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Art Installations Come to Grand Point North

State of the Arts

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Music isn’t the only thing on offer during this weekend’s Grand Point North — the festival presented by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Higher Ground at the Burlington Waterfront. Expect visual and performance art, too, in the “Tent of Weird” courtesy of Charlotte Potter and some of her artist friends. As you might have guessed, Charlotte is Grace’s sister, born into a highly creative family in Waitsfield — her father makes wooden signs, her mother makes hand-painted wooden bowls and her sister is, well, a rock star.

Charlotte Potter’s path is not music, but visual art: “I thought I’d like to be a potter, but I pretty quickly fell in love with glassblowing,” she says in a phone interview. She is currently the glass-studio manager and program director of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va. Potter also started a satellite that “educates the public about glassmaking,” she says. The 32-year-old artist graduated from Alfred University and earned her MFA at Rhode Island School of Design.

Next year, as it happens, Potter will show her work — which she describes as “mixed-media installation, video and performance” — in an exhibit titled “Super Cool Glass” at the new Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education at the Shelburne Museum. A survey of American glassmaking over the last two centuries incorporating objects from the permanent collection along with contemporary glass artists, that show opens February 8. Meanwhile, festivalgoers can get a taste of Potter’s interactive style this weekend.

She explains that in a “beautiful 32-foot-round tent,” she’ll be showing video pieces by 17 artists — including herself — that she has curated “from all over the world.” Each video is under five minutes, Potter says, and has a strong sound component. “The themes are psychedelic, weird, strange, odd,” she explains.

In addition, there will be an installation by Potter’s friend from RISD, sculptor Brett Day Windham. “She’s bringing a small circus tent and is playing her own stop-animation videos,” Potter describes. “It’s with her sculpture, these harlequin-themed, figurative forms. They interact and have this kind of mystical game.”

Another fellow glass artist, Robin Rogers, works with Potter at the Chrysler Museum. She is bringing “a large disco ball, four feet in diameter,” Potter says, that has “an orifice in it that you can look through — like a massive helmet.” It’s not clear what this experience is meant to offer.

Other participating artists contributing sculpture and installation are Kristi Totoritis and Kathy Little of Virginia and Ben Wright of Brooklyn.

Potter’s contribution, however, might absolve your guilt, sorrow, pain, etc., if that’s what is needed. Along with Orwell glass artist John Chiles, who she says is “bringing a [mobile] furnace filled with molten glass,” Potter intends to execute something she calls “bottled emotion.”

“I invite the public to come and bottle their emotions in molten glass,” she says. “They can whisper or scream into a bubble, and it expands [the glass].” Then participants will break the glass containing their emotions. “It’s very cathartic,” Potter assures.

Whatever the experience, this is not your traditional glassblowing situation. “My mission is to make contemporary work understandable to the public — accessible and interesting,” says Potter. “And it will bring a whole new element to this great fest Grace is putting on.”

Charlotte Potter and friends bring installation and interactive art to Grand Point North, this Friday and Saturday, September 14 and 15, at the Burlington Waterfront. grandpointweird.com, grandpointnorth.com

The original print version of this article was headlined "Weird Art North."

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