Meet our Fall 2017 Intern Artists!


The final four interns of 2017 are here! Jonathan Forrence, Angela St. Vrain, Samantha Rathbun, and Jordan Olsen have settled in to the house and on to the work pad, and they have begun creating new large-scale sculptures to be installed here at Franconia.

Fall is our longest intern term here at the park, spanning three months. Each intern group has its own mixture of personalities, its own special events and programs to support, and its own weather and environmental factors – we are an outdoor sculpture park after all! They’ve already done a phenomenal job bringing in the fall harvest from our gardens, teaching two Kids Make Sculpture workshops, guiding several tours, staffing our final Music@Franconia concert drawing over 1,000 visitors, and we’re gearing up to host our annual Art & Artists Celebration September 23rd.  Meet the close-knit crew here to help the park cool down into the fall, and be sure to stop by the work pad to ask about their sculptures next time you visit!




Angela St. Vrain

Hometown: Waynesville, NC
Education:  BFA in Sculpture, University of Louisville

How did you hear about Franconia Sculpture Park? 

My undergraduate instructors encouraged students to apply to artist residencies, internships, and craft schools. Those instructors gave us students a list of said programs. I applied to some things and here I am now!

What is your favorite sculpture in the park and why? 

Foon Sham’s Vascular Form V for its unusual use of construction materials to create a space

Spirit tool:  Impact driver

What are you working on here? 

The work I’m making to display at the park will resemble a billboard and reference real estate advertisement with content of the homes in which I have lived in the past. The work will incorporate both soft and hard elements as the structure of the billboards will be made of steel and reference scaffolding, while the advertisement of such will be embroideries on a fabric-like mesh material.

How does this relate to your past work or other projects? 

It is very relative to my past work as it incorporates the imagery of houses and a scaffold-like structure. This piece is a remake of an old project from my BFA show. The original structure was made from wood and was showed in an indoor gallery space; I’m now remaking the work in steel and displaying outdoors. I often times will re-do pieces until I’m completely satisfied.

What are you hoping to gain from living and working at Franconia? What have you gained thus far?

I’m here to learn, gain experience, and make artwork. I’m new to working with metal, so I have already learned about many processes since coming here, including stick welding. I am particularly amazed by the installation process of the large sculptures at the park. With various gantries, a forklift and a crane, FSP has great tools and resources for making a big idea possible.

Further, I have had many firsts here at the park: first time using a lawn mower and weed whacker, first time making hummus and cooking for ten people, first time teaching children how to build sculptures and use power tools, first time driving a big ol’ truck, and so on. Living and working at Franconia has been a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding experience.





Jonathan Forrence

Hometown: Peru / Plattsburgh NY
Education:  Complementary B.F.A. in Sculpture and Printmaking from SUNY Plattsburgh

How did you hear about Franconia Sculpture Park?

Drew Goerlitz, the chair of sculpture at Plattsburgh State, is a Franconia alumni and has suggested to many a student to apply to the park. I was lucky enough to make it through the rigorous application process.

What is your favorite sculpture in the park and why?

The park has such a diverse and wonderful collection of work that is difficult to say I have a favorite. Each time I think I have found a favorite I turn a corner and find a new sculpture more wonderful than the last sculpture.

Spirit tool: Grinder with a hard disk and a 40 flap disk nearby, or a Miller 250 welder.

What are you working on here?

Windmills that don’t run off of wind. Three 12-foot tall towers containing a cup sail sort of item that is geared together by a drive train that will turn the first tower at one rotation a minute while the last tower turns once an hour.

How does this relate to your past work or other projects? 

My last few sculptures that I have built are user kinetic, and early in my undergrad studies I was making machinery. This current work will be the first time I reintroduce mechanics into my large steel work.

What are you hoping to gain from living and working at Franconia? What have you gained thus far?

I am excited to work at a park that is so public-friendly and to have the opportunity to interact with visitors to the park, and being able to educate them, as well as have their input affecting how I pursue and build my work here.



Rathbun_Samantha_1 copy

Samantha Rathbun

Hometown: Naples NY

Education:  BFA Painting and Drawing SUNY New Paltz

How did you hear about Franconia Sculpture Park? 

I met Bridget Beck while at Salem Art Works this past spring, and she encouraged me to apply to Franconia Sculpture Park.

What is your favorite sculpture in the park and why?

