West Rutland Couple Creates Sculpture Garden

Sep 12, 2013

It’s one thing to look at sculptures in a museum.  it’s another thing entirely to see them carved in your back yard by artists from all over the world. 

But that’s just what Barbara and Bill Carris of West Rutland are doing and they’re inviting the public to see the results.

Barbara Carris is an artist, art lover and patron who’s worked for years with various local and regional non profit arts organizations.

This year she says she wanted to try something different. “I wanted to do something that I could not necessarily call my own, but sort of design and have come out the way I wanted,” says Carris.  “I was lucky enough to have access to people who could help me do that.”

She called on Vermont sculptor Peter Lundberg and his wife Yan Lu.  Lu spent ten years curating international sculpture symposiums in China and helped Carris develop a list of potential artists to include. 

Carris also called her good friend Scott Brandon Smith, who helps organize Sculpture by the Sea, an annual sculpting event in Sydney, Australia. 

“This is a very personal event,” says Brandon Smith, of the West Rutland Art Park.  “Bill and Barbara Carris have invited 9 artists to work on their property, to live with them for a month, plus three interns and me and the karma,” he says, “the atmosphere is invigorating.”

Outside the back door, there’s as much noise as dust.  Mexican artist Javier Astorga perches on scaffolding to weld a dramatic metal sculpture he calls The Rooster, while other artists use automatic grinders and hand held chisels to carve and shape huge blocks of marble.

Bulgarian sculptor Liliya Pobornikova introduces herself with a smile. Removing her bulky respirator, her flesh colored nose and mouth stand out amidst a sea of bright white.  Even her eyelashes are covered by a thick layer of marble dust.  “It’s very special make up, laughs Pobornikova, “and very popular in our business.”

Turning toward her sculpture, she explains that she’s carving the figure of a woman emerging from a block of marble.  It’s hard work, she says, but seeing an idea morph from a small clay model into a six or nine foot sculpture is amazing.

Pobornikova says despite their cultural differences, the artists have become good friends and she says it’s a treat to work in such a collaborative atmosphere. “Of course we spend time in our studios,” she says. “But it’s always a pleasure to go outside to see what the others do, how they do it, to know another country, to know the local people from the country.”

That kind of camaraderie is just what Barbara Carris was hoping to create and share with others. 

“Some people are really uncomfortable around art, says Carris.  “And that’s not the case here.  I mean sculpture is different.  It’s down and dirty; you’re covered in dust; you help each other out.  I’ve done some two dimensional painting,” she says, “and that’s a very solo experience.  This isn’t.  Sculpture is dirty it’s loud and  it’s fun - so the people that come here feel at ease and feel at ease to ask questions.”

With the Carris home perched high atop eight stunning acres there will be plenty of room to display the sculptures when they’re finished.  Barbara Carris says most will be visible to people driving by.

But she encourages anyone who wants to see the artists at work to drop by before the formal unveiling September 22nd .