Thursday February 09, 2017
Meredith Mann was inspired by love this past January. Gallery manager at the Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center in Burlington, Mann said that her inspiration came in the form of a project she proposed to her boss. The concept? To create an art installation that was welcoming and inclusive; one that spoke to what Mann describes as a “dire need for compassion at this time in history.” Her goal? To unify the community. The inspiration soon became an interactive exhibit at Frog Hollow titled Wall of Love. An art installation, it invites people to visit the gallery and contribute their thoughts to a white wall with the sign, “What does love mean to you?” by writing responses on bright pink post-it notes and adding their sentiments next to others on the wall. Mann says, “With all of the uncertainty and divisiveness in the world, we wanted to have a place that people can come to express their love, kindness, and positive messages for the new year.”
The Wall of Love, which began February 1 and will continue until the end of the month, takes the entire front wall of the gallery. Mann explains that they intend to film the month long exhibit to have a time-lapse archive of the experience, which will show the number of pink sticky notes multiplying by the day. Her hope is that everyone will feel compelled to stop by, adding, “I want people to feel welcome, whether or not they are purchasing anything, and comfortable coming in and expressing their thoughts on the wall of love.”
As gallery manager, Mann says she often helps to create and curate exhibits. Frog Hollow Executive Director Rob Hunter comments, “Meredith has been our gallery manager for about a year now and brings a deep commitment to our local community as well as a dedication to our Vermont artisan membership. Her pride in her work comes through every day and can be seen throughout the gallery.”
For her part, Mann emphatically expresses how much she loves her role at the gallery, saying she wakes up happy to go a workplace where she is surrounded by “beautiful art, talent, and great people.” Of Hunter, she shares, “I feel lucky to have a boss who appreciates my ideas and gives me the creative license to implement them.”
Beyond this installation, Mann has other artistic pursuits. The 18-year South Burlington resident is a Frog Hollow Artisan as well, one of over 150 Vermont artists who have completed the gallery’s jury process, whose work is then shown at Frog Hollow. Mann, who has a degree in ceramics from Goddard College, shows her porcelain jewelry at the gallery. She says, “I create work that is affordable and appeals to young as well as old. I like to get reaction from my work. Positive or negative, it’s still a win.” In addition, Mann teaches advanced pottery at the UVM Pottery Co-Op.
By far, though, Mann is quick to note that her best works of art are her two sons, Luke and Jake. “When I am not at the gallery, I either am in my home studio or giving to my endless loves - my kids and Nick, my husband.” The artist says, “I feel I live strongly behind the idea of mitzvah, a good deed that does not need to be announced, just done out of kindness.”
The Wall of Love is described by the gallery, which is the first state recognized craft center in the nation, as “an expression of our appreciation for our community and planet . . . to stand as a community rallying point during the customarily cold, dark winter months.” Mann’s question, “What does love mean to you?” is a simple but powerful nudge to acknowledge and declare the ideals of love and kindness. Hunter adds, “My hope for this exhibit is to run out of wall space. I can’t think of anything better than covering the white wall with pink declarations of what is positive and good in our lives.”
Wall of Love, now through February 28, Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center, 85 Church Street, Burlington. Monday-Saturday,10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, 12-5 p.m. Free and open to the public. For more information: froghollow.org.