IN RESIDENCE 2021 Vermont College of Fine Arts ALUMNX MAGAZINE
inside this issue Faculty View: TOMÁS Q. MORÍN Life After the MFA: JEFF BEMISS, NAOMI EVEN-ABERLE, SUZANNE S. RANCOURT Art: A Tool for Change Ten Years: Graphic Design & Music Composition Class News
Photo of Shanta Lee Gander (’21 W) taken by MacLean Charles Gander in southern France, 2018. Shanta is a photographer and writer across many genres whose fi st book, GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues, was published by Diode Editions in June 2021. Her second book of poetry, Black Metamorphosis, recently found a publisher and was shortlisted for the 2021 Cowles Poetry Prize. Her solo exhibition Dark Goddess was on display August 7 to September 26, 2021, at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, VT. During her time in Europe in 2018, she added to an ongoing project on humanity and mortality that will be explored across different mediums, still in an incubation period. To see more of her work, visit shantaleegander.com.
Features 4 Art: A Tool for Change 10 MFA in Graphic Design: 10 Years 12 MFA in Music Composition: 10 Years 18 Faculty View TOMÁS Q. MORÍN
20 When Community Just Clicks 22
Life After the MFA JEFF BEMISS NAOMI EVEN-ABERLE SUZANNE S. RANCOURT
IN RESIDENCE 2021
Vermont College of Fine Arts
Alumnx Focus 3 President’s Letter
40 VCFA’s Writing Community Remembers RICHARD MCCANN
6 Program Highlights
14 Faculty News
In Memoriam: DIANE MOSER
17 Finding & Following Our Compass: DEI at VCFA 26 Class News
Angela Paladino design
Sian Foulkes Foulkes Design contributing writers
Cameron Finch Grace Safford contributing photographers
44 Giving at VCFA
Jay Ericson Stefan Hard Brittany Powell
48 Report of Gifts
Volume 9, Number 1 © 2021
VER MO N T COLLEG E OF FI NE A RTS 36 College Street Montpelier, VT 05602 firstname.lastname@example.org www.vcfa.edu
10 Above: design by Vic Rodriguez Tang (’22 GD)
On the cover: collage by Mary-Kim Arnold (’16 W)
Dear VCFA Community, In recent weeks it seems the world around us has come alive. We have begun to reconnect with one another safely, communing over long walks and shared tables. While our time apart has tested our community, we have emerged more united, more resilient, and more attuned to the needs and priorities of our students, faculty, staff, and alumnx. During the pandemic, we did what strong communities do: we adapted, improvised, and found new ways to support each other, learn, and create together. In residency and alumnx events, through film screenings, readings, exhibitions, and musical performances, we were provoked to think creatively, feel more deeply, and love more generously. As VCFA enters its second decade as an independent arts college, we are conscious of the evolving landscape of the arts, the changing demographics of our students, and an increased need for support among our alumnx. It is the potential for art to connect and heal that drives us to look for more meaningful ways to sustain artists as we craft our upcoming strategic plan. Set to begin this year, this planning process represents not only our next phase as a college, but also our responsibility to support the next generation of changemakers at this critical moment in history.
We are committed to empowering artists not only in developing a sound creative practice, but to assume the professional skills, knowledge, and support needed to turn that creative practice into a career reality. By providing meaningful opportunities for exploration and collaboration at the intersection of arts and social justice, we will pave the way for our students to realize community-based change through the arts. Our newly launched Center for Arts + Social Justice will be integral to building the foundation upon which our students, faculty, and alumnx may envision a more just and equitable future. Through content-driven engagement opportunities including fellowships, visiting artists, and events, we will provide space for inclusive, innovative visions of contemporary arts activism. Our forthcoming strategic plan will leverage VCFA’s ability to invest in artists at every stage of their career, increasing the impact they can have on our communities at VCFA and beyond. At VCFA our students embark on a lifelong partnership with our programs that extends far beyond the conferral of their degrees. We are committed to empowering artists not only in developing a sound creative practice, but to assume the professional skills, knowledge, and support needed to turn that creative practice into a career reality. Our journey toward the new “normal” has been characterized by opportunities to use what we have learned over the past year about the power of art to connect and nourish us. As an institution dedicated to innovation, we are bringing all we have learned this past year and carrying that inspiration into our future. We look forward to welcoming you to join us both on campus and in our next chapter as a community of artists.
Sincerely, Leslie Ward (’16 W) President
4 :: Art: A Tool for Change
ART: A TOOL FOR CHANGE VCFA Launches New Center for Arts + Social Justice Throughout history, the arts have been integral to movements for social change.
Jennifer Skinder, Director of the Center for Arts + Social Justice
From the Mexican Muralists’ influence on workers’ rights in the 1920s, to Dorothea Lange’s and Gordon Parks’s documentary photography, to the Silence=Death Collective’s design work in ACT UP’s fight to end the AIDS epidemic, artists have reacted to injustice and created new languages and new ways of seeing. At VCFA, we have seen firsthand the power of artists continuing this tradition—writers upending the dominant narratives, artists and designers changing our visual perspective, fi mmakers affecting policy, and composers bridging divisive silences with music.
Inspired by that work and VCFA’s core belief that the arts “have the ability not only to reflect reality but also to create it,” the college has recently established a new Center for Arts + Social Justice. “As a community of artists, it is our responsibility to collaborate with our students, faculty, and alumnx to move conversations about inequity and injustice forward,” says President Leslie Ward, who led the effort to develop this initiative in 2019. While COVID-19 delayed the launch of the Center in 2020, the converging crises of the pandemic, climate change, and racial and social inequity only underscored the imperative for VCFA to take a more active role in supporting community-based change through the arts. “Art and storytelling provide powerful means to understand the past, disrupt inequality, and inspire new realities,” says Jennifer Skinder, Director of the Center for Arts + Social Justice. Drawing on her previous experience as the director of VCFA’s MA in Art & Design Education program, Skinder’s work is grounded in her knowledge of the VCFA community, core belief in the transformative power of art, and recognition of the many ways both individuals and institutions can contribute to the ecosystem of social change.
Alumnx: Interested in getting involved? In summer 2021, the Center announced its first slate of programming, including academic fellowships, sponsored residency guests, and special events. The Center’s academic fellowships will provide students across disciplines with financial support, mentorship, and opportunities to present their work. Moving forward, the Center aims to expand the fellowships program by providing similar resources to artists outside of the traditional MFA path, building an even broader network of artists working to tell the stories that matter to their communities. Working in collaboration with VCFA’s academic programs, the Office of Institutional Advancement, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Center’s event series will include lectures, screenings, readings, and workshops. “The academic programs are excited to have this opportunity to collaborate with the Center,” says Academic Dean Matthew Monk. “We’re particularly looking forward to the potential for interdisciplinary offerings that will both appeal to and engage artists across our disciplines of study.” The VCFA community is rich with artists and storytellers creating new realities at the forefront of social movements. Now launched, the Center for Arts + Social Justice looks to elevate and amplify this work, creating opportunities for learning and collaboration, supporting those following in the rich tradition of using art as a tool for change, and helping us all imagine a more just and equitable world.
The Center for Arts + Social Justice is actively seeking stories of alumnx working in the social justice arena. Opportunities for alumnx to mentor Center fellows and engage with programming as both presenters and participants are also in development. If you are interested in joining the Center’s network of artist activists working to make change through the arts, we’d love to hear from you! Contact email@example.com for more information.
Program Highlights 6 :: program highlights
This year, VCFA’s academic programs have continued refining and building the new learning formats we developed in 2020. Ongoing improvements in technology, the patience and creativity of our community, and virtual visits by exceptional guest artists and scholars from around the world have kept us inspired and edified while we all keep ourselves safe.
MFA in Film During the program’s second virtual residency, in October 2020, new visiting faculty members STEFON BRISTOL, JOAN DARLING, JOHN GIANVITO, LUCRECIA MARTEL, and EKWA MSANGI joined our community. The residency also included visiting filmmakers CHANELLE APONTE-PEARSON and the NEW NEGRESS FILM SOCIETY, JANICZA BRAVO, SARA FATTAHI, ZAINAB JAH, LISA MILINAZZO, and ALEXANDER NANAU. Following the residency, in November 2020, the program hosted a virtual event featuring a screening of WHOSE STREETS?—an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising—followed by a conversation with co-director DAMON DAVIS (’20) and Stefon Bristol. Davis and Bristol discussed their films and their creative approaches to addressing police violence against Black communities. In April 2021, the program held its third virtual residency, including screenings, workshops, and talkbacks with visiting filmmakers SHAKA KING, MIKE LEIGH, SAM POLLARD, DIANA KEREW, ALIA QUART KHAN, and MONA DAVIS. The Film community was thrilled to welcome new visiting faculty members MAMADOU DIA, HUBERT SAUPER, and AMALIA ULMAN.
MFA in Graphic Design In April 2020, Graphic Design paved the way as the first program to conduct a remote residency, and this year the program held another successful round of remote residencies. In the fall 2020 residency, the program hosted guest designers ANTIONETTE CARROLL, JAMAL NXEDLANA, MALICK KEBE, NGADI SMART, and OLIVIER LEBRUN. In the spring 2021 residency, guest designers included JAMES CHAE, KAITLIN CHAN, SAKURA NOMIYAMA, MANUEL KREBS, and RAFAEL ATTIAS (’15 F). In early 2021, VCFA conferred an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to CHERYL D. MILLER. Miller is a designer known for her diversity, equity, and inclusion work and her advocacy for Black graphic designers. The Graphic Design program was proud to honor such a prominent and important member of the design community. The MFA in Graphic Design program was named a 2021 Top Graphic Design program by GDUSA and Intelligent.com. VCFA’s program was ranked as number one and the “most intelligent pick” compared to a list of 348 top educational programs.
Left: Debbie Ridpath Ohi, winter 2019 WCYA visiting writer
MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults
MFA in Writing The Writing program has been a longstanding cornerstone at VCFA, and in 2021 the program celebrated its fortieth anniversary. The program has grown tremendously in its four-decade run, and it only continued to grow in the past year with new expansions, hires, and curriculum updates. In 2021, the Writing & Publishing program graduated its last class and will now be welcomed into the Writing program as a new study option for incoming students. The program introduced four additional new study options for current students, including cross-disciplinary opportunities and deep explorations into the intersections of form. In spring 2021, the International MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation program held its seventh and final residency and celebrated its first graduates. The remote residency focused on Southeast Asian writing and literature, featuring some of the most important and celebrated writers and translators of Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Students Zoomed in from a span of 16 time zones (from Los Angeles to Hokkaido). In order to best serve students, opportunities for translation study will continue to be offered through our Writing program (including an MFA in Literary Translation, as well as semester-long opportunities for study in translation), and international residencies will resume post-pandemic. On top of expanding upon exciting new curricular paths, in 2021 the Writing program welcomed new faculty members in fiction MICHAEL CROLEY and SÁMUEL KỌ ỌLÁWỌ ỌLÉ (’19 WP), and distinguished visiting CNF writer EMILY BERNARD. Finally, the program’s winter 2021 residency included visiting writers LAURIE JEAN (’10), ALEX MARZANOLESNEVICH, AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL, and TOMMY ORANGE. The summer 2021 residency featured visiting writers PAIGE ACKERSON-KIELY (’05), KHALED MATTAWA, JERALD WALKER, LAURA VAN DEN BERG, and PAUL YOON.
Alongside Book Birthdays, the remote winter 2021 residency included visiting writers and lecturers VANESSA BRANTLEY NEWTON, JOSEPH BRUCHAC (in conversation with faculty CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH), JENN BAILEY (’17), and KACEN CALLENDER. For the summer 2021 residency, visiting writers included DARIA PEOPLES-RILEY, RANDY RIBAY, and RITA WILLIAMS-GARCIA. In addition to their numerous virtual events, the program named its first Katherine Paterson Chair: long-time VCFA faculty member CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH. The Chair adds an important role to the WCYA faculty roster and champions individuals who might not otherwise be able to teach. Cynthia was nominated by her peers for this role not only due to her years-long dedication to the WCYA program but due to her important work in the field of children’s literature. Cynthia is the founder of Heartdrum, a new literary imprint of HarperCollins. In her role as KP Chair, Cynthia is able to remain a vital and important part of our VCFA community while also having the time and space to shepherd this new imprint to success. The Chair will participate in residencies and will advise a limited number of students each semester. The program is thrilled to work with Cynthia Leitich Smith in this dynamic new role. Finally, the program welcomed new faculty members SHEELA CHARI and A.R. CAPETTA (’12) in January 2021 and K.A. HOLT, ALEX SANCHEZ, and JASMINE WARGA in July 2021.
7 :: vermont college of fine arts
At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the WCYA program introduced a new way for their community members to connect and celebrate their accomplishments: virtual Book Birthdays. Hosted as monthly Zoom events, these Book Birthdays offered an opportunity for alumnx to share and read from their recent YA, MG, and picture book publications. Since the start of the birthdays, WCYA has hosted over 60 readers, including alumnx such as YAMILE SAIED MÉNDEZ (’17), SANDRA NICKEL (’12), and TIRZAH PRICE (’15). The birthdays are set to continue this fall and beyond with JENN BAILEY (’17) as the new event coordinator.
MFA in Music Composition
8 :: program highlights
In the summer of 2020, the Music Composition program hosted its first virtual residency, featuring visiting ensembles QUINCE (Alyssa Anderson, Carrie Henneman Shaw, Bethany Battafarano, Liz Pearse), ANNA’S GHOST (Brian Shankar Adler, Anna Webber, Russ Johnson, Red Wierenga, Jim Whitney), and LOADBANG (Rane Moore, Andy Kozar, Jeffrey Gavett, William Lang). Moving into the winter, the program launched its first ever mid-semester showcase event, “Light in the Darkness,” on December 18, 2020. Directed by faculty member ROGER ZAHAB, the virtual event featured original short works by current students, alumnx, and faculty in celebration and anticipation of the Winter Solstice. For the winter 2021 residency, the visiting ensembles included A VOICE-FLUTE-PIANO TRIO (Anna Elder, Lindsey Goodman, Robert Frankenberry), TRIO LUNAIRE (Jennifer Choi, Lev Zhurbin, Wendy Law), and THE KITE QUARTET (Ken Thomson, Peter Hess, Alex Hamlin, Ed RosenBerg). The highlight of winter residency was The Diane Moser Memorial Concert—an event honoring beloved faculty member Diane Moser, who passed away in mid-December. The event celebrated Diane’s life, her work, and her incredible and long-lasting contributions to the program and VCFA.
MFA in Visual Art In a year of virtual events, the Visual Art program launched its Alumnx Artist-Talk series in order to bring their community together while still providing much needed artistic spaces and dialogue for VCFA’s expanded network. The program hosted two successful events on the topics of the role of the artist as a curator and the role of the artist as educator in February and May 2021, respectively. The program will continue the Artist-Talk series on a quarterly basis. At the program’s summer 2020 residency, visiting artists included SHEILA PEPE, TRINIE DALTON, COG•NATE COLLECTIVE, and PARASTOO ANOUSHAHPOUR. CLAUDIA RANKINE, KARIN G. OEN, JOHN LUCAS, and LANA LIN were present as visiting scholars. At the winter 2021 residency, GHAZALEH AVARZAMANI, MARY BETH HEFFERNAN, LAURA LARSON, ZUN LEE, and YOSHIE SAKAI attended as visiting artists. Visiting scholars included ARIELLA AÏSHA AZOULAY and IRMGARD EMMELHAINZ, with ABBAS AKHAVAN as artist-in-residence. Finally, this year the program welcomed PARASTOO ANOUSHAHPOUR and GALA PORRAS-KIM as visiting faculty, who have been advising students throughout the past semester and deeply engaging with the college and program.
Left: Work by Jessica Stratton (’19 VA)
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:: vermont college of fine arts
MFA in Graphic Design 10 YEARS: A Decade of Inquiring into Self and Society 10 :: Graphic Design, 10 years
In 2011, based on the success of the tried-and-true educational philosophy exhibited by the low-residency Writing and Visual Art programs, VCFA created the MFA in Graphic Design program. Founding faculty member and Academic Dean Matthew Monk likens the conception of the program to heading into uncharted territory: “An educational model like ours, and a pedagogical approach like ours, had never been attempted in graphic design education.” Monk says that during those early years, he was even approached by a professor at a prior institution who said, “Design cannot be taught this way.” Comments like this strengthened Monk’s and his fellow faculty’s resolve that a student-centered, inquiry-based program in graphic design not only was necessary, but could indeed thrive.
Whereas other institutions have begun working to decolonize their curricula and address the problems of Eurocentric design education, VCFA’s program was built from the ground up, questioning the authority of dominant voices and canons from day one, and “could address the future of our field without encumbrance.”
“When we started the program, we on the faculty approached what we were doing as a massive experiment. We were diverging so far from how any of us had ever taught or been taught. But we trusted our hunches that the old ways of teaching design were not only outmoded, but that they may never have been as effective as many would have had us believe. At the very first residency, in the faculty lounge one evening, as we reflected on all this, we collectively coined the term pedagogical damage for the harm that Eurocentric design has been inflicting since the beginnings of design education in the twentieth century, and which we were realizing had been inflicted on us,” Monk says. “We committed then and there not to inflict such damage on our students at VCFA, and to find a more effective approach.”
