film festival in Toronto in November–December 2019. The documentary puts the drug-laden life of cryptozoology under a blurry microscope. Team leader Bergen Jenklovosky gains funds from a Minnesota research grant to assemble a small band of professional field agents. In doing so they embark on a journey, while under the influence, for evidence and the capture of one of the world’s most elusive mythological creatures. Koski’s film, BAIT SHOP, received the first-place Juror’s Choice Award and was a runner up for the Audience Choice award in the Aurora Picture Show Extremely Shorts Film Festival 2020. Anu Kumar’s (W) novel Coming Back to the City: Mumbai Stories was published by Speaking Tiger Books, India, in October 2019. Kumar notes that she worked on this book during her time at VCFA and is indebted to her advisors—Larry Sutin, Nance Van Winckel, and Brian Leung— workshop leaders, and cohorts.
David Kutz (VA) spent three weeks in early spring 2020 as an artistin-residence at the Arad Contemporary Art Center in Arad, Israel. During that time he presented a small ad hoc show of his work, provided a workshop in advanced Photoshop techniques, gave an artist’s talk, and made a series of 360 pans from the Town Center and a series of portraits. Kutz’s solo exhibition, “Pan^Opticon”, was to be presented in print at SohoPhoto gallery in May–June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, it was presented online. The show included the body of work created at the Presidio Modelo in Cuba and shows the only existing panopticon building still standing that more or less follows Jeremy and Samuel Bentham’s 19th-century design for “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.” In September 2019, Kutz presented a paper inspired by these photographs, “On Power, Pans & Panopticons,” to the annual conference of the International Panorama Council. The paper considers the relationship of the “gaze” in 19th-century panoramic paintings and Foucault’s consideration of panopticism, and it was accepted for publication upon peer review. Kutz also participated in the annual Gowanus Open Studio event in October 2019, along with over 400 other artists.
Jacqui Lipton (WCYA) published Law and Authors: A Legal Handbook for Writers with University of California Press in August 2020. The book is a user-friendly, accessible basic law handbook for writers in all fields that uses pop culture examples and real-life case studies to explain the ins and outs of copyright law, contracts with agents and editors, self-publishing contracts, defamation, privacy, trademarks and branding, and social media networking law. It aims to demystify the legal landscape for all writers. Lipton is also the founding agent at Raven Quill Literary Agency.
Laurie Wallmark’s (WCYA) picture book Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics was released by Creston Books in March 2020. IIt tells the story of the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics that required original research, hold a university chair in mathematics, and be the editor of a major scientific journal.
Kela Parker (MC) presented weekly live-streamed concerts during 2020. She also is at work on two new albums. Her latest single, “Come Spring,” was released in March 2020 and called “a truly mesmerizing piece of music” by Karley Myall of A&R Factory (UK). J. Wren Supak’s (VA) solo exhibition “Soft Time” was curated by Donna Bruni Cox and presented at the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic gallery in July–October 2019. In September 2019, Supak came under new representation with Jill Conner at AS Studios, Paris|NYC. In May 2020 Supak began a job as Art Gallery Director at Northwest Florida State College.
Jenn Bailey’s (WCYA) picture book, A Friend for Henry, was included in the Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year list for 2020. Selections are chosen by reviewers for literary quality and excellence of presentation, as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes. The book also received the Capitol Choice Noteworthy Book Award, which seeks to identify and select a yearly list for children and teens of outstanding titles whose charm, art, information, or depth of feeling may enhance a young person’s world, and especially looks for books that may not find an audience without the benefit of special attention. In 2019, the book won the Children’s Book Award from the Kansas Author’s Club. Rikki Bell (MC) released a new album, This Curious Heart, in January 2020. Colin McCaffrey produced the album.
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Aldrena Corder (GD) has been promoted to the tenure track position of Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Columbia College of South Carolina. Corder also has been appointed Chair of the Art Department.
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Donna Bowman Bratton (WCYA) published King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara with Peachtree Publishing in October 2019. It tells the story of Jean-François Gravelet, a French tightrope-walking prodigy who grew up to be the first to perform on a tightrope over the 1100'wide Niagara River in 1858.
Yamile Saied Méndez (WCYA) published Furia with Algonquin Young Readers in September 2020. It tells the story of Camila Hassan, a girl growing up in Rosario, Argentina, who longs to be a soccer star but has to hide those desires from her disapproving parents.
Sarah Davis (GD) was promoted to Associate Professor of Graphic Design and awarded tenure at West Liberty University in Wheeling, WV, in May 2020.
Kathy Bruner’s (F) LAST YEAR AT THE CROSSING was screened at the Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis in October 2019, the Over-the-Rhine Film Festival in Cincinnati in October 2019, and the St. Louis International Film Festival in November 2019. The film is a heartbreaking, raw, and ultimately hopeful story of four teens trying to earn a diploma at a last-chance high school in Indiana. Cheryl Crabb’s (W) novel, The Other Side of Sanctuary, was released by Adelaide Books in January 2020. Crabb attended the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany in October 2019 in support of the book. Amber Rose Crowtree (W) received the 2020 Award for Excellence in Poetry, first place in the adult category, from the Center for the Arts Literary Arts Guild in the Lake Sunapee Region, NH. The competition’s theme was “Snapshots in Time,” and Crowtree’s poem “A 1987 Photo of Female Destinies” was selected by New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary. Crowtree’s poem “Sestina of the Isolation, 2020” appeared in Poetry in the Time of COVID: Resilience, Community, Connection, an anthology edited by Peary, published by Hobblebush Books. Additional poems by Crowtree have appeared in The Briar Cliff Review, Vol. 32/2020, and The Aurorean, spring/summer 2019, among others.
J Diaz (MC) released a new album, sitting in a place, in April 2020. The album is a meditation on how life continues despite the pandemic. He also launched Marginalized Sound, an online radio station dedicated to underrepresented sound artists. Lizzy Fox’s (W) debut collection of poetry, Red List Blue, will be published by Finishing Line Press in January 2021. In her work, Fox explores themes of grief, anxiety, loneliness, and connection in the era of mass extinction. Paulina M. Johnson (GD) became a part-owner and permanent exhibiting member at Pine Moon Fine Art Gallery in downtown Steamboat Springs, CO, in September 2019. Dannell Macllwraith (GD) won a Bronze for the United Designs Alliance 2020 International Poster Design Competition. J. Albert Mann (WCYA) published The Degenerates with Atheneum Books for Young Readers in March 2020. The book takes place during the eugenics movement at the turn of the 20th century, told in the voices of four young women inside what was first called The Massachusetts School for Idiotic and Feebleminded Youth, founded in South Boston. Diagnosed by doctors as idiots, morons, and imbeciles (actual medical terms of the day), Maxine, Alice, Rose, and London endure the harsh conditions of the institution while continuing to live deeply meaningful lives.
