Arts & Leisure

The Animals Are Innocent: New Sheldon exhibit

“THE MESSENGER,” 2019 by Dana Simson

MIDDLEBURY —The Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury presents “The Animals Are Innocent,”  a mixed media/ceramic exhibit of colorful, boat sculptures and paintings, both featuring animals, by Maryland artist, ceramist, author, and illustrator Dana Simson. The exhibit opens on Tuesday, Sept. 20 and will remain on view through Jan. 11, 2020.  A reception will be held on Friday, Sept. 27, from 5-7 p.m., at the Sheldon Museum.
Simson’s goal through her art is to show animals are losing both habitat and food sources, suffering the man-made effects of pollution and wilderness encroachment, and are imperiled by fossil-fuel enhanced climate change.  As a result, too many species are nearing extinction.
The series of ceramic toy boats on wheels made of ceramic and mixed materials have animals as passengers. Whether Lake Champlain, the Chesapeake Bay, or any body of water, animals are impacted by rising water levels worldwide. Simpson’s hope is that visitors will be drawn to the playful quality of her folk art creations to confirm or reinforce the established scholarship on climate change.
Simson is a dedicated artist and environmentalist.  Her engaging imagery has been licensed in fabric, rugs, stationary, home decor, gift items, and tabletops. She has published 18 books, including five children’s picture books, gift books, a pop-up book and her latest, “Come Together,” an invitation for retooling individual daily actions for a greener future.
Her artwork has been featured in many national magazines, placed in TV shows and Hollywood movies, including Titanic. Simpson’s award-winning fine art ceramics and paintings are in the collections of several museums.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the Sheldon will present an afternoon cruise along the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 3-4 p.m., leaving from Basin Harbor Marina. Thomas Rogers from The Nature Conservancy will join the cruise and present a brief talk about how climate change has affected fish and wildlife in Vermont. Tickets are $50 per person and includes one complementary drink. Space is limited, call the Sheldon Museum for more information.
Museum hours: Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays (through Oct. 13) 12-4 p.m.; Research Center hours: Thurs. and Fri. 1-5 p.m. Admission to the Museum is $5 for adults; $3 for youth (6-18); $4.50 for seniors; $12 per family; $5 to access the research center. For more information call (802) 388-2117 or visit

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