A weekly newsletter gathering of VCCA Fellows, staff, and supporters
August 19, 2020
Welcome back to Wednesday Lemonade, a community newsletter focused on keeping VCCA Fellows, staff, and supporters connected.
This summer, we were joined by a wonderful student intern from Sweet Briar College. As senior creative writing major Margie Heath heads back to class, we want to take a moment to acknowledge her hard work these past months. You can read more about Margie and her summer internship project, in her own words, below. Many thanks to Margie and to Sweet Briar College's Friends of Art for their support.
You're invited to enjoy readings by Michael Montlack and Sejal Shah in our next virtual Fireplace Series event tomorrow; we hope you'll tune in live if you can. One of today's messages from Fellows comes from poet Joan Michelson who writes in response to her experience viewing another Fireplace Series event. We also pass along messages from Mary M. Mazziotti about a new exhibition and from Lilianne Milgrom on her new book and making the most of new opportunities. We also share a collection of events and artwork recently posted by Virtual VCCA members.
Our theatrically-minded writers and composers might be interested in today's resource: emergency grants from the Dramatist Guild Foundation.
Thanks for being here.
notes from the framing room
Meet Margie Heath
"I am a senior Creative Writing major, pursuing a certificate in Arts Management. My interest in the arts is a new focus for me. Last year, I took a class with Fellow Laura Boles Faw and she stirred my interest in the area. Later that year, Dr. Labatt’s Intro to Arts Management course fanned the flames of my desire to pursue a career in the arts. I am considering a career focus as a curator, or perhaps working with a non-profit arts organization. Personally, I am an avid reader, writer of short stories and poetry, and am currently becoming proficient in the French language.
My internship was to continue the work started last year by SBC alum, Amelia Mendelsohn. This consisted of documenting, photographing, and cataloging the art collection held by VCCA. During the course of my time as the intern, I realized I enjoyed the hands-on part of my duties. I loved handling the art, being amongst the art, looking for the necessary documentation (side note, artists' handwriting is atrocious), and recognizing the different mediums. Several pieces were of the same subject but created by different artists, and it was interesting to note how two people could see the same thing differently. This experience cemented my intention to be 'in the field' as it were, and not sitting behind a desk."
vcca fireplace series
Join us tomorrow, Thursday, August 20, at 7:30 p.m. ET, for readings by Michael Montlack and Sejal Shah. Our host Rone Shavers will facilitate live questions from viewers.
Michael Montlack is author of two books of poetry, including Daddy (NYQ Books, September 2020), and editor of the Lambda Finalist essay anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them (University of Wisconsin Press). Many of the poems in Daddy were written at VCCA. The book was to be released in April but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sejal Shah is the author of the debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance (University of Georgia Press, 2020). She says, “I worked on book edits and proofs during my stay at VCCA in September 2019 and the conversations I had with Fellows then (and now over Zoom) have continued to sustain and inspire me to go forward. I am so grateful for the community of artists I met at VCCA . . . I want to focus on the sustaining power of friendship, mentorship, and creative collaboration.”
Fellows, please fill out this form to submit a message. This is a way to tell the VCCA community about how you're navigating these times as an artist and human and to spread the word about work affected by or created during the pandemic.
"A hello from London to those I know and those I hope to know. In this crowded heart of the world, those who govern swing back and forth with changing rules, and lockdown for many of us goes on.
Intending to write this for weeks, months, I’m spurred today by watching the YouTube footage of VCCA’s Fireplace Series 07: Clifford Garstang and Heidi Kumao. I was taken by Heidi’s fabric drawing, stitching, animations, stills and use of minimal objects to convey feelings, relationships, our culture and more. Her struggle to convey, trying pieces every way she can think of to express what has taken hold of her to express, helps me to think about what I am trying to do.
For the record, and with no deadline save my own, which expands with indefinite Covid-time, I’ve been working on a sequence of single page prose poems struggling to convey the life of the artist Charlotte Salomon (Berlin 1917–Auschwitz 1943) by selecting ten of her gouaches. Each painting is a step along the thread I am trying to weave through the poems.
Like others, I have tried to imagine myself in residency. Especially on my early walks, to catch the first light, my settlement with distancing, when once a day I step into the world beyond my front gate, London overlaps with Wavertree. By rounding the corner to a sloping road, climbing to the top, and crossing to the parallel and walking downhill in the middle of the road between the parked cars, I’ve turned left off Old Stage and started downhill toward the Sweet Briar campus.
I’m in luck because my neighbourhood Lightfoot Road, which has a large housing estate bulking on one side and a terrace row of modest family houses on the other, descends to a small park ringed with tall thick leafy trees. The trees bank against the bank on the opposite side of the park concealing streets of houses.
As I come down the hill, head high, watching the branches stirring, I catch bird song with the shrill chatter of recently arrived Asian parakeets as the loudest, I’m seeing the greyblue mist of the Blue Ridge mountains. The distance feels close like the high branches I can almost touch.
By coincidence and the coming of Covid, Heidi Kumao’s fabric figures convey distancing and approach. And so this blog-email will stitch the thousands of miles between us into an instant of closeness. Best wishes to all. And a toast to lemonade days."
"Everything is in limbo. Time seems to stand still while simultaneously speeding up. It’s doubtful anyone will remain unaffected by this global pandemic.
Within my own small world I have had to contend with cancelled or postponed exhibitions, some of them years in the making by their organizers. So far, at least three of my exhibitions have been cancelled or have gone online. But several new online exhibition opportunities have arisen so I am grateful for that.
As for my newly released novel, the traditional book launch was of course derailed, but I have pivoted to podcasts and IG interviews, etc. When you get lemons, make lemonade!!"
"I hope you and yours are doing well in these challenging times.
Zynka Gallery will be showing my new textile work, Wicked Children, in a joint show with wonderful painter Zach Brown.
My text in this series comes from an 1800’s book of admonitions to children. The little stories present the many ways in which boys and girls could meet an untimely end. The images that accompany the text are built from our collective nightmares. The full series can be seen in the informative exhibit catalog."
Wicked Children: Petunia/2020/hand-embroidery on textile/32” x 43”
Emergency Grants from the Dramatist Guild Foundation
The Dramatist Guild Foundation’s Emergency Grants provide “emergency financial assistance to individual playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists in dire need of funds due to severe hardship or unexpected illness."
Look to this comprehensive list of ways to stay virtually engaged with our creative community during VCCA's temporary closure.
If you share a commitment to VCCA, please consider serving on the Fellows Council. It's an opportunity to meet other Fellows and team up with Board and staff members to move VCCA forward. Read our letter to prospective Fellows Council members for detailed information.