Burlington College Students Throw a Big Spring Art Party | Live Culture

Burlington College Students Throw a Big Spring Art Party

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Clockwise from top left: Ian Connolly, Dayne Sawtelle, Tim Morris, Tyyler Santor, Abbi Meyers-Orr, Hannah Hamilton, Austin Dickerson, Marissa Ronick, Dana Heffern, Brandi Giroux, Mary Lacy - COURTESY OF BTV CROW COLLECTIVE
  • Courtesy of BTV Crow Collective
  • Clockwise from top left: Ian Connolly, Dayne Sawtelle, Tim Morris, Tyyler Santor, Abbi Meyers-Orr, Hannah Hamilton, Austin Dickerson, Marissa Ronick, Dana Heffern, Brandi Giroux, Mary Lacy
The walls of Burlington College are covered with artwork, but they didn’t always look like that. “When I got here [three years ago],” says art and design chair Dana Heffern, “there was literally nothing on the walls.”

Now, walking through the small college on North Avenue is like taking a tour of a student art gallery. But all those works are coming down this week. On Friday, April 29, 4:30-8 p.m., new student and alumni works will be revealed at the college’s fifth annual Big Spring Art Party. And the whole community is invited.

A group called the BTV Crow Collective has been driving the public outreach. Born from a class co-taught by Heffern and muralist Mary Lacy, the collective has been mailing postcards, coordinating social media efforts and organizing food and entertainment. They’ve also been working on three large-scale murals of crows in Lacy’s signature geometric style. These, too, will be unveiled on Friday.

Why crows? Heffern and Lacy found inspiration in the Aesop’s fable “The Crow and the Pitcher.” It describes a wily bird who, finding that the water in a pitcher is too low for him to reach with his beak, fills it with pebbles until the water level is high enough for him to take a sip.

According to a class syllabus, “The crow urges you to think outside the box, to examine what tools and skills you have at your disposal, and to apply them in perhaps unconventional ways to achieve your goals.” 

The students are inspired by more than avian savvy. Like the resourceful crow, they have come together to help Heffern plan the event — which she has previously done herself. “But it’s really grown bigger and bigger, and I obviously needed help,” she says. The students have willingly stepped up.

“The students could have seen it as We’re just doing these crows with Mary and then we’re done,” Heffern says, “but they are taking on more responsibility about getting the word out.” If that's a surprise bonus for the instructor, in fact the students are acting out what they've learned over the semester. Titled “Becoming Your Own Artist,” Heffern and Lacy's class is a real-world education in how to succeed as a working artist.

“They’re starting to see how important networking is,” Heffern notes.

One of her students, junior Tyyler Santor, says working with Heffern and Lacy has taught him to work through his fear of big projects. “Instead of looking at projects with an I don’t know attitude,” the graphic designer says, “it’s more of a How can I do it? attitude.”

From the series "Antiutopia" by Tim Morris, wheat paste on reclaimed wood - TIM MORRIS
  • Tim Morris
  • From the series "Antiutopia" by Tim Morris, wheat paste on reclaimed wood
Tim Morris, a senior, adds that watching another muralist like Lacy “[attacking] the process, from sketch to mockup to promoting the project and finally executing the painting, has more value than [he] can possibly explain.”

Morris, who has already completed a number of wheat-paste murals around town, says that the class has shown him his “dream of becoming a self-sufficient artist is more than achievable.”

The Crow Collective doesn't have any projects lined up past the Big Spring Art Party at this time, but Heffern and Lacy don't doubt that the students will continue to work together. Many of them collaborated on a moth mural on Pine Street last summer. As Heffern says, "They've got the bug." 

At the Art Party, much of the work will hang indoors, but the event will sprawl outside onto the campus, as well. On Friday evening, three food trucks — Lazy Farmer, Taco Truck All Stars and Southern Smoke BBQ — will fuel the fun. So will beverages catered by the Skinny Pancake/Have Your Cake Catering, face painting by Kadina Dinash of Little Artsy Faces, student poetry readings, fire throwing, live music and a DJ. 


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