Janine Pibal (WCYA), along with writer/composer Kristen Baum, was awarded a collaborative writing residency by Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project in August/ September 2019. The Spring Creek Project is a convening organization that sponsors writers’ residencies, readings, lectures, conversations, and symposia on issues and themes of critical importance to the health of humans and nature. During the residency, Janine and Kristen worked on a middle grade novel that reflects the mission of the Spring Creek Project, which is to bring together the practical wisdom of the environmental sciences, the clarity of philosophical analysis, and the creative, expressive power of the written word to find new ways to understand and re-imagine our relation to the natural world. Pibal’s picture book, Cleo and Cornelius: A Tale of Two Cities and Two Kitties, co-written with Elizabeth Nicholson and Nick Geller and illustrated by Michelle Thies, tied for Bronze in the 2019 Moonbeam Children’s Books Awards in the Picture Book 4-8 year old category. Joy Pope (W) became the new Interim Executive Director of the Decatur Book Festival, one of the largest independent book festivals in the country, in January 2020.
Moksha Sommer (VA) worked with visual artist Jana Harper, choreographer Rebecca Steinberg, and filmmaker Sam Boyette on THIS HOLDING, a physical exploration of personal empathy. The project was originally conceived as a live performance but was reimagined for the camera in light of the pandemic, taking a timely look at our responsibilities to each other as citizens of a global community. The environmental performance was filmed from a distance at various outdoor locations in Nashville during isolation, examining individual and collective burdens, and what it means to feel connected to something larger than ourselves—especially when apart. The film screened online through OZ Arts Nashville in May–June 2020. It was made possible in part by support from the National Endowment for the Arts; The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy at Vanderbilt University; The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee; Metro Arts Nashville; and the Office of the Provost at Vanderbilt University. Sommer’s main project, HuDost, recently won an IMA (The Independent Music Awards) in the Social Action Song Category for “Rise Together.” This song is from their most recent album, of Water + Mercy, that reached #24 on the Billboard Sales Charts for Folk/Americana.
Hilary Vandusen at Candlewick has bought world rights to Suma Subramaniam’s (WCYA) debut picture book, Namaste Is a Greeting, an exploration of Namaste through everyday actions and simple observations to honor the divine within all people. Publication is set for fall 2022.
Bruce Arlen Wasserman’s (W) poem “From Rechavia” won the second place Anna Davidson Rosenberg 2019 Poetry Award from Poetica magazine. The poem takes a dive into the hills and alleys, the flora and sacred spaces, the bullet pockmarks and emergent life that rises in Jerusalem.
James Curry’s (F) documentary MASTERJAM screened in the Long Form Documentary competition and won two awards at the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) SuperRegional On-Location Conference in Boulder, CO, in October 2019; an Award for Excellence and the Chairman’s Choice award. Curry also published an article about the making of the film in the BEA publication, the Journal of Media Education (JOME), in October.
Jenny Davis (MC) ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in July 2019 to fund the production of the Yeoman Warders Project, a trilogy song cycle of compositions Davis worked on at VCFA, featuring fellow VCFA alumnx, faculty, and musicians. She also started Three Penny Records with 2019 alumnx Vanessa Littrell and Tiffany Pfeiffer.
Jennifer Ditona (VA) collaborated with artist and curator Naomi Even-Aberle (’19 VA) on an exhibition titled The Idea of You in June–August 2020, as part of EvenAberle’s The Kitchen Sink Project. In this body of work, Ditona asked women from differing backgrounds to respond to the question, “In a relationship you’ve had, no matter how brief or drawn out, how did the idea of you that someone else had differ from the reality—and vice versa?” She received very intimate, relatable responses, and she took their stories as well as a few of her own and turned the words into art. The work explores the intersection of feminine idealism and a personal truth, and is based on the façade that often canvases a relationship. Nicholas Emery (VA) collaborated with Emilie Upczak (’15 F) on Controlled Wild, a video installation visually exploring human industry, expansion, movement, and boundaries, as well as public and private land, wildlife, and wildlife crossing corridors in North Denver. The piece received an INSITE FUND grant from the Redline Contemporary Art Center and the Andy Warhol Foundation. The fund describes itself as “a grant program that responds to the gap in funding support for artistdriven projects on Colorado’s Front Range in non-traditional spaces.”
Kate Bucca’s (W) short story “Chlorine” was one of ten winning stories and essays selected by Kate Bernheimer for inclusion in the 2019 Masters Review Anthology, released in October 2019. Min Choi (GD) presented a talk at the 2nd International Conference on Disability Studies, Arts & Education, held at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia in October 2019. From the conference website: “This conference aims to bring together artists, educators, researchers, students, and members of the disability community who share an interest in, or whose work addresses, the intersections and interplay between critical disability studies, arts, and education. The scope of the conference comprises various art forms, such as visual arts, performing arts, dance, and film, as well as different contexts of education, such as primary education, higher education, professional artists’ education and public pedagogy.”
Stephen Geller’s (W) short story, “Fallen Leaves,” was published in the spring 2019 issue of National University’s GNU Journal. Another story, “The Obi-Wan Machine,” appeared in The MacGuffin, volume 36, number 1, in spring 2020. Anne Krawitz’s (W) story “The Cottage” was selected in the top 25 for the final Glimmer Train Family Matters contest.
