Four BFA students win fellowships to Vermont Studio Center


Jensen Beach

Travis LeClair and Josh Lemay

The participants for this summer’s Vermont Studio Center Fellowship have been chosen. The four BFA students will be offered housing and a space to work at the Vermont Studio Center in downtown Johnson for a few weeks over the summer vacation. Chris Kerr-Ayer and Tim Santamore were chosen as visual arts students, and Josh Lemay and Travis LeClair were chosen as creative writing students.

The students had to apply to be considered, and the application contained a statement about what they were hoping to accomplish if they were given the time in the Studio Center. Ken Leslie, a professor in the Fine Arts Department and one of the people in charge of choosing which students would be given the Fellowship award, cited a strong sense of self as an important quality for students who were chosen. He said that the studio center is full of very talented people and it can be easy for a relatively new or undeveloped artist to lose their way.

“We [were] looking for students whose art is mature, but also who have enough conviction behind what they’re doing so that they will do well in an environment that has a full range of artists from around the word, and a full range of egos also. It could be intimidating. A student who isn’t yet grounded in their work might be unable to jump into that world,” said Leslie. Leslie said that eight visual arts students applied, and Kerr-Ayer and Santamore both had the strongest personal style and drive that they needed in order to hold their own at the studio center.

Lemay agreed with Leslie’s statement, and added that he hoped to use the time that he was given to branch out more and enjoy writing that wasn’t for a class. “All of the stuff that I’ve written so far for fiction workshops and creative writing courses is stuff that I was interested in and that I liked writing, but I want to start on something bigger. I read this book by Cormac McCarthy called “Child of God” and that book made me wonder if I could ever write something like that. That’s what I want to do with my time in the studio center, is get a jump start on something more serious. ”

Like Lemay, LeClair said that he hopes to use this time to create and work on his writing. He said of receiving the Fellowship, “I was pretty shocked when I found out, and even more shocked when I learned how much artists and writers pay for residency. I am so honored to have been awarded this, and hope to use this time to create some of my best writing yet.”