Important Notice on Arts Funding

This note came today from the Vermont Arts Council.


Things are about to move. Quickly.

National Update

The federal fiscal year begins each October 1. Funding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and theCorporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is secure through September 2018 if current resolutions persist.

What to Expect
The president is scheduled to reveal a first round budget proposal (commonly dubbed the “skinny budget”) in the next few days. Current signals indicate that the NEA, NEH, and CPB will be part of this presentation. Americans for the Arts (AFTA) anticipates three possibilities, with advocacy strategies for each.

The budget may outline
1. full funding (based on historical patterns)
2. partial funding
3. zero funding

We are watching for news, and may connect with you soon. Participation in AFTA’s efforts will be an important way to add your voice to this national conversation — we will urge to do so.

National Arts Advocacy Day

A record number of national arts advocates will head for Washington for National Arts Advocacy Day (March 20-21). Schedules are set for visits to the offices of Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch. If you would like to be part of this national effort, register on the Arts Advocacy Day webpage and contact Zon Eastes with questions.

State Update

Likewise, the push for budgets is on here in Vermont.

1. Arts Council appropriation. The Arts Council gave testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, February 15. This committee recommends budgets for hundreds of agencies. Now, the Council’s appropriation will come under review by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Leadership from the Arts Council expects to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee in the next ten days.
If the House and Senate Committee recommendations are equal, that figure moves into the budget for final approval. If they differ, expect us to urge you to contact members of the Appropriations Committee of Conference, the body that will forge a final compromise on the overall budget.

2. Insertion of arts and culture language into Act 186. Act 186 is the bill calling for indicators and measures (Results-Based Accountability [RBA] language) in support of eight broad outcomes. The Arts Council is currently in strategic planning mode, developing strategies and language intended to contribute to state RBA population-level outcomes.

3. Ensure the arts are a part of every Vermont student’s education. Council staff meets regularly with staff from the Agency of Education (AOE), preparing to position Vermont for the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. In Vermont, the public hearing portion of the plan’s development process closed in February, a draft proposal is before Governor Scott this month. The AOE anticipates submitting a state plan to the U.S. Department of Education in April.

What You Can Do

Watch for upcoming action alerts, at both the state and national levels.

Any Time
Research indicates that the most effective advocacy efforts are face-to-face: stories supported by clear data. And these efforts work throughout the year, not only during a legislative session. Build a relationship. Direct contact is not always possible; other ways of connecting are also important:

1. join advocacy campaigns. Get engaged in national issues at the Arts Action Fund. Watch for state actions at the Council’s Action Center

2. contact your elected officials by phone or email. By phone, be prepared to speak briefly about your issue. In either case, aim to be clear and direct (legislators are very busy). You can find your legislator’s contact information at the Arts Council’s Action Center (use the upper right hand box: Find Officials)

3. invite your elected officials to local/regional group meetings – forums, discussions, even breakfast. These are especially effective outside the legislative session. Contact Zon Eastes for ideas and contacts in your area

Be in touch. Every voice makes a difference!

All best–

Zon Eastes
Director of Outreach and Advancement 
Vermont Arts Council
136 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633-6001
802.828.5423 (voice and relay calls welcome)

True Experience + Time Warp Impossible Journey

This composition demonstrates how physical boundaries are easily broken and betrayed by sound’s ability to transcend consecutive time and solid structures, refracting time and space.

The journey begins on NYC subway platform where the particulate rhythms and melodies of the subway swarm with the notes and beats of subway musicians.*  Once boarded and on the train, the ambient is quieted and encapsulated…until you are let off, far from the city, where the barren trees hold steady, absorbing a cold winter rain.

*Mecca Bodega

Suggestions for creating the best listening environment for this composition:

Many of the composition’s sonic textures will be lost if played through the tiny tinny speaker your computer or mobile device. The best way to listen is through headphones. It can be a challenge to capture the spatial qualities of a sound piece like this one through the rigid environment of computer and and mobile screens. I’d rather play it for you in a gallery space or even through your own sound system in your home, an environment that would allow the sound to travel through a quality speaker, then through space before arriving in your ears.


