Nancy Dunlap

Special Contributor

Photos by Nancy Dunlap 

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This Danby marble sculpture by Italian artist Filin Gheorgui, is titled “Venus.”Autumn in Vermont is a stunning experience of brilliant blue skies and foliage that runs the spectrum of fall colors from gold to deep red.        

Scrap metal locomotive assemblage “Across Time and Space,” made by Guohua Xu from China.When driving through the Green Mountains we are allowed to experience nature’s seasonal explosion of color and it is free for the looking. 

This fall, those of us who are fortunate enough to live in this beautiful state have been treated to another visual experience that melds so nicely with the landscape that we can acknowledge the beauty of it without losing the fullness of its natural surroundings.

A small sculpture model of a bull that Jo Kley created from Verde Antique marble.This event was the brainchild of Peter Lundberg and his wife Yan who have, on several occasions, experienced the drama of art symposiums.

Although they make their home in Hubbardton, VT, they have traveled throughout the world participating in art symposiums similar to the one they organized in Vermont. 

Jo Kley of Germany, standing next to the Verde Antique marble sculpture “Spirit of the Green Mountains,” Through their association with Peter and Yan, Bill and Barbara Carris who live in West Rutland wanted to create an art park on their open lands that would be free for public viewing.

The Town of West Rutland was formerly one of the centers of the world marble industry, lively with art and industry. 

“Rooster” created in scrap metal by Javier Astorga from Mexico.The artists invited to this small town in the heart of Rutland County created an artistic awakening that not only used Vermont’s natural resources but, in the end, seemed to blend so perfectly into the fabric of the landscape that it appears to have always been there.

Nine internationally known artists came together with only one purpose: to use their talents to create beauty.

This task is one that required cooperation, imagination and sweat. It also required immeasurable dedication to the project.  

A human figure emerges from a polished slab of Danby White Marble, carved by Liliya Pobornoikova from Bulgaria. The sculpture is titled “Dance.”Bill and Barbara Carris opened their guest house to the artists and provided them with everything they would need to complete their sculptures.

The two materials to be used were marble and metal. The white marble came from the Danby, VT quarry where the purest of white marble can be found.

Verde Antique green marble with its incredibly hard quality came from the Goldstone Marble Quarry in Cavendish, VT.

All of the metal came from a local metal supplier and scrap yard. It was up to the artists to decide what they would create from the raw materials as well as which medium they would choose.

The opening of the symposium was held on August 23, 2012 on the lawn next to the three story Carris home.

One could see the raw materials spread out at the rear of the house near a workshop that housed the tools that would be used.

There was also heavy equipment available to move stone and metal to the artists and ultimately to the final destination of the finished product.  

The closing day of the symposium was one month later on September 22. In retrospect, the accomplishments of just one month were miraculous.

On my first visit to the site, I observed a pile of scrap metal that was being pulled apart and reassembled a massive train engine by Guohua Xu of China.

White marble was taking shape, becoming a child-like figure leaning back with his head looking to the sky, created by Auyla Turan of Turkey, to an undulating piece of marble that resembled a wave, being crafted by Nando Alvarez from Spain.

There were three large blocks of stone that seemed to be the beginning of a woman’s body being carved from the Danby marble by Liliya Pobornikova from Bulgaria.   

As I approached the work area nearest the building, I saw a small bull that had been carved from Verde Antique marble by Joe Kley from Germany. 

The small sculpture was a representation of what he would be doing with the massive block that he had just begun to work on.  

I asked him how he decided what to carve from a block of stone this large.

He said, “I look at it and it tells me what is inside.”  However, he has found this project very difficult because this marble is extremely hard. 

Carving and shaping it is not easy, but the smaller sculpture ensures it can be done. As I was leaving, I looked back and saw a cloud of white dust rising around the work area.  

I returned to the work area the following week.

I was speechless when I took in all that had been accomplished in such a short period of time.

These artists were totally focused on their work, and yet they were happy to stop and explain what they were doing—how the project was progressing and to express how wonderful the Carris family had been to them.  

Javier Astorga from Mexico said he typically worked with stone but this time he was working in metal.

He had loved his introduction to Vermont so much that he was thinking of coming back in winter to see snow.

He is an architect by education and an artist by design. 

He had recently been in France working on a project there. Each of the artists had stories to tell; most let their art speak for them.  

The following day, the artists visited the Verde Antique marble quarry in Cavendish, VT. This gave them a well deserved break from their labors, and the chance to see one of Vermont’s raw treasures in the ground.

Among the beneficiaries of this project were local school children. They came to observe, to question and to enjoy. Many local artists also stopped by to monitor the progress being made by the guests.

Often they would literally “ooh and ahh” as they witnessed the projects taking shape.  

There were also businessmen, housewives and individuals just satisfying curiosity who came to watch.

Those of us who only saw the rock or the metal were totally wowed by the ability to create such wonders from what appears to be a blank space.

As impossible as it may seem, at the end of one month the West Rutland Art Park opened with a celebration.

On September 22, the sculptures were complete, having been moved to their final locations on the property where everyone had the opportunity to enjoy them at their leisure.

Bases were built and cranes moved the massive structures. The art park of Barbara Carris’ dream is still in its infancy.  However, that infancy is fantastically beautiful.  

Central Vermont has a rich tradition of marble and slate production. However, the marble industry has fallen on hard times in recent years.

The Vermont Marble Company in Proctor, Vermont was once among the most famous producers of marble, both structural and artistic, in the country if not the world. It is no more.  

Driving into the town of West Rutland, one is greeted by the school which is built of fine stone with a massive marble wall that identifies it.

Years ago that wall represented the industry where many of the breadwinners in town worked.  

High on a hill is St. Bridget’s Catholic Church that is also built from marble. Perhaps this gesture on the part of the Carris family will bring back that sense of pride in the bedrock of Vermont.

The artists participating in the International Sculpture Symposium: Bulgaria–Liliya Pobornikova; China–Guohua Xu; Germany–Joe Kley; Italy–Gheorghi Filin; Mexico–Javier Astorg;, Romania–Florin Strejac; Spain–Nando Alvarez; Spain–Xuxo; and Turkey–Ayla Turan.

I would hope that anyone traveling through Central Vermont would take a detour to West Rutland Art Park to see the beautiful sculptures.

In the meantime, do yourself a favor by visiting the W.R.A.P. website at You will be amazed.