2018 Lab Artist: Gowri Savoor

Gowri Savoor head shotGowri Savoor is a visual teaching artist whose practice includes sculpture, drawing and the Indian art of Rangoli. Born in Manchester, UK, Gowri was educated in Manchester and Leeds, UK and now resides in Vermont. She is the founder of A River of Light, an organization committed to bringing art to the community through participatory art events, parades and installations. Gowri has been a teaching artist for over 18 years with experience in arts integration and community building, while continuing to exhibit both nationally and internationally.

Through her artistic practice, Gowri explores our understanding of a sense of place. She sees that our relationship with water is of paramount importance, but often overlooked when living in a landlocked state like Vermont that is abundant with rainfall, lakes, rivers and streams. One can forget the extent to which water feeds us, provides a life-support system, and connects every one of us in deep and profound ways; it has no concept of barriers, and little regard to boundaries.

Gowri recently wrote, “for centuries, we have been mapping, charting and documenting our environment to better understand our planet and define geographic and cultural identities.
Our endeavors to comprehend the unique spatial relationships that we have to the land, the ocean, and to one another have led us to create boundaries. Some of these walls exist on paper only, others are physical; some partitions are unspoken and many are invisible.” 

As part of her residency with VPL, Gowri will be in residence at the Guilford Central School working with students in the 6th grade class to further their connections to waterways and watersheds through collaborative art-making and community celebrations. Gowri will also offer a series of three lantern making workshops for the community, culminating in an interactive visual light community parade along the Broad Brook with Guilford’s 6th grade class and a free public lantern lit paddle at the confluence of the West and the Connecticut Rivers in Brattleboro, VT. For more information about workshops and community events with Gowri visit VPL’s events page.

2018 Lab Artist: Lida Winfield

Lida Winfield 6430Lida Winfield is a Vermont-based choreographer known as an accomplished dancer, choreographer, spoken word artist and educator. She creates original solo, duet and group work; merging storytelling, dance and visual art to create captivating and poignant performances. Lida has traveled nationally and internationally working with diverse populations in conventional and unconventional settings. She considers her artistic practice inextricably linked to her role as an educator and is dedicated to using the performing arts as a tool to move herself and others forward intellectually, developmentally, spiritually and socially. Lida approaches her work as a collaboration of body, brain and spirit in the artistic and educational world.  

Lida has taught and performed in a variety of places including, but not limited, to Roger Williams University, National Dance Association Conference, Skidmore College, the Bates Dance Festival and Habla: The Center for Language and Culture in Mexico. In 2011, she toured an original duet work with Ellen Smith Ahern and intermedia dance company Double Vision across Europe. Lida studied at The School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College, VT, with a focus on the transformative power of the expressive arts. In 2016, she was honored with the Rebecca Blunk Fund Award for professional development and creation of new work. In 2017, she received a National Performance Network grant for the commissioning of her new work, IMAGINARY. Lida is currently a visiting professor in the dance department at Middlebury College, Vermont.

As part of VPL’s Confluence Project, Lida will be working with students at the Marlboro Elementary School and stream scientists as part of an arts-integrated curriculum focused on the study of water and watersheds. Later in the summer Lida will return with her collaborators to further develop IMAGINARY, a quirky, funny, innovative and socially poignant performance that explores perception in relationship to the imagination. 

2018 Lab Artist: Judy Dow

judydowJudy Dow is a nationally known activist, basket weaver and teacher of traditional Abenaki culture and native practices. Her baskets have been on exhibit in museums across the United States and Canada, including a recent exhibit at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.  She teaches ethnobotany from kindergarten to college level. She has been widely recognized as an expert on Indian education and an influential guardian of Abenaki history and culture. Judy is the recipient of the 2004 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Vermont Educator. She has lived all her life on Abenaki land in Vermont.

Judy specializes in sharing indigenous knowledge through her teaching and art-making. Her artistic and teaching practices are very closely tied to the land and waterways of Vermont. She has documented and mapped many routes of Native people living off the water and along Lake Champlain’s shores. She recently discovered a direct route that basket makers used along the Connecticut River valley in Vermont dating back to the 1800s. Judy brings a Native American lens to reading the land, teaching science and history, and through her practice an important visibility to lost voices and hidden histories. 

During her VPL residency Judy will be working with middle school students from the Hilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro and the Vermont River Conservancy to focus on the floodplain restoration of “Sawdust Alley” – an 8-acre parcel along the Whetstone Brook. Students will meet river experts and regional planners; do hands-on environmental testing and historical research of the site; and engage with community members who live near the Whetstone to listen to and gather their stories and perspectives on the brook. Students will work with Judy to create maps and will share their research and recommendations through presentations on how to transform the Sawdust Alley site into an ecological and cultural asset for the community.

Previous Residencies