After a week settling in back home in Maine, my experience at the Vermont Studio Center has retreated to a deep recess of my heart/mind next to other memories of intense creativity and community. These have included playing the Madwoman of Chaillot in college with a group of actors, going to a workshop at Haystack that combined poetry and artists books, family gatherings to celebrate multigenerational birthdays, and a Tom’s of Maine board retreat and company meeting in which we wrote our mission.
I have been reflecting on how community is made and dissolved and what remains with us when something intensely experienced ends.
It seemed, as I scraped away the layers of pigment on the glass that last day that I was wiping out the colors of my days and the images that had inhabited my imagination for the weeks I spent in Vermont. In addition, the familiar faces I greeted each morning over oatmeal or talked shop with over dinner were suddenly not there, too. The community that had woven itself together through the weeks was unravelling. The last day, a new person I had never seen came in the door to the dining hall. “Are you waiting for your room ?” she asked me. “No, I am passing the key to you, “I thought.
What made that community? And remakes it every time a new group comes? It seems that there is an invisible scaffolding on which to build it- an understanding of the values of a place like the Vermont Studio Center that gets communicated in subtle and outspoken ways by the staff and the way things operate. Respect for art making, diversity, cultural exchange, offering critical supportive -positive regard, tolerance, and love.
It is a miracle this can be remade again and again with people of good heart and intention, creative minds and hands reaching across whatever might otherwise divide us.