Artwork: Featured work by Vic Rodriguez Tang (’22) above, Ryan Bitzegaio (’16) above right, Troy Patterson (’13) facing page, and Bonita Tanaka (’13) as background
Ten years later, this “massive experiment” has grown, developed, and strengthened into a leading program for design education, thanks to a diverse, committed, global community of bold and curious educators and students. Community and #VCFALove has always been at the root of the endeavor, Faculty Co-Chair Nikki Juen says. “In the beginning, we started from a real sense of community building around mutual care and support. That was a precedent for the first half of the 10 year mark.” Like a sourdough starter, first fed by the faculty, and then fueled by the students, “the love is now not just for each other or for this place where we can be ourselves outside of more restricted design channels.” Juen speaks of the community’s love for rigor, for critical thinking, for diverse projects and practices, and for intellectual self-discovery—each of which has continued to stretch and deepen the program’s curriculum and pedagogy. “It’s a much more challenging environment to be a part of, but the students have taken on that charge and work to hand this love down to incoming classes. It’s been an incredible evolution,” Juen adds.
To celebrate the anniversary, we caught up with alumnx from the first-ever graduating class, as well as a few current students and recent grads, and asked them to give us a peek into their cherished experiences and memories of the program.
During her first semester, alumnx Mary Hanrahan (’13) was encouraged to volunteer at the Harwood Museum of Art in her hometown of Taos, New Mexico, which was opening a new exhibition on Agnes Martin, an artist that Mary happened to be studying for her own work at VCFA. “That was the beginning of my renewed love of lines, grids, and the idea around perfectionism. These subjects are still an interest in my current work, although my work tends to focus more on the natural environment, sustainability issues, and Irish ancestry now.” Hanrahan remains a contract employee with the Harwood for new exhibition installations and also serves as the exhibition coordinator for VCFA’s Graphic Design residencies. Recent graduate Marielena André (’21) reflects on her VCFA education as holistic and transformative, citing aspects such as the open study platform, which gives each student the agency to explore their own interests and obsessions, and the “deep respect and understanding that each of us come here with a variety of work and life experiences. That seems like a given, but it isn’t, and I truly felt supported.” André also calls the program “barrier breaking” for its constant challenging of traditional, hierarchical teacher/student structures and its
“uncompromising stance” toward diversity and inclusion: “VCFA is more than just an experience but an exploration of the designer themselves.” Vic Rodriguez Tang (’22) joined the program in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, when residencies were forced to move online. However, Vic says, “I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything so far at VCFA. The faculty and other students provide a safe space during the residency. My work keeps getting better, mainly because I can genuinely show up and do my best work in this type of environment. I’ve been able to explore different parts of my identity using design as one of my tools and apply some of my experience as a working professional to an academic setting where I’m free to play in the sandbox without restrictions. Most of my work has been focused on my identity as an immigrant and as a queer person. These design explorations have allowed me to create pieces that are unapologetically me and represent who I am.” Olivia Schneider (’21), currently at work on her thesis, shares her perspective on the design world at large: “There’s this message out there that graphic design is supposed to fix stuff and solve problems. I know that clients approach designers with so-called problems and designers can fill those voids by making a website or a logo. But I think that’s a one-sided, capitalistic way to look at graphic design. I think graphic design is most powerful when it gives people a voice. I’ve found my voice as a designer at VCFA through making nice stuff and ugly stuff, through writing and experimenting and reworking. It’s an interesting time to be involved in graphic design education because it’s clear that historically many voices in the field have been ignored and their work appropriated, but slowly we are starting to make space for these important parallel narratives.” Over the last ten years, graphic design students at VCFA have been asked to bring their whole selves to the table, and, in turn, are encouraged to follow their own interests and passions, as well as dive into societal and self-inquiry in place of outmoded and harmful Modernist approaches of “problem solving.” There is, of course, much more work to do, and much more to look forward to. As faculty member Ian Lynam notes, “Other schools have changed the course of society aesthetically or through literature, but I feel that our collective efforts are changing society as an aggregate whole.”
:: vermont college of fine arts
Bonita Tanaka (’13) remembers: “My first advisor was Nikki Juen. The semester was unique and possibly the most challenging, as the new program was finding its feet, and student participation in helping to create and establish practice was profound. The semester was also healing for me—Nikki’s verbal, visceral acknowledgment of me as a designer allowed me to take a deeper breath, transition from the external pressures of being a design professional, and become my own creative director and content creator, mixing my conceptual work with my design practice.” These days, Tanaka teaches adjunct at two colleges and practices a daily commitment to her personal work.
“ The love is now not just for each other or for this place where we can be ourselves outside of more restricted design channels.”
MFA in Music Composition 10 YEARS: An Ensemble of Then and Now 12 :: music composition 10 years
VCFA’s MFA in Music Composition program marked its tenth anniversary this year. To celebrate this signifi ant milestone in the program’s history, we spoke with a few founding faculty members and MC alumnx about the enduring legacy of this diverse and supportive community—one which encourages students daily to take creative risks, cross-pollinate, and find their wn voice.
ROGER ZAHAB (founding core faculty)
THEN: The program provides nearly unlimited possibilities of exploration and relationship building, both professional and personal, guided by the students’ own personal artistic goals. We—each in our own way—have understood that music is a force field connecting sounds, perception, emotion, thought, and memory. For many of us it is the best way to engage with ever-changing life and to build resonant, supportive relationships which radiate out, in every direction. NOW: I’m feeling a sense of wonder and amazement! I remember at our first meetings that we had no idea how this program was going to develop while at the same time wishing there had been something like this when we were starting out. RAVI KRISHNASWAMI (founding core faculty)
THEN: I think launching a program from scratch has shown me the power of intentional and committed community building, and that has been incredibly rewarding. When we started the program, I remember sitting around a table in Watertown, MA, meeting my future faculty colleagues as we began to envision some of the academic aspects. Seeing them now, ten years later, they are family, and we have all learned so much from each other. NOW: Beyond all the work we do structuring a learning
experience during the two-year program, it is amazing to see the durability and productivity of the community beyond those two years. During the pandemic, this community of musicians, already adept at remote collaboration, became a lifeline for many of us. It’s a cliché, but music does say things that words fail at. I’ve seen our students process some pretty big ideas in their work over the years, from Chris Breault’s (’15) work on the Newtown tragedy, to Devon Barone’s (’20) glitch explorations of anxiety and depression, to TJ McGlinchey’s
(’19) folk song “Pennsylvania Bound,” telling the migrant’s story. I feel very grateful to be around these things coming to life, and to sometimes even help them emerge with a nudge of encouragement. KEI SLAUGHTER (’13) THEN: As a health and wellness
practitioner, I had always been very interested in the use and integration of compositional processes and songwriting within my music therapy practice and methodology, but I honestly never thought about pursuing an advanced degree in Music Comp until learning about the program at VCFA back in 2011.
I worked with some incredible faculty members at VCFA, including Mike Early, Jonathan Bailey Holland, and the late and utterly fabulous Diane Moser. As a Black person in the US, to see myself and various aspects of Black popular music and art reflected and dignified by a contemporary composer during my time at VCFA was very meaningful, inspiring, and important to me. NOW: Since graduating from VCFA, I’ve participated in a number of fulfilling projects, including my work as the Composer/Co-Music Director for a musical theatre production called Alleged Lesbian Activities and my work with cellist/vocalist Spirit McIntyre in our musical duo Spirit and Sparrow. Back in 2017, I self-published my first album, Dark Fire; several songs on the album were written during my time at VCFA, including the title track and “Strange Addiction.”
I also maintain a New Orleans-based music therapy private practice called S O U L F O L K Sounds that centers LGBTQIA+ Black Indigenous People of Color and utilizes anti-oppressive practices to support the health and wellbeing of minoritized/marginalized individuals and communities. Although performing and gigging have slowed down for me since the pandemic, I am still dreaming, writing, and playing music, doing freelance studio work as a vocalist-flutist, and working on album number two!
CHRISTIAN BITOUN (’13) THEN: Prior to VCFA, my
My thesis was a documentary about a famous Taiwanese ballet choreographer where I had the opportunity to not only write music for the normal background score, but also to write music for some of the on-screen dancing. I ended up writing a concert suite of that music for performance at the graduation concert, and the musicians did a stellar job! NOW: I am still in regular contact with some of my mentors from ten years ago, in particular Rick Baitz and Andy Jaffe who is now a regular musical guest on our beautiful island of Taiwan.
The pandemic has put on hold any international projects I had in my pipeline, so for now I am focused on writing concert and theater music in Taiwan. I also do a lot of orchestration, recording, and mixing for my wife and writing partner, Christina Liang, as she tackles a new set of documentaries about Taiwanese poets and writers. MEGAN DIGEORGIO (’20) THEN: During my time
at VCFA, I had a lot of opportunities open up for me, due in no small part to the mentorship of my wonderful advisors, Jonathan Bailey Holland, John Mallia, and Roger Zahab. Each one of them in their own way gave me the confidence to be true to my own artistic voice. One exciting project that overlapped with my time at VCFA was receiving a commission from new music ensemble Fear No Music through their commissioning project, Hearings. They commissioned eight new vocal chamber works based on the 2018 Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and I was one of the selected composers. The piece I wrote, “I’m Terrified,” focuses on the bravery of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Once I was able to tap into composing the music that I really believed in, listeners took notice and opportunities started presenting themselves! NOW: I recently finished up several commissions, including one from the University of Maine Farmington music program called making or becoming sound, which specifically responded to the prompt of “Music During COVID.” Coming up, my music is being performed at TURN UP Multimedia Festival 2021 and the International Clarinet
CAROL BEATTY (founding program director)
THEN: I knew back in
December 2010 that I was working with a remarkable group of people on the yetto-be-designed MFA in Music Composition program. Most of the founding faculty and I attended a meeting to brainstorm possibilities and inspiration for this new VCFA offering one Saturday that month. The fact that this trip was entirely voluntary—none of the program folks were officially on board yet—and that people traveled from a multitude of places to come together was a testament to the commitment, excitement, curiosity, and hope everyone felt about this new venture. And that spirit has persisted and grown stronger as the program has evolved over the past decade. The ideas we discussed that early winter day about defying genre pigeonholes, bringing in resident ensembles to play students’ music, and individualized paths for each student are still central to the program and have been bolstered by an ever-increasing array of opportunities for students to explore and grow. NOW: There are so many aspects of the Music Composition program to celebrate as we enter our second decade. Chief among them is the incredible community of students, alumnx, faculty, staff, and visiting musicians and composers that has taken root through the program and that continues to grow. I love hearing about collaborations and projects that include people from across the program and seeing the ongoing connections. Another unique attribute of this program, as noted by guest composer and beloved community member Frank J. Oteri, is the unusually inclusive, supportive, and non-competitive vibe that fosters exploration, experimentation, and the courage to take creative risks. And of course the music must be celebrated: the residencies are music festivals that showcase our students’ amazingly diverse and rich voices. I am honored to be part of this wonderful community and look forward to seeing what the next decade creates.
Celebrating the MFA in Music Composition program’s first ten years would not be complete without giving special thanks to SARAH MADRU. Sarah joined the staff in June 2011 and played a pivotal role in the evolution of the program, both through her work as Associate Director and on the college’s admissions team. In spring 2021, Sarah transitioned into a new role with VCFA’s Office of Institutional Advancement, where she will continue to support our growing community of VCFA alumnx!
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main musical focus had been film scoring. I held a certificate in film scoring from the UCLA extension, but my bachelor’s degree was in contemporary classical composition, and I wanted to deepen my knowledge of the art of putting music to film. When the opportunity for a low-residency graduate degree with a specialization in film scoring arose and I learned about the stellar group of teachers assembled, I jumped at the chance. Rick Baitz became my main mentor and crucial guiding influence in furthering my career.
Association 2021 conference. I also worked on a project this past year with fellow alumnx Sarah LeMieux (’19) and Ben Lieberman (’19), in which we each composed pieces setting the poetry of Pablo Neruda and recorded these new works with collaborators remotely. These pieces were virtually premiered in April 2021.
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The ensemble Alarm Will Sound commissioned JOHN FITZ ROGERS (MC) to write a piece in winter 2020–2021. The work, “Respiration,” premiered on the Southern Exposure New Music Series on February 19. “Respiration” was written for AWS, and on this special recording the group was joined by New Sounds+, a quintet composed of University of South Carolina string students.
RITA BANERJEE’S (WP) essay “The Female Gaze” will appear in PANK, “Marcello” will appear in Mount Island, and “Writing from a Place of Non-Danger” will appear in No Contact, and this past year her essay “American Caste” appeared in Isele Magazine. She recently finished editing the anthology Disobedient Futures with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and is in post-production (with co-writer David Shields) for the documentary film BURNING DOWN THE LOUVRE (2022), about race, intimacy, and tribalism in the US and in France. MARTHA BROCKENBROUGH (WCYA) has two forthcoming picture books with Knopf: Rise, Feed, Renew: The Story of Saharan Dust and Darwin’s Orchids. With Levine Querido, Brockenbrough will be publishing two sequels to her Frank and the Puppy series in 2022. Lastly, Brockenbrough will publish her YA novel Into the Bloodred Woods in 2021 with Scholastic and her middle grade novel The Stolen Staff with Scholastic in 2023. A.R. CAPETTA (WCYA; WCYA ’12) published two YA novels in 2020: Sword in the Stars (cowritten with Cory McCarthy, WCYA ’11) with Little, Brown and The Storm of Life with Viking. In 2021, Capetta and McCarthy published the YA short story “Some Other Metal” with Flatiron Books in the collection That Way Madness Lies, and Capetta published the YA novel The Heartbreak Bakery with Candlewick and the YA novel Rebel Robin with Penguin. SHEELA CHARI (WCYA) recently published a novelization of the popular narrative podcast The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel (Candlewick/Walker US, in collaboration with Gen Z Media). In 2020, Chari published the short story “The 57th Cat” with the Super Puzzletastic Mysteries published by HarperCollins. Finally in 2022, Chari’s forthcoming novel, Karthik Delivers, will be published with Abrams Books.
Senegal has named MAMADOU DIA’S (F) NAFI’S FATHER as its entry for the Oscars in the “Best International Feature” category.
JOHN GIANVITO’S (F) film HER SOCIALIST SMILE had a brief theatrical run starting July 9, 2020, at Lincoln Center (in-person projection). Also, the film is n w available on the Virtual Cinema portion of the Grasshopper Films platform for preorder. LOREE GRIFFIN BURNS (WCYA) published three nonfiction short stories in 2020: “Bounty on Top of Bounty” in Farmerish, “Keeping Bees” in Multiplicity, and “Trash Tracker” in Ranger Rick. HARRISON CANDELARIA FLETCHER’S (W; W ’06) third book, Finding Querencia: Essays from In Between, is forthcoming in February 2022 with the Machete Series at Mad Creek Books, edited by Joy Castro.
LOUISE HAWES (WCYA; W ’93) will publish the middle grade project Big Rig with Peachtree Publishers/Penguin in 2022.
From 2020 to 2021, COREY ANN HAYDU (WCYA) published three books in her chapter book series Hand-Me-Down Magic with Katherine Tegen Books: Stoop Sale Treasure, Crystal Ball Fortunes, and Perfect Patchwork Purse. In 2022, her YA novel Lawless Spaces will be released with Simon Pulse. K.A. HOLT (WCYA) from 2020 to 2021 published two middle grade novels-in-verse with Chronicle: BenBee and the Teacher Griefer (Book 1 in The Kids Under the Stairs series) and Ben Y and the Ghost in the Machine (Book 2 in The Kids Under the Stairs series). Two more releases in the series are scheduled for 2023 and 2024. Finally, in 2022 Holt will publish the middle grade novel This is Not a Drill with Scholastic. ANNIE HOWELL (F) co-wrote the acclaimed film YELLOW ROSE, which was released in theaters nationwide by Sony Pictures Worldwide on October 9, 2020. The film ollows Rose, an undocumented Filipino girl living in Texas whose world changes when her mother is taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In 2021, VARIAN JOHNSON (WCYA; WCYA ’09) published two middle grade short stories: “Flash Facts: If You Can’t Take The Heat” with DC Comics and “Black Boy Joy: The Definition of ool” with Delacorte/ Random House. In 2021, Johnson also published the middle grade novel Playing the Cards You’re Dealt with Scholastic. Finally, in 2022 Johnson will publish the graphic novel Mister Miracle: The Great Escape with DC Comics. A.S. KING (WCYA) published the Young Adult novel Switch with Dutton in 2021. In 2022, King’s short story “Smile River” will appear in Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions with MIT/Candlewick Press.
