Marble House Project promotes art, sustainability and community engagement


DORSET>>Vermont, rich in many natural resources, is home to art, farming, recreation, and more.

In Dorset, the Marble House Project invites the public to roam 48 acres of historic quarry production grounds and meet various artists who reside there up to three weeks at a time from May to October.

Every Tuesday at 6 p.m., resident artists share and perform their work in the event barn as part of Art-Seed. Additionally, there will be culinary workshops, a benefit dinner, chef competitions, yoga classes, a house and garden tour and a benefit party. A total of 58 artists will visit the property this season.

The Marble House Project seeks to nurture the imaginative spirit through art, sustainable agriculture and community engagement.

"Our mission is nurturing the imaginative spirit. It's the act of creating, whether that's art or in the garden. It's where individual potential thrive. Those are the bigger themes," Sarah Walko, Marble House director of arts programming said. "We are always trying to get those worlds [art and agriculture] to try and fuse. They fuse naturally when the artists are here. It's really about when you're here having this really organic and integrated experience."

Every three weeks, eight artists will live at the Marble House, that was built in 1815. Each session alternates a musician or dancer with writers, sculptors, painters and other creators come from as far as Palestine. Some leave site specific art behind, for example, a sculpted marble slab that sits in the chicken's area, a table in the garden, an inscribed marble step in the restored quarry pool and a branch structure in the upper field by Kathy Bruce that illustrates the words "Dwell in possibility."

There is no cost for artists to stay at the Marble House, however, they must cover transportation and necessities during their stay. There are eight studios around the property and eight bedrooms in the Marble House. Walko said most residents eat products from the farm.

"The aspect of sustainability that we're most emphasizing is what does that mean, it doesn't mean you take a historic house and put solar panels on it, it means you take care of what is there and the proper way of taking care of what is there, so we have to balance it," Walko said. "Taking care and being stewards of this historic house, which means restoring it properly and taking care of it in certain ways."

There aren't yet programs planned for the winter season, but Walko said there is still discussion about it.

Danielle Epstein and Dina Schapiro from New York founded the Marble House Project in 2012 and two years later, artists were welcomed and Art-Seed was launched.

Walko said it was Epstein's dream 25 years in the making.

The main farm atop the marble gardens sits next to the event barn. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the Marble House being built, so large pieces of marble line the new vegetable gardens for the next 100 years.

"We used that as our platform for kind of saying 'Now we're building new gardens for the next 100 years,' and they're not fancy formal gardens, they're food, community gardens," Walko said.

Beyond the upper field lies the original quarry used for marble production and hiking trails that will eventually be developed, Walko said. To the left of the quarry sits a small cabin built by National Geographic last year for the show Building Wild. The outdoor space has a marble fire pit, an amphitheater built with more than 5,000 tons of rock, a spinning sofa and homemade musical instruments. Walko said when the site hosts weddings, the bride and groom spend the night in the cabin by candlelight because there is no plumbing or electricity.

Currently staying at the Marble House is composer Mary Bichner, writer and theater artist Nicole Kempskie, writer Lisa Fliegel, performer and educator Keisha Turner, artist Hamra Abbas, interdisciplinary artist Sumru Tekin, sculptor Celine Lastennet, and sculptor Leslie Fry.

Next week new residents will include choreographer and dance filmmaker Rosie Trump, writer Peter Kline, poet Gary J. Whitehead, composer Andrew Clearfield, blogger, journalist and author Judith Torrea, author Janee J. Baugher, artist Dana Hemes, and artist Heather M. O'Brien.

For in-depth biographies of each artist, visit

May 31: Dance Performance by Rosie Trump

June 7: Poetry Readings by Gary J. Whitehead and Peter Kline

June 14: Talk and musical performance by Andrew Clearfield

June 21: Readings by Judith Torrea and Janee J. Baugher

June 28: Dance performance by Joanne Kotze

The rest of the Art-Seed events can be found on

Yoga classes begin on June 6 and run every Monday and Thursday in the event barn at 8:30 a.m. All practice levels are welcome and classes are taught by Megan Gault and Linda Mitchell. Attendance cost $12 per class.

Culinary workshops:

June 30 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. $40: Unlocking the Mystery of Egg Cookery

July 14 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. $75: Fishing in the Garden

July 28 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. $75: Bites and Flights

August 4 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. $55: Pasta Making

August 18 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. $65: Improvisational Cooking

September 8 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. $55: An Evening in Bangkok

September 22 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. $55: Cooking with Grains Farro, Quinoa and Tabouleh

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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