The storytelling seafarer atop his roving turtle. The most creative oceangoing ride you'll ever see. (Large-scale sculpture of polymer clay, paper clay, fiber, glass and wire by Anna Hranovska Vincelette.)

Sculpture: A Lost Art, Found!


Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Dave Celone

Artist Anna in White River Junction Teaches Again

You may have seen her work.  Large scale.  Fantastic.  Dragons birthing babies, turtles with seafaring sailors riding atop them, blue women riding gondolas atop waves of antique musical scores, babies born to green-haired women — all beyond this realm, making their occasional appearances at places like Tip Top Pottery, ArtisTree in South Pomfret, and now inhabiting their present home of Long River Gallery & Gifts in White River Junction, VT.  People marvel at the impeccable detail, at the phantasmagoric imagery and stylistic whimsy of her sculpture pieces, and at the brilliant creative mind and fingers behind their creation.  

From St. Petersburg, with love. A beautiful-clad sculpture of a university student celebrating her final day of exams during the annual "White Night" celebration in this Russian city known as "the Venice of the north."

Anna Hranovska Vincelette is back teaching the finer points of sculpture again. From Moscow to Vermont, Anna's talents never cease to amaze, and her students love her ease and grace, as well as her flexibility as a mentor and teacher. Her soft, eastern-European accent is luscious and wonderfully soothing. It draws us into her world of fantasy as she teaches sculpture with years of practiced ease. Today, she's teaching three women how to form Forest Fairy Spirits out of polymer clay, a low-fire clay that's a great way to learn. There are heads, limbs, eyes, and swatches of colorful paint all over the workshop tables in the far back room of the gallery space. Three students and Anna are all having a ball, talking, crafting, laughing, yet the learning is ongoing and they all feel it inserting itself into them as their creative muscles grow. Some may think this a luxury, but those who know, realize this kind of creative stuff is the stuff of necessity. It makes life a worthy endeavor, and a fun and happy one at that!   

Anna, 3rd from left, with students in her recent polymer clay sculpting class at Long River Gallery & Gifts workshop space in White River Junction, VT.

Anna has been teaching at Tip Top Pottery in White River Junction for years, and she has had many hundreds of students who love her style. What many of her students never realize is that Anna, herself, is a world-class sculptor who can not only create, but also teach polymer clay sculpting to just about anyone. She prefers to teach people who are interested in art, and who have some artistic ability, but not without exception. Anna, when asked about her favorite type if student, smiles and exclaims, "Well, point is, if they are interested in learning, then I am interested in teaching. There are no bad students, only good learners!" And that about sums up her positively optimistic teaching style.  

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"Women," she is overheard to say in her most recent sculpting class, "I am here for you. Always. Please don't wait for me to ask if you need help. You ask me always and often. I will serve you and teach you. Ask me anything, any time, all the time."  When Anna teaches, she's fully immersed in what her students are doing. Her small (maximum  of four students) classes are by design so she can focus closely on what each person is doing. Any larger than that and students will need to be beyond beginners. Hers is a high-touch style of teaching.  And her sculpting shows how her high-touch attention to detail influences her work and the work her students create, too.

A student show off the head of her forest fairy spirit creature. Each student designs their own. No two will ever be alike.

Anna may be reached in a host of ways, but the best place to find her is at Long River Gallery & Gifts where she's the Artist in Residence.  Find her most evenings from 6 - 10 pm at the gallery in White River Junction at 49 So. Main St. next to The Hotel Coolidge where she works hand-building clay sculpture pieces, from turtles and gargoyles, to fish and fairies.  Many of her pieces have hidden faces, and hidden storage compartments. Anna's is a world of secrets, yet they are secrets she'll share with most anyone who has an abiding interest in creating art.

Many tell Anna she should be in New York City.  Her response?  "New York should come here and find me."  This is all due to her great love of the outdoors and the Upper Valley.  Dating back to her early childhood in the Ukraine, Anna and her family would go into the woods to hunt for mushrooms and wild edibles. Anna is still very eager to show people how to find edibles in the woods around the Upper Valley, and she really loves these woods.  She hopes to lead more mushroom walks this coming summer, and she's actively looking for groups to sign up. "The time," she claims, "is near."  She expects this to be a great year for mushrooms because last year's drought will lead to a wetter weather cycle this year. Anna seems somehow to know what nature will bring from some inner force that guides her.  I've been on mushroom walks with Anna and she's the best at finding hidden troves of mushrooms I've ever followed around in the woods.

A student shows off her new piece. Many more layers of paint, plus attaching its wings and head, will finish it off to her satisfaction.

When I ask Anna about her next workshop, she tells me, "Turtles. All people love turtles. I'd like to teach people how to sculpt turtles." For information about Anna and her upcoming polymer clay sculpting workshop schedule, please send an email to art@longrivergallery.com.   

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