I find Su-Chen Hung’s sculpture Lift to be one of the most compelling sculptures at the park because it poses several unique questions for the viewer regarding both it’s construction and its relationship with the land.

Spirit tool:  Any kind of tape

What are you working on here?

I plan to build a large steel structure that utilizes pattern, scale, and reflection to generate a dichotomy between real and perceived space. I’m currently working in a way that allows me the freedom to expand on and resolve my concept through material exploration.
How does this relate to your past work or other projects? 

My prior work is primarily a two-dimensional exploration of three-dimensional space, so expanding into sculpture seemed like a natural next step. I’m excited for the opportunity to create a large-scale work that includes elements that both compete for and deny physical accessibility.

What are you hoping to gain from living and working at Franconia? What have you gained thus far?

As an artist who is just beginning to work three dimensionally, I hope to gain the knowledge, skills, and techniques that are necessary when building with steel. My goal for my time here is to learn and utilize stick welding to create my final piece and although I have only been here for a few weeks I feel like I’ve already gained the support and guidance of the staff, fellows, and other interns here at Franconia Sculpture Park.




Jordan Olsen

Hometown: Saint Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota

Education: Graduated 2009 from Saint Paul College with a degree in watchmaking.

How did you hear about Franconia Sculpture Park?

Being from the Twin Cities, I’ve known about Franconia for many years. In fact my first acquaintance with the park may have preceded my interest in building sculpture. It’s hard to know looking back what caused our fascinations and fixations on certain ideas, but it may be that Franconia visits first inspired me to build sculpture beyond small functional pottery and furniture.

What is your favorite sculpture in the park and why?

It changes day to day. There are so many works here now that it’s easy to get lost in appreciation for just about any one of them. The one I keep thinking about is Getting the Hang of it by Paul Howe. A tower stands with a weight suspended over ground on one side and a log suspended opposite. The log has been whittled down to a stump with an hand ax and the chips are left behind as a residue of the performance. It’s a piece about the exercise and practice that it takes to learn how to use a new tool, a theme which strikes a chord for me as someone in a new environment and learning new skills and trying to hone my artistic vision.

Spirit tool: Tweezers? Table saw.

What are you working on here?

Besides working daily to maintain the park and existing sculpture, I’m planning to build sculpture that responds to ecologies and natural cycles. My hope is to make a new piece that represents the occurrence and frequency of native plant species in our prairie restoration area. A large scale music box in the form of a carousel with resonant components for each prairie plant will play a rhythmic sequence to give an auditory translation of the observed area. Kinetic sculptures are captivating to me and I want to bring inanimate materials to life through movement and sound. I’m interested in discovering new ways of creatively representing what I see in the environment by using those elements.

I am learning to weld while I am here to expand my available palate of materials into metals for larger, sturdier sculptures. And everyday I’m thistlein’ thistlein’, pulling up that thistle.
How does this relate to your past work or other projects?

Part of this experience is meant to be informative to a project that I am developing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As part of an annual artist residency at the Visitor Center Artist Camp I want to facilitate environmental sculpture installations for visiting artists. I’m learning about how sculpture exists exposed to the elements and what it demands to be installed and maintained over time.

I have rarely worked on a large scale with my art and I typically make utilitarian objects whereas here I am thinking about figurative work, so in more ways than one I am broadening my horizons and stepping out of my comfort zone. It feels good to be covering new ground.

What are you hoping to gain from living and working at Franconia? What have you gained thus far?

Franconia is a wonderfully diverse community of artists with broad ranging experience and giving spirits. I’m here to open new examinations of my own artistic process through conversations with my artistic peers and to glean new understanding from their informed perspectives. Being in such a focused and energetic atmosphere is helping me to concentrate on my artistic development and feel inspired by all the fantastic achievements of FSP’s previous residents. I’m learning lessons from others and sharing what I know and what I see. Here, I have room to explore, experiment, relinquish the fear of failure, and improve upon my mistakes while doing what I love best. Anything is possible and the magic of Franconia is palpable and free for the taking.

Oh, and for the park, I should like to one day become a decent docent.




The Intern Artist Program is made possible through generous lead support provided by the Woodbury Foundation, with additional support provided by the Sage Cleveland Foundation and RBC Wealth Management, and many generous individuals. Established in 1996, the Intern Artist Program provides career-bound national and international emerging artists the opportunity to create large-scale three-dimensional artwork, acquire skills in artistic practice, and participate in public engagement programs while in residency at Franconia.

Thank you!

















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