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Art installation to open in former orphanage at Burlington College
Sarah O'Donnell, A Visible Night.

BURLINGTON, VT.- On August 6 and 7, the austere rooms of a former orphanage on the grounds of Burlington College will be transformed into artworks for the exhibition An Order. Five Vermont-based artists, Wylie Garcia, Abbey Meaker, Sarah O Donnell, Rebecca Weisman, and Mary Zompetti will each create art installations in both the domestic and religious spaces of the former Saint Joseph’s Providence Orphan Asylum. The exhibition will be open to the public for two days, with a reception on August 7 from 5– - 8 p.m.

The concept for An Order came from participating artist and curator Abbey Meaker, who has been creating lens-based works and installations in the abandoned orphanage for three years, after becoming fascinated with the building’s complex history and solemn atmosphere. Her works have explored the psychological lives of the nuns who lived and worked in the orphanage, who tended its young wards and the building itself. Meaker views her work at the orphanage as semi-archaeological, a study of the traces left by those who occupied the building during its nearly hundred years of operation from 1885 until the early 1980s. “These nuns and children made a world of this place,” she says, “it’s psychologically complex. Sometimes it seems like a home, and more often it seems like a prison.”

This exhibition invites noted Vermont artists to investigate the space, using photography, video, sound, and light to explore the building’s spaces and history. The artists will install the works just prior to the exhibition, and de-install them following the closing, making space for the planned housing developments that will reshape the orphanage following the exhibition. “This is a chance for artists and the public to see this space as it has been, before it changes,” Meaker says.

An Order is free and open to the public August 6 and August 7 from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. An evening reception will take place on Friday, August 7, 5-8 p.m. The exhibition is organized with help from Burlington City Arts Curator DJ Hellerman and independent writer and curator Amy Rahn, and is co-sponsored by Burlington City Arts and Burlington College.

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