Sweet Briar College and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, one of the nation’s largest residential artist communities, have long been collaborative partners. Now, they’re also teaming up in the classroom, thanks to the College’s innovative core curriculum and brand-new fellowships for VCCA artists.
Located just across U.S. Route 29 from Sweet Briar’s main campus, VCCA hosts more than 400 fellows a year, artists whose honors include MacArthur Fellowships, National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. VCCA fellows are visual artists, writers and composers who come from around the world, and they bring a vibrant and exciting creative presence to campus.
While fellows are typically in residence to work undisturbed, they do give readings and performances at the College, teach master classes, open their studios to visitors and share their creative processes.
Now, through the College’s Center for Creativity, Design and the Arts, Sweet Briar and the VCCA will take their relationship even further: A team of fellows will teach an interdisciplinary section of “Expression and the Arts,” the foundational arts course in the College’s new core curriculum.
The course will take place during a three-week session — part of the College’s innovative new calendar — in spring 2019. Over the summer, teams of fellows, each of whom will receive a $5,000 stipend as well as four fully-funded weeks in residence at the VCCA, will submit collaborative proposals. A final selection will be made by Oct. 1. Center director and professor of creative writing Carrie Brown, who has been a VCCA fellow herself, says the SBC/VCCA fellowships will “give students brand-new models of what it means to be creative and an exciting look at the fusion of artistic disciplines.”
The opportunity to work with VCCA fellows will expand the kind of experiences students will have in the classroom. “Not only will students be exposed to new voices from throughout the world, thereby enlarging and enriching the academic community at Sweet Briar,” says Brown, “but they’ll also have the opportunity to participate in an experience of learning about and making art that will be unique. They’ll collaborate with each other and with a team of distinguished artists who themselves will be collaborating.”
Creativity is more and more widely recognized as important to every field, from science and medicine to government and commerce. However, artists and the organizations that support them need resources to do their work. “I’m especially pleased that these fellowships represent not only an investment in the artists themselves but also in a valuable national artists’ institution,” Brown says. “The College’s commitment to the arts and to artists is a profound one, and we want to see every party benefit: the students, the artists, the College and VCCA.”
Joy Heyrman, VCCA’s executive director, observes that this is an exciting moment in VCCA’s partnership with Sweet Briar College. “We are giving new form to the rich exchange of creative thinking and creative production that has distinguished a shared history of nearly 40 years,” she says. “VCCA has been enriched by Sweet Briar’s support, collaboration and proximity and we are looking forward to opening up new avenues of creative exchange for our extended network of artist fellows.”
Sweet Briar College President Meredith Woo agrees. “Having such a distinguished group of artists so close by is something few other institutions of higher learning can claim,” she says. “At Sweet Briar, we understand the profound importance of art: It’s how we express our human experience. We’re grateful to build on our relationship with the VCCA and to be able to offer learning opportunities that are unique and distinctive to Sweet Briar and that will benefit both institutions.”
To view a complete job description or apply for the SBC/VCCA fellowship, visit sbc.edu/human-resources/faculty-staff-job-openings.