Collective Connects Creative Communities

SUNY New Paltz’s Modern Art Collective is a campus organization that paves the way for students to showcase their talent for more than just a grade. 

Alana Commando, a fourth-year painting and drawing major, founded Modern Art Collective in Spring 2016 after taking inspiration from a piece by John Cage titled “Musiccircus.” The piece, according to Cage himself, is “nothing more than an invitation to any number of musicians willing to perform simultaneously anything or in any way they desire.”

“Musiccircus” debuted in 1967, and Commando and the entirety of Modern Art Collective keep the creative chaos alive. 

“Our goal is to unite the different forms of art on and off campus,” Commando said. “But we also want to create a resource for students to use when pursuing personal, creative projects.”

Modern Art Collective seeks to expand the independence of artists, providing students with the ability to create and show or perform their work in an academic world that is losing its appreciation for the humanities. Commando said that although the experience of running the Modern Art Collective can be stressful at times, it is also extremely rewarding because it pushes the boundaries and explores the limits of what on-campus organizations do for budding artists. 

In addition to providing an outlet for student creators to construct their work, Modern Art Collective focuses on connecting artists on campus to outside events in the greater tri-state area. Since its start, the Collective has had an exhibition in a New York City gallery featuring its members and has also brought musicians from the Catskills into the SUNY New Paltz campus to perform shows, a nod to their “Musiccircus” roots.

“Group members have the opportunity to sell their work during the farmers market/Farm Fest. We’ve been able to reach out to so many different professors, artists and musicians to provide us with opportunities,” Commando added. 

The Collective hopes to continue Cage’s “Musiccircus”-style events in their own inspired way both on and off campus in the future, bridging the harmony between artists and musicians from SUNY New Paltz. 

Another event Commando and her team had in mind is a possible “anti-thesis show,” a play on the Dorsky Museum’s showcase for fine arts majors presenting their senior theses. Commando says the anti-thesis show would be for non-fine arts major who wish to present their personal work in a museum setting. The concept displays art in a way that is non-academic and stress free, an exploration of SUNY New Paltz’s hidden talent and a way to emphasize the campus’s respect for the arts.

As for what Commando and her colleagues want creators to know about Modern Art Collective, she said, “We hope to welcome as many people as we can. You don’t have to be an art, music or theater major, you just have to have the drive to collaborate and create!” 

To learn more about the club and upcoming events on and off campus, you can follow them on Facebook by searching “New Paltz Modern Art Collective.”