Shumlin's artist-wife's humorous work on Statehouse display
MONTPELIER >> The artist-wife of Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says a piece she did that satirizes her deer-hunting husband as a peacock standing over a disemboweled deer was a way to inject a sense of humor into their lives.
Katie Hunt made the comments Wednesday while giving a tour of her artwork on display in Shumlin's Statehouse office.
Another papier-mache piece of hers depicts her as a cow in high heels overseeing three members of the media, also depicted as cows. The "journalists" are attentively plying the tools of their trade: a camera, a laptop and a newspaper.
"With lives like ours you kind of have to have a good sense of humor," said the normally shy Hunt who tries to stay out of the limelight that shines on her husband. "It would be pretty unhealthy for us not to be making fun of our lives here."
Hunt, who married the Democratic governor in December, did the sculptures as part of her senior thesis at Mount Holyoke College where it was displayed for several weeks before it was moved to the Vermont Statehouse on Monday.
"It's also to let people look through a small window into my life," she said. "I'm not into formal introductions so I thought this would be kind of a fun way of showing who I am."
Statehouse Curator David Schutz said Wednesday the response to the art has been "all over the place," which is common for modern art. He said some have questioned whether such a display is appropriate in the Statehouse, but he's comfortable with it.
"It's his office. It's a little different from other rooms in the Statehouse where I am not sure we would do this," said Schutz.
Shumlin said he asked Schutz for permission to display Hunt's art in his ceremonial office. And the governor said Wednesday he's proud of his wife's work, though "she's always pushing me to hide it in the basement so no one will see it."
The sculpture representing Hunt includes a bright pink udder and high heels with the arms at its side giving a reproving look at the journalists.
"If you look at it carefully, it's pretty offensive and pretty ugly, just the same as the seated cows so I think they are equal in that respect," Hunt said. "I am making fun of myself and also making fun of them."
She said the figures representing journalists are not meant to represent individual members of the Vermont press corps.
The sculpture of her husband as a peacock was inspired during a deer season before they were married when the governor shot a big buck on opening day. Shumlin said she felt that he was strutting around like a peacock after his success.
The artwork is separated from the public space by velvet ropes, and is getting attention.
Carla Beecher, of Essex Junction, heard a radio report about the display and went to the Statehouse to see it. She said she wasn't sure if it was appropriate for Hunt to exhibit her work there while Shumlin's in office. But, Beecher said, "I like the artwork."
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