DEBORAH MARCERO (WCYA) published the picture book The Boy Whose Head Was Filled With Stars with Enchanted Lion in 2020. From 2021 to 2022, Marcero will have published three books in her Haylee and Comet series with Macmillan: A Tale of Cosmic Friendship, A Trip Around The Sun, and Over the Moon. Finally, in 2022 Marcero will publish the picture book Out of a Jar with Putnam—an anticipated follow-up to her previous book In a Jar (Putnam, 2020). CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH’S (WCYA) imprint with HarperCollins, Heartdrum, published new editions of three previous publications in 2021: the picture book Jingle Dancer, the chapter book Indian Shoes, and the YA novel Rain Is Not My Indian Name. PATRICK MADDEN’S (W) wikipedia-form essay on King’s X’s song “Dogman” received the secondplace prize in March Plaidness, a 64-essay/song tournament.
UMA KRISHNASWAMI (WCYA) published the picture book Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest with Groundwood in 2021. Also in 2021, Krishnaswami published the nonfiction p oject Threads of Peace: How Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Changed the World with Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum.
In 2021, CORY MCCARTHY (WCYA; WCYA ’11) published the short story “Some Other Metal” (cowritten with A.R. Capetta, WCYA ’12) in the young adult project That Way Madness Lies with Flatiron/ Macmillan. In 2022, McCarthy is anticipating the release of the YA novel Man O’ War with Dutton/ Penguin. CLINT MCCOWN (W) published his first ollection of short stories, Music for Hard Times (Press 53), in 2021. In addition, in April 2021, McCown was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame at Wake Forest University. ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE (WCYA) will be releasing two new YA novels in 2022 with Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan: Lakelore and Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix.
KEKLA MAGOON (WCYA; WCYA ’05) published the nonfiction A book Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People with Penguin Random House and the chapter book She Persisted: Ruby Bridges with Philomel in 2021.
KELLY MCMAHON’S (WP) artist book You, grandmother was part of the exhibition “Cladogram: The 2nd International Juried Biennial” at Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, NY, July through September 2021. Kelly’s broadside “Two Odes” was part of the modified “20/20 Hindsight” sculpture show at the Kent Museum in Calais, VT, in September and October 2020. She will also be exhibiting in this year’s Kent show, also titled “20/20 Hindsight,” in September and October.
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ANDY JAFFE’S (MC) fifth CD as leader, Chorinhoso, came out on the Playscape Recordings label, featuring mostly Brazilian-influenced compositions of Jaffe’s. In addition to teaching at VCFA, in the fall of 2020 he returned to Taipei to teach at Taipei Arts University (國立臺北藝術大學) and numerous other universities and music programs there and to perform live, including a sold-out solo piano concert on New Year’s Eve, conducting the Taipei Professionals Orchestra at the (virtual) Eau Claire Jazz Festival this April, and various gigs with a Brazilian band there. Jaffe returned to the Mohawk Trail Concert series on July 4 to accompany John Clark, the world’s greatest jazz French horn player and frequent VCFA collaborator, and his son Marty, the bass virtuoso and protégé of Ron Carter.
RAVI KRISHNASWAMI (MC) has recently been involved with Body, Home, World, an interactive documentary project aimed at fi ling a crucial gap in stories and role models for South Asians identifying as LGBTQ+. Through a web of empathetic documentary films Body, Home, World tells stories of coming out that span generations, cultures, diasporas, and continents. Original music is a key element, communicating empathy, creating cultural affin y, expressing hybridity, and adding narrative structure in Body, Home, World.
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ADAM MCOMBER (W) published his new supernatural novel set in Edwardian London, The Ghost Finders (JournalStone press), in 2021. In addition, his new collection of queer experimental fic on, Fantasy Kit, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in June 2022. The new collection contains 36 stories and fragments.
DAVID SHIELDS’S (WP) new book, The Very Last Interview, which is being published by New York Review Books in March 2022, has already been adapted into a film y Nick Toti and Rachel Kempf. Shields co-wrote a feature film I’LL SHOW YOU MINE, which Duplass Brothers Productions shot in LA in May 2021; the film is n w in post-production.
From 2021 to 2022, JASMINE WARGA (WCYA) published two middle grade projects with Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Children’s Books: The Shape of Thunder and Resilience: A Mars Rover Story. In addition, Warga’s picture book Just Be, Little Bee is forthcoming with Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Children’s Books.
LINDA URBAN’S (WCYA) picture book She Once Wore a Yellow Dress is forthcoming with Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
ROGER ZAHAB (MC) recently celebrated the international release of his opera conducting recording debut, Daron Hagen: Orson Rehearsed, which featured Rob Frankenberry (past VCFA presenter and ensemblein-residence member) as Orson 2.
NANCE VAN WINCKEL (W) published her poetry collection The Many Beds of Martha Washington in 2021. This is Van Winckel’s ninth collection of poems, the third with the Pacific Nort west Poetry Series, and is edited by Linda Bierds.
NATASHA SAJÉ’S (W) latest poetry collection, Special Delivery, was published with Diode Editions in 2021. The collection questions and inspects contemporary culture and asks its readers to do the same in writing that has been called “marvelously inventive.” ALEX SANCHEZ (WCYA) published the YA graphic novel You Brought Me the Ocean with DC Comics in 2020. In 2021, Sanchez published the middle grade novel The Greatest Superpower with Capstone. LIZ GARTON SCANLON (WCYA) will publish three new picture books in 2023: Everyone Starts Small (Candlewick), Homesick (Chronicle), and The World’s Best Class Plant (Putnam/Penguin).
ROBERT VIVIAN (W) and his dear friend Joel Peckham are editors for Wild Gods: The Ecstatic in Contemporary Poetry & Prose (New Rivers Press 2021), a collection and anthology of ecstatic writing, which features contributions from VCFA faculty friends Nance Van Winckel and Rick Jackson.
JENNIFER ZIEGLER’S (WCYA) middle grade novel Worser will come out with Margaret Ferguson Books/ Holiday House in 2022.
SUE WILLIAM SILVERMAN’S (W; W ’88) newest memoir, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences, was named “one of 9 essay collections feminists should read in 2020” by Bitch Media; was named “one of 100 of the Best of the University Presses to escape the news of books published from all time”; and was nominated in two categories—memoir and humor—by Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award, winning in the “autobiography/ memoir” category. In addition, Silverman’s essay “Graduate Studies in Hebrew” won the 2020 Los Angeles Review creative nonfiction ontest. The judge was Aimee Liu.
Finding and Following Our Compass Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at VCFA 17 :: vermont college of fine arts
Less than a year ago, I stepped into my role as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion surrounded by leaders, advocates, and allies with a spirit for change I have yet to experience elsewhere. Before my arrival, VCFA collaboratively developed its Statement on Community Values, providing a foundation for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a compass for our work ahead. In my short time guiding this community, I have witnessed the shared responsibility faculty, staff, administrators, students, trustees, and alumnx have forged together, and that bond is the source for transformative equity and inclusion work past, present, and future. This community brought VCFA to a pivotal point, one where the college, with a strategic financial investment, is examining and addressing the roots of barriers and inequities at all levels of the institution. Equity and Empowerment is the strategic initiative that guides the first phase of our becoming an anti-bias, anti-racist, and antioppressive organization. Each department, program, and community member has a role in this integrative approach to the work. We cultivate inclusivity and belonging with intentionality. Human Resources has made great progress in strengthening our affirmative hiring process. Search committees now undergo implicit bias training and learn best practices for creating inclusion and equity. We are investing in staff development this year to combat bias and inequity in our work and understand their influence on our culture. Our DEI Committee on the Board of Trustees is developing themselves to become Equity Liaisons, bias disrupters, embedded and serving on all other Board committees to guide their peers during critical conversations and decisions. In our academic programs, we build upon the progress of previous years by examining our admissions and financial aid award processes, continuing to welcome a diverse range of visiting artists, and setting guidelines and community standards to mitigate re-traumatizing experiences for our community members. We open conversations and opportunities to center the plurality of art traditions, canons, and narratives historically excluded from arts education. We want our curriculum and programs to reflect the diverse realities of our students and artists in the world. We commit to the learning and growth of all students and alumnx. In that commitment, we also recognize the impact of systemic racism on BIPOC students and alumnx in the arts industry. We challenge ourselves to openly discuss the barriers that exist for BIPOC artists and offer empowerment opportunities for support. This year we will launch a BIPOC empowerment series, Industry and Me, in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Advancement, the Center for Arts & Social Justice, and academic programs. Through the series, BIPOC students and alumnx can connect with and learn from fellow BIPOC artists in the industry, share insights and knowledge, explore resources and tools, and foster relationships. Periodically, we must pause to reflect on the milestones this community achieves together. These moments of reflection energize us on our long journey toward becoming an anti-racist, anti-bias, and anti-oppressive organization. With our shared responsibility, a compass, and renewed energy, we will continue to shape inclusive and diverse realities that reflect us all. This is our work and it is my privilege to have this dedicated community as my partner. With gratitude,
Howie LeBlanco, he/they Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In support of our Statement on Community Values, we will examine our policies, practices, and behaviors surrounding how we teach, what we teach, and the ways we support our community. We will empower our students, faculty, and staff o build inclusive learning and working environments.
Faculty View Rituals of Listening A conversation with Tomás Q. Morín, MFA in Writing Take a moment to take in the sounds all around you. The murmuring voices in the next room over. Can you hear the creaking footsteps in the adjacent apartment? The vibrations of a stirring fridge, the heartbeat of a radio, the shhhhh of cicadas gathering like maracas in the trees, the heavy keening of a siren? In our tech-obsessed, binge-watching, hyperspeed society, slowing down in order to increase awareness of ourselves and others is one kind of medicine to help us endure this harrowing and chaotic century. Poet and essayist
Tomás Q. Morín teaches such rituals of listening through his writing and his work in the classroom, and they are critical elements of his own creative process. As a core faculty member of the MFA in Writing program, Morín emphasizes the importance of nurturing resilience within the creative writing classroom. He says, “With each passing year I feel our high-tech world values less and less something like the act of slowing down to write a poem with pen and paper. It takes resilience to swim against the powerful currents of our time.” Translating literature from one language to another is one such way to battle currents of erasure and exclusion. “I think, inherently, any work that is translated contains some resilience. Resilience to being silenced by time, shifting taste, language barriers,” says Morín, who
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“It took me a long time to learn how to listen to what my work was asking of me, and even longer to know what to do with that information.” translated Pablo Neruda’s visionary The Heights of Macchu Picchu, as well as works by Luisa Pardo and Gabino Rodriguez. “For a work to live in another language is a mighty, mighty thing. It must command a lot of love to do so, because translation can often be a thankless job. Most who do it do so out of a profound love for the work.” Resilience is also a central theme in Morín’s third and newest book of poems, Machete, slated for release this October by Knopf. Described by the publisher as “one part Groucho Marx, one part Job,” Morín’s poetry “summons a variety of ways to endure life when there’s an invisible hand at your throat.” Throughout the book, he asks of the reader and the world: How do we survive as crisis after crisis is flung into our path? How do we survive without forfeiting our spirit, our heart, our tenderness for the self and for others? How do we count the ways that a human is a tiger, both living machetes, or in Morín’s words, “just as much instruments of life as death.” Machete, Morín says, was written in a similar process to his previous collections, A Larger Country and Patient Zero: that is, poem by poem, with no initial vision of a book in mind. After a few years of allowing the piling-up
poems to breathe on their own, Morín begins yet another listening ritual to find the oxygen that binds them. “I take all the poems I think hang together, copy and paste them into tagcrowd.com, and generate a simple word cloud,” Morín says. “Sometimes the word cloud confirms what I think this shapeless book is about, and other times it surprises me.” Just as word clouds can validate, strengthen, and clarify our visions and perceptions of what is possible for our work and our lives, so too can the art community lift us up and fuel our confidence in our craft. Morín shares that when he was growing up in Texas, “I often felt like a loner, on the outside looking in. I didn’t know this back then, but now I know that much of this can be blamed on the trauma I experienced in childhood. Growing up too fast and seeing things a kid should never see threw a monkey wrench into my development. And yet, I’ve still managed to cobble together an extended family of fellow writers who are like brothers and sisters to me. They push me to be a better writer through their encouragement, as well as with the example of their stellar work.” It is this sense of encouragement and community building that makes up Morín’s teaching philosophy at Rice University, where he serves as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, and at VCFA. Every semester and every residency, the goal for Morín always returns to listening: listening to each individual student’s voice both on and off the page, and helping them to hear their true self. “It took me a long time to learn how to listen to what my work was asking of me, and even longer to know what to do with that information. My goal is to help students take less time learning how to do this than it took me,” Morín says. “If I can do that, then I’ll count it a good day’s work.”
When Community Just Clicks During a year of physical distance, VCFA maintained connection through virtual events 20 :: virtual events
Starting in early 2020, VCFA launched numerous virtual event programs to meet the needs of a community yearning for connection. Across time zones and artistic disciplines, a global gathering of alumnx, students, faculty, and guests joined together to listen, watch, share, and learn. Since that time, we’ve held over 50 events, bringing together hundreds of alumnx across programs. These events have also provided space for current and prospective students to engage with our broader community of artists and get a taste of the continued programming and opportunities that await our students after graduation. Two major event series—Friendsgiving in November 2020 and Art + Connection in May and June 2021— featured a range of presentations and performances, including a screening of Damon Davis’s (F ’20) film WHOSE STREETS?, a picture book story hour composed of books focused on STEM themes, a short concert of songs entirely composed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an auction and scholarship fundraising opportunities.
Images: The lineup of presenters for Art + Connection, VCFA’s spring 2021 event series and fundraiser.
Individual MFA programs developed event series of their own, as well. The Visual Art program held the first two installments of the Alumnx Artist-Talk Series— conversations with alumnx about their work and centered on a specific theme, idea, or element of artistic practice. On February 5, Anastaci Pacella (’19), Jesús Macarena-Ávila (’02), and Pete Driessen (’98) launched the series with a discussion on the role of the artist as a curator and space-maker, one who creates “place” for their creative communities. On May 7, Elsa Robinson (’19), Barbara Yontz (’04), and Jim Rivera (’12) discussed the artist as educator, and how being an artist informs pedagogy, and the unique perspectives that they as artists bring to their classrooms.
With all book tours going remote in 2020, our MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program began a series of celebrations we call WCYA Book Birthday Parties. This year we celebrated the incredible books and amazing achievements of our beloved community. Once monthly, alumnx and student authors gathered virtually to read from their newly published works for a supportive audience of their WCYA family and members of the public. The MFA in Graphic Design program developed a diverse lineup of microlectures and other programming to keep the design community connected and inspired between residencies. Events included “The Missing Chapter(s): Some History About Black Graphic Design,” presented by faculty Tasheka ArceneauxSutton and Silas Munro and alumnx Pierre Bowins (’17); “So You Want to Write About Design?” with faculty member Natalia Ilyin; “Tomayto Tomahto: Frames of Color” with faculty members Nikki Juen (VA ’16) and Lorena Howard-Sheridan and guest designer Marcel Strauss; and Alumnx Micro-Talks and Q&A with Aldrena Corder (’16), Todd Hilgert (’17), and Laura Rossi-García (’16). Attendance at these virtual events spanned the globe and included many superstars in the field of design. One might well ask, “How is it possible to hold a concert entirely online, featuring performers spread out all over the country?” The MFA in Music Composition showed us how! In addition to numerous performances during the program’s remote residencies, two special events brightened our days: “Light in the Darkness: A Music Composition Showcase,” featuring original short works by current students, alumnx, and faculty in celebration and anticipation of the Winter Solstice, and a performance of alumnx and current student compositions by returning ensemble-in-residence Trio Lunaire. We have missed our face-to-face gatherings in College Hall for the Songwriting Showcase, screenings at the Savoy Theater, exhibitions in Alumnx Hall, and incredible readings of original work, but throughout this time of physical separation, we have learned that the love and support of our artistic community are never more than a mouse click away.
Learn more at: vcfa.edu/events
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In collaboration with a few MFA in Writing alumnx, we designed the Writing Alumnx Virtual Reading Series, based on the “Student Readings” many graduates of the low-residency Writing program might remember from their time on campus. These brief and informal readings offered alums an excuse to celebrate new book publications, dust off that old draft, share something new and in-progress, and, above all, connect with fellow writers. Readings were held on Zoom every other Thursday in spring 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021.
Jeff Bemiss (’19 F) Movies That Remind Us of Our Humanity “I still can’t believe how long documentary filmmakers spend on a film. I am starting to measure my remaining time on earth in units of completed films.” For the past five years, award-winning filmmaker and 2019 Film alumnx Jeff Bemiss has been filming in a place most would consider the definition of middle-of-nowhere America: Brooks County, Texas. Released in October 2020, Bemiss’s film MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY centers on this 944 square miles of the American South. Co-directed and produced with Lisa Molomont, MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY follows two families searching for their loved ones who crossed the US/Mexico border and went missing in one of the most notoriously dangerous US interior checkpoints. In this Texas ranch land, only one in five missing persons are ever found. In pursuing his projects as a filmmaker, Bemiss explains, “Choosing a project is intuitive. Every idea starts in the heart. Often, it’s a story fragment that moves me emotionally.” After hearing about the human bodies being exhumed in Brooks County in an episode of StoryCorps on NPR, Bemiss and Molomont knew that the story of Brooks County—the extreme loss of life in the land of the “American Dream”—needed to be filmed. “If this crisis were a war or a genocide, there would be a lot of attention and money would flow toward the problem,” explains Bemiss. “But migration is quiet. People walk into the desert and vanish. These deaths are shameful. They are also invisible. [Molomont] and I believe that if lawmakers were to meet the families of the missing, they would think differently about the policies they are creating.”
