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‘Different experiences help to create a rich, vibrant, and varied arts landscape’

Vermont Arts Council showcases state’s diversity in ‘I AM ... 2021’ online exhibit

The Vermont Arts Council’s Spotlight Gallery announces its new, all-virtual season with what it calls “an incredibly diverse group of Vermont artists.”

Viewable on the Council’s website from Thursday, Feb. 18 through Friday, April 30, “I AM ... 2021” features the work and perspectives of 19 artists from the Council’s I Am a Vermont Artist interview series.

“An important part of the Council’s mission is to expand access to the arts and creativity for all people, regardless of background,” organizers said in a news release. “Vermont is not often thought of as a diverse state, but people of every stripe call Vermont home, and the different experiences they bring help to create a rich, vibrant, and varied arts landscape.”

To celebrate Vermont’s diversity and deepen our state’s creative identity, the Council began publishing the “I Am a Vermont Artist” series in early 2019. Since its launch, the Council has published more than 30 interviews with artists, exploring how their creative expressions reflect their experiences of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, or age.

In fall 2019, the Spotlight Gallery presented “I AM...,” a multimedia exhibit and panel discussion with the series’s artists. To honor the artists who have joined the group since 2019 and to catch up with those then featured, the gallery is staging the 2021 version.

Co-curating the exhibit with council staff is Shanta Lee Gander, who filled the same role in the initial exhibit.

“It is my enduring joy and pleasure that I get a chance to continue working with these artists and connect with new creatives around the state,” Gander said.

What she finds most exciting about this iteration of “I AM...” “is that now more than ever, we need a declaration and encouragement for all of us to continue shining our light into the world, being ourselves, and creating what we can’t help but create.”

Among the featured artists are award-winning musicians, writers and performing artists, and installation artists.

Burlington artist Toby MacNutt will present selections from their current dance work A Singular They, which recently earned them a New Work New England grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Other exhibiting artists include Stannard drag performer Shani Stoddard, Fayston multimedia artist Kaylynn TwoTrees Sullivan, and Brattleboro jazz singer Samirah Evans.

As a part of the series, on the third Thursday of each month through April, the Council will host a free virtual gathering via Zoom so audiences can engage with the artists directly.

Participants will have an opportunity to peek behind the scenes of the artists’ creative process and discover how they work, whether that’s in home studios, living rooms, or on kitchen counters.

For more information about the exhibit or to register (required), visit vermontartscouncil.org/iam2021.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #599 (Wednesday, February 10, 2021). This story appeared on page B1.

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