One glance at our early 20th-century monuments and buildings shows how much marble is a part of our bedrock.
If you grew up in New England, you probably have grown up around and near old, extinct quarries. While these empty excavations are no longer producing building materials, in West Rutland Vermont, a historic quarry is home to a new sort of stone-worker; The Stone Carving Studio & Sculpture Center holds workshops and exhibitions promoting the art of the rock. Director Carol Driscoll started teaching there in 1987 and is now its enthusiastic executive director.
While the task and mission of this organization are impressive on their own, the location takes it to another level. The center is located on a long defunct marble quarry, the former Vermont Marble Company, with many of the rusted, run-down machines and buildings still in place. In addition, Vermont Marble takes full advantage of the on-site white, calcium carbonate marble as raw material for the classes and installations. The abundance of rock allows them two novel benefits – one is teaching the reductive Italian style method, as Carol Driscoll explains, “it’s not taught in art schools, it’s (Italian-style) really rare, there wasn’t anyone to teach those skills”. Second, the campus itself allows the creation of in situ installations, carving right into the marble found on the walls of the quarries and openings along the ridge.
Sept 10th is the Center’s annual SculptFest2016 exhibition. This year’s event, themed “Forecast Now”, will feature site-specific works and installations by New England artists Ray Ciemny, Dalila Bennett, Jessica Leete, Chris Miller, Beth Miller and others. Visit and walk the grounds to see what Chris Miller has been working on, from a boat, carving into the wall of one of the quarries, while Beth Miller has taken over the old company store for her installation, Monarchs. This year’s event has been curated by Boston-area sculptor Taylor Apostol studied and produced work all over the world.
The center’s workshops offer an intensive, hands-on sculpture in a mixture of materials including stone, wood, metal, and glass. Carol Driscoll describes the site as “a proactive environment, the bridge crane, buildings in disrepair, marble all over the property and ruins’, it tightens the relationship between the artists and the rocks.”