Bemiss’s film and his work are a call to viewers—a call for Brooks County to be seen. Films as a medium and an art have impact, and to Bemiss and his crew, the impact a film can provide in highlighting a humanitarian crisis is that of vulnerability and visibility. “What a film can offer is a deeper emotional experience,” says Bemiss. “The format of a movie allows time to show how our border policy affects individual lives. People need the facts. They need to see what’s happening in places like Brooks County.” Bemiss was trained as a scripted filmmaker, and
MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY is his first full-length
documentary—a new direction in his career that reminded Bemiss why he picked up a camera in the first place. “This film taught me to embrace spontaneity,” says Bemiss. “I grew tired of waiting for permission from investors and financiers to create scripted work. With documentary, if you have an idea and a camera, you can start. Making documentaries actually put me back in touch with why I am drawn to movies in the first place.” “Movies,” Bemiss explains, “remind us of our humanity.” Visit missinginbrookscounty.com to learn more about the film and the events taking place in Brooks County, Texas.
life after the mfa
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“Choosing a project is intuitive. Every idea starts in the heart. Often, it’s a story fragment that moves me emotionally.”
Uncovering the Political Art in Martial Arts “I actually came to martial arts by accident,” laughs Naomi Even-Aberle. “I was in college for undergrad, and I had a friend that wanted to try this club, and she invited me. Two years later, I realized I never left the gym.” Naomi Even-Aberle—owner of Full Circle Martial Arts Studio in South Dakota, multidisciplinary artist, and 2018 Visual Art alumnx—primarily identifies and works as a martial artist, an act she didn’t even formally practice as a contemporary art until studying at VCFA. “Which I find quite ironic considering it’s in the title of the word,” notes Even-Aberle. “Through the process of being at VCFA,” Even-Aberle explains, “one of the students found out that I was a martial artist, and they were like, ‘That’s badass. Why aren’t you doing that? Why aren’t you talking about that?’” That simple statement from a VCFA peer launched Even-Aberle into a full recognition of her art as the martial arts. Today, as the owner of Full Circle, she works with Artists Against Fascism (AAF) and the students in her own gym to find community and create change through the martial arts. As a member of AAF, Even-Aberle is part of a collective of VCFA artists and researchers who work to recognize and combat fascism in their communities. “I attended sporadically through my time at VCFA,” explains Even-Aberle, “and I always felt like I didn’t really know how the work that I was making intersected with those conversations. I didn’t feel like a political artist.” But, as Even-Aberle continued her time with AAF, she began to understand the humanitarian and anti-fascist practices she was displaying every day at her studio to her students. “I started looking at the anti-racist policies and training that I was doing there [at Full Circle] in
that community building space. And I realized, that’s anti-fascist work,” says Even-Aberle. “That’s artists against fascism—a responsibility to educate myself and then to share that information, and the connections that I’ve made through that work, with a larger artistic community.” With this in mind, Even-Aberle recently launched her latest project: a new youth diversion and prevention program through Full Circle (and the only of its kind in her home of Rapid City). “It’s a pedagogically designed program that takes martial arts-inspired training and curriculum and attaches it to evidence-based emotional and mental support programming,” explains Even-Aberle. In a monthlong program, kids come to Full Circle to work with Even-Aberle to train in the martial arts while learning about confidence building, self-esteem, healthy relationships, and building a better, more just community. “The thing that I love about this program is, yes, it’s a martial arts program, in a sense, but it’s really about noticing issues that our community is having,” says EvenAberle. While many may see continuing to use the martial arts to create change as “untraditional,” Even-Aberle argues that the practices at the core of the martial arts actually provide the perfect template for how to ingrain impactful anti-fascist behaviors into our lives. “[It’s about] finding strategies that work for you that align with your values, and then building a habit of using them,” explains Even-Aberle. “In the martial arts, we talk a lot about [how] you pick one thing and you do it 100 times. After you do it 100 times it becomes permanent, so then you’re more likely to use that again.” “So pick one action, whether it’s in person, whether it’s digital, whether it’s through music or dance or writing— pick one action, and try to do it 100 times.” And, in creating real change, it is the dedication that makes all of the difference.
life after the mfa
Naomi Even-Aberle (’18 VA)
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“[It’s about] finding strategies that work for you that align with your values, and then building a habit of using them.”
Suzanne S. Rancourt (’99 W) Finding Our Way Back Home “Back in the ’80s, when I started talking about these things, I was deemed a crazy freakin’ loon,” remarks Suzanne Rancourt. “I was indeed way ahead of my time.” Suzanne Rancourt—Abenaki Bear Clan, Writing alumnx, veteran, trauma survivor, and author—is a multi-modal artist who uses writing, dance, photography, Iaido, Aikido, and nature exploration to help others heal from various types of trauma, PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and domestic violence through Expressive Arts Therapy. This technique uses the process and experience of art-making to determine pathways to healing. Rancourt works with her fellow artists to recognize the multi-modal state in which art emerges from us naturally, helping us return to our center of self.
So then there’s refinements, we have to smooth the slats and make them thin and take the edges off,” Rancourt says. “And then we can make these beautiful shaped baskets. And that’s what I call ‘making the tree whole again.’ And our art making, whether it’s basket making, or whether we’re creating any kind of art songs, we’re making something whole again.” “It’s like I gather a part of myself,” Rancourt explains, speaking of her own experiences with trauma, “and the writing and the art making is a place for me to bring those pieces together and to create a new basket, maybe in the form of a poll, or a song, or a dance. Home is finding that center that’s within us.” Rancourt personally experienced this type of homeward journey with her second book, Murmurs at the Gate (Unsolicited Press, 2019). “I call it my poetic dissertation. Because with so much of that work, I just gave myself permission to write and let it emerge. And it came out of my own life and my own trauma experience. It’s a huge book of poetry. But that’s because, you know, it was decades of living.” In that permission came a voice unfettered.
“Culturally, I was simply raised, of course, that we’re multi-modal,” Rancourt says. “We have more than one sense—we smell, we see, we taste, the skin feels.” Rancourt explains that, in trying to “control” or “change” the way in which the work emerges, we temper the potential for thought, experience, and recovery. “That’s like telling the wind, no, you’ve got to be water. Or telling the water, no, you’ve got to be wind. Let the power of water be the power of water.” Rancourt works with trauma survivors at their own pace through whatever multi-modal art emerges from them. In that power of unrestrained creation comes the opportunity to, as Rancourt explains, “find our way home” from trauma.
Her latest book of poems, Old Stones, New Roads (Main Street Rag, 2021), is a continuation of this work through the exploration of her new road of age and healing from trauma. “After writing Murmurs at the Gate, I needed to continue with my post-traumatic growth. I needed to allow my resiliency to both push and lead me forward. Old Stones, New Roads is honoring where I have walked, what I have experienced, and the transmutation process of this material that somehow became an innate compass.”
In “finding our way home,” Rancourt says the journey is like that of making a traditional ash basket—a metaphor she gleaned from an experience with a Bear Clan elder. In making an ash basket, a tree is selected, honored, cut, and divided into pieces, which are then soaked and separated to only be shaped and pounded into sections. Rancourt explains this process of cutting and splitting apart the tree is like a body and brain being fragmented—torn into pieces by trauma.
And, as Rancourt explains, these “new roads” are ones we all can continue to walk upon as we find our way home. “Being strong enough to acknowledge beauty no matter where we are or what we are doing, are the roads that can lead out of a type of darkness,” says Rancourt. “It takes a lot of strength and courage to be able to see the beauty in the ugliest places. And if we can cultivate the strength as an artist—to be able to see the beauty in some of the ugliest, ugliest places—that’s resiliency.”
“So now you’re at a place where, well—what do we do with these fragments?—you can’t make a basket like that.
Old Stones, New Roads can be bought directly from Main Street Rag Bookstore or from your favorite local indie.
life after the mfa
24 :: life after the MFA
Photo: Camilla Motta
“Our art making, whether it’s basket making, or whether we’re creating any kind of art songs, we’re making something whole again.”
Dear Alumnx, For years, this magazine has been titled in residence. Those words have always conjured for me images of our VCFA campus, the way familiar spaces take on new forms as each of our amazing programs rotates through—halls filled with a post-film-screening buzz, galleries filled with art. Over the past year, we’ve all come to know more about being in residence, about being in place. While we’ve missed seeing many of you in person, we’ve been inspired by the ability to share space with even more of you virtually—to listen to a reading with writers across class years; to attend a presentation with alumnx, faculty, and guests spanning multiple countries and continents; to listen to a concert performed across time zones. Despite the distance, as a community, we haven’t missed a beat. While we will continue to hold space in this way and to explore new ways to bring content to alumnx, we are also eager to see many of you back on campus and to meet you at conferences and regional events once again.
In many ways, in residence feels less about place these days and more about connection, attention, a commitment to what we hold most dear. We often say that at VCFA our relationship with students doesn’t end at graduation. As we move forward, we do so with renewed focus on that claim. In early 2021, we restructured our Alumnx Affairs and Development departments under one Office of Institutional Advancement dedicated to deepening our relationships and strengthening our interdisciplinary community of artists. We are excited about this shift and the ways it will allow us to further serve, engage, and support alumnx across programs. In the coming year we are committed to broadening the range of alumnx benefits and services we offer (see page 9), sustaining and developing virtual and regional event programming (see page 20), and providing further opportunities for alumnx-led initiatives, mentorship, and networking through the formation of an Alumnx Advisory Council. In many ways, in residence feels less about place these days and more about connection, attention, a commitment to what we hold most dear. As such, we have continued to push the boundaries of what is possible—taking cues from the remarkable ways this community has endured, the continued inspiration from all our alums, and the way art propels us forward no matter where we are, no matter where we go from here.
Jericho Parms (’12 W) Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Detail view of fall 2019 pin-up exhibition by Danbee Park (’20 GD)
class news 1983
26 :: class news
Alison Deming (W) published her new nonfiction book, A Woven World: On Fashion, Fishermen, and the Sardine Dress, with research and writing supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Mark Fleckenstein (W) published his third full-length poetry collection, A Name for Everything, with Červená Barva Press in late 2020.
Rustin Larson (W) published Lost Letters and Windfalls with Blue Light Press in October 2020. In 2021, Larson published Red Wing with Barnes & Noble Press. Red Wing features many of Larson’s previously published short stories.
Susan Aizenberg (W) placed recent and forthcoming poems in Plume, On the Seawall, Nine Mile, South Florida Poetry Journal, The Night Heron Barks, and I-70. Her limited edition letterpress chapbook First Light was published in June 2020 by Gibraltar Editions. In addition to her publications, in 2021 Aizenberg taught a weekend online workshop through the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in July 2021, and she had a reading in September 2021 at Dundee Book Company in Omaha, NE. Laurie Kuntz’s (W) latest book of poetry, The Moon Over My Mother’s House, was published with Finishing Line Press in the summer of 2021.
Richard Lutman (W) was a finalist in the Fiction: Short Story category in the 2020 Best Book Awards hosted by the American Book Fest for the short story collection Creek Bait. Eleanor Morse (W) published her literary novel Margreete’s Harbor with St. Martin’s Press in April 2021.
Phillip Godenschwager (VA) received the commission to create a stained glass clock for the new South Burlington City Hall (VT), which was sponsored and funded by the city in January 2020 following a national competition. The building—which houses the city offices, library, and senior center—opened to the public in July 2021. Sally Stiles (W) published her poetry and photography book The Haiku Guide to Cruising: The Pacific Northwest.
Norbert Hirschhorn (W) published his memoir To Heal the World: My Life in Medicine, Poetry, and Public Health. In addition, his sixth poetry collection, Once Upon a Time in Aleppo, published October 2020, is a bilingual Arabic-English poetry collection translated from poems by Syrian poet Fouad M. Fouad.
Brad Davis (W) placed poems from a new manuscript, Trespassing on the Mount of Olives, in a number of journals including Image, LETTERS, Presence, Rock & Sling, Ekstasis, Practical Theology (England), Solum, and Poems for Ephesians.
Elizabeth A.I. Powell’s (W) book of poems Atomizer was published with LSU Press in late 2020. Yvonne Zipter (W) published her literary historical novel, Infraction, with Rattling Good Yarns Press in mid-2021. She was in the early stages of writing this book while at VCFA and worked on the story with VCFA community members such as Diane Lefer, Walter Wetherell, and Sydney Lea.
Carol Westberg (W) will publish her third poetry collection, Ice Lands, for which Betsy Sholl and Mark Cox wrote blurbs, with David Robert Books in January 2022. Her poetry collection Slipstream was a finalist for the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry, and Terra Infir a was a finalist for the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry.
Les Edgerton (W) published his novel Hard Times in late 2020 with Bronzeville Books. Set in Depression Era rural East Texas, Hard Times is a noir novel that follows the efforts of a young woman trying to save her family. S Stephanie (W) had a poem published in COVID Spring: Granite State Pandemic Poems.
Pete Driessen (VA) was awarded a 2021 MSAB Creative Opportunity Grant for Individuals to produce and install his Dolomite limestone Wing Dam sculpture at the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Red Wing, MN. The five-stone sculpture abstractly reflects water flowage and human navigation at the confluence of the Canon and Mississippi Rivers.
Emily Bilman’s (W) book of poems Apperception—a collection about the excessive dreaming process many of us experienced during the pandemic—was published with Troubador Publishing. Bruce Black’s (WCYA) poetry was recently published in Poetica, Jewthink, Soul-Lit, and the Atherton Review. Alexandra Broches’s (VA) exhibition “Dear Alexandra, Letters and Pictures From a Box” was on display at the University Art Gallery at UMass Dartmouth in early 2021. Jane Jenny (VA) recently purchased a building in Kings Beach, CA, to house Jenny’s local non-profit arts organization, North Tahoe Arts, of which Jenny is the Board President. The team plans to offer NTArts free rent. Jenny is currently renovating the building and is looking forward to moving into it in early 2022.
Suzanne S. Rancourt’s (W) latest book of poetry, Old Stones, New Roads, was published in April 2021 with Main Street Rag Publishing Company. Barbara Sullivan (VA) was a part of the residency at The Ellis Beauregard Foundation in Rockland, ME, in 2021, as well as a part of the “Everyday Fresco Objects” exhibition at the Gascoine Gallery in Monson, ME.
Linda Aldrich (W)—who currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Portland, ME—announced the publication of her third collection of poems, Ballast, in early 2021 with Deerbrook Editions.
David Ebenbach’s (W) science fiction novel How to Mars, published by Tachyon Publications, was released in 2021. The debut has been described as a “romp with heart that follows the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, with a dash of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a smidgeon of Mythbusters.”
Tania Kupczak (VA) participated in “Goodwitch/Badwitch,” a group exhibition that explored the intersection of contemporary art, ritual, and witchcraft/Brujeria from October 2020 through July 2021. Through the work of over 40 artists and witches, the exhibition aims to help drive a more modern understanding of what witchcraft, magic, and technology are.
Sabrina Fadial JoAnn Early Macken’s (WCYA) poem “What Shall We Do After Doomscrolling?” appeared in Light: A Journal of Light Verse. Michael Steffen’s (W) fourth collection of poems, Blood Narrative, has recently been accepted for publication by Main Street Rag Press.
Xtine Burrough (VA) and creative partner Sabrina Starnaman were commissioned—as part of the Data/ Set/Match year-long interrogative program held by The Photographer’s Gallery in London—to create and showcase “A Kitchen of One’s Own.” The work is a speculative remix that confronts Epic Kitchens, a dataset of first-person cooking videos, with quotes from articles and social media posts on sexual harassment in professional and domestic kitchens, podcasts about the kitchen as a political space, and reflective texts by women authors about food and cooking.
Sabrina Fadial (VA) coordinated the “Vermont Tumbling Blocks: A Community Quilt” project in Montpelier, VT. This community quilt, made from individual tumbling block patterns created at home by Montpelier community members, displayed the interwoven nature of our seemingly separate past year. Over 300 community members contributed swatches.
Barbara J. Groh Wahlstrom (VA) was a part of the exhibition “Our Connection to Nature” at the Gallery Sitka in Shirley, MA. The exhibition explored our connection to nature in conjunction with Earth Day 2021.
Barbara J. Groh Wahlstrom
Tania Kupczak Ed Giardina (VA) used 3D printing technology to produce face shields for those in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Joan Hanley (VA) was interviewed by the ARTist Plunge podcast in May 2021. In the episode, they delve into how Hanley’s spiritual and art explorations around the world have influenced her practice, as reflected in her book Art & Yoga. Maggie Kast (W) made a video in support of independent bookstores and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.
Debra Gingerich (W), JMX Brands Director of Marketing, received the company’s President’s Award during the Specialty Retailer’s Annual Awards ceremony in early 2021. This was the second time she received the award in four years.
