Caribbean Workshop at Middlebury College

An exciting and innovative workshop took place at

Middlebury College recently in conjunction with the exhibition

running at the College’s Museum of Art, Caribbean Visions:

Contemporary Painting and Sculpture.

The initial workshop held for teachers in January,

and the ongoing workshops throughout the winter months for the

teachers and their students from elementary through high school

levels, “was wonderful,” according to Sandi Olivo, curator

for education at the Museum of Art, who spearheaded the project.

This was her third annual school program on special exhibitions.

“It included different components such as workshops and

research materials. We prepared the teachers first with detailed

background on the exhibit so they could relate it to their students.”

Many of the students read essays, stories, and poetry about the

Caribbean before visiting, and were well versed on its history,

demographics, and the impact of Christopher Columbus on the region.

“This is a wonderful resource,” commented Paula Bellerose,

a teacher at Middlebury Junior High School, as her English class

viewed the exhibit. The annual programs have been a way of reaching

the community and discovering how the museum can better serve


The initial workshop also held some very special

events. There was a talk by Miriam Basillo, doctoral candidate

at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, a concert

of music from Puerto Rico by Carlos Velez-Blasini, assistant professor

of psychology at Middlebury College, storytelling by Dolores Sandoval,

associate professor of education at the University of Vermont,

and a special panel presentation by four Caribbean students attending

Middlebury College.

“It was fun,” said Suzanne Minott ‘99,

a native of Jamaica and a math/Spanish major. “I learned

more about other Caribbean countries. It is not just a tourist

area. I was excited about being on the panel, too. We got into

politics and education.” Ms. Minott further explained that

Jamaica is an agrarian country and not everyone gets to go to

high school, but to supplementary schools. “The education

at the high school level in Jamaica is of good quality,”

she said. “It’s rigorous.” About the panel discussion,

Ms. Minott noted “We had them laughing. Someone in the audience

asked, ‘Does the sun shine all the time in Jamaica?’ ‘Not at

night,’ we responded.”

The museum has 15 College students who serve as voluntary

assistants. “They’re excited,” said Ms. Olivo. “They’re

wonderful students.” Many are interested in pursuing careers

in art and art history. Many people in the community also work

for the museum, as well as members of Friends of Art. A number

of the museum assistants also study in Middlebury’s teacher education

program and visit the schools involved in the teacher workshops.

There is a big crossover of talent and great opportunities for

different professional experiences for the students.

(NOTE: For more info on the exhibit, Caribbean

Visions: Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, see also the

“Visions” article, of January 20, 1997, below.)