2021 Fresh Voices Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 Fresh Voices Winners!

Enjoy reading more about these talented students. Then, please join us at Hill-Stead on June 23, 2021, for Young Poets Day to experience their poetry in person. These impressive poets will open for author and award-winning national poet Chen Chen!


Eve Brouillard is currently a senior at Rockville High School, the trumpet section leader of the marching band, and a Humanities scholar.  Eve spends a lot of time reading and writing, as well as creating more stories with friends through Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop games.  They love to seek inspiration by walking through outdoor trails as well as museums, taking photos along the way.  Eve won an honorable mention in the 2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Contest and had two works published in the Connecticut Student Writer 2020 magazine.  This year, they received the gold key in the Scholastic Awards for poetry.  In the future, Eve hopes to continue writing and publishing their original poetry.

Nora Holmes is a rising senior at Hall High School where she also runs track and cross country. She has been recognized by NCTE, The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The New York Times, and the Connecticut Student Writers project. When she is not writing or running, you can find her laughing at her own jokes and starting debates in her history classes. 

JaMara “Mara” Jean is a rising senior who currently attends The Westover School. Mara has been writing poetry since she was in the 5th grade. During some time in the 7th grade, Mara was handpicked by a teacher to write, memorize, and perform at a Slam Poetry Show. When she began high school, she took part in her first production ever, Much Ado About Nothing. Since then, she’s acted in seven productions at her school and is currently the First Drama Head. She can thank her theatrical knowledge and ability to the many productions she has been in thus far and her poetic ability to both her teacher in 7th grade who encouraged her to write slam poetry and Thomas Juvan, who taught her everything she has learned about poetry at Westover. 

Valli Pendyala is a sophomore at South Windsor High School. She is a member of her school’s mock trial and Model United Nations teams, and she is the president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance. Valli is also a member of South Windsor Future Leaders in Politics. Over the summer, Valli plans to attend the National Student Leadership Conference Political Action & Public Policy program. Valli is passionate about participating in the political process and advocating for issues she is passionate about, both locally and nationally. In her spare time, Valli enjoys reading, spending time with her sister, and learning about history. She is currently working for her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts, and has previously earned her Silver Award. Valli plans to major in political science and economics.

Cindy Truong is a senior at Platt High School in Meriden and the Educational Center for the Arts, where she studies creative writing. She will be attending New York University this upcoming fall and plans to major in English. Cindy finds inspiration in her Vietnamese heritage and culture along with her Vietnamese-American experience. She’d like to give her biggest gratitude to her teachers and workshop at ECA, for being the place that nurtured her and allowed her to find her voice.

Virtual Programs at Hill-Stead

Hill-Stead is pleased to offer brand-new virtual programs for all learning levels–kindergarten through college.

Recent programs include everything from a 300-person session to highly customized tours to meet specific curriculum goals.

This winter, Hill-Stead welcomed 300 Metropolitan Museum of Art volunteers for a virtual tour. The Manhattan-based group is part of the VX Volunteer Enrichment Committee in cooperation with the Met’s Volunteer Organization.

Hill-Stead’s team came together to create a thoughtful and thorough virtual tour. Director of Education Kate Ebner created a slideshow and served as the program’s host. After greeting everyone, she provided an introduction. She then turned the program over to Curator Melanie Bourbeau, who led a fascinating discussion on Mr. Pope’s collecting practices.

Dr. Anna Swinbourne provided a deeper dive into the collection and shared her expertise on French Impressionism. Ms. Bourbeau concluded the tour with a closer look at Mary Cassatt’s painting and a brief history of her friendship with Theodate, as well as her consultations with Mr. Pope on buying art. The concluding slides also provided a glimpse of the gorgeous grounds, the farm complex, the Beatrix Farrand-designed Sunken Garden, and extensive walking trails.

Of the virtual tour, Judy Winzemer, Chair of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Visitor Experience Enrichment Committee said: “I want to add to the chorus of kudos you received from the Zoom Chat by thanking you for your outstanding presentation. We had a maximum of 302 attendees—nearly the largest number we have ever had for an event. Hill-Stead is such a unique and special place. You did a superb job conveying its history – the people, the home, and the art.”

On a more intimate scale, Hill-Stead’s Director of Education Kate Ebner provided a virtual tour for a Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) art class.  Fifteen students from Art 491: Aesthetic and Critical Dialogue class attended the virtual presentation. Professor Broadus-Garcia, Associate Professor of Art Education, has brought her students to Hill-Stead Museum for many years. Ms. Ebner shared highlights from the painting collection, including contextual details as well as a thorough examination of the formal elements of the compositions. Afterward, the class had an in-depth discussion about Monet’s Grainstacks White Frost Effects, 1889.