Ralph Leonard (WCYA) published his novel Martin Dascomb’s Civil War. In his middle grade/YA novel set on a New England farm and in Montreal in July 1863, two thirteen-year-olds leave home seeking healing from fractured families. Kieran Murphy (VA) published Electromagnetism and the Metonymic Imagination with Penn State University Press in 2020.
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Phyllis Meshulam (W) was chosen to serve as Sonoma County Poet Laureate from April 2020 to April 2022. In addition, Meshulam is finally retiring from her long and successful career after more than 20 years as a poet-teacher with California Poets in the Schools.
class news Meg Harris (W) had her poetry featured in Aeolian Harp Series: Anthology of Poetry Folios Volume Six, published by Glass Lyre Press. 28 :: class news
David Snyder (W) published the novel Sacred Ink with Water Street Press in late 2020. Constance Van Hoven’s (WCYA) nature-focused picture book Rare and Blue: Finding Nature’s Treasures was published by Charlesbridge Books in September 2020. Kenny Williams (W) had a short story featured in Your Impossible Voice online and in print.
Collette V. Fournier Jane Waggoner Deschner (VA) juried into the following exhibition and magazines in 2020 and 2021: “The 2021 Politics of the Kitchen Exhibition,” “The Artist Intervenes,” “Locus: VII,” “The New Normal: What We’ve Found,” and Photo Trouvée Magazine Issue 4. She also showed work at two exhibitions, “Rocky Mountain Biennial” and “Montana Arts Council Artist Innovation Award Recipients 2019–20.” Finally, her work was at the centerfold of the book NotWrong No. 2–Solace.
Laurette Folk’s (W) latest novel, The End of Aphrodite, was published in 2020 with Bordighera Press. Collette V. Fournier (VA) featured her photography in a 2020 virtual exhibition at the Arts Council of Rockland (ACOR) in Garnerville, NY, showcasing her images of community activists. Wendy Sanford (W) will publish her memoir These Walls Between Us: A Memoir of Friendship across Race and Class with She Writes Press in October 2021.
Mindy Hardwick’s (WCYA) latest middle grade novel, Some Stories Are Not Seen, was published in April 2021 with Eagle Bay Press.
Cathy Fishman (WCYA) published her picture book A Spring Stroll in the City in April 2021 with Familius. This picture book is a companion to her previous book, A Winter Walk in the City. Jodi Hays’s (VA) work “How to Fold a Flag” and an exhibition announcement were published in Art Forum magazine in January 2020. Barbara Krasner (WCYA) published her book 37 Days at Sea: Aboard the MS St. Louis, 1939 with Kar-Ben Publishing in 2021, as well as the short story “I, Divided,” which appeared in Consequence Magazine. She also signed a contract for a YA novel in verse, Ethel’s Song: Ethel Rosenberg’s Life in Poems (Calkins Creek, fall 2022).
Susan Arthur Shelagh Shapiro (W) had her writing published in the New Ohio Review and Halfway Down the Stairs. In addition, her radio show, Write the Book: Conversations on Craft, celebrated a milestone of over 500 unique writing-related interviews archived as podcasts.
Carrie Olivia Adams (W) published Be the Thing of Memory with Tolsun books in April 2021. Kate Fetherston’s (W) second book of poems, This Far from Perfect, came out with Longleaf Press in 2020.
Nancy Richardson (W) published Going Home, a poetry book and memoir of the poet’s life spent in pursuit of justice in America.
Susan Arthur (VA) installed a porcelain pit-fired piece as part of Sculpture Now’s 2021 exhibit at The Mount in Lenox, MA. Arthur’s piece is titled “Flowers/Fungi” and is inspired by mycorrhizal networks between plants and fungi.
Tami Lewis Brown (WCYA) published her picture book ART IS LIFE: The Life of Artist Keith Haring with Farrar, Straus and Giroux in December 2020. She sold this manuscript after reading it at the Writing Novels for Young People retreat at VCFA.
Robert O’Connor (VA) was a part of “Dropped into an Unknown Country” in summer 2021, an exhibition of collaborative paintings by O’Connor and fellow VCFA alumnx Clea Felien (’07). “Dropped into an Unknown Country” is a four-year project that culminated in an installation of six collaborative paintings, as well as individual works. Shawne Steiger’s (W) novel Games We Played came out with Red Adept Publishing in October 2020. Steiger worked on this novel while she was a student at VCFA.
Miriam Glassman’s (WCYA) personal essay “The Bibliosquatter” was published in the Longridge Review in February 2021.
Deanna Benjamin (W) published a chapter in the collection Women and Fairness: Navigating an Unfair World (Eva Lambertsson Björk, Jutta Eschenbach, Johanna M. Wagner, eds.). Benjamin’s chapter title is “Writing Someone Else’s Story: Entitlement and Empathy in Maxine Hong Kingston’s ‘No Name Woman.’”
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Kelly Bennett (WCYA) published her picture book Norman: One Amazing Goldfish with Candlewick Press in September 2020.
Joan Canby’s (W) chapbook Cascades was published with Assure Press in summer 2021.
Michelle Hagewood Zack Kopp’s (W) hybrid memoir JETSAM will be published in October 2021. The memoir combines biographical data and background information on Intuitive Art founder Rachel Archelaus with the author’s reaction to her message.
Valerie Hird Valerie Hird’s (VA) handdrawn video animation WHAT DID HAPPEN TO ALICE? received accolades with FilmFreeway and was a semi-finalist for animation in the Montreal Independent Film Festival and an official selection in the Toronto Film Channel Festival. The film won a Humanitarian Award (2020) at the Best Shorts competition. Sherry Shahan (WCYA) published her YA novel PURPLE DAZE: A Far Out Trip, 1965 in December 2020. In addition, Shahan’s essay “Little House in the Redwoods” appeared in Progenitor, her “Black Widow Spider” in Too Well Away Lit, her YA short story “A Cracked Teapot” in Expanded Field, her YA short story “Jagged Fractions” in Brown Bag, her poem “Loitering” in Trampoline Poetry, and her photography in Fourth River, Lemon Spouting, and Aromatic Poetic. Lastly, she was a featured reader at Progenitor’s annual summer event in 2021. Dianne White (WCYA) published her playful picture book Sometimes a Wall… with Owlkid Books in late 2020. In addition, her picture book Winter Lullaby will be published by Candlewick Press in late 2021.
Jewel Beth Davis (W) published a personal essay, “The Idol,” online with Minerva Rising Press in July 2020. Darren Deth’s (W) short story “To Jump” was published by Adelaide Literary Magazine in December 2020. His short story “The House On The Corner” was published in the online magazine Creative Maine in July 2020.
Steven Axelrod (W) published Nantucket Penny, the sixth book in his Nantucket mystery series featuring poetry-writing police chief Kennis. The second book, Nantucket Five-Spot, was his VCFA creative thesis.
Nicholas Benson (W) published a translation (Italian to English) of a novel by Scipio Slataper, Il mio Carso (1912), published as My Karst and My City by Lorenzo Da Ponte Editions/University of Toronto Press. Benson started work on the translation while at VCFA. Julie Berry’s (WCYA) latest novel, Wishes and Wellingtons, was published with Sourcebooks Young Readers in October 2020. In 2021, Berry bought and renovated a bookstore. The store formerly known as The Book Shoppe on Main Street in Medina, NY, is now Author’s Note: A Bookstore. Berry says please swing on by!
Michelle Hagewood (VA) and Lauren Boilini—long-time peers and friends—came together to explore world-building and the processes of formation in its dystopic, utopic, and indiscernible forms in their 2021 exhibition “Entangled: Lauren Boilini and Michelle Hagewood” at Northwind Art in Port Townsend, WA, in February–March 2021. Adam Tavel’s (W) fourth book of poems, Sum Ledger, was published by Measure Press in late summer 2021. Larissa Theule’s (WCYA) latest picture book, Kafka and the Doll, was published in March 2021 with Viking Books for Young Readers. Inspired by a true story, this picture book explores the tale of writer FranzKafka and an act of kindness. Kafka and an act of kindness.
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Jo Ann Block (VA) exhibited three works from the series “Origin of the Odd” at the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, in early 2021. Melanie Crowder (WCYA)
Emily Lanctot exhibition “Is This Just Fantasy?” in early 2021. The exhibition, co-created and propelled by Snake House VT’s Sumru Tekin, features Emily Lanctot and Tabitha Nikolai’s expansive approaches to world-making, including fantasy, technology, and a compassionate attention to the infra-ordinary, touched by humor channeled through the absurd. In the summer of 2021, Lanctot showed work in the exhibition “In General” at the Eagle Harbor General Store Museum in Eagle Harbor, MI. Throughout the pandemic, the grocery store remained a constant site of social activity. “In General” considered the language and possibilities of consumption through drawings of reimagined canned goods.
Renee Couture’s (VA) exhibition “Refl ctions Space: OPEN” was installed at ANTI-AESTHETIC in Eugene, OR. In addition, Couture was a part of a group exhibition called “A Quiet Stand” at the Forsburg Gallery at Lower Columbia College. Couture exhibited a large-scale sculpture titled “They Fight Until They Fall.” She also was a part of the twoperson exhibition “Soft Ambition” in Portland, OR. Couture was one of 31 artists selected by the Oregon Arts Commission for a Career Opportunity Grant, and she was awarded funding from the Ford Family Foundation to support new work for an upcoming exhibition at Carnation Contemporary in Portland, OR. Finally, after a decade of teaching, she transitioned into her new role as the Visual Arts Coordinator for the Oregon Arts Commission Percent for Art Program. Jason DeYoung (W) published his novelette Waiting for the Miracle with The Cupboard Pamphlet. Janet Fox (WCYA) published her novel The Artifact Hunters with Viking Children’s in August 2020. Jeanne Lyet Gassman (W)
received a New Mexico Writers Grant for her novel-in-progress The Double Sun. She was one of four writers in the state to receive the award. The novel was also longlisted for the 2021 First Pages Prize.
Linda Oatman High (WCYA) published As Far As Birds Can Fly in late 2020 with Koehler Books. Cheryl Wilder’s (W) most recent
published her latest YA novel, Mazie, with Philomel Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House) in February 2021. The novel received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Sion Dayson’s (W) novel As A River won the 2021 Crook’s Corner Book Prize for best debut novel set in the American South. Dayson wrote the majority of the book while at VCFA. Gwen Mullins’s (W) story “Violent Devotion” was published in the spring 2021 issue of New Ohio Review. She also served as the winter 2020 Writer-in-Residence at the Kerouac Project in Orlando, FL.
Michelle (Mikki) Knudsen (WCYA) married Jaz Ellis in a tiny and beautiful backyard ceremony on June 5, 2021. In 2021, Knudsen also published She Persisted: Nellie Bly, a chapter book inspired by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger’s bestselling picture book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. Emily Lanctot (VA) held her
Jodi Paloni’s (W) short story “An End to It” appeared in a new anthology, North by Northeast: New Short Fiction by Maine Writers, published by Littoral Books in May 2021.
poetry collection, Anything That Happens, was published in March 2021 with Press 53.
Sean Petrie (WCYA) will be publishing a four-book series called Jett Ryder with Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions in the fall of 2021. All four books will be published at the same time. In 2021, Petrie’s poetry book Listen to the Trees won a silver medal at the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the “poetry-specialty” category. Terry Pierce (WCYA) published her first novelty book, Love Can
her YA novel Edie in Between with Penguin Random House in 2021. The book has been described as a modernday Practical Magic. Mary Winn Heider (WCYA) 31 :: vermont college of fine arts
Come in Many Ways, in late 2020. In April 2021, she published her board book EAT UP, BEAR! with the Yosemite Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works to sustain Yosemite National Park in coordination with the National Park Service.
of a Woman (She Writes Press, October 2020), won seven awards: 2021 IPPY Awards gold winner in Best Regional Fiction—West-Pacific; 2021 Independent Press Awards winner in Western Fiction; 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards winner in Regional Fiction; 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist in First Novel; 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards winner in Regional Fiction: West; 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards winner in Western Fiction; and the 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards winner in Book Interior Design: Fiction.
Renée Lauzon her paintings selected to be a part of “One in a Year,” an online group exhibition at The Painting Center, NYC, in spring 2021. A.W. Marshall (W) had his short story “Melton’s Jam” published in Abyss & Apex on January 1, 2021.
Tatiana Ryckman’s (W) book The Ancestry of Objects was published in September 2020 with Deep Vellum. Angela Schwartz (W) published her debut poetry collection, We Are
Laurie Morrison (WCYA) published her latest middle grade novel, Saint Ivy, with Abrams Books in May 2021. Sandra Nickel (WCYA)
published her middle grade novel The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy with Little Brown Books for Young Readers in March 2021. Benjamin Woodard’s (W)
Elizabeth Kuelbs’s (WCYA) children’s short story, “Worms in Danger,’’ was published in the March 2021 issue of Spider Magazine. Her adult poetry chapbook Little Victory will be released in fall 2021 with Finishing Line Press.
the Mothers, in October 2020. David Spitzer’s (W) imagetext collaboration with Sara Shiva, “Abyss of Departures,” was published by Hawai’i Review in November 2020. In addition, Spitzer published Displacements: Poems of Trauma and Migration from Archaic Greek. Displacements translates an assemblage of fragments and passages from across early Greek literature.
published her most recent picture book, The Stuff etween the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe, with Abrams Books for Young Readers in March 2021. In early 2021, she also was named as a finalist for the Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction for Younger Readers for her picture book Nacho’s Nachos (Lee & Low, 2020). Laura Sibson (WCYA) published
Wendy Voorsanger’s (W) debut historical novel, Prospects
Renée Lauzon (VA) had one of
story “Other People” was selected for inclusion in the 2021 edition of Best Microfiction, which was published by Pelekinesis Books in July 2021.
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Melanie Fishbane’s (WCYA) paper “Two Annes, Many Annes: A Writer’s Reflection on Reading Anne of Green Gables and The Diary of a Young Girl” is soon to be published in the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies open-source academic journal. The essay is a reflection on how reading and studying L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl influenced Fishbane’s writing life and process. Lisa Gutta (VA) started
Imprinted Stories—a podcast that gets the tale behind the mark. Gutta interviews people on their scars, how they feel about them, what their scar has come to symbolize, and its origin story.
was published in October 2020 with Scholastic Press.
Press in 2021.
Lisa Papademetriou (WCYA) launched Bookflow, her cloud-based tool for writers. Bookflow—inspired by her VCFA critical thesis—helps writers craft better plots, spark new ideas, and stay motivated. You can view the project at bookflow.pub.
Daniel Abbott (W) published Wounds: A Collaborative Memoir
Bonnie Pipkin’s (WCYA) debut novel, Aftercare Instructions, (Macmillan, 2017) has officially been acquired for a TV adaptation. Jess Rinker’s (WCYA) middle grade novel The Dare Sisters was
Name Badass: The True Story of Virginia Hall with Simon & Schuster/ Atheneum in September 2021, and the book was named a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. The paperback version of her 2020 YA novel Little Universes was released in April 2021 with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. Ann Huang (W) had work featured in the “We Are All Contagious”
Rachael Hatley (GD) received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Spring Hill College in 2021.
in Stories, a collaborative work created with Razel Jones, in late 2020 with Summer Camp Publishing. published in September 2020 with Imprint. In 2021, Rinker’s picture book Send a Girl! The True Story of How Women Joined the FDNY was published with Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Sophfronia Scott’s (W) newest book, The Seeker and the Monk:
Jenn Bishop’s (WCYA) middle grade novel Where We Used to Roam was published with Simon & Schuster in March 2021. Heather Demetrios (WCYA)
exhibition at the UMass Dartmouth University Art Gallery in 2020, along with the “LOSS” exhibition. In addition, Huang won Best Director for her film INDELIBLE WINTER at The Jane Austen International Film Festival. Robin Kirk (WCYA) published The Hive Queen, the second book in her INDIE-award-winning YA Bond Trilogy. The Hive Queen was published with Blue Crow Books in August 2020. Mary Lambert’s (WCYA) middle grade novel Distress Signal
Joeann Argue (VA) cocreated the first-ever Indigenous Fringe Festival in Nogojiwanong/ Peterborough, Ontario, in 2021. NIFF is the first-ever Fringe dedicated to Indigenous artists. While the pandemic forced NIFF to contain the artist pool to regional folx only in 2021, next year they hope to open it to the global Indigenous community. Tziporah Cohen’s (WCYA) book No Vacancy was awarded a 2021 Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor (Silver Medal) in the middle grade category. The Sydney Taylor Award recognizes books for children and teens that exemplify high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The book was also named a finalist for the 2020 National Jewish Book Award in the middle grade category.
published the YA biography Code
Samantha Eckert (VA) started a new position as the Exhibition Manager at the AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, NH.
Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton, was released in March 2021 with Broadleaf Books. Publishers Weekly called the book “a pleasing introduction to the thinking of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton” that “reflects on how Merton’s concerns and advice remain relevant today.” Peter A. Wright (W) was named co-Acquisition Editor for Running Wild
Gilbert Ford (WCYA) illustrated the chapter book From Here to
Was series from Penguin Workshop, What Is the Story of Alice in Wonderland?, in April 2021. In July 2021, her book Who Was Juliette Gordon Low? was published as the eighth book in the series.
