A lot of things influenced me to start on this painting project, "Caring for the University of Vermont." Part of it was coming to Williams Hall early in the morning to paint and watching the custodians working at cleaning up the art students¹ mess of the day before. Also, I grew up in Detroit and spent a lot of time at the museum looking at the murals of the Ford Motor Company auto workers painted by Diego Rivera. I also have a vague memory from when I was nine years old. There was a poster contest at school and I made a picture of a woman sweeping. My father or my teacher took it and corrected it, making it much better. I remember feeling real dismay as I looked at this portrait that wasn¹t mine any more. I may have won the contest but around that time I decided to stop drawing. So here I am today, 67 years old, a Studio Arts major in the Evening University at the University of Vermont. Maybe I needed to revisit that woman with her broom and do it my way!
After I got the idea for this project and began taking photographs of everyone I saw working, I began to realize how many jobs are necessary to keep the university functioning. My appreciation and recognition of all of the work increased steadily. The purpose of this work is to honor and thank all of the workers.
I want to thank also everyone who helped me with the project the workers who posed for photographs, my teachers in the Art Department, Frank Owen, Ed Owre, Sean Dye, Cami Davis, and Christine Campbell, the Continuing Education and Evening University Program, Armin Grams who made the stretchers and hung the paintings, and many others who encouraged, advised and helped carry 16 paintings around (or held the door open for us.)Sophie Quest, 2001