Poet T.S. Eliot decried April as “the cruelest month.” It’s not so easy for painters either. But Sarah Rutherford ’06 hasn’t been too slowed by cold temperatures, some rain, and even a little snow this week as she’s painted a new mural on the wall outside of the Living/Learning Complex. Visible from Main Street, and long the place of the “El Salvador” mural, it’s a highly visible spot. And Rutherford is doing justice to it with impressive, colorful work that resonates both with the place and the artwork that preceded it.
Rutherford earned her bachelor’s in studio art at UVM, where professors such as Frank Owen and Bill McDowell were key influences. She was also a resident of Living/Learning and has kept in touch with the Pottery Co-op’s Joan Watson for years. Rutherford makes her living as an artist/illustrator in Rochester, New York. Murals are among her focuses. A recent project was for the city’s Highland Hospital. When Living/Learning Director John Sama was on the look out for an artist to create a new mural this spring, bringing an alumna back for a week in-residence was a natural fit.
Before letting the spray paint fly, Rutherford spent time with current L/L students discussing possible themes for the mural. The result is a work that reflects the growth and emergence of the college years, a time when students find their voices and power to speak for what they believe, Rutherford says. With that, one can’t help but think of the “pan y educacion” banner that was an element of the El Salvador mural, and feel like that same spirit is still there.
Public art means public artists. Rutherford says she’s had lots of interaction with students and others walking past this week. As a tour of admitted students passed by, one young woman interested in an art major read the sign about the work in progress, saw that the artist is an alumna, and quizzed her about the Art Department.
“I think I convinced her to come to UVM,” Rutherford says. Her work here is nearly done.