Monday, March 11, 2013

Conversations: Art, Nature, Sprit

At Shelburne Museum we are fortunate to be part of a local community that embraces the arts. Head north on Route 7 and down Harbor Road and you'll find Shelburne Farms, a 1,400-acre working farm and National Historic Landmark. Go south and take a right on Bostwick and you'll find a small drive that leads you to All Souls Interfaith Gathering. Five years ago, we partnered with these Shelburne organizations to offer an annual series of "Conversations" that explore the fascinating ways in which art, nature, and spirit interact. Hosted by Fran Stoddard, this year's series explores how we might awaken to transformation through artmaking, engaging with the natural world, and undertaking spiritual practice.
Fran Stoddard asks Sam Guarnaccia and Cami Davis about "Emergent Universe Oratorio"

The initial conversation, which will be rebroadcast on RETN (Comcast and Burlington Telecom channel 16) March 21st at 8 p.m., featured composer Sam Guarnaccia and painter Cami Davis. They are in the midst of a collaborative art project that will debut at Shelburne Farms this September. The "Emergent Universe Oratorio" traces the development of our universe over the course of 13 billion years. It begins with the spoken word and unfolds into an operatic performance featuring a 100-voice choir and chamber orchestra. Davis's art, displayed in the space, will provide a dynamic visual component to the experience. 

When Stoddard asked Davis where she finds inspiration, she replied that conceptualizing the universe is like standing on a mountain. It's larger than you, and yet you internalize its presence, a feeling, a power. Her challenge is to translate that onto the canvas. Guarnaccia added, playfully, that their piece attempts to capture the "intimate ultimacy and the ultimate intimacy" of the natural world. As I watched them grapple with these big ideas, I began to think of the incredible landscapes in Shelburne Museum's collection (Andrew Wyeth's Soaring, to name just one), and consider how those artists confronted their physical environment.

Conversations with others in our community have the potential to open our minds and expand our thoughts. We hope to see you this month as we awake to transformation through art, education, and spiritual practice. Here are the dates for upcoming presentations in the series:

  • March 13: Ecology of Learning, Leadership and Change. Naturalist Matt Kolan shares ecological principles, rhythms and cycles of nature and how these offer clues to guide human patterns including systems thinking, problem-solving, and educational design. He is joined by Margaret Burke offering insights from her work with young people at Shelburne Farms and recent research on the transformative impact of nature-based programs on adolescents. 4 p.m.

  • March 20: Awakening the Power of Spiritual Practice. Sustainability is linked to healing of poverty, injustice and environmental degradation. Rev. Mary Abele of All Souls Interfaith Gathering and Pastor Nancy Wright of Ascension Lutheran Church share insights on the potential of spirituality to raise consciousness and motivate action.

Both programs are free and are at All Souls Interfaith Gathering (pictured above) in Shelburne.

For information please contact Kim McCray, adult programs coordinator, at 802-985-3346 x3368 or

No comments:

Post a Comment