The Essay Exhibits Project

Eight Vermont Artists

In conversation with the essay “Beneath A Sky Of Gunmetal Gray” from MADE HOLY: ESSAYS.

Exhibition Schedule

The exhibition showed at the following libraries before it was cancelled due to Covid-19: Orwell Free Library, The Community College of Vermont Gallery in Winooski, Ilsley Public Library of Middlebury, and the Brandon Public Library.









But doesn’t the universe also fix on falling sparrows, lend

its attention to spectacular disaster, train its very steady

eye on accidents, suffering, diminishment?

–Lia Purpura


Sarah Ashe: Middlebury, VT

After graduating in Fine Arts from Bennington COllege, Sarah lived in Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Boston area, and New Orleans, before moving to Middlebury in 2006. Throughout her life she has made art. While in New Orleans she studied drawing and oil painting and started a craft business making sculptural lights. These skills remain an integral part of her art making.

Hurricane Katrina was a turning point both in bringing her to Vermont and expanding her sculpture practice. Having spent time in its aftermath volunteering and hearing stories from survivors she became interested in art relating to the challenges faced by people in difficult if not impossible situations.

Her show at the Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury brought together the stories in both sculpture and two dimensional work. Presently she has turned her focus to the refugee crisis, primarily in the Middle East and Africa. Where she sees a great urgency for representation.

Most recently, she has added collage and sewing to two dimensional pieces that build on the simplified shapes of the tents seen in many refugee camps. She sees the role of her art as an expression of concern for people who are not being heard.

Fran Bull: Brandon, VT

Award-winning sculptor, painter, printmaker and performance artist Fran Bull, has been exhibiting her work worldwide for over 40 years. Her art is included in numerous museum and university collections, ranging from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, to the Guilin Museum in China. She makes her art in Brandon, Vermont and Barcelona, Spain. 

Bull’s early Photorealist drawings and paintings brought her international acclaim, but in the mid 1980’s this more identifiable approach evolved towards art that could be understood as a visualization of the unseen.

Today Bull’s work seeks to connect ordinary life to larger mythic and historical motifs, themes and narratives. 

Janet Fredericks: Lincoln, VT

Janet Fredericks spent her early years in Vermont and returned in 1979. She studied art at Green Mountain College, William Patterson College and received her BFA from Barry University. She has had major shows, both in this country and abroad, steadily creating bodies of work informed by observations of her natural environment.

Her current work expresses the artist’s continuing interest in her natural environment. With wonderment at its intelligence, interconnectedness and complexities, Janet offers insight into what is common and extraordinary in the world around us.

Mysterious and sensory, Fredericks’ drawings and paintings are at once maps and conversations, tracings of experience of a deeper communion that begins with reverent awareness of her native surroundings. 

Wylie Garcia: Charlotte, VT

Wylie Garcia investigates themes of identity and place through process and material oriented projects. Using cross disciplinary mediums such as textiles, painting, drawing, sound, and performance, Garcia explores issues related to gender, devotion, and emotional spaces. 

Winnie Looby: Burlington, VT

Winnie is a multi-disciplinary artist, who is originally from much farther south of here. Her professional experiences have included performing as an actor, dancer, and musician, but her first love is visual art.

She enjoys both solo and collaborative projects that allow her to combine all of her interests at once. She has participated in group shows for the Rose Street Artists’ Cooperative, ONE Arts Center, Burlington City Arts, and FLYNNDOG.

Most recently, she has been exploring digital art and creating costumes for modern dance performances.

Elizabeth Nelson: Northern Vermont

For over forty years I have lived on my farm in Northern Vermont where I have been a mother, a wife, a teacher, a dairy farmer and a museum curator, but always I have been a painter.
After spending two months in Iceland, my painting became a collaboration. Sometimes exactly what I thought I was painting remained as I had painted it. But quite often when the paint dried the image had changed. Instead of being the solitary maker, the paint and the surface had their say too.  Time was important: each level of the painting simultaneously revealing and camouflaging—perhaps reflecting the changing weather of Iceland, or the changing stability of the earth underneath, or my changing shifts of perception.

Rhonda Ratray: North Bennington, VT

Finding inspiration in printmaking, painting, sculpture and design, Rhonda has taught at the the MFA Boston, The School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, The Maud Morgan Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, The Essex Art Center, Lawrence, MA and The Brookline Art Center. She currently teaches at the Vermont Art Exchange, North Bennington, VT. Rhonda has exhibited her work in many universities and galleries including Montserrat College of Art, Emmanuel College, The Adikman Gallery at Tufts University, Medford, MA, The Bennington Museum and The Peabody Historical Society, Peabody, MA. Rhonda is the Artist in Residence and curates The Left Bank Gallery in North Bennington, VT. Rhonda grew up in the Bennington area and also paints under the name Aimee LaPorte. You can find more information about all of her endeavors at

Sage Tucker-Ketcham: Burlington, VT

Sage Tucker-Ketcham is a 14th generation Vermonter. Sage grew up in Vermont, Toronto, London, and the Washington DC area. Her adult life has been spent in Northern Vermont, Cape Cod and Maine. Tucker-Ketcham graduated with her BFA in Painting from Maine College of Art in 2003, and recieved her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design 2008. Sage has shown her paintings in gallerys, museums, and colleges.  Her paintings are widely collected and in several national and international collections.  Sage resides in Burlington, Vermont with her husband, son and two cats.