*This section mainly applies to any readers who might be interested in enrolling at the Vermont Studio Center. Feel free to skip ahead to Part Four!
Besides studio visits, meal times, slideshows, and readings, scheduling your day is up to you. Nothing is mandatory, no one is looking over your shoulder. All of the staff members are artists or writers themselves. It took a day or two to settle in and get oriented, but eventually I found a suitable rhythm, and life in the small town of Johnson, Vermont started to progress.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the residency fee, which is not only cost-effective and beneficial to general health, but it’s also a huge time saver. The dining windows are brief, to accommodate the busy kitchen staff and encourage residents to enjoy a meal together. I thought the food was fantastic. As someone who avoids lots of foods to prevent migraines and other health problems, something I was worried about before coming was whether or not I’d be able to find things to eat. Thankfully, our meals frequently featured gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options, as well as a full salad bar for lunch and dinner. There’s a grocery store down the street where you can find plenty of fresh food options and snacks if you have serious dietary restrictions--in which case I would recommend calling in ahead of time to request staying in a house with a fridge/kitchen area so you can properly store the food you buy.
There are several different buildings on the campus for housing. The private bedrooms are simply furnished, and the bathrooms are communal. Everything is cleaned regularly by a maintenance crew. The houses don’t have wifi, and I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it that way. I was glad I brought some books and a journal with me.
Hot tip: Definitely pack a large water bottle or thermos. Your unavoidably dehydrated self will thank me. There is no AC on campus, so if you visit in warmer months, the sooner you can fill out a maintenance request for a fan, the better. In the winter: blankets on blankets. During my stay in June, it was often rainy and sunny in the same day, with occasional heat waves in the 90s and cold snaps in the 50s. I would encourage any future residents out there to pack clothing for every kind of climate, unless you’re going in the winter, when it’s pretty much consistently frigid and snowy. Luckily, if you forget anything, praise the Lord for Amazon.com.
Within walking distance are a laundromat, post office, hardware store, lumber yard, thrift shop, and a well-stocked art store, which is where I bought my solvents and canvas rolls. All the materials I packed in my suitcase were my oils, brushes, mediums, sketchbooks, pencils, pens, and gouache set, but several residents had specialty items that needed to be shipped separately. From my experience, shipping to and from VSC is straightforward and especially advantageous towards the end of your stay. The amount of work you end up making and sending back home is totally up to you.
The studios do have wifi, and they are spacious, well-lit, and accessible 24/7. There are designated areas for brush washing and chemical cleaning. You can close the door and work privately or keep it open and see who stops by for a chat. One of the biggest perks of this residency is the visiting artist program. Each week, one or two well-respected artists/writers will be on site to give a presentation of their work and critique the work of the residents. I will spare you the obsessive notes I took from those visits, and underline the importance of making the most of the accessibility you’ll have to these brilliant minds. I also encourage you to sign up to present your own slide talk if you’re an artist or reading if you’re a writer, and to participate in the open studio nights. The feedback you’ll get from those opportunities is pretty astounding.
If you want to check out the VSC website for more information on how to get there, what to do, and what to expect from the program, I’ve inserted a link here.
This place had everything I could ever ask for and more. But I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet!