The Art of Island Living

With a new creative space, Featherstone Center for the Arts continues to enrich the Martha’s Vineyard community

Photography courtesy of Featherstone center for the arts

Tucked among acres of preserved land, Featherstone Center for the Arts has served as an escape, artistic starting block and community unifier for the island of Martha’s Vineyard for almost a quarter century. The events, affordable classes and programs it consistently presents provide a creative setting for year-round islanders, seasonal residents and tourists alike to explore artistic expression, discover new passions and connect with the Vineyard’s artistic community. 

Featherstone was born from the bones of Featherstone Farm, a 25-acre family-owned horse farm run by the Stevens family. Mary Stevens, an artist herself, helped establish Featherstone Center for the Arts on the land. In 1966, a small arts group, Meetinghouse Center for the Arts, became Featherstone Center for the Arts with the purchase of six acres of farm land, creating the space for the new art center campus. The original horse barns and farm buildings were repurposed as classroom and studio space; the old breeding mare barn became a pottery studio, the family farmhouse a gallery. “Our old printmaking studio was in the horse stalls,” recounts Ann Smith, executive director of Featherstone. “We still have the horse stall doors in the classrooms and the old horse barn was also part of our darkroom.” 

However, as Featherstone continued to grow, their ability to serve an expanding client base grew strained due to the limited amount of space at their disposal—their 700-square-foot pottery studio could no longer effectively accommodate the ceramics program, the most popular medium on campus. As many non profits are forced to recognize, the demands to scale and the resources to accommodate rarely intersect neatly.