Stone Valley Arts is a 501(c)3 non-profit community arts organization which began in 2013 as a response to community needs as part of the Poultney 2020 revitalization movement. Dedicated residents came together to launch SVA, and in turn received official non-profit status on July 23, 2014.
The purpose of Stone Valley Arts is to provide classes, workshops, presentations, and events in the visual, performing and literary arts for all ages and levels of experience. Our goal is to inspire interest, participation and provide enjoyment, enriching the quality of life in the region by integrating the arts into the fabric of the community.
Meet Our Executive/Artistic Director
Erika has been a member of the board for five years and has served as president of the board for two of those years. Jim Lowe, arts editor at The Rutland Herald and The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, commented “Erika has long been one of the movers and shakers in Vermont arts. She is responsible for so much innovation in dance and visual arts in particular, but also in music with her husband, composer and pianist Gary Schmidt. Erika is one of the real leaders in Vermont arts.”
In her own right, Erika is an accomplished visual and performing artist. Her education includes an M.F.A. from the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. and Post Baccalaureate studies from the School of the Chicago Art Institute, Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and the Anderson Arts Ranch in Colorado. Erika exhibits her work in printmaking and collage throughout New England and the U.S. and has been represented in numerous art museum and gallery shows and at art fairs including Art Chicago and Art Hamptons. Her work has been included in several art books and publications including New American Paintings, Strange Glue, and Collage Journeys.
Erika also brings vast knowledge and experience in the world of contemporary dance, as a choreographer, performer, and teacher. Her dance training began in Chicago followed by a professional career in Florida for 25 years before relocating to Vermont in 2008. Since 2008 she has choreographed over 25 major original dance works that have been produced in Vermont and beyond. Erika has been the choreographer for numerous musical theater productions for academic and regional theater companies throughout the state of Vermont. She is the originator and producer of DanceFest Vermont! While pursuing her MFA at the U. of South Florida, Erika founded Vital Spark Performance Art Group (now Vital Spark North) a performance ensemble that has taken her projects to San Fransisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., Miami as well as abroad to Cecena, Italy, Barcelona, Spain, Guanghan, China and Prague, Czech Republic.
While her career encompasses both visual and performing arts, in her words “ working in multiple disciplines is not to be seen as separate or detached endeavors, rather a testament to creating and understanding our world as a complex, integrated and interdependent system of parts, each part informing the other. My work has been a continuous process of interweaving chosen mediums to best fit an idea, intention or expression, which can include projects of art activism and community engagement.”
“I have had the good fortune to be a creative learner and participant in the worlds of art, music, theater, and dance and I fully understand the vitality and balance it brings to individuals and community. I am dedicated to possibilities. I am dedicated to the belief that all people deserve creative opportunities and experiences. Stone Valley Arts has many important tasks and decisions before us. Now is an opportune time to offer more, inspire more, invite, include and expand our spectrum of art experiences. Cultural shifts matter. We begin with initiation. Initiation is what happens when you start something out of nothing, break the pattern, launch the new thing and take a leap.”
Erika brings a wealth of experience and ideas to Stone Valley Arts and we look forward to the leadership and enthusiasm that she will bring to Poultney and the neighboring communities in the coming years.