Dancing With the Arts

Students responded to artwork in the Dorsky Museum with music, experimental sound, performance art and interpretive dance in the third rendition of Art Collides on Sunday, April 2.

Each of the eight students participating chose a specific piece currently displayed at the Dorsky to react to. Some students chose artworks from Andrew Lyght’s “Full Circle” exhibition which merges all distinctions between paintings, sculpture, digital photography and installation. Other students chose work from artists like Joshua Vogel, Kathy Ruttenberg, Courtney Starrett and Susan Reiser and Morris Huberland.

Musical interpretations of the pieces included original compositions and improvisation. Jeff Starace, a graduate music therapy student, composed a technical piece on the piano inspired by Joshua Vogel’s 2015 Wooden Spoons. Starace interpreted the spoons using a method of composition called serialism, which uses a series of notes in a particular order to build up a whole piece of music. He used the length of the spoon handles to decide the duration of each note and the color of the spoons to represent the rhythm. He began playing the spoons from left to right then  right to left, allowing the audience to follow along as he played.

Vogel attended the event and enjoyed Starace’s interpretation.

“I think the whole idea of layering music to a sculpture is a phenomenal idea,” Vogel said. “I think artists communicating in that way is fresh and fun.”

Johnny “Stickerboy” Owens, a BFA printmaking student, played a guitar piece reacting to Kathy Ruttenberg’s piece called “Mysterious Lagomorph,” from 2015. Owens said he makes art about power dynamics. When he saw the rabbits on Ruttenberg’s piece, he thought about the predator and prey relationship, which inspired his song.

Josh Kinney, a second-year jazz studies major, has been doing Art Collides since it started in April 2015. This time around he composed and also improved on his tenor saxophone in reaction to Lyght’s 1976 “Flight Kite/Linear Dimensions.”

Steven Roberts, a third-year music composition major, composed a dynamic musical number also inspired by Lyght’s 1976 “Flight Kite/Linear Dimensions,” that embodies Lyght’s childhood as a kite maker in Guyana — a small South American nation. A trio played an upbeat piece with a toy piano, a snare drum and a wooden block while dancers wearing bright colors jumped around the artwork in flowing movements.

“I wanted to capture a sense of innocence and feeling free,” Roberts said.

Lyght also came to the event, and thought Roberts’ interpretation was original and created a good combination of art, dance and music.

Brian Sarco, a third-year media management and astronomy double major, composed an electronic musical piece which encapsulates portability and change through the use of organic, autonomic sounds. He used a lot of 30 second notes because the piece he reacted to, “Painting Structure 001-060-52413” by Lyght used 32 bamboo rods, he said.

Other student performers included Aidan Kohler, Darren Lyons and Lady Peña.

Hannah Schaming, a third-year art history major and one of the Dorsky Museum ambassadors said Art Collides started as a way to get students involved with the museum that may not have been involved in the past.

“We thought performative reactions in the museum would let different student voices, not just the art students, be heard in a gallery setting,” Schaming said.

Schaming said artists also want to come and see the various reactions to their pieces.

Students, faculty and local art connoisseurs can check the Dorsky’s website for future events at newpaltz.edu/museum.