Local Impact, Student News

Sculpting Water, Landscape, and Music

Earlier this year, Design and Planning Coordinator Erin McKenny and faculty member Jon Isherwood were approached by the organizers of the annual North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show (NBOSS) to explore how Bennington students could engage with the Village School of North Bennington (VSNB) and participate in the outdoor sculpture show.

McKenny and Isherwood met with Head of VSNB Tim Newbold, NBOSS Organizer and Curator Joseph Chirchirillo, and Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Vermont Arts Exchange (VAE) Matthew Perry. Together, they explored how Bennington College might partner with VSNB students and provide an opportunity to make sculptures for the exhibition.

With the encouragement of Provost and Dean Isabel Roche and President Mariko Silver, they arranged a morning of making and fabricating sculptures that the students developed through a collaborative process in the sculpture area of Bennington College’s campus.

Working with Perry and Gabrielle Rynes from VAE, which runs the art program at VSNB, three themes emerged to guide students’ sculptures: water, landscape, and music.

Two class sessions were held with a group of VSNB students. In the first, students worked independently to respond to the themes, and then the class gradually worked toward a collaborative process. Eventually, the 19 students formed three groups, each of which addressed a theme. Students drew on tracing papers that were then overlaid on their drawings to copy images and make one design. Students then made a model for each theme using wire, pipe cleaners, cardboard, and wood. They added color to the models as they saw fit.

On Saturday, May 11, the VSNB students brought their models to Bennington College and worked in collaboration with John Umphlett and Bennington College students Isabella Adler ’21 and Phoenix Manlanga ’22. Students bent, formed, and welded their sculptures together. VSNB students also had the chance to tour VAPA, and McKenny lead a tour of the sculptures on campus.

The completed sculptures are now at the Vermont Arts Exchange studios, and VSNB students will meet once again to discuss processes and approaches to painting and completing the sculptures.

The three sculptures made by the VSNB students will be integrated into the North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show, which will open on June 29 with an opening scheduled from 4:00 - 8:00 pm.