Meet VCFA Visual Art alumnx, sculptor, blacksmith, and artist-educator Sabrina Fadial (VA ‘01). In late 2023, VCFA interviewed Fadial about her work with the T.W. Wood Gallery, her artistic practice, and her continued collaboration with the art community of Montpelier, VT. Read excerpts from our conversation below, and learn more about Fadial and her work here.

“A community is stronger when the arts are available to everyone. Art transforms by connecting to our past and inspiring us to discover and create.”

-A quote from the wall of the T.W. Wood Gallery in Montpelier, VT

Over her many years as a working artist, sculptor, blacksmith, and artist-educator Sabrina Fadial (VA ‘01) has touched the creative communities of her Vermont home with her art and leadership. Fadial was the former VCFA Director of Alumnx Relations; is a member of the design committee at Montpelier Alive, an organization dedicated to supporting Montpelier’s local downtown businesses and events; offers mentorships to Vermont artists through Seven Branches Studio; teaches at the School of Architecture and Art at Norwich University; and even teaches young artists through after school programs and summer camps. In 2023, Fadial became the new Executive Director of the T.W. Wood Gallery: a Museum of American Art, Vermont’s oldest art museum.


Sabrina Fadial in a classroom at the T.W. Wood Gallery in Montpelier, Vermont.


“[Each day], I’m either in Northfield, or Montpelier, or Barre, Vermont or somewhere in between—teaching art, organizing art, and occasionally selling art. It’s quite lovely. [Vermont] is an exceptional community,” says Fadial.

Of course it was art, and VCFA, that brought Fadial to Vermont in the first place. After studying textiles in her undergraduate years at the Rhode Island School of Design, Fadial eventually found her way to teaching high school art for four years in Charlotte, North Carolina. In her summers off, Fadial used her time to create and learn about new art forms. These summers of discovery led to her—accidentally—falling in love with blacksmithing.

“In my second summer of teaching high school, I signed up for a glassblowing class at Penland Craft School,” recalls Fadial. “They called me about a week before class and they said ‘We’ve made a horrible mistake. Glass is full. Do you mind if we put you in blacksmithing?’ And I said ‘Yes, playing with fire. It’ll be fun. Fine.’ I went and it changed my life. I absolutely fell in love with all the processes and people. And so my next summer I went to Haystack Mountains Craft School, and took a sculptural sheet forming class. After that, I came home and quit my job teaching high school and built a smithy.”


“… what would happen? If you didn’t pigeonhole yourself as an artist blacksmith? What if you’re just an artist? What would that give you permission to do?”


Fadial’s Milkweed sculpture made of steel and gold leaf. Currently on display at the Kent Museum.

After touring craft shows and working on commissions mainly for railings and gates, Fadial was eager to expand the scope of her work. A fellow artist introduced her to VCFA. “One of my besties called me on the phone and said, ‘Sabrina, I’ve just started this program at VCFA. You have to come.’ And so I applied and I got in,” explains Fadial. “When I came up [to Vermont] I was calling myself an artist blacksmith. Dear beloved Claire Pentecost said to me, ‘Sabrina, what would happen? If you didn’t pigeonhole yourself as an artist blacksmith? What if you’re just an artist? What would that give you permission to do?’ Claire, I love you. Thank you for giving me permission to do. So I spent my time at VCFA just totally exploring sculpture and installation having a lovely, lovely time of it.”

Now as a long-time Vermonter, Fadial has taken advantage of the state’s passion for the arts. “You know, there are more artists and creatives per capita here than anywhere else in the country… Because the whole state is a small town, it’s been much easier to get involved. I’m on the design committee for Montpelier Alive, which then lets me come up with fun community art projects to do. When living in a big city, you can’t just say ‘Oh, I want to paint a mural on the [most beat-up] parking lot’ and just do it. But here, I can. I can do projects like that.”


As the new Executive Director of Montpelier’s T.W. Wood Gallery, she’s passionate about the Gallery’s mission. Creator of the Gallery Thomas Waterman Wood (1823-1903) was an artist determined to bring free art to Vermont in a time when there wasn’t widespread access to art, travel, or resources that could be used to view or learn about current and historical art. When he died, he gave his entire art collection to the citizens of Montpelier.

“He felt that art was really, really important,” explains Fadial. “His whole premise was that art should be available for all, and so that’s why we’re set up free to this day. The museum gallery sections are free. We give away oodles of scholarships for the after school program. Our program [is based on] this idea that art is important to humanity and society—that it’s important we have creative people.”

In her first year as Director, Fadial has already expanded the Gallery’s offerings. In addition to the already existing afterschool programs available at T.W. Wood Gallery, Fadial and the Gallery are launching a new 55 and older adult education program. “We’ll have three 12-week semesters a year and you can take two studio classes and one critical studies class,” says Fadial. “We’ll be starting with the idea of sequential learning and building community.”

Fadial in front of the 2021 Montpelier, VT community quilt. Fadial was the coordinating
artist behind the project that brought artists together in the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Montpelier Alive she’s working on a mural at a local Montpelier restaurant in the spring, and in the summer she’s painting a paint-by-numbers mural with her summer camp. In her studio, she’s working on an orchid sculpture that will showcase blossoms in different stages of opening. Once finished, she estimates the sculpture will be 15 feet tall, a big feat for her and her hoist gantry system.


“It’s about persistence … It’s your entire life of being persistent. Being persistent and following your bliss.”


Sabrina Fadial is nowhere near done getting involved and supporting the creative arts around her. In her work, Fadial is set to develop even more projects and community events in 2024 and beyond. When asked about her advice to her peers on maintaining a consistent practice and regularly putting their work and creativity out into their local communities, Fadial had one thing to say:

“You got to show up. You got to log the hours. I make appointments with myself on the calendar to be in the studio… and a lot of times I don’t even know what I’m doing… but I show up in my studio at eight o’clock every morning. Some mornings, I can only be there for 30 minutes… but I’ve gone. I’ve been in the space. It’s about persistence, and it’s not just persistent for a year or two. It’s your entire life of being persistent. Being persistent and following your bliss.”

Learn more about Sabrina Fadial at

Photos courtesy of Sabrina Fadial (VA ’01)

Read more stories about our Alumnx through our Alumnx Success series. Interested in an MFA in Visual Art? Visit our program page for more information on our VCFA graduate degrees.