Allison Hong Merrill (W) is the very first winner of the Sandra Carpenter Prize for Creative Nonfiction, announced in June 2020. Merrill’s memoir, Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops, which she worked on during her time at VCFA, is forthcoming from She Writes Press in the Fall 2021 catalog. Linda Murphy Marshall (W) became the Translation Editor of the Los Angeles Review in 2020. She also published numerous pieces in 2019–2020, including “Fifty Minutes” (Storgy Magazine, August 2019), “Photographic Memory” (Los Angeles Review, 2020), “Child’s Play” (The Maryland Literary Review, December 2019), “Déjà Vu” (American Writers Review: A Literary Journal: Art in the Time of COVID-19, June 2020), “Mistaken Identity” (Adelaide Literary Magazine, May 2020), “Bittersweet” (American Writers Review, Honorable Mention in 2019 contest), and book review of MFAW faculty Patrick Madden’s Disparates (PopMatters, May 2020). Patricia D. Pin’s (W) first published poem, “Contagion,” was published by the Straw Dog Writers’ Guild in May 2020. Heather Snyder Quinn (GD) was a winner of the 2019 STA 100 for her VCFA thesis work, Transparency: Past, Present, Future. Awarded by the Society of Typographic Arts, it recognizes “the 100 best examples of typographic excellence produced each year.” Rosemary Rae’s (GD) artist book, A Spider Sewed at Night, was accepted into “Biblio Spectaculum,” a national juried book arts exhibition of artist books and textbased visual works. The exhibit was at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, NY, in June–August 2020. Rae’s accordion-folded book showcases her own writing and collages inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson and is a complement to the thesis she completed at VCFA in 2018.
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Megan Vered (W) and Jennifer Lang (’16 W) co-wrote a post on Brevity in May 2020, “Writers Near and Far: Shared Prompts and Tic-Tac-Toe Boxes,” describing the post-COVID-19 changes that occurred with their writing group as they shifted from in-person to Zoom meetings. Vered’s essay “We Want the Park” was published in Coachella Review in June 2020.
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Marcie Roman’s (W) middle grade fantasy novel, The Parallels, was the winner of the 2020 Kraken Book Prize for Middle-Grade Fiction and will be published by Fitzroy books in 2022. Roman’s short story “The Why Nots and the Whys” appeared in the winter/spring 2020 issue of CALYX, and her story “In a State of Near Deletion” appeared in Split Lip magazine. Both were written at VCFA. Liza Nash Taylor’s (W) first historical novel, Etiquette for Runaways, was listed in Parade magazine’s “30 Best Beach Reads of 2020” and listed as one of Frolic. media’s “20 Best Books of Summer 2020.” It was released in August 2020 by Blackstone Publishing. Gina Tron (WP) will publish her poetry book, Star 67, with Vegetarian Alcoholic Press in November 2020. It has been called a “book to buy” by both Entropy and the Kenyon Review. The manuscript for her memoir, Suspect, was included on the longlist for the 2020 Tarpaulin Sky Book Awards. The manuscript was first completed at VCFA as Tron’s thesis and has since been revised many, many times. In November 2019, Tron taught a two-day poetry master class to students at the New Mexico School for the Arts. The class taught students how to write POV poems with a focus on the work of the poet Ai. Tron’s poem “It’s Over” was published in Entropy magazine in September 2019.
Kristelle Ulrich’s (ADE) artwork was featured in an online news story on WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee, WI, in April 2020. The piece about Artists Working in Education (AWE) was called “Free locally curated online art gallery open to the public.” Ulrich’s piece, shown second in the video, is titled “Love in the Time of Corona” and depicts the connection of nature to patterns of our everyday living.
was accepted by Flowstone, every poem included had been published, and Backer’s editor, Michael Spring, convinced her the book should be titled Such Luck. Backer was a featured poet in issue 19 of Turtle Island Quarterly with a new poem and four poems from her Such Luck, along with a review by Marge Simon, a grandmaster of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Backer’s poem “Fire Escapes,” a disheveled abecedarian, took third prize in the 2019 Plough Poetry Competition, an international contest based in Devon. Other poems were published in the past 12 months in the following journals: Bamboo Ridge, Cider Press Review, Crannóg, DMQ Journal, Furious Gazelle, Gas/ Noble Quarterly, Hawaii Pacific Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Moria, San Pedro River Review, Snapdragon, Sweet Tree Review, SWIMM, Tar River Poetry, unstamatic, and Writing in a Woman’s Voice. The feature documentary co-directed by Jeff Bemiss (F), MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY, has been taken by Independent Lens for a 2021 broadcast premiere. Bemiss worked on this film during his time at VCFA.
The first chapter of Rhonda Zimlich’s (W) novel, Raising Panic, was published in the spring 2020, Vol. 2 anthology of Townsend Literary Journal. Zimlich also won the Dogwood Literary Journal 2020 award in nonfiction.
Sara Backer’s (W) first full-length book of poems, Such Luck, was published by Flowstone Press in September 2019 and nominated for an Elgin Award. The poems explore what it is like to be fully alive and aware in a somewhat surreal world. The collection began to take shape in a VCFA residency workshop led by David Wojahn and focused on constructing chapbooks. By the time it
“The RIF,” a short story from Fred Bubbers’ (W) creative thesis, has been published as a prose chapbook by Blue Cubile Press in March 2020. In it, a middle manager at a tech company copes with the stresses of software product development, office politics, and an estranged family.
Tristen Click (GD) was selected from over 150 applicants to present her MFA thesis, [Dis]embodied Senses: Interaction Beyond the Screen, at the Design Educator Symposium of the 2020 AIGA Design Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. The conference was postponed because of the pandemic and is now scheduled for November 2020. In June 2020, she presented virtually at the SEGD Summer Academic Summit, a forum for trends in design education research, projects, and curriculum innovation. Presenters are chosen in a peer-review process by the Academic Steering Committee of SEGD of papers submitted from educators and practitioners. Sarah Curtis Graziano’s (W) essay “I Fought the Law: A Love Song” was published in the fall 2019 issue of Crazyhorse journal. Naomi Even-Aberle (VA) has created The Kitchen Sink Project, a curatorial and exhibition project with her husband, Nik Aberle. Both are taking inspiration from the phrase “everything but the kitchen sink.” The phrase originated around the early 1900s, and the first print reference can be found in 1918 in the newspaper The Syracuse Herald. The expression became popular during World War II, where it was said that everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at the enemy. As artists, the couple believes that creating space to nurture, grow, and share the process and work of other artists is important. To this end, the couple is curating an exhibition space within their very own kitchen. Unlike the original idiom, the project strives to leave nothing out—even saying yes to the kitchen sink. In June 2020, the Kitchen Sink Project worked with alumnx Jennifer Ditona (’18 VA) on an exhibition titled “The Idea of You,” with virtual event Art Speaks. Even-Aberle’s work “My Dakota Body” was included in the first issue of Rural Slop, a new visual art publication, in June 2020. The publication “challenges and subverts traditional notions of rural visual art.”
Lindsay Gacad (WP) joined the faculty of Norwich University in January 2020 as an adjunct professor of English, teaching Composition and Literature I & II, as well as Professional & Technical Writing. Sue Ganz-Schmitt (WCYA) will publish two picture books in October 2020: That Monster on the Block (Two Lions) and Now I’m a Bird (Albert Whitman). Ganz-Schmitt wrote these two picture books during her VCFA experience under the wise guidance of Sharon Darrow and Tom Birdseye. Her Bath Spa University summer residency, with its bold peacocks poking into the lectures, helped inspire Now I’m a Bird. She also wishes to give special thanks to Jane Kurtz for the picture book intensive and David Almond for Skellig.
In fall 2019, Kevin Gilmore (VA) organized and facilitated a weeklong Visual Development Residency at Jamestown Arts Center in Jamestown, RI. Participants, all working artists with a current studio practice in visual art, arrived for the journey of focused studio time and critiques with artist mentors, including alumnx Maggie Nowinski (’07 VA). The week finished with a public exhibition of the work existing partly “in progress” as well as work hung in a gallery, for sale. Live music accompanied the event, courtesy of a jazz trio led by current student Antonio Forte (’21 MC).
Evan Griffith (WCYA) taught an online half-day course called “Writing the Menagerie: Crafting Amazing Animals in Your Children’s Book” through the Writing Barn in December 2019. The class focused on crafting compelling animal characters in children’s fiction, an extension of Griffith’s critical thesis and graduate lecture at VCFA. Ernie Hadley (W) started Nevermore Press in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, in March 2018. In 2020, Rosalie Osmond’s Broken Symmetry, the first book published by Nevermore, was shortlisted for the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for fiction, given by the Atlantic Book Awards Society. The first book published under Nevermore’s Trap Door Book imprint for middle grade and YA readers, Jacques’ Escape by Anne C. Kelly, was shortlisted for the Hackmatack 2020–21 Children’s Choice Award.
Tom Jessen (VA) was chosen along with 33 other artists to participate in the 2020 Biennial at the Center for Contemporary Art in Rockland, ME. The exhibition will run from October 3, 2020, through February 28, 2021. Featured piece: “Atsuko?...It’s Tom!” (2020) 60” x 60” — tin cans, yarn, enamel paint)” Samuel Kolawole’s (WP) debut novel, The Road to Salt Sea, will be published in 2021 by Amistad Books, a division of HarperCollins. The book follows a Nigerian man involved in a crime who makes a treacherous journey across the Trans-Saharan migration route and must reckon with the dangers of being a migrant in contemporary Africa. Sarah Leamy (W) opened a writing studio in Madrid, NM, offering facilitated writing groups and generative drop-in classes. The first retreat was held in November 2019.
Jimmy Henderson (GD) was a winner of the 2019 STA 100 for “Meads of Poetry,” work completed as part of his VCFA thesis. Awarded by the Society of Typographic Arts, it recognizes “the 100 best examples of typographic excellence produced each year.”
Vanessa Littrell (MC), Tiffany Pfeiffer (MC), and Jenny Davis (’18 MC) started their own record label, Three Penny Records. Its mission is to foster support, accessibility, and advocacy for independent creatives through a cooperative record label. Shruthi Manjula Balakrishna (GD) won a 2019 American Graphic Design Award from GDUSA for her MFA thesis, Under the Influence — Enter the Void. From the award website: “This year’s showcase of 600 pieces (winnowed from more than 12,000 entries) reflects the many ways that graphic design shapes business and society, products and services, commerce and culture and causes. Winners run the gamut from print and packaging to internet and interactive, from dream assignments to bread and butter endeavors, from established stars to rising newcomers, from red states to blue.”
TJ McGlinchey (MC) has been hired as the K–8 Music Teacher at Jay Cooke Elementary in Philadelphia, PA, for the 2020–21 school year. He and Hrysoula Davis welcomed their daughter, Georgia Sue McGlinchey, on August 18, 2019. Anne McGrath’s (W) essay “Behold Invisibility,” was a Southhampton Review finalist for the TSR 2020 Nonfiction Prize. She’s also had pieces published in Columbia Journal, online at AARP and Essay Daily, and in Past Ten (created by fellow MFA in Writing alumnx Donald Quist (‘13), Kali White VanBaale (‘12), and Bailey Gaylin Moore (‘20)) in 2020. Anastaci Pacella (VA) founded The Cordial Eye Gallery and Artist Space, of which she is the Curator and President. In 2020 they launched their first residency program, a Residency in Joy that explores joy as a form of resistance. Leslie Moore Parker (GD) was promoted to Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Arkansas State University.
Blake Z. Rong (WP) wrote all the stories for gestalten’s Beautiful Machines: The Era of the Elegant Sports Car, “a lavish ode to the world’s greatest automobiles,” published in October 2019.
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Tobias Wolff selected Dewaine Farria’s (W) novel, Revolutions of All Colors, as the winner of the 2019 Veterans Writing Award. The book is scheduled to be published by Syracuse University Press in the fall of 2020.
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Mark Schimmel (F) co-produced 2nd unit for the Quibi show The Now shot in the quad cities (Iowa and Illinois). The show—directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly and co-written by Peter Farrelly, Steve Leff, and Pete Jones—follows Ed Poole, a man who resolves to “just live in the now” when a secret from his past emerges and seemingly wrecks his future. Schimmel’s thesis film, THE MUSICIAN, continues to gather film festival laurels. Since its completion at the end of his first year in the Film program, the short fantasy musical film has been screened at Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival (Grand Jury Award), Kansas International Film Festival, Patrick Lives On Chicago Showcase, Lake County Film Festival, Barrington Independent Film Festival, Vegas Film Festival, Jellyfest, Midwest Independent Film Festival, Queen Palm, and most recently at Richmond International Film Festival.
Jessica Stratton (VA) was scheduled to have an in-person gallery show in May 2020 at the Community Arts Partnership CAP ArtSpace in Ithaca, NY, but COVID-19 got in the way. The gallery owner offered to sponsor Stratton for a virtual show in June because the gallery did not plan to open for more than a year, and she accepted. The exhibition, “Resilient,” includes work that is rooted in the physical breakdown of the human body alongside the persistence of the human spirit. The work is biographical but aims to honor how we collectively endure, asking these questions: What makes us resilient? How do we embody trauma and move forward? Ruth Underhill (W) led the first Tongass Mist Writing Retreat in Sitka, AK, in November 2019, with MFA in Writing faculty member Robert Vivian as visiting writer.
