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Hampshire College receives endowed fund for art students

  • William Brayton with a work in progress in his home studio in Conway.

    William Brayton with a work in progress in his home studio in Conway. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College art professor William Brayton, with one of his own works in progress in his home studio in Conway, says applying for grant money is a valuable skill that will serve artists well in the real world.

    Hampshire College art professor William Brayton, with one of his own works in progress in his home studio in Conway, says applying for grant money is a valuable skill that will serve artists well in the real world. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Printmaker and painter Randy Guthmiller received a $500 grant from the Harris-Veit startup fund last year to work on his Div. III project, which helped him to buy paper and ink for his final project studio art project at Hampshire College.

    Printmaker and painter Randy Guthmiller received a $500 grant from the Harris-Veit startup fund last year to work on his Div. III project, which helped him to buy paper and ink for his final project studio art project at Hampshire College. Purchase photo reprints »

  • "Balon Stool" by Nicole Markowitz

    "Balon Stool" by Nicole Markowitz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire art student Lydia Wren Trottman is applying to the Harris-Veit Artists’ Grant Fund. She works primarily in fibers and felting with wool.

    Hampshire art student Lydia Wren Trottman is applying to the Harris-Veit Artists’ Grant Fund. She works primarily in fibers and felting with wool. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College student Nicole Markowitz received support from the Harris-Veit startup fund for her Division III project. Shown here, "Cluster Two"

    Hampshire College student Nicole Markowitz received support from the Harris-Veit startup fund for her Division III project. Shown here, "Cluster Two" Purchase photo reprints »

  • William Brayton with a work in progress in his home studio in Conway.
  • Hampshire College art professor William Brayton, with one of his own works in progress in his home studio in Conway, says applying for grant money is a valuable skill that will serve artists well in the real world.
  • Printmaker and painter Randy Guthmiller received a $500 grant from the Harris-Veit startup fund last year to work on his Div. III project, which helped him to buy paper and ink for his final project studio art project at Hampshire College.
  • "Balon Stool" by Nicole Markowitz
  • Hampshire art student Lydia Wren Trottman is applying to the Harris-Veit Artists’ Grant Fund. She works primarily in fibers and felting with wool.
  • Hampshire College student Nicole Markowitz received support from the Harris-Veit startup fund for her Division III project. Shown here, "Cluster Two"

Joan A. Harris and her husband, Steven W. Veit, are psychologists, not artists, but they have always had a passion for art.

Their son, Eric Harris Veit, studied art at Hampshire College in Amherst, and the couple came to greatly appreciate the work that he and other art students put into their final-year capstone project, called the Division III, or Div. III.

Eric had a great experience as an art student at Hampshire, according to Veit, and after he graduated in 2008 his parents decided they would make a substantial gift to the college to support grants for students working in the studio arts.

Harris and Veit, who live in Napa, Calif., initially donated a $5,000 startup grant during the last academic year and followed that up with a $200,000 endowed fund that starting in February will help art students pay for costs associated with the Div. III on a more permanent basis.

“We were looking for some way to help the arts program and this seemed like a way to have a pretty direct and considerable impact on students doing their Div. III projects,” Steven Veit said. “Students working in the studio arts need money for materials, and resources in this department are hard to come by.”

Hampshire College art professor William Brayton said the Div. III requires creating a substantive work that is exhibited at the college art gallery, publicizing the event, buying food for the opening and more.

Brayton said students have to apply for the grant funds, which in itself is a valuable skill that they will need as working artists after graduation.

“The grant money can cover everything from basic art materials such as paper, printing ink, paint and sculptural materials to putting up a show and all the costs associated with holding an opening,” Brayton said. “The grants can cover everything involved in creating the Div. III project, the exhibition itself, and all the work leading up to it, such as rental of video projectors and things like that.”

Lydia Wren Trottmann, an art student in her final year at Hampshire, is working on her application to the Harris-Veit Artists’ Grant Fund. Trottmann, who is from Oregon, has been working primarily in fibers and felting with wool. Last semester she created felt figures with natural materials and is working on building environments for them. She also participated in a Five College Studio Seminar, in which she worked with a small group of other student artists, critiquing each others’ work.

