WEST RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — At first it looks like a cigarette. Or maybe a smudge from the stubbed out lit end of one. But the longer you look at it, the more it changes. Now maybe it's a messy ink thumbprint.

It's called "Sorry Smear," the home page image on artist Sayward Schoonmaker's website. Its subtlety is completely captivating, like the rest of her work, all of which I can't say that I totally get, but it still spoke to me.

A giant "Maybe!" on an otherwise blank wall. Or "Oh no I'm not falling for that" written across another wall in all-caps, canceled out with a line through it. Schoonmaker is one of the voices in a group of artists offering a wide range of art for SculptFest 2018 at West Rutland's Carving Studio and Sculpture Center. The opening reception is 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8.

This year's theme, "Interdependence," was chosen by guest curator Alisa Dworsky, an artist and architectural designer who lives and works in Montpelier.

Dworsky was interested in the concept of interdependence as a lens to understand relationships of all kinds — between people, industries, structural components, even abstract forms. "The interaction between two or more elements for the benefit of all, a state of mutual support."

"I love the opportunity to articulate a theme and see what kind of work artists create in response," Dworsky said by phone recently. "That's very exciting as a curator. It's a little different from curating based on a theme by collecting already existing works."

In her call for submissions, Dworsky encouraged artists to think broadly and across disciplines, which is reflected in the show. The range of media submitted includes sculpture, a sound installation, video art and a performance-based piece, among others.

"It's quite varied in how people responded," Dworsky said. "Which is exciting to me. And I was definitely thinking about assembling an exhibition in which there was as much variety in terms of media and approaches."

Artist Amy Königbauer's performance-based piece, which will take place at the Sept. 8 opening reception, is a literal take on the theme, placing pairs of people in a contained sheath of stretched fabric.

"They're moving in relationship to each other and the fabric supports them structurally," Dworsky explained. "So they can both move, but still be supported within this fabric structure."

Nathaniel Lieb, an installation artist, is creating a new version of work he's been doing for years, "pod pieces, where he creates a kind of closure," Dworsky said.

"He starts on the inside and encloses himself in this pod that he constructs over two or three days," Dworsky said. "For this piece, which I think is going to be really exciting, he's working with a local dancer and they're going to make two pods that intersect."

Charles Hickey's piece is sound-based. "Echo Quarry" was influenced by church choral arrangements, and looks at how sound is impacted and affected.

"It's a performance that a few people at a time will be able to view and hear," said Carol Driscoll, the Carving Studio's executive director. "It utilizes a quarry opening with choral music and echoes from the tunnels."

And poet and visual artist Sayward Schoonmaker creates "a lot of very text-based work," Dworsky said. "She's doing a fabric banner that's a play on the inversion of the words me and we."

"'We / Me' is a sewn nylon banner approximately 5 feet high by 29 feet long that hangs between two stanchions of the old crane," Schoonmaker said by email. "The word 'We' stitched at one end of the banner transforms with a single flip of the fabric to the word 'Me' stitched on the other end. A visual play of how our identities are individually and collectively formed."

"But in all cases I'm not going to be seeing the finished works until they're installed," Dworsky said. "Which is the nature of this kind of exhibition. People make a written and sketched proposal but the work is created for the exhibit. It's a wonderful opportunity to interact with these talented and thoughtful artists. I love that about curating."

Carving Studio & Sculpture Center

The Carving Studio & Sculpture Center presents "Sculptfest 2018: Interdependence," work by 10 artists guest curated by Alisa Dworsky, Sept. 8-Oct. 22, at the center's campus, 636 Marble St., West Rutland. Gallery hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday, or by appointment; call 802-438-2097, or go online to www.carvingstudio.org.

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Online: https://bit.ly/2LVmHkV

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Information from: Rutland Herald, http://www.rutlandherald.com/