University of Maine at Farmington art professor Barbara Sullivan, of Solon, has been awarded a fellowship by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, one of the nation’s largest year-round artists’ communities.

A nonprofit organization founded in 1971, the center, set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is supported mostly by grants and private donations.

“I’m honored to be included with my peers,” Sullivan, 66, said Thursday. “One of the things I’m excited about is there are writers, composers, filmmakers — it’s a big genre of art. I think it will be very inspiring. It will be the first residency that I’ve done that will not be in New England.”

Sullivan, a drawing and fresco painter, will be among about 25 fellows focusing on their own creative projects at the working retreat. Her residency will be for three weeks beginning in late December, during the UMF semester break.

Dana Jones, admissions and data base coordinator at the Virginia arts center, said artists apply for admission for three separate scheduling periods. Jones said there is some publicity for the fellowships, but most of the applicants come through word of mouth and listings in art publications.

“Everyone has to go through the same application process,” she said. “Work has to be reviewed and recommendation letters have to be sent to be reviewed by a panel of peers. The quality of her work is how she was selected.”

Jones said programs at the center are competitive and only about a third of applicants are accepted.

“We’re an internationally known artist community and one of the largest in the country,” she said.

Each artist during the residency is provided with a private bedroom and studio and three prepared meals a day. Beyond the breakfast hour and the dinner hour, there are no schedules or obligations, according to an arts center news release. This distraction-free atmosphere, as well as the energy that results from having some 25 visual artists, writers and composers gathered in one place, enables artists to be highly productive.

Fellows have received worldwide attention through publications, exhibitions, compositions, performances, and major awards and accolades, including MacArthur grants, Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim fellowships and others.

Sullivan was born in Skowhegan and went to high school at Coburn Classical Institute in Waterville. After her undergraduate work, Sullivan received degrees in creative writing and art at UMF. She has a master’s degree in fine art from Vermont College.

Sullivan’s work can be seen at the Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland.

Sullivan said she was inspired to do residencies when she was the cook for eight summers at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, which offers a nine-week residency program for artists from all over the world.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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