Gov. Peter Shumlin's Portrait Is Unveiled
Vermont artist August Burns honored
Artist August Burns of Middlesex VT set out to paint the official portrait of Governor Peter Shumlin, working directly with her subject and with a series of photographs over many months. She got to know the governor, and somewhere in the process decided that she wanted to capture both "the vulnerability and belief in self . . .the inner strength that is universal to all people who step forward and try to make the world better."
Artist August Burns with the unveiled portrait of Shumlin
The portrait was unveiled this afternoon before an audience who had packed into the Executive Chamber of the Vermont State House; the ceremony followed Shumlin's farewell address to the legislature. Shumlin joked about the energy efficiency of the lighting used to illuminate the painting as he and his wife, Katie Hunt, removed the drape. In the painting, the governor appears with arms folded, head inclined forward, pensive.
It is the 81st official portrait of the governors of Vermont. The State House walls are filled with likenesses of recent and recognizable governors like Snelling, Kunin, Dean and Douglas. Others are of figures dating back to older times, their faces and names known best to Vermont historians.
A watchful and camera-wielding crowd. The portrait of a past governor on the wall behind is the largest one in the State House
Of the 81 portraits, only 14 have been painted by women, including one done in the 19th century. "Fourteen may seem like a lot," Burns noted in her remarks today, "but I have done the math. If only women were to paint portraits of the governors from now on, it would take about 200 years to reach parity."
Burns studied art in her youth, then detoured into a career as a midwife and women's health advocate. She is now a full-time artist whose work has been shown locally and across the country. Her portraits--and they are stunning--have garnered many awards. Examples of her work and more information about the artist can be found on her website.
Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge