The COVID-19 pandemic may have shut the doors of New Paltz’s Roost Studios & Art Gallery, but it has not stopped them from supporting artists in the community. The Roost has shifted smoothly onto a digital format, featuring artwork from both members of the gallery and student artists from SUNY New Paltz and New Paltz High School.
Once again, the Roost is hosting their very own Virtual Student Art Exhibition and Competition. It is open to all New Paltz Highschool seniors and all SUNY New Paltz students. Students who submit their work will not only have their artwork featured in the exhibition, but will also be considered for the Roost Boost Student Award, a $250 award that will be given to four students.
The idea for the Roost to provide awards and scholarships for students was proposed by Lauree Feldman, an artist and treasurer for the Roost Studios. As a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the Roost is obligated to give back to the community. To fulfill their mission to support artists, the Roost turned to providing these scholarships for students.
“Giving scholarships is a wonderful way to give back.” Feldman said. “We put a little money into young people’s hands and it gives them an opportunity to buy paint, canvas, take pictures — whatever their art form is.”
The idea to provide scholarships for students was straightforward. “Because there was such a student population at SUNY that was attracted to us, I thought we have to support these kids,” said Feldman. “I brought it up at a board meeting, and I said I think we should give scholarships to promising students. Everyone said, okay, can we afford it? I said, yup, and that’s how it all began. It was very organic.”
The 2021 Student Art Exhibition is the third art exhibition for students, and the second that is to be hosted in a virtual format. The first exhibition was hosted in 2019, and according to the Roost’s executive director Marcy Bernstein, a big success.
“In 2019, we had 27 students in the show and we had a huge in-gallery exhibition. Everyone’s work was on display, and we had a huge opening. It was wonderful!” Bernstein said. “We ended up giving a $1000 scholarship to a high school student, and four $250 dollar grants. That was a big year, and we were able to still do shows in the gallery.”
The 2020 Exhibition was set to follow in the footsteps of the first one, but was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the 2020 Exhibition was hosted virtually and only featured the work of eight student artists. However, Bernstein is optimistic about their prospects this time around.
“I think we were all in shock last spring. In those first four to five months we really didn’t know what to do,” Bernstein said. “But it’s getting much better, and we’ve done a whole bunch of community events through the late summer and fall.”
Emma Hines, a senior pursuing a BFA in drawing and painting, submitted her work to the Roost and received a $250 grant from the 2020 competition. Hines’ work is fairly abstract, featuring swirling colors and shapes merging with one another. In her own words, her work is “an exploration of challenging the binaries that people are comfortable defining things by.” She described her experience with the exhibition and competition as a positive one and recommends that student artists should shoot their shot..
“This is a great chance to get your work out there, and the Roost is dedicated to fostering community in the arts. The opportunity to be part of that is wonderful and should be cherished,” Hines said. “Also, winning some extra cash is great! Especially when times are tough, every little bit helps.”
As for what she put her award money towards? “Easy, more paint!” Hines said. “It was a wonderful prize because it allowed me to continue to invest in my art and career.”
Bernstein has one piece of advice for student artists who are nervous about submitting their work. “Whenever an artist feels that they are a beginner, it’s nice to be open to finding out how the world actually sees you work, how it’s being received and what’s actually coming across,” Bernstein said. “Sometimes the artists aren’t themselves are not really the best judge of how that work is gonna be read, understood or received.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get real time feedback. One you take a step like that, it’s the first step. Whether you win the scholarship or you just had the opportunity to prepare work and apply, it’s a great opportunity,” Bernstein said.
Interested artists can apply on the Roost’s website at this link. The art of the participants of last year’s exhibition can also be found on their website here. The deadline for applications is on March 31.