“That seminar really helped me develop my work and flesh out more of what I want to work towards this spring,” Trottmann said. “I’ve been working pretty small in felting, but now I am thinking of making much larger pieces. I’ve been working small because that is what I could afford to do. But in order to maximize my goals and work on a larger scale, I will need this money.”

Trottmann also is planning on creating costumes and masks for her figures out of wool felt.

Funds sorely needed

Last year, the art department gave out nine $500 grants and 14 $100 grants to Div. III students from the startup fund, but with the additional funding, it may be able to make larger contributions and award grants to more students.

Another grant-funded program for studio artwork recently ran out, so the Harris-Veit Artists’ Grant Fund is “sorely needed,” Brayton said.

“This gives our Div. III art students a little leg up and allows them to be a little more bold in terms of what they can do,” he said. “It’s a terrific thing because our students spend a lot of money on Div. IIIs. The best part of education in the arts is to see projects come together in exciting ways. In the past, students’ own finances were limiting in what they could produce. This will provide significant budget relief for our Div. III students.”

Randy Guthmiller, who graduated from Hampshire last May, received a $500 grant from the Harris-Veit startup fund last year to work on his Div. III project.

Guthmiller, who focused on printmaking and painting at Hampshire, said the money helped him to buy paper and ink for his final project and pay for studio time at the print shop at Amherst College, which was critical because Hampshire does not have its own printing studio. He also was able to buy high-quality oil paints he would not otherwise have been able to afford and purchase pigments and binders to make his own paints.

“I was able to really go hard at my printmaking and painting and do so earnestly,” Guthmiller said. “Previously I had been making mostly small paintings, but this grant really enabled me to go big. It’s when I really started making huge strides on my Div. III. It culminated with a gallery exhibition at Hampshire and the grant helped me make the most of my paintings in that final show. It was a great time to receive those funds.”

It’s just that kind of ambition that the Harris-Veits say they hope to support.

“It’s clear that studio art students desire to achieve some great things at Hampshire, and we hope the Artists’ Grant Fund will help them get there,” Steven Veit said.

Ongoing support

To apply for the grant funding, students submit a written proposal, which includes images of their work and a proposed budget for their Div. III project.

Eric Harris Veit now runs Bodega in Philadelphia, an artist-run exhibition and performance space committed to presenting new art and serving as a platform for cultural exchange. Fellow Hampshire College alums Elyse Derosia, Ariela Kuh, Lydia Okrent and James Pettengill are also involved.

“During our son Eric’s years at Hampshire, we came to appreciate how the requirement for devising and completing a Div. III project served to focus his artistic interests and energies in a way that has served him well since graduation,” Steven Veit said. “With this gift, it’s our intention to provide an ongoing source of funding that will support Hampshire students in their efforts to produce Div. III projects that stimulate and fulfill their creative artistic imagination.”

Guthmiller, who lives in Dallas, where he works at a music/art museum and is pursuing his own art, said he was thrilled to hear about the newly endowed fund for student artists at Hampshire College.

“I think it’s amazing and exactly what Hampshire needs,” he said. “There are so many people who have great ideas, but they can’t execute them because of a lack of resources.

“It’s really exciting to see this family and Hampshire College investing this much into the final year of these students, because that’s when it counts a lot.”

Veit said that as psychologists he and his wife think the arts are important.

“Both my wife and I really appreciate that there is this whole other side of the brain, aside from the linguistic and academic side,” he said. “We really appreciate the value that the arts provide to an individual’s development, as well as to society as a whole. Our interest in the arts is related to the human spirit . . . we really appreciate the nonlinguistic aspects of a person’s entire being. It’s something that is very elusive and hard to talk about directly, but we see immense value there.”

Veit said art has always told the story of people living in a particular time, dating all the way back to early cave paintings and ancient cultures.

“When we look at art, it tells us a lot about people, who they were and what their hopes and fears were,” he said. “There’s a lot more to art than meets the eye.”

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