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Flowers, with CavanKerry Press in April 2021. Lambda Literary selected her collection for their list of April’s most anticipated queer poetry books. Rebecca Olander’s (W) book, Uncertain Acrobats, will be
Martha Snell (W) had five poems accepted and published in 2020 in Ninth Letter, Moon City Review, Cutthroat, and Streetlight Magazine. Nate Trier (MC) recently released a new recording of melodic “broken ambient” music with UK-based musician encym. In addition, Trier channeled the sounds of the Long Island Sound through his accordion, euphonium, and synthesizers in his new EP Astro-Atlantis. Released in April 2021, the EP is available to stream on all popular platforms. Alison Wisdom’s (W) novel We Can Only Save Ourselves was
There by Vivian Kirkfield. The project was published by HMH Books for Young Readers and was released in early 2021. Daniel Godsil (MC) will complete a PhD in Music Theory and Composition at the University of California, Davis in August 2021. He has accepted a position as Professor of Music at Columbia College (Sonora, CA) and will start in fall 2021. Sondra Graff’s (GD) exhibition “traversingwithonions | or in pursuit
published in late 2021 by CavanKerry Press. The book will be blurbed by Betsy Sholl, Natasha Sajé, and Tomás Q. Morín. Tirzah Price (WCYA) published her debut YA novel, Pride & Premeditation, with Harper Teen in April 2021. The book was also chosen as the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club Pick for April. Kenneth Raimondi (F) was hired as adjunct faculty at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, TX. Dana Rau (WCYA) published the seventh addition to her Who
published with HarperCollins in early 2021.
Melissa Armstrong (W) published her first memoir, Catching Dawn, in August 2020 with Lantern Publishing & Media. In addition to her writing, she is currently working on a documentary about the animal overpopulation problem in the American South. Beth Bacon (WCYA) published her early chapter book The Book No One Wants to Read with HarperCollins in June 2021. The Book No One Wants to Read is a companion to her 2020 book I HATE READING. Veronica Cross’s (VA) fi m PASSENGER, 2016 was included in the group exhibition “Make America What America Must Become” at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, LA, in late 2020. Paige Garwood (MC) launched his new website “The Emerging Composer.” The website, will have blog posts and an upcoming course and book centered on his process of composing.
of the butter chair and other encounters…” was hosted at the Center for Book Arts in New York City in early 2021. This exhibition was conceived during her time at VCFA in conversation with Matthew Monk, her thesis advisor.
David Hoffma (WCYA) accepted a position as editor of YA and Adult works (as David Fey), with a specialization in horror and sci-fi, t Angelella Editorial.
Kali Lightfoot (W) published her debut poetry collection, Pelted by
Max Johnson’s (MC) piece “Nine O’Clock When the Streets Were Quiet”
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Contest. In addition, in 2020 Lang and fellow alumnx Megan Vered (’17) created Writers Near & Far, a community of women stretching from Israel to Alaska who meet every Wednesday and listen to one another read in response to a suggested prompt.
Max Johnson premiered in a streamed concert from the Roulette theater in Brooklyn, NY, on November 17, 2020. The piece was performed in a two-hour retrospective concert of Johnson’s work and was performed by Lucy Hatem, Lauren Cauley, Carrie Frey, and Maria Hadge. Ani Kachbalian Katchiguian’s (W) essay on grief called “June 3rd, 2010” was published in Past Ten Literary Journal in 2020. In 2021, her essay “The Awakening of the Sea Cucumber” was published by Danse Macabre Literary Magazine. Anu Kumar (W) published the short story collection The Man Who Played Gandhi and Other Stories with Weavers’ Press, California. David Kutz (VA), as the president of Arts Gowanus, his neighborhood
arts organization, has been spending many hours each week advocating to assure that, via the big NYC rezoning of the Gowanus neighborhood, artists are not dislocated and that the robust and vital community of artists is fully supported. In addition, in late 2021, Kutz’s exhibition “Machines in the Garden” will be on display. With supporting grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council and a matching grant from Con Edison, Kutz will explore with his camera green rooftops in Brooklyn where the green infrastructure is transforming the contemporary urban landscape. Jennifer Lang (W) was awarded first place in the Midway Journal Flash
Simha Stubblefie d (W) hosted the panel “Beyond Prescriptivism: Finding Our Own Paths to Creativity” with VCFA alumnx Chanel Dubofsky (’15), Elizabeth Peterson (’97), Jason Schaefer (’17), Simha Stubblefield, and Rashmi Vaish (’20) at the 2021 AWP Writer’s Conference. Kelly Treleaven (W) had her opinion piece “Get Ready for a Teacher Shortage Like We’ve Never Seen Before” published in The New York Times in August 2020. In addition, her first book, Love, Teach: Real Stories and Honest Advice to Keep Teachers From Crying Under Their Desks, was published with Penguin Random House in mid2020. Laurie Wallmark’s (WCYA) picture book Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics was given the Mathical Honor Book by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in 2021 and was recognized as one of the Best STEM Books in 2021 by the National Science Teachers Association. In addition to her awards, her picture book biography Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars was published with Abrams Books for Young Readers in early 2021, and her picture book Dino Pajama Party will be published in fall 2021 with Running Press Book Publishers. Ros Zimmermann’s (W) work was included in the anthology Best American Experimental Writing 2020. Briana Zonas (VA) was selected to participate in a group show in Paris at the Genie de la Bastille Gallery. The DF ART PROJECT collective defends Figurative Destructuralism. It brings together living visual artists, witnesses of our time, who share a common vision of their art.
Salima Alikhan (WCYA)
Troy Mathews published her young readers book Soraya and the Mermaid in late 2020 with Reycraft books. Fellow WCYA alumnx Jacqui Lipton (’16) agented the book. Amber Rose Crowtree (W) had two individual chapbooks accepted for publication: Harboring the Imperfect with Dancing Girl Press appeared in spring 2021 and The Inviolable Hours will be published with Finishing Line Press later in 2021. These are her first solo collections to be published. Shelley Elkovich (W) founded a non-alcoholic drinks brand—For Bitter
Briana Zonas For Worse—that launched just before the pandemic. For Bitter For Worse has been featured twice in The New York Times, and one of her drinks just won a medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Kristy Everington’s (WCYA) debut picture book, Isobel Adds
It Up, illustrated by A.G. Ford, was published with Penguin Random House in June 2021. Lizzy Fox (W) published her debut poetry collection, Red List Blue, with
Andrew Amendola (MC) completed his DMA in jazz performance at University of Miami’s Frost School of Music in 2021.
Finishing Line Press in early 2021. Troy Mathews (ADE) held an exhibition of their work, ”Minor | Major | Sus: Feelings,” at Nine Gallery in Portland, OR, in February 2021. Their work focused on “our past, our present, and the future. Imagining otherwise: What would a more equitable society look like?” Laura Ojeda Melchor’s (WCYA) debut novel, Missing Okalee, will be published with Shadow Mountain Publishing in September 2021. Kyle Pederson (MC) was awarded the 2020 ACDA Genesis Prize for his proposal Call Across, a choral work that will give voice to the elemental human need for connection. Diane Telgen (WCYA) published The Ghostly Tales of Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses with Arcadia Publishing. It joins her previous two books in the series, TGT of Michigan’s West Coast and TGT of Pittsburgh. Megan Vered (W) published her first author interview with Sheila
Adrean Clark (VA) was awarded a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to fund her exploration of the skyway system of downtown Saint Paul, MN, as a unique transportation structure built for human connection. The culmination of this grant-funded work will result in an online and/or physical exhibition by December 2021.
Zachary Stephens an anthology by NYQ called Without a Doubt: poems illuminating faith. This poem was originally workshopped in Barbara Hurd’s workshop. c marquez (VA) was chosen in
Linda Murphy Marshall’s (W) memoir Ivy Lodge: A Memoir of Translation and Discovery will be published in 2022.
Jessica Crossman’s (F) documentary THE BEST TIME won Best Short Documentary at the monthly edition of the Toronto International Women Film Festival.
Zachary Stephens’s (VA) photograph “Project Car” from his ongoing series “Are We There Yet?” was a part of “The Family Of” exhibition at Peep Space Gallery in Tarrytown, NY. “Project Car” was named a finalist in the 2021 LensCulture Art Photography Awards. Finally, Stephens received a grant from the Artist’s Resource Trust of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation to support his project “Watching the Ice Melt.” The project will be on view at the Griffin Museum of Photography in fall 2021.
Samantha Flora Welwood (GD) began a PhD in Art, Technology, and Emerging Communication at the University of Texas-Dallas in the fall of 2020. In addition, Flora Welwood presented the paper “Body Type: Fatphobia Semiotics in Typography” at the Challenging Body Ideals panel in Texas. Stephen Geller’s (W) fourth short story, “Harry’s Choice,” was published in the fall 2021 issue of Pennsylvania English Literary Magazine. Holly Green (WCYA) published her YA novel In the Same Boat in summer 2021 with Scholastic Press. Allison Hong Merrill’s (W) memoir Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops is forthcoming in September 2021. The memoir won the gold medal at the Literary Titan International Book Awards and was a featured memoir in Publishers Weekly in May 2021. Miles Liss’s (W) poem “Rain, and Expectation of Rain” is forthcoming in
Artists to Know Now. Their work was featured in the 12 Artists issue, and they were invited to participate in an exhibition. Additionally, they were one of three artists invited to an exhibition named “Ephemeral,” which opened virtually May 1, 2020, at GVG Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, and they were invited to take part in another partially virtual exhibition in Santa Fe named “Livewire: Materials of a Revolution” at the form & concept gallery.
2020 as one of the 12 New Mexico
Rhonda Zimlich’s (W) short story “The Gravity of Adrianne Lane” was awarded the 2021 Mental Health Awareness Fiction Writing Award from Please See Me and a grant by Maryland Humanities. The story was workshopped at VCFA’s 2018 summer residency in David Jauss’s workshop. Additionally, an excerpt from her memoir-in-progress Imaginary Fear was published with The Under Review. Lastly, her novel manuscript Renaming Panic was named a semi-finalist in the Hidden River Arts, Eludia first novel contest.
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O’Connor, author of Evidence of V, in Entropy magazine in mid2020. Vered’s interview with faculty member Patrick Madden, author of Disparates, was published in Hippocampus magazine in 2021, and Vered’s interview with Gina Fragello was featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Lastly, Verd’s essay “Lost Breath” was published in The Maine Review.
class news 36 :: class news
Calendar (edited by Jeanie Sanders). In addition, Mayorca has an essay featured in Ovunque Siamo Ovunque: New Italian-American Writing. TJ McGlinchey (MC) released an album of original music under the moniker of Thelonious Jawn in the fall of 2020. The album is titled New Europe/Blasted City and is available on all platforms from GrindEthos Records. The album is a new direction for McGlinchey, who previously released music as a folk singer, and it explores experimental funk and dance music interlaced with protest chants.
Shruthi Manjula Balakrishna Sara Backer (W) had three poems published by the Kenyon Review in their May 2021 issue. Megan Baxter’s (W) memoir Farm Girl was published in April 2021
with Green Writers Press. The book has been described as “a startlingly lovely memoir about how things die, how things grow, and how we reap what we sow. . . even when we might wish diff rently.” Sarah Curtis (W) published two stories, both excerpts from her memoir-in-progress, in 2021: “My Father, Cultural Appropriator” in the Los Angeles Review of Books and “The Ghosts of Lubbock” in the Colorado Review’s summer 2021 issue. Evan Griffi ’s (WCYA) picture book Secrets of the Sea:
The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist was published in March 2021 with HMH Books. He wrote the early drafts of this picture book during his time at VCFA under the mentorship of Mary Quattlebaum and Martha Brockenbrough. In addition, his debut middle grade novel, Manatee Summer, was acquired by Quill Tree Books (Harper) and will release in summer 2022. Sarah Leamy (W) released her poetry collection Hidden with Finishing Line Press in April 2021. Hidden is her first book of poetry. Shruthi Manjula Balakrishna (GD), after joining the acclaimed design studio FÖDA in Austin, TX, also accepted the position of Graphic Design Adjunct Professor at St. Edward’s University. In 2021, The Dieline selected A Golden State’s packaging for a Best in Show award in the Home, Shopping, and other Markets category, out of 1600 entries from 28 countries. Manjula Balakrishna was part of a full design team including creative director Jett Butler, Dale Wallain, Alice May Du, and Grady Bell. Elizabeth Mayorca (W) was featured in the 2021 Texas Poetry
Anne McGrath’s (W) essay “The Molting” was chosen as a featured piece in Entropy magazine in September 2020. Her essay “Of Milk and Stars,” published in Riverteeth in August 2019, was selected as a Best American Essays notable for 2020. In July 2020, her essay “Leaving Helen” was published in the Columbia Journal and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her illustrated essay “The Color of Fear” was published in Solstice in January 2021, and her visual poem “A Reverence for Wood” appeared in Sweet Lit in June 2021. Blake Z. Rong (WP) published his debut poetry collection, I Am Not Young And I Will Die With This Car In My Garage, with Atmosphere Press in August 2021. His fellow Writing & Publishing alumnx Cammie Finch (’19) and Lennie DeCerce (’19) are now staff members at Atmosphere and assisted in the publication process. Sue Schmitt (WCYA) published two books in October 2020: That
Monster on the Block (Two Lions) and Now I’m a Bird (Albert Whitman & Company). Additionally, she was the winner in the Humor Category of the 2020 Northern Lights Book Award for That Monster on the Block. Azadeh Westergaard (WCYA) published the lyrical biography of Nikola Tesla A Life Electric with Viking Books for Children/Penguin Random House in July 2021.
Luke Anspach (GD) secured a new teaching position in 2021 as Assistant Professor of Art & Design at Anderson University’s South Carolina School of the Arts. Tommy Caamaño’s (F) company produced the 2019 Netflix series BASKETBALL OR NOTHING, which was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Serialized Sports Documentary. Sarah McCraw Crow (W)
published her novel The Wrong Kind of Woman in late 2020 with MIRA. Yerania Del Orbe’s (F) film LA
and his band Slim and The Beast released their second indie-rock EP in October 2020.
SANTERA was an official selection in the 2020 Lady Filmmakers Festival and a semifinalist in the 2020 Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Fest. Marq Evans (F) premiered his film CLAYDREAM as part of the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2020. Structured around interviews with Will Vinton and his close collaborators, the film charts the rise and fall of the Oscar- and Emmy-winning Will Vinton Studios. Julian Gerstin (MC) released the new CD Littoral Zone: 17 Percussion Pieces for Mollusks. Throughout the set, Gerstin plays over 50 instruments from around the world. Barbara Gray (W) is one of the hosts of 2nd Saturday Poets, one of the longest continuously running poetry readings in the United States (37 years and going strong), through the Delaware Literary Connection. Gray won first place for best “small nonprofi published newsletter” from the Delaware Press Association in 2020.
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Tyler Orion (W&P) published their nonfiction piece “Visiting My Own Grave” in Brevity literary magazine. Sarah Patterson’s (GD) VCFA thesis, Write On! Handwriting as Memory, evolved into the exhibit “Second Nature” at The Gallery at Penn College. The exhibit featured 100 days of handwriting and drawing. Linda Presto (W) was hired as an Adjunct Instructor teaching firstyear English Composition classes at Sussex County Community College in Newton, NJ. She will be teaching her third semester in the fall of 2021, finally in person. Later in 2021, she will be participating in a national book competition with When Words Count in Vermont. Basmah Sakrani (W) won The Baltimore Review’s winter contest for flash fiction for her piece titled “Intersection.” Lakita Wilson (WCYA) will be publishing What Is Black Lives Matter? in conjunction with Who HQ/ Penguin Random House in September 2021.
Renée Bouchard’s (VA) essay “Artist/Mother/Quarantine” was published in 2020 with Isele Magazine.
Tracy Haught’s (WP) story “Puking by the Sea: An Ode to Slim and a Bic Pen” was a finalist in the spring 2021 Lumiere Review Fiction Contest. It was published in the Lumiere Review in March 2021. Her CNF piece “Rainbows and Widows: Brokedown in Dodge City” will appear in SLAB Magazine in October 2021. Emma Kress’s (WCYA) YA novel Dangerous Play was published with Roaring Brook, an imprint of Macmillan, in late summer 2021. Karen Krossing (WCYA) published her picture book Sour Cakes with Owlkids. This picture book project began in her first semester at VCFA during a Picture Book Intensive with advisor Liz Garton Scanlon. Samuél Lopez-Barrantes (W)
Emily Wu’s (F) short film and VCFA thesis project, SOMATIKA, was an official selection of Cinemafantastique, a genre festival based in Vancouver. In addition, she started fundraising for her first feature film, TWISTED HEAVEN.
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Amanda Elend (WCYA) launched her new blog, On Lines, focusing on first lines, last lines, and great lines in literature. Each post analyzes these lines for how they introduce, conclude, or reinforce a broader concept, structure, or theme.
