Middlebury College Museum of Art

News & Events

Middlebury College Friends of the Art Museum Honor Six for Excellence in the Visual Arts

May 18, 2007

For immediate release: 5/18/07
For further information contact: Andrea Solomon, Events and Programs Coordinator, (802) 443–2034

MIDDLEBURY, VT—Each year the Friends of the Art Museum at Middlebury College recognize those who have made significant contributions to the community, either through their creative endeavors or through support for the visual arts in Addison County. At their Annual Meeting on Sun., April 29, the Friends honored six individuals in five categories. Student award winners were Middlebury College senior Astri von Arbin Ahlander, Mount Abraham Union High School senior Jessi Dearborn, Mount Abraham Union High School senior Lynn Sipsey, North Branch School eighth-grader Bianca Messner, and Bridge School sixth-grader Casey Vanacore. Lisa Rader of the Hannaford Career Center was the award recipient in the category of Teacher in a Public or Independent School. The winner in the category of Benefactor, Volunteer, or Organization was Carol Wells of Art on Main.

Astri von Arbin Ahlander is a Middlebury College senior who expresses herself through multiple mediums, including video, clothing and jewelry design, writing in both an active blog and through a regular column, “Regally Blond,” for the college newspaper, and as a DJ on the college radio station. She is committed to promoting the arts by producing public events. In 2005 she curated and produced a film series on campus, “New Faces of Swedish Film,” and in January 2007 she produced an Ingmar Bergman Festival, bringing both well known and less-known films to campus in 35 mm format. Astri’s independent video work has revolved around trying to make sense of a life lived in various parts of the world through significant social movements of the late 20th century.  She works with a combination of home movie and contemporary footage, exploring questions about memory, family, nationality, and identity.  Her video “Fragments” won first prize in the Student Category at the Vermont International Film Festival last fall and was chosen for inclusion in the Mountain Top Festival in Waitsfield in January.

Jessi Dearborn, a senior at Mount Abraham Union High School from Bristol, is a skilled and imaginative artist who has attended almost every art class and is currently enrolled in AP Studio Art. Jessi continually pushes to improve her skill and refine her artistry. Her style portrays intensity and attention to detail and realism, and her rendering skills are exceptional. Jessi has attended the Governor’s Institute on the Arts for the past two years. She has exhibited her work in several shows and has volunteered her time and talent to help design and paint sets, create signs in Calligraphy for the high school, and complete a portrait of an orphan from Myanmar to be sent to that orphan as a gift through the Memory Project.

Lynn Sipsey of Lincoln, also a senior at Mount Abraham Union High School, has made art all of her life.  Her work is extraordinary in its ambition, realistic technical skill, powerful color combinations, and deep moods. She takes visual challenges and never fails to reach beyond her experience and surprise her viewer. This is evident, for example, in her exquisite rendering of a spilled laundry basket with fine textured folds and contrasting details of jeans, shirts, and lingerie, part of her AP Portfolio which she exhibited at the Walkover Gallery. Her commitment to the arts also extends to volunteering her time, including work at a summer art camp in Charlotte. She is a fine role model for academic and artistic success, and her teachers describe her as courageous, talented, poised, composed, and reflective.

Bianca Messner of Middlebury is an eighth-grader at the North Branch School whose work routinely grabs everyone’s attention. In class she seems to disappear, quietly receding into a private, inner world. She rarely asks for help, but rather seems focused on every movement of her own pencil or brush as though she is in private conversation with her hand and eye. She is a model for how to work hard and devote oneself to the task at hand, and through her mastery of value, shading, and texture she often reveals beauty and transcendent character in the simple things that others might overlook. Bianca demonstrates a strong commitment to the arts by her intense focus, devotion, and concentration.

Casey Vanacore of Bridport, a sixth-grade student at the Bridge School, has involved herself successfully in each art form the school has to offer. She is a talented and careful figure and landscape artist. She does excellent sculptural work, mosaics and constructions. All of her artwork is complex, original, and demonstrates a superior imagination. She cares for materials deeply, and is consistently cooperative and sharing of ideas and materials. Casey has spent much time on her artwork and she has created an ongoing book of designs that spans more than one hundred pages. Her work shows accuracy, personality, breadth of imagination, and sensitivity.

Lisa Rader of Brandon is Instructor of Visual Communications at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury where she teaches art through discussions involving diverse examples of artwork and by incorporating artist research projects into her curriculum. Her classes are vigorous, engaging, well structured, and busy. Students produce children’s books, CD covers, fashion designs, magazines, handmade books, designer handbags, and still frame animations, and they learn to push materials beyond their conventional uses and build their own language of marks, tones, textures, and forms. This personal and physical research transforms students’ understanding of media into personal visions. Lisa is an artist herself who has shown her work in various venues around the world such as USA Small Print Book/Books in Australia, Tucson-Pima Arts Council and the permanent collection at the Tucson Museum of Art. Lisa received a BA in Studio Art from Allegheny College and an MFA from the University of Arizona. She has taught at the Putney Summer School, Allegheny College, and the University pf Arizona. She has conducted workshops for the Middlebury Union High School, Two Rivers Printmaking Coop, and she has completed a residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

Carol Wells of Bristol has been an advocate for the arts for many years, and under her vision and leadership the Bristol community has seen many positive changes in its artistic landscape. In 1996 she helped to reorganize and restructure the Bristol Friends of the Arts, which now boasts a fifteen-member board and a budget that sponsors many artists and events from the surrounding five towns, and she served as president for two years. Art on Main was conceived when Carol and her husband, Tom, purchased a building on Main Street in Bristol in which to start Deerleap Books. Realizing that there was a need for a separate space in which to exhibit art, they offered the underutilized space behind Deerleap Books to remodel into a cooperative art gallery, and they later added “Artists Alley” alongside. Together with her husband, Carol coordinates the Wells Mountain Foundation to support underprivileged organizations around the world to realize their dreams in education, health, literacy, and the arts. The foundation has a partner organization, the Junior Art Club, which directly engages Ghanaian youth in art related activities in order to build esteem, develop skills, and produce income.

The awards process begins in January each year with a call for nominations from the community. For further information, contact Andrea Solomon, Events and Programs Coordinator at the Middlebury College Museum of Art.