Exhibitions and Events: March 12-April 16

I Give You Life | You Give Me Death: Stefania Urist

Stefania Urist earned her BFA in 2013 from the Rhode Island School of Design’s Glass Department, and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Form, construction, and craft are key elements of Urist’s practice; inherent in her work is a deep admiration for materiality, process, and transformation. She has been working as a conceptual sculptor addressing issues concerning architecture, gender, and most recently environmental impact of economic growth. The new body work is informed by her research on trees and forests. By studying tree rings, the new series of works on paper confronts a tree’s memory and the ghosts of old growth trees and forests. Tree rings, which are the timeline of the tree’s life, are fragmented into “milling patterns” used to cut logs into lumber. In the lumber industry, milling patterns are similar to a grid, the pattern is used to maximize space and board feet depending on what strength of lumber is desired. The beautiful, natural, curvy grain formation in lumber is decontextualized from the life of a tree once it is used for building or craft. Like a completed puzzle, she uses the grid of the milling pattern as an overlay incorporating the original rings, thereby mapping the life of the tree and reconnecting it to the memory of its whole form, life, and community.  Utilizing sculpture, works on paper, and installation, I Give You Life | You Give Me Death examines how humanity has used trees and forests as a commodity-driven resource instead of living in symbiosis with these beings.  The exhibition is generously supported by The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation and a Creation Grant Award from Vermont Arts Council. Stefania Urist website

Video: Stefania Urist explains her process of working with scorched tree slabs, used to create ash wet intaglio prints. The trees history is preserved in the prints, through visible “rings” and then layered with saw marks. The overlay that you see, a grid pattern, is the “milling pattern” used by the lumber industry to cut lumber, making the most economical use of the trees resource.

Sacred Encounters: Christine Hauck, Ellen Keene, Amanda Sisk, Heather Szczepiorkowski

This group of contemplative sculptors offers an exhibition to coincide with National Women’s History Month.  The installation will include life-size angelic figures accompanied by wall-mounted reliefs, a collection of works made of stone and clay illuminating an appreciation for the revered, and a transcendent quest for Divine beauty. Through subject matter inherent of heavenly intent, the artists convey a message of hope and healing; each artist aims to engage the viewer in uplifting, playful, and transformative ways. The group will define the exhibition ‘path’ for the viewers, thereby evoking a meditative journey from start to finish. “We are on a light-bringing mission and hope that the work can inspire and uplift all who have suffered in these dark days.”

Ellen P. Keene of Marshfield, VT, fell in love with ceramics in the second grade when she made her first pinch pot.  She went on to study ceramics with Curtis Ripley at Virginia Commonwealth University.  In 1986 she moved to NYC to study acting, eventually landing in Vermont where she worked in regional theaters and toured New England with ​The Folk and Fairytale Project ​of CenterStage, which she co-founded. Keene made a profound connection to the Divine Feminine, especially through Interfaith Mary and The Virgin of Guadalupe.  In 2010, she founded ​Devotional Heart​, making and selling images and figurines for prayer, self-reflection, and connection with the Divine.

Christine E. Hauck of Hartland, VT has worked as an award-winning senior graphic designer, multimedia artist, and visual arts educator for over 25 years.  As the owner of her design studio, Graffeast, she collaborates with small non-profits to Fortune 500 companies and is known for her conceptual thinking and design.  Hauck is a board member of Hartland Community Arts and an artist member of AVA, the Greenwich Arts Society, and the Greenwich Arts Council.  She holds an undergraduate Art History degree from Vassar College, an associate degree in Graphics and Advertising (with a seminar in Japan), and her master’s degree in Decorative Arts and Curatorial Studies from Parsons School of Design.

Amanda J. Sisk of Marshfield, VT has worked as an artist and educator for over two decades and is the creator of the artworks at ATELIER SISK.  She studied on scholarships at Herron School of Art and Design (Indianapolis, IN), Indiana University (Bloomington), The Florence Academy of Art (Italy), and The Carving Studio & Sculpture Center (West Rutland, VT).  Sisk served two seasons as Sculptor-in-Residence at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, and in 2013, her work was awarded the National Sculpture Society’s Dexter Jones Award for bas-relief sculpture.  She is a 2015 recipient of The Gibbons Prize for New England Sculptors, and in 2016, she served as the first Artist-in-Residence at the historic Governor John Langdon House.

Heather A. Szczepiorkowski of Hanover, NH is a self-taught artist with a passion for portraiture and recreating the human figure.  Lately, she has expanded her gaze to include modeling the gorgeous architecture of flowers and other structures in nature. Recent exhibitions of her work include AVA’s ​Shadowing Alfred: An AVA Dog Show​ and the ​Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club’s ​annual showcase of women artists.

(Image details: 9 Ladies Dancing, Clay bells on Hemp rope, 54″ long, Amanda Sisk, 2021)


Opening Event: Friday, March 12, 6:30 PM

We had an amazing event here at AVA on Friday evening, in lieu of a traditional reception, Ellen Smith Ahern choreographed a site-specific performance in the galleries in celebration of and collaboration with the two exhibitions on the opening evening. We invited members of the community to join us outside in viewing the exhibitions activated by Smith Ahern’s performance. The performance was intended to represent a live audience interacting with the work.

Through the Windows: Opening an Exhibition during Covid-19, a performance by Ellen Smith Ahern.   “Over the past year, I’ve practiced improvisational movement that explores the felt and imagined presence of absent friends and fellow dancers, themes which I think resonate with us all in this moment. Rooted in this practice, my dancing will engage and respond to the sculptures installed in the gallery, as well as to the community members present at the opening.  I’m always curious about how dance-making can be a journey for both the dancers and the viewers – can we relate to one another’s stories and bodies?  Can we build worlds that neither exclude nor confine?  Exploring these ideas in a safely distanced, accessible audience experience, particularly through the big, beautiful windows that line the gallery space, is a fun challenge.  In this time of isolation, I’m thankful for the opportunity to share work and space with other artists in a vibrant community hub like AVA.” – Ellen Smith Ahern         Ellen Smith Ahern website

Upcoming Artist Talks @ AVA

Thursday, March 18, 6:00 PM  Artist Talk: Stefania Urist will present her work, discuss her research methods, process, and studio practice. Live Zoom and recorded.




(Image: Stefania Urist preparing work for exhibition)

Saturday, March 20, 4:00pm  Artist Talk: Christine Hauck, Ellen Keene, Amanda Sisk, Heather Szczepiorkowski will present their work for Sacred Encounters and discuss their collaboration. Live Zoom and recorded.

To register for the Zoom event click here



(Image: Amanda Sisk at work in the studio)

Thursday, March 25, 6:00 PM Andrew Garthwaite: Architecture in the age of the COVID Pandemic

How has the COVID pandemic changed design at home, at work and in the built world around us? One year into the pandemic, Andrew Garthwaite, architect and AVA Board Member, will present some of architecture’s responses to COVID-19 and how AVA has adapted to the change and is preparing for the future. Live Zoom and recorded.



(Image right: Artist Mary Gerakaris in a Live Zoom workshop for ArtReach developed specifically in response to Covid-19)




Exhibitions Generously Sponsored By:

Luckys Logo.   Anichini