New art is gracing the walls of the Vt. Statehouse

Published: Mar. 25, 2023 at 8:36 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - When Senator Ruth Hardy first walked through the doors of the Vermont Statehouse, she was on a school field trip with her daughter’s fourth-grade class.

“Here, looking at the statehouse through the eyes of fourth graders, and looking at all the people on the walls, all I saw was older men, and older white men, and I thought, these kids don’t see themselves here at all,” said Sen. Hardy, D-Addison County.

Hardy says this stuck with her, and spurred her to get in touch with David Schutz, the State Curator, about changing the art in the Statehouse to be more inclusive.

“When I came to the Statehouse, we were at the beginning of a project to convince people that the Statehouse was more than just a place that people worked, it was also a museum,” said Schutz.

Schutz was the first employee of the Department of Buildings and General Services in 1987. He says the Statehouse was in dire need of restoration, so he and his team transformed the interior into a 19th-century original replica.

Now years later, Hardy and Schutz have a plan to usher in a new era.

“With this interpreted plan we’re moving into new territory which allows for much more important storytelling for our time. Every Vermonter needs to feel welcome, to feel that this is their building,” said Schutz.

The plan is set to take about 5-10 years. Right now, committee chairs are displaying contemporary artists in their jurisdiction. Kate Gridley, a painter from Middlebury, says that what we see influences how we dream. She hopes the new art helps the Statehouse achieve better representation, and inspires those who visit.

“But, we want the art to be relevant, and I certainly want it to be so that young people coming into the building see themselves somewhere on the wall,” said Gridley.