On Elevating Craft
In many ways senior Jenna Catsos is the prototypical Green Mountain College student, drawn to GMC to study in the liberal arts tradition, to become immersed in environmental studies and to live an ecologically aware existence. As an artist, writer, community activist, journalist, graphic designer, competitive skier, cross country runner, and ultimate frisbee-er—among other things— she has simply gotten involved.
Jenna grew up in the town of Ashley Falls, Mass., across the state line from Canaan, Conn., in the Berkshire Hills region, a cultural hub and tourist destination. Jenna’s mother, a basket-weaving artist and teacher, and father, an artful builder, infused her with the spirit of the place, encouraging her and two siblings to stay busy through art and craft. Jenna’s parents harvest and process the locally rooted Black ash trees for their own material and for sale.
“I really am the offspring of my parents. The fusion of them,” she says brightly, drawing in her legs. She traveled extensively before coming to GMC and spent one high school year in Germany, which she says put her on an exploratory track. An honors student in the progressive program, her freshman year found her among a group of students who originally proposed what has become the College’s current energy plan to transform the crude oil burner into a biomass cogeneration facility. The goal is to use a sustainable, renewable resource – green woodchips - to heat campus, considerably reducing the College’s carbon footprint. She says, “I feel like I’m going to be an involved citizen, somewhere I feel like I can make a difference.”
This week and next you can experience the mixed media culmination of the bustling activity which has been Jenna’s college experience in the Surdam Gallery showcase of her works, “The Art of Craft.” In the exhibit she presents crafty traditions with contemporary subject manner. “I always seep into my art, whether or not I want to,” she says. “I do a lot of layers. I don’t plan it out. It’s very...organic and natural.”
by Ryan Dixon '11