Prototyping for Sound: Arduino MP3 Player Shield

I’m experimenting with a Sparkfun mp3 player shield for Arduino, using it to prototype for a sound installation idea. In this prototype there are just simple push buttons, while the final installation is more likely to use sensing or more complex triggers. This prototype allows me to experiment with different sounds and on a small scale, get a sense of how sound transitions might work. For the speaker I’m using my old faithful Fender mini amp, love this little device! I use it routinely for prototyping. The video here demonstrates a setup of simple push button that trigger custom sounds stored on the sd card.

There are tutorials and libraries on the Sparkfun site and Github. I used this tutorial to get started.

Want to learn more about Arduino shields?


Interactive Design with the Arduino Microcontroller

I hope you can join me for this Arduino workshop at the College Arts Association Conference this February in NYC.

Register for the conference

Interactive Design with the Arduino Microcontroller
Workshop Leader: Jenn Karson, University of Vermont FabLab
Friday, 02/17/17: 1:30–3:00 PM
Concourse E, Concourse Level

An electronics platform, the Arduino microcontroller is based on relatively easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for anyone (designers, inventors, musicians, educators, artists, makers, architects, scientists and researchers) interested in making interactive projects, prototypes and tools. Design with the Arduino gives one the ability to define inputs and outputs like sensing, light, sound and motion. In this short workshop we’ll explore its founding philosophy and provide hands-on time for building simple circuits and interactions. You do not need any previous experience or knowledge to take this workshop; we encourage everyone who is interested to join the fun!

Required Workshop Materials: Laptop with current operating system. In advance of the workshop, please download Arduino software:

Registration cap: 10

Potential Workshop Specializations: Materials-Art Making Techniques-Studio Practice, Technology and/or Software-Specific Training, Pedagogy-Educational Strategies-Teaching Methodology


Welcome to Winter in Vermont

It’s the coldest and darkest time of year here in Vermont, a time for studio work, friends, family, reflection and renewal. Above is a celebration of the season’s sounds and snow – I love the softness of these snowy days! Below are two poems about the dark that were shared through a Dharma Seed podcast with Donald Rothberg on December 19, 2016. I find them very inspiring and so share them with you today. They are thoughtful reminders of  the light and color that can be found in the depths of dark, far from the bright glow of our mobile devices and the distractions of entertaining TV and computer screens.

Wendell Berry: “To Know the Dark”

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Passage from Wishing Bone Cycle

All the warm nights sleep in moonlight
keep letting it go into you, do this all your life 
do this and you will shine outward in old age.
The moon will think that you are the moon.

Interactive Design and Prototyping


CEMS 095/295 Special Topics
3 Credits
Spring Semester 2017
Thursdays 5-8 pm
Instructor: Jenn Karson

CRN numbers:
On Campus Undergrad, CEMS 95: 15539
Online Undergrad, CEMS 95:15602
On Campus Graduate, CEMS 295: 15707
Online Graduate, CEMS 295: 15708

Most material costs are covered.
Course expenses

Pricing for non-degree students

This course opens up a world of innovation to students across disciplines. Within the span of a semester, students without previous engineering or programming knowledge will learn to build working interactive prototypes using sensors, light, sound and motion. In preparation for a final independent project, course teachings will include rapid prototyping, aesthetics, project management and presentation skills, the study of meaningful interaction between humans and machines, and profiles of prominent innovators from the humanities and sciences.

In hands-on labs students will learn how to build with the Arduino microcontroller, an electronics platform based on relatively easy-to-use hardware and software. The Arduino is a favorite tool of inventive designers, musicians, educators, artists, entrepreneurs, makers, architects, scientists and researchers. assignments will challenge students to apply their newly acquired technical skills to creative projects that solve problems, inspire curiosity and follow independent lines of inquiry.

