Alumni News, Institutional News

Return Volley: Alumni Artists Give Back

Nearly 40 Bennington College alumni artists representing the past five decades of graduates have donated artwork for a benefit exhibition and auction to support the College’s 120,000-square-foot Visual and Performing Arts Center (VAPA).

Organized by alumna and Miami Beach-based artist Erin Parish ’88, the exhibition, Return Volley, will be on view at VAPA’s Brick Patio gallery during the College’s All-Class Reunion and Family Weekend from September 27-29. 

“When I was at Bennington, we were always bouncing ideas off one another,” said Parish, who’s organized benefit exhibitions for several causes in her career. “It was an intellectual sport, of sorts—throwing up lobs, seeing who catches it, hoping it will be returned. This is a continuation of that idea—a chance for people to have a piece of art on their wall from someone they’ve shared a common experience with, which will hopefully make them think back to their time at Bennington, while also directly benefiting the College.“

Artwork from the exhibition will be auctioned online beginning September 13 through the Bidding For Good website. All proceeds will be used to support the operational needs of VAPA, which is open 24 hours a day and houses fully equipped theaters for dance and drama, as well as studios for ceramics, architecture, woodworking, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, digital arts, and more.

“VAPA was like home to me,” said Parish. “I was raised by artists in a 5,000-square-foot studio in Detroit, so everything about VAPA—the smell, the people, the work—was like home.

Parish first had the idea to organize the benefit during a March alumni event in Las Vegas. What better way to support VAPA, she thought, than by auctioning the work of those who developed as artists within its walls. The exhibition includes work by alumni representing a wide range of class years ('60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and '00s)—in a sense, Parish said, "reaching across time."

“I don’t think anyone, no matter when they graduated, can casually say that they went to Bennington and that was that,” she said. “Going to Bennington is such a pivotal point of someone’s life. This is an opportunity for artists to give something back to a place that has given so much to them.”

An opening reception for Return Volley will take place at VAPA’s Brick Patio gallery, on Saturday, Sepember 28, from 5:00—6:30 pm. Online bidding will remain open through September 28.


The College would like to thank the following artists for their donations: Alix Bailey '89, Annie Coggan '85, C. Fuller Cowles '84, Cara Tomlinson '86, Catharine Maloney '05, Charly Nelson '04, Sydney Cooper '88, David Anthony Perez III '06, Donna Catanzaro '81, Eileen Travell '88, Erin Parish '88, Jazmine Raymond '08, Jo Ann Rothschild '71, Kit Demirdelen '84, Laura Watt '89, Lisa Feder Castenskiold '86, Lois Wilkins '67, Mabrie Jeanne Ormes '68, Michael Sylvan Robinson '89, Paul Baumann '84, Paul Wallace '87, Raania Azam Khan Durrani '03, Rhea Nowak '85, Susan (Mauss) Tunick '67, Joanna Clark Swayze '70, Noah Loesberg '90, Ellen Wiener '76, Monica Church '87, Ariel Herwitz '06, Sandy Sorlien '76, Marilyn Gold '84, Mary Seibert '88, Regina Walker '86, Walter "Gator" Dunnington '84, Kimberly Morgan Eden '88, and Emily Rauch '86.