The Art of Action

by Susan Abbott

For eight months I've been working on a series of paintings for the project The Art of Action: Shaping Vermont's Future through Art. Ten artists selected out of a pool of over 300 international applicants are creating suites of artwork that address Vermont's future. This unique project is using private funding (generously provided by Vermont entrepreneur and philanthropist Lyman Orton) administered by a public agency (the Vermont Arts Council) to address a vital social issue (where our state is heading). From creating my proposal last August to this final stretch of finishing my paintings, I've been inspired, challenged, and excited to be involved in the "Art of Action" project.


Informed by research conducted by the Council on the Future of Vermont, the artwork created for the Art of Action is designed to inspire Vermonters to achieve their vision for our state's social, cultural and political landscape. Elements in the council's Final Report guided the artists’ thematic choices and explorations.

My suite of paintings Elements of Place is an exploration of what for me defines the "essential Vermont": eight landscape features (Mountain, Forest, Field, Water, Road, Home, Farm, Town) shown in different aspects and seasons, that we see every day, and can easily take for granted.

These landscape features were also cited by Vermonters in Council on the Future of Vermont forums as important and worth protecting, and as symbolizing the values of country living and the “Vermont brand”.


I'm also depicting (in a panel that will hang with the "Elements" paintings) a possible future, what I hope is a "road not taken", for the Vermont landscape and way of life. As I say in my proposal, "How many hay fields, barns, gravel roads, and village general stores could vanish before we would be living somewhere that is no longer recognizable as the rural state we love?"


You can see more about the "Art of Action" proposal and the other artists here (click my picture to read my proposal). I'll be adding the entire suite of my completed "Elements of Place" series to my website later this summer--until then, you can see my paintings as they've developed on my blog "A Painter's Year". And the entire project with the work of all ten artists will be traveling the state throughout next year--and featured in a catalogue. Subscribe to future "Studio News" for details!