For more information see details below. This course promises to be both challenging and fun – join us!

Massimo Banzi, founder of the Arduino micrcontroller speaks to how the tool is ideal for the novice:


Open to all UVM Majors and Continuing Education Students
20 Classroom Seats (Hills 20)
10 Online Seats
No prerequisites
Download the Syllabus



Degree Students
Week of November 14, 2016

Continuing Education Students
Step 1: Preregister anytime (24 hour processing)*
Step 2: Registration Begins November 21, 2016

*Preregistration is necessary for new UVM non degree students.


Fill out the form below or contact
Jenn Karson

Staring Back: The Creation and Legacy of Picasso’s Demoiselles D’Avignon


Jenn Karson is a project collaborator on this exhibition and created two sound installations for it. Learn more in the exhibition catalog:

Staring Back:  The Creation and Legacy of Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon
February 3 – June 21, 2015
Fleming Museum Burlington, Vermont

Opening Reception
Hosted by UVM President Thomas Sullivan,
Fleming Director Janie Cohen, and the Fleming Museum’s Board of Directors
Cash bar, hors d’oeuvres and music
Tuesday February 10, 5:30-7:00 PM


Picasso’s major 1907 painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, created an uproar in the Paris art world and laid the foundation for the development of Cubism. This spring, the Fleming Museum presents an exhibition that explores Picasso’s extraordinary process in creating the painting, through innovative installations and advanced technologies that transform the museum experience. The painting’s ongoing legacy is examined through the work of a diverse group of American, African, and European contemporary artists. While Demoiselles does not travel from its home in the Museum of Modern Art, it will be represented at the Fleming in an unprecedented manner.

Visitors will be introduced to the painting in an environment that evokes Picasso’s studio at the “Bateau Lavoir,” where he first showed Demoiselles to his close friends and colleagues in 1907; their reactions may be heard against a background of ambient sounds that would have echoed through the streets of Montmartre at the time. Augmented reality will enable visitors to view images of Picasso’s studies for the individual figures and the full composition in the context of the painting, and to understand its evolution.

Picasso found inspiration for Demoiselles in art history and contemporary visual culture. Through a variety of new visual technologies, visitors will understand how he synthesized and transformed these diverse sources – from Iberian, African, Oceanic, and Egyptian art to Baroque painting, Cezanne’s and Gauguin’s work, and colonial photographers’ images of African women – to launch a radically new artistic vocabulary.

The largest section of the exhibition highlights the continuing pull of the painting – over 100 years after its creation – as evidenced in the work of international artists, including Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Gerri Davis, Damian Elwes, Julian Friedler, Kathleen Gilje, Carlo Maria Mariani, Sophie Matisse, Stas Orlovski, and Jackson Tupper.

STARING BACK was conceived and curated by Janie Cohen, Director of the Fleming Museum of Art. The exhibition is informed by the work of numerous Picasso scholars, including Cohen, who has published on Picasso for over thirty years and whose new research on anthropometric-style colonial African photography and Demoiselles will be published in the journal Photography and Culture in March, 2015. Cohen’s project collaborators are Coberlin Brownell, Assistant Professor, Emergent Media Program at Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont; and Jenn Karson, Sound Artist; Lecturer, UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences; and Founder, Vermont Makers, Burlington, Vermont.

Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the Kalkin Family Exhibitions Endowment Fund; the Walter Cerf Exhibitions Fund; Rolf Kielman and Stephanie Spencer; TruexCullins Architecture and Interior Design; Kimberley Adams, M.D., and Mark Depman, M.D.; Neil and Ursula Owre Masterson ’89; the Offices of the President and the Provost at the University of Vermont; and the Fleming Contemporary Art Fund.


