Since the day that Justin Marsh and Carol Plante attended the Animating Infrastructure grant workshop in early September 2014, neither knew the next two years of their lives would we focused around two giant concrete silos. Joined by Ellen Bethea, Tamra Higgins, and Ellen Hill, and comprising The Silo Sisters committee under the Cambridge Arts Council, the team progressed through two grant rounds and ultimately, in late February 2015, were awarded $15,000 from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Throughout this process, it has been the goal and intention of the committee to solicit ideas and feedback from the community, providing updates about the project, answering questions as they came up and have been thoughtful about creating a process that, to them, made sense.
The voting results on the night of the interviews (8/17) was the first consideration in the decision making process – it provided a starting point. From the beginning, the committee planned to take all of the information from all of the ways they received it — hand written surveys at Town Meeting Day, Front Porch Forum posts, website surveys, Facebook posts and comments, in-person conversations, the community forum, and the votes received during the interviews — and use it to inform their decision. After seeing the voting results from the interviews, it was a long process to examine budgets, experience, how the design would impact our community, what other resources might be required to get the project done, and much more. It’s believed by the committee that this was their main role.
The committee also knew from the beginning that they needed to select a muralist that would 1) meet the criteria in the request for proposals and 2) best represent the community interests, which are diverse and deep. It was agreed to put aside personal choices, to the best of human ability, and make the choice that would be for the greater good of the community and they are confident that they have.
From the Silo Sisters:
First, we have to thank the twelve artists who applied for this project this spring, and the four that made it to the final round. The artist finalists were tasked with presenting a draft concept for the project, attending and presenting to the community at the Festival of the Arts, and then interviewing in front of a panel. We realize this was potentially a very long and laborious process for them, more so than a typical project. We wanted to give our final decision on the selection of the artist sooner, but because the vote among the panelists resulted in a tie (with the third place finisher very close behind that), we felt we needed to take more time to have a deeper discussion and ultimately make the best choice for the community. The committee spent an additional two hours following the interviews in making this decision and it was so incredibly hard for us to choose just one artist. But we did.
We have selected Sarah C. Rutherford as our final pick. Although we know either Anthill Collective, Mary Lacy, or Mary Hill would provide us with a fantastic end product and were more than capable of the task, it came down to our role with the community, and making sure we made the best choice to our ability.
Sarah is a graduate of the University of Vermont (2006, Studio Art) and has spent residencies at the Vermont Studio Center. She is a Boston native, now living in Rochester, NY. Since 2012, she has completed over 30 large scale mural projects, using a variety of mediums including latex, acrylic and spray paint. Her most well-known Vermont work is that at the Living/Learning Center in Burlington. She has several large murals at the Highland Hospital; her work has been featured in the New York Times Magazine.
Sarah is excited and honored to be chosen and will be spending the upcoming colder months preparing a final concept, incorporating the heritage and life of this community into her work. In the summer of 2016, Sarah will integrate into our community for several weeks while she completes the art installation.
We ask that, no matter your opinions of this project or the artist chosen, that this community welcomes the artist back to the area and is gracious, respectful, and hospitable. We look forward to the next twelve months, just as we happily reflect on the last twelve, and can’t wait to share in this moment and what it means for our community.