The Beyond the Curve: American Abenaki COVID Experience exhibition is hanging at Mad River Valley Arts gallery in Waitsfield through January 6, 2024. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. This exhibition, curated by Vera Longtoe Sheehan, explores the resilience, cultural practices, and community responses of the Abenaki people during the global pandemic.




Beyond the Curve is a narrative woven from the experiences and artistic expressions of American Abenaki people and gathered through the Abenaki Storytelling Project. Initiated by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA), this community-based art project aims to support strength and resiliency in the Abenaki community. “Through the Abenaki Storytelling Project, we developed an auto-history about the impact of COVID-19 on the Abenaki community and opportunities to improve health care disparities and access issues,” said Sheehan. “And now, we have a chance to share this part of our history more broadly with the public.”

In March 2020, the world stood still as businesses and schools around the world closed in response to the global pandemic. Broadcast media, health and government officials repeated the daily mantra Flatten the Curve. Throughout the dark times that followed, Abenaki and other native American artists, musicians, and community members expressed the impact of the pandemic on themselves and their community through storytelling, visual arts, and writing.

The stories and artwork in this exhibit were gathered by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association through the Abenaki Storytelling Project to create an auto-history of the Native American Community in Vermont and the surrounding environs.

When Beyond the Curve opened at Mad River Valley Arts on October 21, 2023, the opening reception featured a gallery talk with deputy project manager and LCMM curator emerita Eloise Beil. In November exhibit curator and VAAA director Sheehan will present a comprehensive curatorial discussion about the exhibit and the Abenaki Storytelling Project, supported by the Vermont Department of Health.

Following its run at Mad River Arts, "Beyond the Curve" will embark on a journey as a traveling exhibition in 2024, reaching a broader audience and continuing the dialogue on resilience, community, and culture. Additional information about the traveling exhibition, artists, and the Abenaki Storytelling Project will continue to grow on the exhibition website