Please contact Kate Ebner, Director of Hill-Stead’s education@hillstead.org (860-677-4787 ext. 136 or education@hillstead.org). Our goal is to supplement and enhance your learning goals for classrooms large and small (kindergarten through college)! The Museum is happy to accommodate virtual and in-person tours including vibrant outdoor sessions on our 152-acre grounds.

The Unwavering Power of Art

Maggie Foster best describes the indelible impact of an authentic experience at Hill-Stead.

Dancers in Pink, Edgar Degas

She toured the Museum nearly 25 years ago and never forgot it.

”I visited your museum in the mid-nineties when I was 16. Seeing Dancers in Pink by Edgar Degas was one of those life-changing moments. Unfortunately, I lost the museum shop memento I purchased back then and couldn’t recall the museum’s name. Twenty-four years later, I mentioned my quest during a conversation with a client since she lived in the Hartford area. She found you after a quick Google search, and here I am. I am wondering if the museum still has a store that I can purchase a print? I would love to see a version of this vital art to be in my life again.”

Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Hill-Stead’s Executive Director & CEO, was so moved that she went above and beyond to gift Ms. Foster with a poster of Dancers in Pink. In a genuine team effort, Hill-Stead Educator Rachel Cutler mobilized to have a poster created to fulfill her request. Dr. Swinbourne personally brought it to the UPS Store in the heat of pre-holiday, pandemic-era shipping madness to fulfill Ms. Foster’s dream.

Dr. Swinbourne said, “We were thrilled to help Ms. Foster realize her long-term and devoted quest. In doing so, it reinforced my own deeply held belief in the magical power of art.”

We are happy to report that the piece arrived safely and now resides at Ms. Foster’s home in the Midwest. She had the work custom framed, and it now hangs in a place of honor above her bed.

The poster is pictured here, along with Ms. Foster’s beloved puppy, Osito.

February Marks a Special Month for Hill-Stead

By Kate Ebner

February marks the birth month of our founder and architect, Theodate Pope Riddle (b. 2/02/1867). However, we did not always know her actual birthdate—the grave marker and death certificate list her birth year as 1868. For the first few decades of the Museum’s opening, the Hill-Stead story began with Theodate’s birthday as February 2, 1868.  It was not until years later that we learned her actual birthdate.

The Pope family bible, which served as a record keeper; and which was collected by Polly (Pasternak) Huntington and Sandra Wheeler while establishing the Museum’s archives in the 1980s, notes Theodate’s correct birth year, 1867, as well as her birth-given name, Effie. This led to a search for other documents with her recorded birthdates. At least four of which include Theodate’s signed testimony as having been born in 1877!

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Alfred Pope, the Collector

By Melanie Bourbeau

Hill-Stead Museum, in Farmington, Connecticut, was formed in 1946 (officially opening to the public in April 1947), when Alfred Atmore Pope’s daughter bequeathed the entirety of the household, including her father’s unparalleled collection of paintings. During Pope’s active collecting years (1889-1907) he amassed some 40+ works of art, the vast majority of which were French Impressionist. Due to Pope’s ​careful pruning through ​sales and exchanges, ​in order to retain only those works that elicited a profound emotional reaction, and his daughter’s subsequent dispositions, only a small fraction—albeit perhaps some of the finest—are part of the collection today.

Pope, born on July 4, 1842, hailed from modest means. He was the son of a Quaker woolen mill operator. After working alongside his father and two brothers for several years, he came to the realization this was not the life he envisioned for himself. He secured his release from the family’s business obligations and borrowed funds to invest as an officer in the Cleveland Malleable Iron Company, a manufactory then specializing in agricultural-related products. Within a short time, and by the age of 37, he was appointed President of the company remaining at the helm until his death in 1913. He oversaw operations as the company grew exponentially with the advent of railroad expansion that resulted in development of an automatic coupling device, just one of many designs produced nationally.

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“Volume of Light (Hill-Stead)”

Purchase of Artist Fritz Horstman’s Sculpture Supports Hill-Stead

Fritz Horstman’s sculpture, The Volume of Light (Hill-Stead), depicts the sunlight cast through the windows and doors of Hill-Stead Museum. It has been on view as part of Wadsworth Atheneum’s exhibition, Made in Connecticut, which runs until February 7. A Hill-Stead neighbor and art collector has graciously purchased the piece, which was part of Hill-Stead’s recent benefit auction to support the treasured cultural institution.

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Communicating with the Spirts on Grating the Nutmeg

Kicking off 2021 with a new episode of Grating the Nutmeg on Hill-Stead founder Theodate Pope and her fascination with Spiritualism.

Please tune in to hear a lovely podcast with our curator Melanie Bourbeau and Mary M. Donohue, Assistant Publisher of Connecticut Explored.

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