Cameron Baumgartner (W) began a new role as Reviewing Editor at CRAFT literary magazine in May 2020. This is her first job in a literary capacity, and she proudly notes, “I wouldn’t have gotten it without my MFA!”
The Barnard-Columbia Chamber Singers performed sacred and secular choral compositions by Tamara Cashour (MC) in October 2019 as part of their Muse’s Voice series at Sulzberger Plaza. Megan DiGeorgio (MC) won TURNmusic’s 2019 Collegiate Composition Prize for “Partial Pressures,” a string quartet written at VCFA and performed by TURNmusic in September 2019 at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, VT. Julian Gerstin’s (MC) compositions were featured at Farmers Night at the Vermont State House with the Julian Gerstin Sextet in January 2020. Karen Krossing (WCYA) was to be included as faculty at the SCBWI Canada East Art of Story Conference in April 2020, but the conference was canceled due to COVID-19. She planned to speak on “How To Build Character Cultural Literacy” based on her grad lecture and critical thesis. Laura Beth Kujawa (WP), Jordan Glynn (WP), and Kelsi Long (WP) have started Canned, a literary magazine that seeks comfort in the off-kilter. The magazine is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts and is a proud member of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses. Submissions for poetry, fiction, and essay opened on July 12, 2020. Miles Liss’ (W) poem “Folding up Nets” was published in Gargoyle 71. Liss would like to thank David Wojahn, who offered valuable advice on this poem. Amber Lough (WCYA) published Open Fire with Lerner Books in March 2020. The book is a YA historical novel about a girl who joins the Russian Women’s Battalion of Death in 1917 to fight in World War I.
Basmah Sakrani (W) received an Honorable Mention for the 2019 Elizabeth Sloan Tyler Memorial Award in the Literary category by Woven Tale Press. It was judged by Ann Beattie.
CURRENT STUDENTS Pernille AEgidius Dake’s (W) poem “The Lord’s Prayer Recycled” was published in Adelaide magazine in November 2019. Dake’s flash fiction story “Exit” appeared in Dime Show Review in January 2020.
Alison Braid’s (W) debut chapbook, Little Hunches, was published in March 2020 by Anstruther Press in Toronto.
Two poems by Frank DiPalermo (W) were finalists in the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize. The three poems DiPalermo submitted resulted from a residency workshop in prose poetry with Leslie Ullman and Richard Jackson. “The Danger of Moonglow” and “Hope” received an Honorable Mention and were published in the 2019-20 San Diego Poetry Annual. Tessa Smith McGovern’s (W) short story “What About Me? #selkiemother” was published in issue 255 of Crack the Spine literary magazine in October 2019.
Anne Myles’ (W) poem “Fomenting Women” appeared in the fall 2019 issue of the North American Review, the country’s oldest literary magazine. Drawing on Myles’ background as a professor of early American literature, it is part of a collection in progress on the Quaker martyr Mary Dyer. Natalia Perchemlides’s (W) essay “Records on Bone” was published in the July 2019 issue of the Colorado Review. In it, she (as her pseudonym Tali Perch) “considers the complicated intersections of and spaces between her Ukrainian/ Russian/Jewish/American identities.”
Got News? Want it to be featured in a future issue of in residence? The VCFA community wants to hear about you! Tell us about your latest piece of work, professional accomplishment, or anything else you’re proud of. We know that VCFA alumnx are doing exciting things every day, and we can’t wait to hear all about it! Just visit vcfa.edu/share-your-news and fill out the form. If you’d like to get involved with alumnx events and volunteering opportunities, contact email@example.com.
By Richard Jackson (Faculty, W) We stood there by the side of Lake Bled, Slovenia, 1992, opposite the castle that loomed above the cliffs, our common friends, Aleš Debeljak and Tomaž Šalamun introducing us, for Ralph and I had read each other’s work, but had never met. In fact, the four of us were escaping a boring talk at a conference there, and exchanging our favorite writer stories, mostly exaggerated, a pastime we continued through the years in Vermont and wherever we bumped into one another. It was Ralph’s look of bemusement, followed by a gutsy laugh, and his way of keeping the conversation going from what I would call an intimate distance, that so intrigued me, and, I believe, all who met him. And it is that intimate distance that defines his poems. In an essay, “On Preparing for a Tribute Reading,” he describes what he calls “the story of what isn’t the story.” For me, that explains lines like “what’s most painful / is most hidden, even from me,” lines that reveal so much. He wrote that his drama teacher once told him, “To act drunk, act like a man trying not to be drunk.” It’s a principle that increasingly drove his poems and reminded me, I told him once, of Miles Davis’ “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” What’s not there. Now I am haunted by the lines from “Privilege of Silence”; “The dead don’t leave; some part of us / is missing.” Intimate distance, absent presence. I can still hear that presence in his voice, in the way he read aloud: a slow, quiet inevitability that, when a poem was finished, left a space, a kind of pause that invited you to enter, unlock the doors, listen to silences, take what you needed. I can’t help but think that voice also derived from his love of Lorca, whose poems he described as having “a unique fluidity—full of discrete interruptions, accents, and silences.” For Ralph, that voice was how you “make” a poem, not write it, for it was always an act of creation. And that was a principle he kept emphasizing when he visited Chattanooga for our writer’s conference, and which so opened the door for students, and opened it in such a way as to let their own styles, their own accents flower, let his own ego as a teacher slip back into those silences. He’d sit there on my couch, students on the floor around him entering those doors. Every time we were together he’d ask about those students.
We had begun back a few decades ago talking about other writers across from an ancient castle, and one of the last things we did together, along with Bret Lott, was record a poem each, of and for the memorial of another common friend, Jim Tate, in the Crowley Lounge at VCFA, at the 2019 summer residency. We lamented too, our many lost friends, including Aleš and Tomaž who brought us together, and remarked, so sadly ironical as I think of it now, how so many of those friends had passed. As I write this I am also looking at Ralph’s chapbook from last fall (Strays, Foundlings Press), and an “Untitled” poem that starts off with all the bustle of everyday life, then moves to ashes, tears, “whispering aspens,” and ends: “an angel comes and taps / my lips.” An angel. How fitting. How consoling to think so. The invisible, the silence. The absent presence. Playing what’s not there, speaking the silences of its lines. The story that isn’t the story. And I can almost hear him now, hearing him through that intimate distance that finds us all. What would he say? I hear him now through his own lines from “A Wind Will Carry Us,”—“If someone asks, say I’m / looking for buried treasure.” Ralph Angel was a long-time faculty member of the MFA in Writing, serving the program from 1998 to 2020.
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Remembering Ralph Angel (1951–2020)
A Community Gives 44 :: giving at VCFA
Every year hundreds of alumnx and other art lovers put their generosity into action by making gifts to VCFA. With tuition covering roughly 80% of the college’s operating costs, these donations make everything we do possible. No matter the size, every gift to the VCFA FUND matters and gives us the flexibility to address emerging issues while also supporting things like scholarships, faculty development, and the many visiting artists and scholars we bring to VCFA each year. Another top funding priority is to ensure that anyone who is accepted into a VCFA program is able to attend, regardless of their financial situation. A gift to the ARTISTS DEVELOPMENT FUND provides scholarship support to enable new, important, and emerging artists from diverse backgrounds to join the VCFA community.
Giving to VCFA is easy and can take many forms: •
Make a donation using the envelope enclosed in this magazine or donate online at vcfa.edu/donate.
Join the “MFA Society” by committing to a monthly gift (see page 47)
Leave a legacy by including VCFA in your estate plans (see page 45)
Round up your classmates to make a class gift. We’d be happy to work with you on the logistics–email firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate.
Volunteer to work with the Alumnx Affairs team on events, communication, and outreach to potential students by sending an email to email@example.com.
Spread the word! Share your #VCFALove with your networks and recommend us to your friends.
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“[Faculty] poured themselves into me and my work, my growth and development, and I wanted to find a way to thank them”
Sarah C.B. Guthrie (’10 VA) Leaves a Legacy to Support Future VCFA Faculty
To this day, Sarah says that the friendships she made at VCFA are some of the strongest she has. Perhaps the most profound influences came from the faculty Sarah worked with, including Faith Wilding, Ulrike Müller, Ashley Hunt, Lana Lin, Marie Shurkus, and Dont Rhine. “Every single faculty member pushed me leaps and bounds in my intellect and my ability to think at a high level about what I was doing with my work.” Sarah says that only at the end of the program did she realize that her instructors could see something in her that she hadn’t been able to see in herself. Inspired by the selfless and impassioned faculty she worked with, Sarah began to think deeply about how she could give back. As Sarah and her husband began to consider their retirement and estate plans, she realized she could include charitable gifts as part of her legacy. Sarah asked questions of herself: “Where do I think the most good could happen? What’s been the most beneficial for me?” and settled on adding VCFA as a beneficiary to her estate. Sarah’s gift will be used to establish a Faculty Appreciation Fund in her name, which will support MFA in Visual Art faculty in the future. Once endowed, the fund will provide faculty
members with financial support to pursue their own artistic projects and development. “What really inspired me was thinking back on the relationships I had with faculty members and the profound difference they made in my life. They poured themselves into me and my work, my growth and development, and I wanted to find a way to thank them. The work they do is a sacrifice. It is their way to expand the importance of art in the world and the impact that artists can have. I wanted to honor them and their gift to me by giving a gift to them and to the future faculty of VCFA.” “We’re in this time where estate planning is really important,” Sarah says, encouraging her fellow alumnx to plan for their future and invest in art. “For me, the most important focus for that investment was with the faculty at VCFA. For others, it might be supporting students or creating student travel funds. There are great opportunities to support an institution that has made such a huge difference in our lives.”
a community gives
When Sarah C.B. Guthrie came to VCFA, she already had ten years of painting experience. Graduate school was appealing because she felt like she had hit a roadblock in her work. She had so much she wanted to say politically and intellectually with her art, but she didn’t know how to translate that passion onto the canvas. She enrolled in the MFA in Visual Art program, which, due to its lowresidency model, worked the best for her full-time work schedule.
Leave a Legacy One of the simplest, most effective ways to support VCFA is to make a bequest naming us in your estate plan. Large or small, every gift can make a significant impact and ensure your support for VCFA continues after you are gone. Whether you’re having a will prepared for the first time or revising your existing plans, you can easily add a provision for VCFA. For more information or a confidential conversation about ways you can support the College with your estate, please contact LIBBY JOHNSON at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-828-8555. Have you already included VCFA in your estate planning? Let us know! We want to be sure your gift will be used exactly as you intend, and it would be our honor to thank you.
46 :: giving at VCFA
“ It’s good to support organizations we believe in. It’s a way to say ‘thank you’ and pay it forward when we’re able to do so.”
Liza Nash Taylor (’18 W) A self-titled “late bloomer,” Liza Nash Taylor knows that it sometimes takes a few career shifts before finding yourself as a writer. Her winding journey—from the fashion world to running small businesses to being the forthcoming author of two historical novels she worked on during her MFA— has led Liza to support a new scholarship for VCFA students who are 40 years or older, the FowlerMcCown Scholarship Fund (named in honor of faculty members Connie May Fowler and Clint McCown). Writing, Liza says, came to her as a surprise. Fresh out of college, a young Liza found herself working in the heart of 1980s New York as a fashion designer for Ralph Lauren. She soon traded the bustle of the city for the quiet of Nantucket Island, where she owned an antiques shop. Later on, she switched gears again and freelanced as a photo stylist while designing a line of eco-baby clothes. Then, eight years ago, Liza decided to go back to school and pursue a degree in English. It wasn’t long after enrolling in a creative writing class that she fell in love with the craft of storytelling, and in 2015 she found herself at the VCFA Novel Retreat. The week-long retreat was not only the first writing conference she had ever attended: it was the first time she had ever read her work out loud. With the encouragement of VCFA faculty member Connie May Fowler, Liza applied for the MFA in Writing program. She says, “VCFA was exactly what I was looking for. I loved that the student base was a mix of ages and backgrounds.”
