Artist Testimonial

How many of us, I wonder, have struggled to take ourselves seriously before experiencing an art colony like VCCA? How many of us, especially when we are starting out, are filled with guilt at our own audacity, ready to talk ourselves out of whatever dream we are trying to pursue?

After all, the world doesn’t much care for artists.  It tells us all the time that we are expendable. It even teaches us to tell ourselves the same.

Not at VCCA. There, everyone takes it for granted that everyone else is serious, dedicated, adult; a true artist. Respect for one another’s time and peace is paramount.

I wrote much of my first novel at VCCA. And, over the years, my second, third, fourth and fifth, too. Bolstered by the dedication of the other artists around me, by the scent of jasmine on summer nights, the fleshy magnolias, sad-eye cows, the blue-pink of sunsets over the mountains, I was inspired to sink entirely into my work, sometimes for nine or ten hours a day.

Life slows down at VCCA, the way it does when one is in love. Every petal is noticed, every mockingbird in a tree, cardinal at the feeder. The chickory lining the fences in summer, the pools of golden leaves under the ginko in the fall. The train calling out its lonely announcement. The pool rippling under the moon.

All this soothes, nurtures, inspires.

Art colonies are not mere luxuries. They are democratic, gentle institutions that value art and the process of creating art above all else. The wonderful staff at VCCA understand something too few Americans do: we need art to learn how to live. We need art to feel.

Thank you VCCA.

Please join me in supporting this essential institution so that it can continue to support and nurture the artists, writers and composers of the future.

--Helen Benedict