VT Libraries Transform into Maker Spaces in 2014

Contact: Erica Houskeeper,  Erica.Houskeeper@uvm.edu802-498-5495

Vermont Libraries to Transform into Maker Spaces This Summer
UVM CEMS supporting development of library STEAM programs

The University of Vermont is supporting the development of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts + Math) programs for Vermont public libraries this summer.

Fourteen public libraries from Craftsbury to Charlotte to Castleton will offer summer maker workshops for K-12 students as part of the new “Vermont Makers and Libraries: Sparking a Culture of Innovation” project. The initiative is a collaborative effort between the Vermont Department of Libraries, Vermont Makers, the University of Vermont College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Vermont Library Association and CMF Innovations.

“By teaching and sharing technical literacy, we can help empower students through valuable and fun learning experiences,” said Jennifer Karson, founder of Vermont Makers and instructor with the University of Vermont FabLab at the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. “The project encourages individual creativity, collaboration and lifelong learning.”

The three-hour workshops will be held June 25 to Aug. 9 and will be taught by local educators trained by Karson. The libraries are each offering two of the five modules: Creative Creatures, Squishy Circuits, Toy Hacking, E-Origami and E-textiles. Participants will learn how to use digital and physical tools to help strengthen their deductive reasoning, logical thinking and problem-solving skills.

A $20,000 Vermont Community Foundation Innovations and Collaborations Grant and a $5,000 grant from UVM CEMS are helping to fund the program. UVM CEMS is providing space for the train-the-trainer workshops for educators as part of the Vermont Engineering Initiative, and the Vermont Department of Libraries is helping coordinate and implement the program in libraries around the state.

“The maker movement is alive and well in Vermont, and like the rest of the nation, public libraries are an important player in providing opportunities to engage in these hands-on creation programs,” said State Librarian Martha Reid of the Vermont Department of Libraries. “I love the ways that maker programs can foster intergenerational learning, introduce novices and experts alike to technology and STEM, and promote teamwork and collective problem-solving.”

Modeled after hacker spaces, a maker space is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials and develop creative projects. In recent years, libraries across the country have embraced the trend to create maker spaces for communities.

Librarian Susan O’Connell of the Craftsbury Public Library, who was instrumental in getting the summer program off the ground, said she first witnessed the power of maker spaces at the Champlain Valley Maker Faire two years ago.

“As a librarian and teacher, too often I see children’s scientific curiosity extinguished when science is taught as a set of facts to memorize without the thrill of exploration and discovery,” she said. “At the Champlain Valley Maker Faire, people of all ages were experimenting with trajectory with a pumpkin-chucking trebuchet, learning how to solder, and watching electricity play along a tesla coil. People were trying, sharing and exploring new ideas, and kids were incredibly excited.”

O’Connell said the idea was also inspired by the Collaborative Summer Library Program, which creates programs and activities designed to encourage children to learn and read during the summer. This summer’s theme is science.

Communities participating in the initiative include Bennington, Barre, Charlotte, Craftsbury, Castleton, Fairfax, Groton, Jericho, Poultney, Quechee, Richford, Warren, Westford and Williston.

“Our goal is to make it possible for children who might not have access to this kind of programming in rural areas to engage in fun, hands-on activities and discover how science works in everyday life,” O’Connell said. “While all of the participants might not become scientists, they’ll be better prepared to thrive in our technological world.”

For more information and a list of participating libraries, visit

Two images are available for download (courtesy of Vermont Engineering Initiative), one of educators training for the Toy Hacking STEAM program and an image of a toyToy Hacking is one of the STEAM and Maker programs offered this summer in Vermont public libraries. Download the images here:

Critical Making Montreal

As part of the “Site and Sound” festival in Montreal we participated in a Critical Making workshop with Garnet Hertz, the author or the zine “Critical Making” that is proving to be a strong and unique voice in the art + technology scholarship. It was great to work with Garnet and the other workshop participants. At the end of the day we had a new issue of the zine “Critical Making Montreal.” Studio Ju Ju contributed an essay about the Firehouse Bell Project.