One of the overlooked aspects of this project is that it is not just about the future of Vermont as it relates to social issues, it is also about the future of Vermont art and redefining what it means to be a Vermont artist.
Way back at the beginning of this odyssey, when I was thrashing around for an idea for a project, I read most of Paul Searls' "Two Vermonts". He says that practically since its inception Vermont has been idealized as a place where the pre-modern and the progressive world live in harmonic balance and that this image of Vermont really gained traction in the late 19th century as Americans began to feel uneasy with their increasingly industrialized existence.
When I read that I finally understood why I live in Vermont and why I am a Vermont artist: I have always had "an uneasy relationship with modernity", to quote Searls; in my work I continually try to find a balance between the pre-modern and the modern. Like a 19th century Vermont tourist I want to believe that these opposing forces can be reconciled.
When I first looked at the other finalists' work (about ten seconds after finding out I was a finalist) I was struck by the fact that virtually everybody was a realist and had a narrative aspect to their work - yet the work looked contemporary and modern - the Vermont balance.
"It's not all about you" is a phrase I hear often these days; usually it is a sound reminder not to take myself too seriously - but I think the finalists might want to consider that a significant part of this project is indeed about them.