The MFA in Writing program became a haven of support for Liza, and many of the friendships and connections she made there have sustained through the years. Through tough workshops. Through sub-zero temperatures. Through graduate lectures and the grueling writing of theses. And even this year, through a global pandemic (albeit via Zoom). She says, “We all share this bond of having been through the VCFA program, and there is genuine support and, I think, love in this community.” Liza explains the importance of giving back to the communities that inspire us: “It’s good to support organizations we believe in. It’s a way to say ‘thank you’ and pay it forward when we’re able to do so.” Before she graduated, Liza signed with an agent and was toggling between revising a manuscript and drafting a new novel. She says, “I promised myself that if I ever got a book deal, I would give something back to VCFA.” When the manuscripts for both Etiquette for Runaways (August 2020) and In All Good Faith (2021) sold, she knew it was time to make good on her promise. And for Liza the “late-blooming writer,” supporting a scholarship for writers over 40 was a no-brainer. “I wanted to help someone like myself,” she says, “someone who was coming into the program—and maybe into writing—a bit later in life.”
a community gives
Supports a New Scholarship for Writers over 40
Katie Van Ark (’16 WCYA) Gives a Clever Tribute to Her Graduating Class Every Month
According to Katie, the idea for a recurring donation of $20.16 was a fun way to reference her graduating class. “At first it seemed a little silly because $20.16 a month isn’t that much,” Katie says. “I think that so often, people think that a donation needs to be sizable to make a difference, but if many people give a little it really does make a big difference.” Katie cites her mother, Karmen Kooyers, as the person who made all the difference in her own life. “Giving back to VCFA is a way to connect with [my mother] as well because she’s also a graduate of the WCYA program (Wild Things, January 2005). Without witnessing her journey, I never would have even imagined joining the world of children’s authors.” From an early age, Katie dreamed of becoming a teacher, a career she went on to pursue and continues to this day, teaching grades 1-4 in a remote Ojibwe community in Ontario. When Karmen decided to pursue her own dream of becoming a writer, Katie found herself contemplating what life as a teacher and a writer could look like. “Very early in my first WCYA residency at VCFA, I attended a lecture given by Martine Leavitt, and it challenged me in a really good way—the
overwhelming feeling at that moment that this was absolutely what I wanted to do,” Katie says. She already held a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education, but she felt that her time at VCFA was more rigorous and fulfilling than any of her previous academic experiences. Katie, whose debut YA novel, The Boy Next Door, was published by Macmillan in 2015, remembers that it was at VCFA that she “really began to understand the power that stories can have, too, to bring positive change to the world.” During this year of physical isolation, the writing community of VCFA has been a “pillar of familiarity,” connection, and positivity for Katie and many other writers from her cohort. “I believe there’s no better time than our current time to remember how art can sustain, console, and be an outlet for processing our emotions.” About her choice to give back, she says, “My experiences at VCFA both had and continue to have a profound impact on my life. In these uncertain times, I want to contribute to keeping VCFA well and alive so that others can have experiences like the one I was able to have.”
a community gives
In 2016, Katie Van Ark graduated from the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program with the rest of her class, the Inkredibles, by her side. Four years later, she continues to honor her experience at VCFA and her graduating year in a creative and affordable way: by giving a donation of twenty dollars and sixteen cents to the college each month.
Join the MFA Society: Become a Monthly Funder of the Arts Support our global community of artists with a simple monthly gift to VCFA. We promise, it will be much easier than getting your actual MFA was! It’s simple to use our online donation form (vcfa.edu/donate) to set up an automatic payment. Whatever amount you choose, you can feel good about bolstering the VCFA community—and members of the MFA Society get invitations to special lectures and events, too.
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“ I want to contribute to keeping VCFA well and alive so that others can have experiences like the one I was able to have.”
Annual Report of Gifts 48 :: report of gifts
With deepest gratitude, we acknowledge the following donors— alumnx, students, faculty, trustees, staff, and other friends–whose generosity supports the entire VCFA community. The list below represents donors who made gifts to VCFA from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. We have made every effort to be sure our list is comprehensive and accurate. Please accept our apologies for any errors or omissions, and contact email@example.com to make any corrections. We once again extend our sincere thanks to our community of donors and supporters. Thank you, donors!
