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Dear Snow Farm Community,
This year is filled with a whole lot of “lasts.” This letter will be my last ‘letter from the Director’, and to be honest, I haven’t kept up with them very well, and I should have because there is so much to say about Snow Farm. In my final letter, I want to tell you my Snow Farm story and share with you what Snow Farm means to me. I know this wonderful program means different things to different people. I have never been a student here, and I have never taught a class - my Snow Farm experience is solely from an administrative perspective.
When I was hired by Jane Sinauer, founder of Horizons: The New England Craft Program, in November of 1994, I knew nothing about the studio craft and art world. I can’t even tell you how many phone calls I bluffed my way through that first year. I would literally re-word the class description as I tried to explain the content of a class to a prospective student. I learned on the fly, soaked in as much as I could, and I eventually understood a great deal about every medium we offer. For a few years, along with my administrative duties, I worked on weekends in the kitchen and then I became the “linen lady” dealing with the dorm linens for each group that came in. I loved doing those extra jobs and the knowledge I gained was invaluable. I learned it takes a lot of people pulling together in a great effort to make everything we do and accomplish at Snow Farm appear seamless.
In 2001, when Mary Colwell stepped in to save Snow Farm from potentially becoming a facility other than a Craft Program, she brought the existing administrative staff on board to keep Snow Farm running just as it had for the previous 15 years. Mary brought her trademark warmth and enthusiasm along with her deep passion for Snow Farm. She always referred to Snow Farm as magical. She was right.
In 2009, I became Director of Snow Farm and took on the challenge of protecting and preserving this Program. A business does not exist and thrive because of one person, and although I may be the “face” of Snow Farm, it is the office staff, kitchen staff, cleaning staff and Board of Directors that are the pulse of Snow Farm. It is my privilege to work with a team of dedicated people who care very deeply about the experience of each student and instructor.
Last year I began feeling the weight of putting Snow Farm first in my life, and I also started honestly looking at what Snow Farm needs to ensure its growth and longevity. I came to the conclusion that Snow Farm needs someone who is passionate about fundraising and grant writing, and who has fresh eyes to look at future programming. I also realized I need to downsize my work schedule and make more time in my life for family, friends, and activities that I have pushed aside.
Leaving Snow Farm, my second home, is going to be one of the most difficult achievements of my life. I don’t have words to express how much this Craft Program has meant to me and it truly will be an achievement to walk away from a job and a community I love. When I began working at Horizons: The New England Craft Program I was in my 30’s and still had a child in high school. That child is now in her 30’s. In many ways I have grown up here - sharing my life events with co-workers, students and instructors. I have been honored to work with some of the most talented, loving, and funny people on earth. The artists who openly share their gift with their students have taught me about creativity, passion, dedication, selflessness, humility, and patience. The students, who come to Snow Farm, ranging in age from 13 to 90, have taught me about bravery, persistence, comradery, compassion, and spirit.
Last week, I watched a demo by artist Ed Branson in the glassblowing studio. He was making a huge glass vase and half of his class was actively engaged in helping to create this amazing piece of art. The other half of the class, with cameras and phones in hand, bent and shifted to capture the incredible and spontaneously choreographed dance.
As I watched Ed direct his team of student creators, and seeing the intense focus of his students as they realized that right then, in that moment, they were part of something awesome, brought a flood of emotion. It is then – when creativity is at its most powerful – I understand exactly how art is transformative and how important Snow Farm is. I will miss those moments.
Thank you for giving me an amazing 19 years and for allowing me to be a small part of your creative lives. Snow Farm really is a magical place, and who knows, maybe you will be seeing me in a class!
Karen Totman, Executive Director