VAPA 40th Anniversary
Since opening its doors in 1976, the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Bennington College has been a vibrant space to learn, explore, create, and share. Designed by architect Robertson Ward Jr., the building is a humble yet iconic example of mid-century design, marrying wood and glass across spaces both soaring and intimate. After 40 years, VAPA continues to be a hub of artistic experimentation and innovation at Bennington.
Over the course of 2016, we celebrated these incredible 40 years. By organizing public performances, lectures, exhibitions, and events, and by producing a special VAPA40 publication, we highlighted the building and the rich creative work of Bennington’s alumni, faculty, and students.
The 40th anniversary activities culminated during the All-Class Reunion which took place from September 23-25 and was attended by nearly 500 guests. Head over to the Alumni Relations Flickr page to see photographs from Reunion, and see installation shots of the two VAPA 40th exhibitions on the Bennington College Flickr page: VBS (Violet Burning Sunset) and Sit Still with a Presence.
Though the anniversary year has come to a close, we will continue to share moments from VAPA’s past, present and future on the Alumni Relations Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Search the hashtag #VAPA40 to see what others have posted, and use the hashtag yourself to share your memories!
VAPA40 activities were organized by the Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations and were supported by the Helen Frankenthaler Fund for the Visual Arts.
#VAPA40: Celebrating the past. Enriching the present. Building the future.
40th Anniversary Events
- February 25 | 7:00 pm | Martha Hill Dance Theater: Dance at Bennington, with support from the Bennington College Office of Alumni Relations, presented a new work by Anna Rogovoy ’13, "West" (working title), with performances by Rogovoy, Benny Olk, and Rebecca Hadley.
- March 12 | 3:00–5:00 pm | deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum: Bennington College faculty members and featured artists Mary Lum and Jon Isherwood and Boston-area alumni, parents, and prospective students gathered at the museum for a viewing and conversation about The Sculptor's Eye: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs from the Collection. The exhibition (now closed) explored the connections between two- and three-dimensional artmaking processes by artists working primarily in sculpture.
- May 10 | 7:30–9:00 pm | Tishman Lecture Hall: A conversation between fashion historian and Bennington College alumna Caroline Rennolds Milbank '77 and Harold Koda, recently retired Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This conversation was part of the Spring 2016 Visual Arts Lecture Series.
- August 1–31 | Alums Kaya Lovestrand, Finn Murphy, and Emma Villavecchia in Residence: Lovestrand '14, Murphy '14, and Villavecchia '14 spent a month in residence at Bennington College working with Elena Demyanenko, Faculty in Dance. The group, who work together as Three Planes Collective, performed a new piece during Faculty Works on August 28, 2016 in Martha Hill Dance Theater.
- August 3–17 | VAPA40 takes over @atbennington Instagram: VAPA40 took to the @atbennington Instagram account to give followers a peek at VAPA over the years. Curious what we posted? Find the VAPA40 images and more here.
- September 20–October 16 | VBS (violet burning sunset) in Usdan Gallery: This exhibition presented the work of 10 alumni artists who studied in VAPA between 1976 and 2016. Curated by Todd Von Ammon ’09 and featuring Amanda Church ’76, Martha Grover ’02, Ethan Knechel ’08, Cyle Metzger ’08, Helen Mirra ’91, Odili Donald Odita MFA ’90, Devin O’Brien Power ’05, Tom Sachs ’89, Lauren Seiden ’03, and Alison Veit ’11.
- September 20–October 16 | Sit Still with a Presence in the Fireplace Room (Deane Carriage Barn): This exhibition featured the work of alumni artists who studied at Bennington in the first 40 years of the College's history. Curated by Paige K. Johnston and featuring Cora Cohen '64, Helen Frankenthaler '49, Elana Herzog '76, Patricia Johanson '62, Constance McMillan '46, Jo Ann Rothschild '71, and Grace Bakst Waper '55.
- September 21–25 | "Those Bennington Years" in the President's Gallery: This exhibition featured archival photographs from the Bennington College Dance archives and highlighted influential Dance faculty who worked at the College during the 1930s, including Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Martha Hill, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, Sybil Shearer, and Charles Weidman, among others. Curated by Paige K. Johnston.
- September 23–25 | Reunion and Family Weekend: This year's All-Class Reunion was the culminating moment for the VAPA40 celebrations. VAPA40 activities during the weekend included performances, exhibitions, panel discussions, screenings, and more. Check out the Alumni Relations flickr page for photos from the weekend.
- September 24 | 42.921332, -73.241638: Nico Dregni '16 and Hans Olsen '17 curated this innovative one-day exhibition inside the Stickney Observatory where they featured artworks from the Bennington College Collection .
- September 27–29 | Eve Sussman '84 and Simon Lee: As part of the newly revamped Visual Arts Lecture Series, Eve Sussman '84 and Simon Lee spent three days participating in programs on campus. On September 27 they gave a public lecture about their work. On the 28th, they spoke to students in the VALS seminar class, led a video workshop in Kate Purdie's Experimental Documentary class and did studio visits with current students. Sussman also contributed stories from her student days at Bennington to the Alumni Memory Project.
- October 31–November 9 | Sally Dean in Residence: Alumna Sally Dean '99 was on campus offering Skinner Releasing Technique workshops to current students. She also presented an informal showing of her work on November 8 in Martha Hill Dance Theater. The showing, which was free and open to the public, included an excerpt from her current repertory as well as new materials developed while at Bennington. Skinner Releasing Technique was developed by alumna Joan Skinner '46.
- November 8–December 8 | Alumni Artists-in-Residence: Ariel Herwitz ’06, Floryn Honnet ’13, Rainer Hunt ’13, and Georgia Lassner ’09 were in residence at Bennington College as part of a new program funded by a grant from an anonymous foundation. The grant, made in honor of faculty members Barry Bartlett and Jon Isherwood, supports recent graduates in sculpture and ceramics for a two- to four-week stay on campus. The work the artists made while at Bennington was on view in the Usdan Gallery from November 29 - December 8.
Paige K. Johnston