455 Foundation Irene Abraham ’06 Pamela Ahlen ’07 Diane Allenberg ’88 Kumkum Amin ’05 Kathi Appelt ’82 Rafael Attias ’15 Alissa Auerbach Tricia Thibodeaux Baar ’06 Mary Bailey ’99 Catharine Barber ’13 Kathi Baron ’04 T.A. Barron Armando Batista ’20 Cameron Baumgartner ’20 Mary Beath ’20 Carol Beatty ’90 Elizabeth Bedell ’19 Ramona Bell ’17 Susan Berardi ’18 Jeffrey Bernstein Lara Bessette ’19 Elizabeth Bluemle ’04 Helen Bolgrien Elizabeth Booker ’16 Alexandra Broches ’99 Martha Brockenbrough Beth Brody ’17 Tami Lewis Brown ’06 Eliza Browning Ellizabeth Buchanan ’98 Charles Bunting The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation Joan Canby ’08 Ellen Cantrell ’20 Capitol Plaza Corporation Cynthia Carau ’20 Taylor Card ’20 Ann Dávila Cardinal ’07
Patricia Carey ’16 Caroline Carlson ’11 Margaret Carouthers ’20 Catherine Carvelli Maureen Charles ’19 Peter Christie Chroma Technology Corp Sheree Chua ’22 Daniel Clark ’93 Susan Clark ’64 Joan Cohen ’04 George Colis Valerie Colis Michael Colonello Hal Colston Winifred Conkling ’11 Connor Contracting, Inc. Jeanne Cook ’00 Amy Coombs ’15 Hope Coppinger ’03 Patricia Crane ’04 Carla Criscuolo ’14 Sarah Crow ’20 Louise Crowley Sarah Curtis Graziano ’19 Caleb Curtiss ’20 Danielle Dahline ’01 David Daniel Sharon Darrow ’96 Meredith Davis ’11 Kathleen Diehl ’84 Jessica Dils ’10 Vivian Dorsel ’06 Meagan Downey Eugenie Doyle ’95 Debbie Dunn ’06 Gregory Ellis ’94 Alexandra Enders ’00 Renee Epstein Jill Ewald ’95
Cynthia Faughnan ’07 Janet Filomeno ’06 & John Seaman Cameron Finch ’19 Melissa Fisher ’14 Judith Ford ’16 Susanne Forsyth ’20 Mary Foulk ’20 Janet Fox ’10 Pamela Galvani ’14 Sue Ganz-Schmitt ’19 Stephen Geller ’18 Chandler Gilman ’96 Debra Gingerich ’02 Dean Gloster ’17 Jinny & Mike Goldstein Daniel Gonzalez ’12 Melissa Gorzelanczyk ’20 Adam Grabowski ’20 Rima Grad ’17 Sondra Graff ’15 Holter Graham ’99 Barbara Gray ’20 Harry Groome ’00 Joan Grubin ’03 Theodore Guglin Katie Gustafson Caitlin Gutheil Meredith Hadaway ’03 Benjamin Hahn ’15 Nancy Hanson ’97 Pamela Harrison ’83 Charlotte Hauser ’20 Alastair Hayes Rachel Hayes ’17 Helen Hemphill ’04 Kay Henry ’16 Ellen Hersh ’94 Nancy Hewitt ’02 Hickok & Boardman, Inc. Gregory Hill ’14
Donald Moss Anne Myles ’21 National Life Group Susan Newbold ’00 Robert O’Connor ’06 Rebecca Olander ’15 Judith Padow ’16 Pamela Painter Leanne Pankuch Jericho Parms ’12 Paterson Family Foundation Katherine Paterson Pamela Pekich ’62 Anne Penfield ’11 Alyssa Pierce ’19 Wendy Powell ’15 Donna Pressman ’88 Linda Presto ’20 Marjorie Priebe ’21 Carol Purcell ’03 Helen Pyne ’11 Lorilee Rager ’21 Joyce Ray ’01 Shirley Reid ’47 Renee S. Reiner & Michael F. DeSanto Sharon Reynolds ’98 Alban Richey Susan Ritz Debra Rook ’19 Wendy Sanford ’03 Shelley Saposnik ’14 Linda Schneider ’02 Bill Schubart Douglas Scibeck ’20 Shelagh Connor Shapiro ’03 Joan Sidney ’08 Sue William Silverman ’88 Ingrid Silverstein ’08 Louise Simone ’04 Jackie Smith-Nielsen Meghan Smith ’19 Peter Smith Teresa Smith ’07 Jane Soderquist ’20 Sally Stiles ’01 Linda Stillman ’03 Maura Stokes ’03 Mark Stoler Anne-Marie Strohman ’20 Sarah Sullivan ’05 Liza Nash Taylor ’18 Pamela Taylor ’12 Diane Telgen ’17 Fredrika Thompson ’06 Peter Timpone Paul Tonnes ’13 & David John Poston Laura Tonwe Heidi & Jim Tringe Win Turner Sarah Twombly ’12 Katie Van Ark ’16 Janyth Vaughn-Gruler ’10 Yvonne Ventresca ’22 Megan Thygeson Vered ’17 Bridget Verhaaren ’22 Ashley Walker ’18
Elsa Waller ’94 Dana Walrath ’10 Leslie Ward ’16 Charlotte Warren ’95 Peter Watson Earl Wendel ’01 Carol Westberg ’96 Dianne White ’08 Thomas & Margaret Whitford Jeff Wiggins ’09 Faith Wilding Kathleen Wilson ’11 Nat Winthrop Vicki Wittenstein ’06 Gretchen Woelfle ’00 Worcester Hydro Company Inc. Roger Zahab Vincent Zandri ’97 Anne Ziebarth ’16 Rosamond Zimmermann ’16 Stanley Zumbiel ’08 and anonymous donors
In honor of Sue Burton ’96 Karen Jaquish ’96 In honor of Louise Crowley Martha Christina ’84 In honor of Mark Cox ’85, Rick Jackson, Natasha Sajé & Betsy Sholl. Elizabeth Coleman ’12 In honor of Uma Krishnaswami Anonymous In honor of Caitlin Leffel ’10 Suzanne Smith In honor of N. Scott Momaday Peter Smith In honor of Emily Rynd Sarah Lamstein In honor of Graham Salisbury ’90 Bruce Black In honor of Leslie Ward ’16 T.A. Barron Megan Thygeson Vered ’17 In memory of Craig Crist-Evans ’93 & Lynda Hull John Thelin ’95 In memory of George Floyd Anonymous In memory of Gilbert Garland Nancy Lagomarsino ’84 In memory of Frances Lee Hall ’08 Nancy Reynolds ’08 In memory of Dr. Janet Kaplan Mildred Kennedy-Stirling ’12 In memory of Norma Fox Mazer Anonymous Bruce Black In memory of Pamela Perkins-Frederick ’03 Natasha Sajé In memory of Thomas M. Wells Victoria Arms ’19
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Dwight Hilson ’15 Jeannette Hogan Michael J. Hogan Mary & Peter Hood M. Denise Hoover ’15 Andrew Hordes ’18 Beth Houde ’05 Roswitha Houghton ’06 Debra Hutchison ’03 Ronald Jackson ’20 Estate of Vera Jacyk ’01 Jeniah Johnson ’19 Katherine Quimby Johnson ’14 Libby Johnson Daphne Kalmar ’10 Helen Kampion ’07 Maggie Kast ’01 Leslie Kaufman ’95 Jeffrey Kellar John Kern ’96 & Valerie Hurley Darshana Khiani Edna King & Cara Armstrong Rebecca Kirshenbaum ’18 Kimberly Klement ’03 Jonathan Kohrs ’17 Anuradha Kumar ’16 Dale Kushner ’83 Bonnie Berry LaMon ’12 Jerome Lane ’16 Lynda Lantz ’98 B. Evelyn Lasky ’20 Sydney Lea Jeffrey Leong ’14 Ellen Lesser ’85 Becky Levine Suzanne Levine ’83 Corrinne Lewis ’07 Meredith Lewis ’12 Patricia Lewis ’99 Jacqui Lipton ’16 Vanessa Littrell ’19 Lory Lockwood ’00 Robert Macauley ’12 Kerry Macdonald Thomas MacLeay Sarah Madru Alex Malaspina Maple Capital Management, Inc. The Martin Foundation Casper Martin ’12 Cynthia Newberry Martin ’12 Mascoma Savings Bank Christopher Maselli ’07 Jody Maunsell Heather McClelland ’09 Thomas McEachin ’04 Anne McGrath ’19 Shawn McSweeney ’20 Hazen Metro David Meyer ’98 Craig Milewski ’13 Paul Millman Daniel Mizrachi MMR, LLC Wendy Mnookin ’91 Matthew Monk
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