Monday, December 16, 2013

Craig Pleasants resigns effective February 1st

Pleasants at work on his sculpture
in Auvillar, France, October 2013
Craig Pleasants announced this week that he will resign his position as VCCA’s Artistic Director effective February 1, 2014.  Craig and his wife Sheila came to VCCA from New York City in October 1989 to work at VCCA. They lived in the Studio Barn apartment for seventeen years with their three daughters, moving off the property in 2006.  Sheila will continue her work with VCCA as Director of Artists’ Services.

Pleasants said “I have loved this organization and the contact with the wonderful, brilliant people it has brought into my life, but it is time to move on to the next phase of my life.”

“I have several demanding art projects in the works, and, an art and design venture I started several years ago, has taken on some exciting new developments that now demand more of my time,” said Pleasants. “My sculpture practice has focused for many years on shelter and alternative methods of creating housing, and Sculptorhouse is developing a small, octagonal kit house, a hybrid between sculpture and architecture, that can be used as an artist’s studio, guest house, tiny house, or disaster housing. With advice from a venture-philanthropy concern, things have begun to percolate.”

Over his 24-year career at VCCA, Pleasants has built relationships with organizations, supporters, and artists including Cy Twombly and the Twombly Foundation, the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Cave Canem, and Riverviews Artspace.  His research and proposals also helped VCCA to secure the Governor’s Award for the Arts and the gift of the Moulin à Nef Studio Center in Auvillar, France, as well as over 3 million dollars in support for VCCA’s ongoing operations.
 Pleasants's Coeur de mon coeur  at Moulin à Nef in Auvillar, France
VCCA’s Executive Director Gregory Allgire Smith recognized and thanked Pleasants for his years of service and his “ideas, creativity, hard work, and dedication to both the VCCA and the artists it serves. In light of the void created by Craig’s resignation and the possible choices before the VCCA in the coming years, we will evaluate the duties of this position within the staff as a whole and will decide how to proceed after the December holidays.” 

The entire VCCA community wishes Craig the best of luck with his new projects.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Deadline extended for International Residency Program

Attention Fellows!

Getting into the holiday spirit, VCCA has extended the application deadline for International Residencies to December 31, 2013.  As long as your application is postmarked by the 31st, we will include it for review.

Why not take advantage of this opportunity to work abroad at one of our partner organizations in Austria, Malta, Germany, or Ireland or at the VCCA-France facility is picturesque Auvillar, France?

"My residency at Moulin à Nef could not have been a greater gift to my creative life...The special character of Auvillar and support of VCCA heightened for me the thrill of discovery...The sights alone gave me a lifetime of imagery and memories." 
-Meredith Fife Day on her residency in Auvillar.

Find the application for the program in Auvillar, France here.

"The staff and facilities were amazing. It was a once in a lifetime experience for me as an artist, incredibly productive also.  The castle is set in a beautiful part of the country and fascinating in itself. I would wholeheartedly encourage other VCCA Fellows to apply."
-Michele Schuff on her residency at Schloss Plüschow, Germany, in May 2013.

Find the application for the international exchange program here.

For more information about international programming, visit our website or email

top photo: Eglise St. Pierre, Auvillar, France
bottom photo: Schloss Plüschow, Plüschow, Germany

Monday, December 9, 2013

Helen Benedict is Finalist for Trust Women Journalist Award

Helen Benedict, VCCA Fellow, novelist, journalist, and Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, was named a finalist for the Trust Women Journalist Award, recognizing a journalist who has made a significant contribution to the coverage of women’s rights. This is the latest in several awards Benedict has won for exposing the epidemic of sexual violence in the military.
In 2012, she was given the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism and named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women's eNews.

In 2007, Benedict broke the story about the epidemic of sexual violence in the military, for which she won The James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Her prize-winning book, “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq” brought about the 2011 class action suit against the U.S. Pentagon on behalf of military women who were sexually assaulted while serving, and inspired the Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Invisible War.” 

Her novel, “Sand Queen” was one of the first to give voice to both Iraqis and women soldiers. She is continuing this story in her current work in progress.
Benedict’s latest nomination recognizes her influence and achievement in the important work being done by journalists on behalf of women.

Benedict has been in residence at VCCA in Virginia a number of times.  She has also been in residence at VCCA’s Moulin à Nef Studio Center in Auvillar, France, and at the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland through VCCA’s exchange program.  Of her novel “Sand Queen” and her time at VCCA in Virginia and Auvillar, she says: “I wrote much of this novel in these exquisite places, with a concentration impossible to achieve elsewhere."

Benedict serves as a Fellows Representative to the VCCA Campaign Cabinet along with Fellows Heidi Kumao, Eric Moe, and Stephen O’Connor.
photo credit: Richard Wolinsky