Dear President Smith,
I am writing in response to the new initiatives announced recently regarding the Art Department at VTSU Castleton campus.
I work part time as a custodian at VTSU Castleton Campus, am an assistant to the art department, Rutland Regional Planning Commission photography intern, and senior non-traditional student in the Studio Art program, where I’ve attended since 2021. I am vice president of the Art Club, and have found a niche in the cultural art community of Rutland through service and education.
Professors Oliver Schemm and Phil Whitman, in particular, have been positive role models to all of the students in the art program because they extend their time and talents beyond the call of duty – by being active supporters of our community.
Through their networking support, I have been able to pursue my dream of being an employable artist, using my newfound skills in trades such as printmaking and photography to supplement my artistic vision as a storyteller. In this way, I’ve been able to transition from a 17-year career as a farmhand to a viable professional artist who often promotes the local economy and culture through interview and outreach. Currently I am working on a videography project supporting women-owned businesses in Fair Haven, for example, and have done interviews with local artists on my YouTube channel, Griff Art Studio, as well as produced films through PEG-TV for education and local outreach.
I am concerned that the proposed changes will undermine the mission of post-secondary education by stifling local traditional students’ artistic goals. As my classmate, former CCV advisor Pamela O’Connor, mentioned in Professor Schemm’s Open Studio class this week, art is imperative in all fields of study – and is a critical piece of the health of the region. Often thought of as frivolous, it is a cultural necessity and outlet for healing.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Vice President, VTSU Castleton Art Club