Meghan P. Browne (WCYA) published Indelible Ann: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards with Random House Studio in June 2021. In her debut publication, Browne joins illustrator Carlynn Whitt in a picture book biography collaboration that takes readers through the life of legendary “big mouth, big hair” governor of Texas Ann Richards. Jena Burchick (F) premiered her MFA thesis film, MOM & M—an intimate portrait of modern American parenthood—at the Maryland Film Festival in May. THE LOCAL OYSTER STOUT, a short form documentary directed and produced by Mark and Jena Burchick, received a Capital Emmy award on June 26, 2021. The award represents the “Chesapeake Heritage - Short Form Content” category of the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The documentary was included in a compilation of shorts called “Oysterfest” and had its broadcast premiere with Maryland Public Television as part of their Chesapeake Bay Week programming on April 23, 2020. Pernille AEgidius Dake (W) wrote the invitational blog entry “Commenting on Objective Correlative” with Typehouse Literary Magazine, her flash fiction “Bone” appeared in Burningword Literary Journal, and her poem “Kettle” was published with Adelaide Literary Magazine.
Maya Chhabra (WCYA) released her book Stranger on the Home Front in 2021 with Jolly Fish Press. Chhabra’s book is an #ownvoices middle grade historical novel about a mixed-race girl from the early days of the Indian-American community, following her as her father is accused of involvement in a real-life pro-Indianindependence plot amid the US’s entry into WWI.
Alex DiBucci (F) recently kicked off the release of her web series, FLUX, about a new couple forced to move in together during a global pandemic. The series includes nine episodes, all of which are available on YouTube. Jehanne Dubrow (W) published
Christie Cognevich (WCYA) published the book Depression: Insights and Tips for Teenagers with Rowman & Littlefield in 2020. Filled with real-life stories, Depression illustrates a wide range of stressors and emotional difficulties faced by teenagers.
Jennifer Adams’s (WCYA) picture book I Am a Kindness Hero was published with Sounds True. I Am a Kindness Hero celebrates gentleness and vulnerability in boys and shows that true strength and leadership come from treating those around you with love and respect.
the poetry collection Wild Kingdom in 2021 with Louisiana State University Press. The collection has been called “razor-sharp” and “poignant.” Erica George (WCYA) published the novel Words Composed of Sea and Sky in the spring of 2021 with Hatchette.
Jessica Cuello’s (W) manuscript Liar was selected for the Barrow Street Book Prize. The project is forthcoming in October 2021.
Mike Akel’s (F) new feature comedy, THE TINY LIFE OF BUTCHER DUKE, is available to rent or buy on all digital platforms. The project has been described as NAPOLEON DYNAMITE meets BAD NEWS BEARS on a tennis court.”
Taylor Gianfrancisco’s (W) poem “I Must Wear a Crown to Bed Every Night” was published in June 2021 with Luna Luna Magazine. In addition, her micro-chapbook A Delirium of Flowers will be published in the fall of 2021 through Ghost City Press.
Julie Lee’s (WCYA) book Brother’s Keeper was the 2020 winner for Young Adult/Middle School Literature of the Freeman Book Award, sponsored by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, the Committee on Teaching about Asia, and the Association for Asian Studies and Asia for Educators at Columbia University. In addition, Brother’s Keeper was named a 2021 ALA Notable Children’s Book. Billy Kent’s (F) short film VALE OF CASHMERE was accepted to the 2020 Lift-Off lobal Network Festival in Paris. The short also played at the Cannes Short Film Festival. Additionally, Kent’s project DISAPPEARING ACT played at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, and his project CLOSER played at the Venice Film Festival. Robert Milazzo (F) recently released Assembly, an original documentary podcast series that follows the creators, communities, and crowds that come together as events in culture become legacy—all via the voices gathered and the lives touched. Stacy Nockowitz’s (WCYA) debut middle grade manuscript, The Prince of Steel Pier, was bought by Joni Sussman at Kar-Ben Publishing. Publication is set for 2022. Amara Okolo (WP) published the short story “Fear Is a Chemical” in A Long House in January 2021.
IN MEMORIAM Cheryl Adelman (’01 WCYA) died April 15, 2021. Known as “Storylady,” Cheryl touched the lives of generations of kids through the decades-long volunteer program she created at Glencoe Elementary School (Portland, OR) and beyond.
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Erica Jacobs-Ware’s (F) TV pilot script “Diverse Code” was an official selection for the 2021 Sacramento International Film Festival and the 2021 American Screenwriters Conference.
Bunny Beck (’18 MC), a jazz pianist, composer, and longtime member of Local 802, died on January 15, 2021. Jane Bradley (’97 W), a University of Toledo English professor and author of well-received novels and short stories, who also taught writing at women’s shelters, died September 20, 2020. Ernie Hadley (’19 W) died on April 8, 2021, in Lunenburg, NS, Canada. He was the publisher and editor of Nevermore Press. Phyllis Harris (’00 WCYA) died on September 16, 2020. She was a former kindergarten teacher, and her writing appeared in the Chicago Tribune anthologies and various journals, including Lyrical Iowa. Virginia Loff (’10 W), retired newspaper and magazine publishing executive, died on December 13, 2020. Melody Mansfie d (’98 W) died May 16, 2021. She was Director of Creative Writing at Milken Community Schools in Los Angeles, one of the largest Jewish day schools in the US. Lucy Taylor (’93 VA), lifelong artist, teacher, and devoted New Yorker, died March 10, 2021.
Caroline Pritchard’s (WCYA) debut picture book, Gitty and Kvetch, will be published in late 2021 with Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Tracy Strain (F) directed, wrote, and produced AMERICAN OZ with her partner Randall MacLowry for American Experience through their company The Film Posse. The twohour documentary premiered in April 2021 on PBS.
Detail of summer 2020 exhibition by Amy Bernard (’21 VA)
VCFA’S WRITING COMMUNITY REMEMBERS
Richard McCann (1949–2021) 40 :: in memoriam
In January 2021, VCFA learned of the passing of beloved writer and longtime MFA in Writing faculty member Richard McCann, who gave so much to so many as a friend, colleague, and mentor, and as a writer of extraordinary beauty and brilliance.
Richard was the author of the collection of linked stories Mother of Sorrows, an ALA Stonewall Honor Book described by Michael Cunningham as “almost unbearably beautiful.” His poetry collection Ghost Letters was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. With Michael Klein he was editor of the anthology Things Shaped in Passing: More “Poets for Life” Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. In addition to teaching at VCFA’s MFA in Writing program, the Postgraduate Writers’ Conference, and the Novel Retreat, he was Professor Emeritus at American University, former President and Chair of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and of the Corporation of Yaddo. In April the MFA in Writing program held a tribute event to honor and celebrate Richard and his legacy at VCFA. Our community absorbed the loss in shared sorrow and gratitude, reflecting on how fortunate we are to have known Richard and been graced by his words, his teaching, his spirit and light for all his years with the college. Faculty member Sue William
Silverman introduced the event with a quote from one of Richard’s residency lectures, in which he said, “Honor your dead, your wounded, your lost, and attend to the things you did and did not do in this world.” These urgent and powerful words were a fitting opening for an evening when faculty, students, alumnx, program staff, and friends gathered remotely, creating an intimate space in which to remember Richard in this world. “To grieve the loss of Richard,” Silverman said, “but also to remember the pure joy we felt in his presence.”
Similarly, faculty colleagues remembered Richard’s fierce wit and warm energy, the way he danced, the way he sang, his ability to turn attention to the present moment, and the way—both through his spirit and his work—he inspired countless paradigm shifts and openings in other people’s lives. Though he could be deeply serious, he knew how to cut to the heart of joy. As friend and fellow faculty member Connie May Fowler recalled, his very presence “healed the heart.”
“ We are made of the dust of old stars, our grade school teacher told us; we are made of leaves and sediment and the mulchings of life. But I was made also of something rescued from the graveyard, I realized after the transplant, and if I was now among the resurrected, I was also the resurrectionist.” —from Richard McCann’s The Resurrectionist
“ Honor your dead, your wounded, your lost, and attend to the things you did and did not do in this world.” —Richard McCann
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The event began with current and former VCFA Writing faculty presenting brief selections from Richard’s work, including poems, essays, and excerpts from Mother of Sorrows and his memoir-in-progress The Resurrectionist. A showcase of photographs captured Richard, smiling, deep in conversation, or arms slung with warm exuberance around all those he cared for. The readings were followed by an open invitation for all to share thoughts and anecdotes. In this space, Richard’s many students offered remembrances of his generosity, his eloquence (and elegance), his willingness to lead and mentor with humanity and vulnerability, to share his own experiences with pain as evidence for the ways our varied selves can live in one self and be whole. Through his mentorship, Richard gave his students his endless knowledge of writing and literature, as well as a trove of treasured letters, each a charming, wise, and profound little work of art.
Diane Moser (1951–2020) 42 :: in memoriam
In December 2020, beloved MFA in Music Composition faculty member Diane Moser passed away. The Music Composition program dedicated Light in the Darkness, its special performance at the beginning of winter, to their memories of Diane, her devotion to students and colleagues, and her unquenchable zest for art and life, the very embodiment of the light in the darkness we all needed during that difficult season. The program held a memorial concert for Diane during the February 2021 residency. Members of the VCFA Music Composition community also came together in writing messages of their love for Diane and their deep grief, both tempered and deepened by memories of her vibrant life.
“It’s so hard to fathom Music Comp residencies without Diane’s amazing presence, generosity, huge laugh, and passion. The outpouring of appreciation and love here today is heartwarming, and such clear evidence of this beautiful community Diane was such a big part of. Diane was many things, including the instigator of the August bonfire tradition. Towards the end of the summer 2013 residency, with our very first graduation about to happen, we commiserated about the anticipated Saturday evening letdown after celebrating that first graduating class. Diane mentioned that the Perseid meteor shower would be peaking that night and wouldn’t it be wonderful to gather everyone outside to watch and celebrate? I happened to have a bonfire pile waiting for an occasion at my house, and a wonderful tradition was born. I will think of Diane with every fire and every birdsong, and will miss her terribly. But I know that her spirit will always be with us, championing this program and everyone connected to it. Thank you, Diane, and so much love... – Carol Beatty, Program Director
“Diane Moser had eyes of possibility. She was intimidating, yet magnetic. She was smart and strong and made you smarter and stronger when you were around her. When she engaged, it was game on. She’d cut right to the heart of the matter with relentless exuberance, taking you to the deep end of the pool. Still, you felt safe and secure. And hopelessly outmatched. She was very funny but her full-throttled, uninhibited laugh made you feel like you were funnier. She challenged you, raised your bar, and looked at you with those engaging eyes of possibility that made you believe in yourself. She was artist, composer, player, band leader, intellectual, academic, professor, and an Iowa-born, Jersey hippie chick. She was familiar to me the minute I first met her in the winter of 2015 at VCFA. We were distant brother and sister in some unexplainable way. She dug my thing, and I was in awe of hers. Over the next 2 years we’d trade quips, gig stories, antiestablishment politics, and long, warm, hearty hugs. Tonight as I write this, I’m so profoundly sad. But you reach an age when you realize that while there are those whom you lose and will disappear forever, there are a few who stay in your heart and mind until the very end. For me that’s where Diane will always be. Until we meet again.” – Peter Karp (’17) “Devastated to hear of the passing of Diane Moser, a kind and devoted friend and colleague, a ferocious advocate for artful living. My love and condolences to Chad and the great congregation of friends and colleagues.” – Roger Zahab, Faculty
– Ravi Krishnaswami, Faculty “Still trying to process the loss of Diane Moser. I don’t know what to say. She was intense and intellectual but easygoing and approachable. She was serious about being irreverent. She was unbelievably kind but didn’t tolerate any disrespect. She pursued a ‘holistic’ approach to teaching, meaning everything was available as a means to hone in laser-like on her students’ creative expression. She encouraged my most ‘far out’ and conceptual musical ideas—as long I methodically demoed them and analyzed the results. She worked her ass off and had fun doing it. She was incredibly supportive in a way that changed the way I think about myself. She was easily one of the best people I’ve known. Rest in peace.” – Nate Trier (’15) “Feeling deeply the loss of a friend, colleague, and comrade, Diane Moser. There are those who shine brightly in the world, and then there are those who throw sparks at you that ignite and make you experience your own fire and light. Thank you, Diane, for calling me a ‘bad-ass-pianist.’ Probably the best compliment this humble, nerdy, yet passionate classical pianist could ever receive in her life, especially from a most loveable, hilarious, warm-hearted, gifted, generous, and talented bad-ass pianist as yourself. We all will miss your joyous, warm, and ever-creative and spirited presence, and that awesome light and twinkle in your eye. And your music...soundscapes of an amazing soul.” – Claudine Robins, Accompanist, Choral Workshop
“Diane Moser was my advisor my first semester at VCFA. A teacher to the core, generous with her knowledge and time and thunderous laughter, we had hours-long sessions from her hospital bed, and anywhere she could corner you on campus. Her energy will be deeply missed. The wide arc of her talent now encompasses the universe. Resting? Jam session anyone…?” – Rikki Bell (’17)
“My friend, VCFA professor, mentor, and someone who opened my eyes in a profound way to music composition, Diane Moser has just passed away. I am heartbroken. I loved that lady. She was a musical giant. I will miss being able to drop her a note and receive a kind and thoughtful response. My favorite memory of her was after I had given a master class on a piece of music I was composing. She pulled me aside, sat down at the piano, and proceeded to drill me about one particular measure in this piece of music. She asked, ‘Why this measure?’ I responded with a answer based on melodic principles that I had been learning. She responded, ‘No, that’s not it. Why this measure?’ I remember thinking maybe she’s looking for something chord related or harmonically related, so I gave an explanation linking the harmony to what I had written. She responded again, ‘No, that’s not it. Why this measure?’ I got exasperated because I didn’t know what she was looking for, and I responded ‘Diane—that measure is written in that way because I like it THAT way!’ She could tell I was exasperated, and she smiled at me and said, ‘OK that’s what I was looking for.’ She went on to explain that I needed to believe in what I wrote. She went on to say further that sometimes a composer has to step outside of the rules in order to communicate what they want to communicate, and to not be afraid to do so. She wanted me to defend and believe in what I wrote. I will remember that lesson for the rest of my life. And I will remember her. My world is a little bit less today because she is not in it. RIP, dear lady.” – Paige Garwood (’16)
43 :: vermont college of fine arts
“Oh, Diane. I am thinking about her transcendent performances at the electronic music showcase. And the hug and catch-up at the first faculty meeting of every residency. Her fierce criticism of her students’ grasp of harmony, and equally determined spirit that she would get them up to speed. Why must we wait until the early spring for the birdsongs to return?”
Ways to Give 44 :: giving at VCFA
Every year hundreds of alumnx and friends of the college put their generosity into action by making gifts to VCFA. No matter the size, A GIFT TO THE VCFA FUND is a powerful way to help sustain VCFA for the future, providing vital support to the ongoing operations of the college and addressing the highest needs of our institution. Contributions to the VCFA fund directly support academic program operations, outstanding faculty, financial aid for students, care and maintenance of our historic campus, and the resources and technology needed to deliver our unique and innovative educational experience. At VCFA, we are committed to embracing emerging artists and inspiring them to transform their work and their careers, and one of our top fundraising priorities is to ensure anyone accepted into VCFA is able to attend. A GIFT TO THE ARTIST DEVELOPMENT FUND will help provide scholarship support to enable emerging artists across disciplines and 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.
Leave a legacy by including VCFA in your estate plans.
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.
For more information on ways to give back to VCFA, visit vcfa.edu/giving/ways-to-give or contact Sarah Madru at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“ We need diverse voices in kid lit. And what better place to develop your voice and craft than VCFA?” 45 :: vermont college of fine arts
Maureen Charles (’19 WCYA) MFA Society Donor
Writing for Children & Young Adults alumnx Maureen Charles has always been one to wear many hats in her creative life. In 2021, Charles is the co-founder, principal, and editor-in-chief at LoveOfAging.com; Board Chair for Aid Still Required; and a volunteer with the Foundation for Climate Restoration. And, on top of it all, Charles finds the time to work on her multiple manuscripts in progress—from Young Adult, to Middle Grade, to picture books. On her journey to her life of writing, Charles explains that “I loved writing from an early age and have been writing all my life, but I really started writing professionally when my then-boss, school law attorney Mary Jo McGrath, asked me to cowrite a book on school bullying with her.” Once that project was published by Corwin Press in 2007, Charles left the company she had worked at for eleven years to pursue writing full-time. “I found my sweet spot as a proposal writer,” says Charles, “but I knew that what I really wanted was to write for young people.” So, in her early fifties, Charles began to dabble in writing for young people, which eventually led her to the Writing for Children & Young Adults program. “I entered VCFA wanting to explore a niche area of literature for young people. My foster son Shakib is from Kabul, Afghanistan, and we knew we wanted to co-write a YA memoir about his childhood,” explains Charles. “Given I had very little experience
putting words on paper for young audiences, my art grew enormously.” Now, in addition to working on the memoir with her son, she is under contract—with fellow cowriter and VCFA alumnx Ashley Walker (’18)—to write a currently untitled nonfiction biography about fifteen women in the music industry for Chicago Review Press’s Women of Power series. While Charles’s writing journey might not have started with writing for young people, it’s certainly where her writing was meant to be—and Charles is grateful for the friends and experiences she gained from her time at VCFA. “My experience [at VCFA] was both magical and rigorous,” says Charles. “Not only did I grow in my craft, but I also gained an incredible community which continues to support my growth and development.” As an alumnx, Charles’s VCFA network is still at her side supporting her creative work. And, as she does with everything, Charles has been working to contribute and give back to her vast VCFA community through regular monthly donations. “I give because the opportunity to contribute calls to me,” explains Charles. “I am especially interested in supporting BIPOC students with tuition for the WCYA program. We need diverse voices in kid lit. And what better place to develop your voice and craft than VCFA?” “We, the alumnx, are the future of VCFA. We get the opportunity to invest in and expand opportunities at the college through our financial support. I would encourage alumnx to make a gift via the MFA Society. No amount is too small to make a difference.”
a community gives
If you ask Maureen Charles, “So, what have you been up to lately?” the answer will always be, “A lot.” If you ask Maureen Charles what drives her to write every day, the answer will always be, “The same thing that has driven me throughout my life: the opportunity to contribute.”
