Student artists and performers took to the galleries at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art to participate in Art Collides, an event that showcased the performance art skills of New Paltz students across all disciplines. Held on Saturday, Nov. 2, the event included performances by 10 students and concluded with a reception with the artists, student museum ambassadors and Dorsky staff members.
For their performances, students were told to react to a piece of their choice currently on display at the Dorsky. Some students chose to base their performances off of works by Jervis McEntee, a Hudson River School artist whose collection of landscape paintings are featured at the museum. Some chose to react to works from different collections, including the Dorsky’s “Reading Objects 2015” exhibit and more.
Students like Josh Kinney, Johnny “Stickerboy” Owen and Aditya Malladi, among others, played musical interpretations of the pieces they chose. Kinney, a second-year jazz studies major, performed an original composition in reaction to Frank Paulin’s 1956 piece “Automat, Times Square.” He collaborated with two friends from Kinnetics, Kinney’s musical trio. Kinney played the saxophone with passion and vigor, capturing the rapid pace and urgent feel of New York City.
Owen, a fourth-year visual arts major, played a melancholy guitar piece inspired by McEntee’s painting, called “View Facing The Catskills,” from 1863. Malladi, a graduate student and electrical engineering major, performed a keyboard piece in response to artist Marcia Due’s photographs “Untitled (from the ‘Sea Series’).”
Other students enacted performance art pieces in front of their chosen works, including interpretative performance and spoken word poetry. Fourth-year visual arts major Samm Kim performed an elegant reaction to Lilo Raymond’s 1973 photograph “Dress.” In his standout performance, Kim stripped down to his underwear, meticulously folding his clothing and accessories in a straight in front of him. He started his performance holding a bouquet of pink flowers, which he lay on top of his clothes at the end of the performance.
Shane Kelly, a third-year computer science major, performed an autobiographical spoken word poem about traveling to western America. Inspired by McEntee’s “The Far West,” Kelly drew from his personal experiences to compose his poem. The piece was almost entirely improvised, he said.
“It was different last night,” he added, eliciting a laugh from the audience.
Malladi was also inspired by his life and personal experiences when he composed his piece. The performer was born and raised in India, where he lived on the coast for most of his life. Malladi said he was instantly attracted to Due’s photographs of people in the ocean, which reminded him of his life back home.
Other student performers included Sara Shameem, Steven Roberts, Emily Glascott, Alex Futtersak and a group called Headlong Snipers.
According to Sara Pasti, director of the Dorsky, this was the museum’s second iteration of Art Collides. Student ambassadors from last semester came to Pasti and collaborated to encourage students to use artwork on display as sources of inspiration. Art Collides’ first show in April 2015 was the product of their hard work and passion, Pasti said.
“It was curated by the students, for the students,” added Patricia Backman, a fourth-year French major and student ambassador for the Dorsky.
Zoe Baker, a fourth-year sculpture major and fellow ambassador, said she and her student colleagues wanted to find ways to engage the student body with the artwork and resources at the museum.
Pasti and the ambassadors hope to make Art Collides a regular feature at the museum. Ideally, Pasti wants to host one event per semester at the museum. However, she understands if students need more time to formulate performances or compose pieces to play.
Students, faculty and local art connosieurs can check the Dorsky’s website for future events at newpaltz.edu/museum.