The Samuel Dorsky Museum presented an array of authors at a reading on Saturday, Sept. 16., highlighting the New York State Council on the Arts/New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships are not only for the visual arts.
All semester, The Dorsky Museum will be exhibiting the various forms the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships take by presenting a variety of award recipients and their accomplishments. Last weekend, writers Said Sayrafiezadeh, Akiko Busch, Edwin Sanchez and Luc Sante read excerpts from some of their works.
“The readings presented this past weekend were extraordinary,” said Neil C. Trager director Sara Pasti. “At once moving, funny, serious, thoughtful and inspiring.”
The authors read selections of their writings that took the audience on a whirlwind of emotions, moving them from laughter to tears between each piece.
Sayrafiezadeh began the readings with an excerpt from his memoir “When Skateboards Will Be Free,” about growing up with parents who were members of the Socialist Workers Party. His piece, which he delivered with great fervor and passion, revolved around a time he recalls from his childhood when his parents enlisted him in a boycott on grapes.
“I loved how Sayrafiezadeh’s animated storytelling brought his text to life,” said first year philosophy major Lee Ann Bael. “It highlighted his clever, witty prose.”
Busch, a Hudson Valley local, changed the tone of the event and took it on a more scientific turn. The passage from her new book The Incidental Steward detailed her account on how she became a citizen scientist, focusing on the beauty and gratification that come with participating in nature.
Her book wove together a sense of poeticism and scientific intrigue, expressing how science and the humanities can come together in many ways.
“Audience members came away from the afternoon with a sense of excitement about life and the power of the written word,” Pasti said.
Sanchez, another Hudson Valley local, read next, with his pieces revolving around family which moved audience members to tears. He read stunning pieces titled “Jody’s Mother” about the family of an accused pedophile, and “Pops,” which he dedicated to the Dreamers.
“‘Jody’s Mother’ was inspired by the Dateline show ‘To Catch a Predator’ because I kept thinking about the families of the people that were caught,” Sanchez said about his first heart wrenching excerpt. “I didn’t want to justify what they had done, but it must be so weird to be at home and then all of a sudden see your child, because no matter who the predator was, they were somebody’s child, that’s what drove those characters. A lot of my work is character driven.”
Last to read was Luc Sante, whose piece was incredibly lyrical and kept a smooth rhythm. He read a poetic piece about how music affected his youth and got the audience into the groove of his writing, while also conveying a powerful message about the music scene in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The afternoon concluded with a Q&A session where the authors spoke more on how they received their NYFA Artist Fellowships and aimed to inspire people to apply for their own NYFA Artist Fellowships if they can. All the writers emphasized the importance of having the ability and opportunity to go for your dreams.
“Through the Artists as Innovators exhibit and through the performances and talks that the museum is presenting alongside this exhibition, we hope to inspire SUNY New Paltz students to dream big and to consider applying to the NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship program when they graduate and begin their professional careers,” Pasti said. “The purpose of this weekend’s readings, as well as the purpose of all of our upcoming programs associated with our exhibition Artists as Innovators, is to share the accomplishments of the New York Foundation for the Arts talented Fellows with our campus and regional community.”