Monthly Funders of the Arts Established in late 2019, VCFA’s MFA Society was formed to expand the traditional idea of giving and offer flexible, personalized donation opportunities for our alumnx who want to give back. As a Monthly Funder of the Arts (MFA), alumnx can establish easy, automatic monthly gifts with the college and create a system of giving that works for them. Every monthly gift allows the college to better fund scholarships, invest in faculty development, and bring even more visiting artists and scholars to VCFA each year. MFA Society benefits currently in development include exclusive content and media, increased access to brand new alumnx programming, and an even deeper connection to the VCFA community. Joining the society is as easy as making an online donation at vcfa.edu/ donate and setting up a monthly payment option.
Toby Gonzalez (’12 VA) MFA Society Donor Toby Gonzalez buys a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee every day except on Wednesdays. The money he saves by drinking coffee at work once a week, he donates each month to VCFA and his local NPR station. He’s created a system of giving that works for him and his budget, as he says, “I’ve always believed you can’t depend on anyone but yourself to support the institutions you care about.” * Ann Dávila Cardinal (’07 W) Director of Student Recruitment, Monthly Payroll Donor “I wouldn’t have a writing career without VCFA, so in addition to small regular paycheck donations, I give an additional amount whenever I’m lucky enough to sell something and get an advance. It’s my way of giving back. I even have a list of fantasy donations if my career ever takes off in a big way. Giving back to this college, this community, my creative VCFA family, is a priority for me, so I try to give whatever I can whenever I can. Like how individual words pull together to create a book, small donations add up to a significant assist.”
*Text also featured in the 2019 issue of IN RESIDENCE
Hannah Moderow (’11 WCYA) MFA Society Donor
a community gives
Reshaping Monthly Giving
“It’s been ten years since I graduated from VCFA. While I haven’t physically set foot on the campus in a decade, I still feel connected to the generous community of writers, faculty, and staff who are so passionate about creating powerful stories for the children and young adults of today—and generations to come. At VCFA, I discovered a magical communion of writers that transcends time and space— and is ever building up the work of fellow writers. I’m grateful to be a part of this rich community, and I continue to return to the well of wisdom and generosity of faculty and students that I encountered during my time as a student. I support VCFA because I want to play a small part in welcoming future students into that same magical communion.” Barbara Gray (’15 W) MFA Society Donor
“The VCFA fiction writing program is rigorous, and the excellent faculty and wonderful experience of working oneon-one with highly skilled professional writers is worth every second and dollar spent. My writing has improved immensely, and my understanding of the craft and the effort involved in developing a good novel has grown exponentially. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”
Dr. Horace D. Ballard (Pownal, VT) is constantly thinking through the relationship between art, people, and ideas. As a curator, professor, and theologian, Horace ponders the questions of truth, beauty, and being, and their necessary and practical relationship to (in)justice and inclusivity in culture. A former child actor and professional singer, Horace has worked in the curatorial, engagement, and interpretation departments of the Fralin Museum of Art, at the University of Virginia; the Yale University Art Gallery; the Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design; the Birmingham Museum of Art; and the Williams College Museum of Art. Cheryl D. Miller Cheryl D. Miller (Stamford, CT) is a designer, author, and theologian best known for her diversity, equity, and inclusion advocacy for Black graphic designers. An accomplished, award-winning designer and businesswoman, she established one of the first Black-women-owned design firms in New York City in 1984. Cheryl D. Miller Design Inc. provided corporate communications services to Fortune 500 clientele, including BET, Chase, American Express, Time, and Sports Illustrated, as well as social impact corporate communications defining the civil rights era. For half a century, Miller has tirelessly created lasting relationships, mentorships, and communities while consistently amplifying the voices of the designers she has worked alongside. Miller holds an MS in Communications Design from Pratt Institute and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, with Foundation Studies completed at the Rhode Island School of Design. She also holds a Master of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University’s College of Art & Design, where she teaches graphic design. Miller received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from VCFA in 2021.
Andrew Ramsammy Andrew Ramsammy (Scottsdale, AZ) currently serves as the Local Media Association’s Chief Content and Collaboration Officer. He is a multiple Emmy Award winner with more than 20 years of global experience in creative, content, and production. Ramsammy’s career efforts in public media have resulted in more than $5.5 million in sponsorship revenue. Before joining LMA, Ramsammy served as director of digital content for Global Sport Matters, a media enterprise at Arizona State University; director of audience strategy for Arizona PBS; executive director of United Public Strategies; director of content projects and initiatives at Public Radio International; and he was executive producer of the hit Texas PBS travel show, The Daytripper. Originally from NYC, Andrew graduated LaGuardia High School of the Arts, where he majored in drama & technical theatre, and received his BFA in film from the School of Visual Arts. Heidi Mohlman Tringe Heidi Mohlman Tringe (Montpelier, VT) is a seasoned policy, legislative affairs, and communications professional with extensive experience in both Vermont and Washington, DC. She joined the Montpelier, VT, government and public relations firm MMR, LLC, in August 2010 and became a Partner in 2011. At MMR she advises clients on diverse policy issues on both a state and national level. Heidi was appointed in 2018 by Vermont Governor Phil Scott to serve on the Vermont Commission on Women. She co-founded the women’s leadership and networking organization ElevateHer Vermont and helped lead the fundraising effort for the Montpelier ArtSynergy Project. She volunteers her time at Montpelier public schools and serves on the Old Meeting House AntiRacism Task Force. Heidi joined the Board in 2019, and we are overdue in celebrating her membership and dedication!
a community gives
47 :: vermont college of fine arts
Leadership, Generosity & Wisdom
A number of beloved trustees retired from the Board in 2021— former Chair Bill Schubart (served since 2009), Peter Smith (served since 2008), Tami Lewis Brown (’06 WCYA; served since 2007), MT Anderson (served since 2009), and Debbie Dunn (’06 WCYA; served since 2017). We are so grateful for their vital contributions to the college’s continued success and growth. We’ve also welcomed four distinguished new trustees in the recent past. Learn more about them and their accomplishments below!
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, 2020, to June 30, 2021. 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.
Irene Abraham ’06 Pernille AEgidius Dake ’21 Abigail Aguirre ’11 Pamela Ahlen ’07 The Alces Foundation Julia Alter ’21 Erin Andrea ’21 Lois Anne ’21 Corinne Apezteguia ’21 Kathi Appelt ’82 Sara Armstrong ’21 Rafael Attias ’15 Pamela Ayres ’19 Mary Bailey ’99 Catharine Barber ’13 Kira Barrett ’23 T.A. Barron Mary Beath ’20 Carol Beatty ’90 Erin Becker ’20 Christina Bell ’21 Rebecca Bendheim ’21 Jeffrey Bernstein Collin Berry ’21 John Bishop Bruce Black ’99 Lucinda Bliss ’99 Elizabeth Booker ’16 Alina Borger-Germann ’19 Andrew Boscardin ’17 Alexandra Broches ’99 Beth Brody ’17 Ellizabeth Buchanan ’98 Charles Bunting Emilie Burack ’19 Renee Burke ’20 Joan Canby ’08 Ann Dávila Cardinal ’07
Patricia Carey ’16
Rachel Feld-Reichner ’20
Edward Castillo Maureen Charles ’19 Miriam Chernick ’20 Peter Christie Martha Christina ’84 Daniel Clark ’93 Joan Cohen ’04 Sheri Cohen ’22 Winifred Conkling ’11 Steve Connor Amy Coombs ’15 Louisa Cossy ’18 Cynthia Cotten ’99 Keith Craig ’05 Patty Crane ’04 and Tim Crane Carla Criscuolo ’14 Sarah Crow ’20 Louise Crowley Danielle Dahline ’01 Jennifer Davis ’18 Kathleen Diehl ’84 Jessica Dils ’10 Dolan Family Foundation Vivian Dorsel ’06 Meagan Downey Eugenie Doyle ’95 Pete Driessen ’98 Edward and Helen Oppenheimer Foundation Amanda Elend ’21 Alexandra Enders ’00 Jill Ewald ’95 Cynthia Faughnan ’07
Natasha Fisher ’21 Nancy Flood ’07 Judith Ford ’16 Chuck Forester ’04 Susan Foster ’21 Mary Foulk ’20 Janet Fox ’10 Carolyn Friedman ’21 Stephanie Friedman ’10 John Fuller ’22 Stephen Geller ’18 Paula Gillam ’99 Chandler Gilman ’96 Lewis Glenn Dean Gloster ’17 Barry Goldblatt Joan Goldfeder ’95 Michael Goldstein Daniel Gonzalez ’12 Rima Grad ’17 Chris Graff Sondra Graff ’15 Holter Graham ’99 and Neela Vaswani ’99 Barbara Gray ’20 Kate Gray ’15 Harry Groome ’00 Joan Grubin ’03 Katie Gustafson Caitlin Gutheil Meredith Hadaway ’03 Hunter Hague ’20 Bruce Hanson ’01 Aelish Hart ’21
Ellen Hersh ’94 Nancy Hewitt ’02 William Higgins ’21 Gregory Hill ’14 Dwight Hilson ’15 Stephen Hitchcock ’19 Michael Hogan Susan Holcomb ’21 Mary and Peter Hood Elizabeth Hooks ’20 M. Denise Hoover ’15 Andrew Hordes ’18 Katherine Hosford ’11 Matthew Hudson ’05 Debra Hutchison ’03 Cherryl Jensen ’21 Jeniah Johnson ’19 Katherine Johnson ’14 Liana Johnson ’21 Libby Johnson Lois Johnson Jennifer Kam ’07 Helen Kampion ’07 Kim Kaufman ’20 Leslie Kaufman ’95 Jodi Keene ’21 Jeffrey Kellar Alycia Kelly ’22 William Kemmett ’86 Mildred Kennedy-Stirling ’12 John Kern ’96 and Valerie Hurley Sarah Ketchersid
We once again extend sincere thanks to our of Alastair Hayes Janet Filomeno ’06 community Carolineour Carlson ’11 Rachel Hayes ’17 and John Seaman Anne Carter ’21 donors and supporters. you, donors! Helen Hemphill ’04 Melissa Fisher ’14 Catherine Thank Carvelli
New England Federal Credit Union Susan Newbold ’00 Nanci Newton ’04 Erin Nuttall ’20 Robert O’Connor ’06 Carol O’Neill ’93 Rebecca Olander ’15 Moira Ounjian ’92 Judith Padow ’16 Mary Parkman Jericho Parms ’12 Katherine Paterson Anita Pazner ’17 Anne Penfield ’11 Dorothy Pensky ’99 Catherine Petter ’20 Teresa Politano ’21 Linda Pratt Donna Pressman ’88 Marjorie Priebe ’21 Carol Purcell ’03 Helen Pyne ’11 Rebecca Randall ’21 Joyce Ray ’01 Stephanie Reich Shirley Reid ’47 Lee Reilly ’12 Renee S. Reiner and Michael F. DeSanto Nancy Reynolds ’08 Sharon Reynolds ’98 Alban Richey Susan Ritz Laura Romain ’19 The Rona Jaffe Foundation Michael Rosenfeld Alex Rubilar Charles Rutan ’15 Susan Ryan-Nelson ’69 Constance Saddlemire Jill Santopolo Claster ’08 Nadine Sarreal ’98 Samantha Schmidt ’22 Keri Schneider ’18 Allyson Schrier ’09 Bill Schubart Lynne Schultz ’21 Myra Shapiro ’93 Shelagh Shapiro ’03 Ross Sheehan ’20 Kathleen Shipley ’20 Sue William Silverman ’88 Meghan Smith ’19 Peter Smith Suzanne Smith ’10 Teresa Smith ’07 Stephanie Spong ’20 Sally Stiles ’93 Linda Stillman ’03 Craig Stockwell ’00 Maura Stokes ’03
Mark Stoler Mary and Chris Stone Anne-Marie Strohman ’20 Susan Stroud-Speyers ’21 Sarah Sullivan ’05 Jana Tahtinen ’21 Jennifer Tate Eliza Nash Taylor ’18 Pamela Taylor ’12 Diane Telgen ’17 John Thelin ’95 Fredrika Thompson ’06 Megan Thygeson ’17 Peter Timpone Paul Tonnes ’13 and David John Poston Heidi Tringe Amie Valore-Caplan ’19 Katie Van Ark ’16 Ashley Walker ’18 Elsa Waller ’94 Dana Walrath ’10 Leslie Ward ’16 David Warner ’17 Donna Warwick Peter Watson Dianne White ’08 Margaret White ’16 Thomas & Margaret Whitford Jeff Wiggins ’09 Faith Wilding Kathleen Wilson ’11 Nat Winthrop Vicki Wittenstein ’06 Wizard’s Wardrobe Gretchen Woelfle ’00 Jamie Wood ’21 Laura Young ’20 Roger Zahab Anne Ziebarth ’16 Elisa Zied ’20 Stanley Zumbiel ’08 and anonymous donors In honor of Heidi Tringe Edward Castillo In honor of Louise Crowley Martha Christina ’84 In honor of Phyllis Barber, Philip Graham, Larry Sutin, and Robin Hemley Anonymous In honor of Mary Ruefle Chuck Forester ’04 Patricia Lewis ’99 In honor of Leslie Colis Ward Lewis Glenn In honor of Vivian Dorsel Sydney Lea
In honor of Sue Silverman Donald Moss In honor of Rick Jackson Anonymous In honor of Katherine Paterson Wizard’s Robe In honor of Diane Lefer Nadine Sarreal ’98 In honor of Agnes and Zeb Monk Sondra Graff ’15 In honor of Richard McCann Judith Ford ’16 In memory of Maggie Jaffe Nancy Hewitt In memory of Ralph Angel Anonymous In memory of W. E. Butts William Kemmett ’86 In memory of Janet Kaplan Mildred Kennedy-Stirling ’12 In memory of Norma Fox Mazer Bruce Black ’05 Karmen Kooyers ’05 In memory of Emma Faidley Teresa Politano ’21 In memory of Josanne LaValley Sarah Sullivan ’05 In memory of Lynda Hull John Thelin ’95 In memory of Phyllis Harris Gretchen Woelfle ’00 In memory of Diane Moser Sarah Madru Roger Zahab In memory of Con Hogan Peter Smith
49 :: vermont college of fine arts
Edna King and Cara Armstrong John and Liz King ’17 Rebecca Kirshenbaum ’18 Kimberly Klement ’03 Karmen Kooyers ’05 Robin Korb ’20 Ann Kordahl ’07 Katherine Krcmarik ’18 Emma Kress ’20 Julie Krishnaswami ’21 Max Kruger-Dull ’21 Elizabeth Kuelbs ’12 Dale Kushner ’83 Nancy Lagomarsino ’84 Wally Lamb ’84 Sarah Lamstein ’03 Jerome Lane ’16 Lynda Lantz ’98 Sydney Lea Martine Leavitt ’03 Jeffrey Leong ’14 Suzanne Levine ’83 Corrinne Lewis ’07 Patricia Lewis ’99 Lory Lockwood ’00 David Lombino ’19 Sherrie Lorance ’18 Sidura Ludwig ’21 Kerry Macdonald Thomas MacLeay Sarah Madru Nicole Magoon ’21 Mitu Malhotra ’21 Debra Markee ’20 The Martin Foundation Casper Martin ’12 Cynthia Newberry Martin ’12 Zoe Marzo ’21 Christopher Maselli ’07 Katie Mather ’07 Jody Maunsell Carol McAfee ’17 Heather McClelland ’09 Thomas McEachin ’04 Anne McGrath ’19 Shawn McSweeney ’20 Denise Merat ’19 Craig Milewski ’13 Melissa Mills ’20 Michael Minelli Wendy Mnookin ’91 Hannah Moderow ’11 Matthew Monk Fiadhnait Moser-Hardy ’21 Donald Moss Karla Moyer ’20 Anne Myles ’21 Frances Nadel ’20 Kathryn Nelson ’21 Margaret Nevinski ’08
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