Essay: Going on its 17th year, Featherstone continues to grow

Ralph Stewart

We strive each and every day to create community through the arts. Our Young Children’s Art program builds the foundation for budding artists beginning at age three — exploring clay, color, and collage. The Free Teen After School Program continues to attract the Island’s high school students with ceramics and photography. Offerings in tapestry, painting, printmaking, drawing, and ceramics continue to delight our creative residents and visitors.

Featherstone hosted 17 art shows in our main gallery, with over 200 Vineyard artists represented. The Copley Society Show, featuring all 13 Island Copley Society members, provided the unique opportunity to showcase their art together for the first time. The Art of Handmade Paper Show awed audiences with its diversity of form and whimsy. The eight Pebble Gallery Shows continue to introduce the community to emerging artists and those with well-established careers.

We were particularly pleased to launch Sabrina Kuchta’s first illustrated book, “Where Horses Fly,” with Vineyard Stories. Sabrina has grown up at Featherstone — taking classes since childhood, through her college years at RISD, and now serving as an art teacher in our summer camp.

The extension of summer camp from 8 to 10 weeks was well received by campers and parents alike. It is marvelous to see children of all ages from the Island and around the world exploring and learning on our six-acre campus.

There is no better family activity than relaxing and eating at the outdoor stage and listening to talented Vineyard musicians for Musical Mondays while the children play and dance on the lawn. With more than 70 vendors each Tuesday, the Flea & Fine Arts Markets create a peaceful environment to meet artists and purchase those Island-made treasures. Poetry often fills our evenings with the best poets America has to offer. U.S. Poet Laureates love to come to Martha’s Vineyard and read under our Summer Tent. Featherstone is a happy and peaceful place where creativity abounds.

As we plan for 2013 and Featherstone’s 17th year, we believe that creativity is essential to the soul of our community and that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the magic of creativity. Our challenge is to renovate our buildings and improve our campus so that we are poised for the next 17 years. We will continue to offer meaningful art experiences to those seeking nourishment and inspiration. Our programs and events are affordable; several just require your commitment of time, like strolling in the sculpture garden or meditating at the labyrinth. Themes of power, collage, awe, and wonder will bring new works of art in all mediums to our galleries.

We are always seeking new ways to collaborate with our neighbors and friends. The month of March is devoted to showcasing our young people with Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School art students. The Tom Maley Life Drawing Group, which meets at Featherstone each Tuesday year round, will present a show of recent work in July. The acclaimed Crit Group, a group of women painters who meet every six weeks for support and critique each other’s work, will be featured in August.

Our pride remains our artist teachers who guide and inspire those who want to paint, draw, sculpt, build, print, sew, sing, play, and write. We invite you to join us.

Ann Smith of Oak Bluffs is the Executive Director of Featherstone. She has worked for Featherstone for the past six years, and has been the director for two. For more information, call 508-693-1850, email, or visit