An art and technology panel discussion at Helen Day Art Center March 12 was the first keynote event of the Vermont Curators Group’s “2020 Vision” project. Galleries, museums, and cultural centers around Vermont had a year of exhibitions and events scheduled for “2020 Vision: Seeing the World Through Technology.”
By the end of that weekend, COVID-19 upended all plans.
Eight months later, “2020 Vision” moves ahead. With a thoughtfully considered pivot, the project relaunches as “Reflecting on a World Changing Year,” with exhibitions on themes of technology, projects that respond to the pandemic, the racial justice movement, the election, and more. The project has grown from 36 original participating arts organizations to 48 and it continues at least through July 2021.
Its robust schedule now features in person exhibitions and events — some indoors with health and safety protocols, some outdoors — and online offerings. The 2020 Vision Passport Program encourages viewers to visit multiple exhibitions and offers chances to win prizes including artwork.
“Not only are cultural experiences a balm for the stress and anxiety we’re all facing, engaging with Vermont’s cultural institutions also helps support the creative and hospitality sectors of our economy, which have been hit hard by reduced visitation during the pandemic,” explained Gillian Sewake, “2020 Vision” project director.
“Museums and galleries rely on engagement, not just financially, but a core part of their mission is to serve people and create cultural conversations and bring new ideas to the world,” Sewake said.
The Vermont Curators Group was founded in 2016 to bring artistic administrators from museums, galleries and cultural institutions around the state together to collaborate and connect. Membership now includes more than 90 Vermont art, craft, science and history institutions.
The original focus of “Seeing the World through Technology” is still well represented in “2020 Vision” but the overall theme expanded.
“We wanted to open up to cultural institutions taking stock of the entirety of the national conversation, looking at the current political landscape, the racial justice movement, and of course relating to the pandemic — safety, being homebound and wanting to connect,” Sewake said.
Twenty exhibitions are on the November calendar. New ones will open in months ahead.
“The Science of Measurement,” an in person exhibition at the American Precision Museum in Windsor, is among the exhibitions that presents both the original planned content and new work responding to the year. Accuracy of measurement is essential in the modern world. The exhibition showcases pieces from sextants for navigation to the world’s first super-micrometer, accurate to a millionth of an inch. In this year of heightened awareness of body temperature and fever, the museum has added a section on measuring temperatures.
“Kingdom COVID Chronicles,” online from Catamount Film and Arts in St. Johnsbury, presents 24 sketchbooks created by Northeast Kingdom community members. They are created during a four-week period, participants responding to three prompts each week, expressing their experiences during isolation and altered physical contact resulting from the pandemic.
“Looking Outward,” a group exhibition at Spruce Peak Performing Arts, features outdoor sculpture and banners and videos and other work that is indoors but can be viewed from the outdoors. Artists Trevor Corp, Robert Gold, Dominique Gustin, Harlan Mack, Rob Hitzig and Sean Clute and Otto Muller of the Rural Noise Ensemble respond to the current climate while also seeking ways to connect and be hopeful about the future. Indoor tours featuring additional works can be arranged with reservations.
“Many Voices” at Hildene, the Lincoln family home in Manchester, is presented outdoors on the platform of the restored 1903 Pullman palace railcar. The exhibition highlights the story of the Black Pullman porters, who worked for the railroad company. The exhibition considers this complicated history including labor conditions and organizing.