Building Community Through the Arts
The Arts Working Group strives to foster more inclusive participation in the Arts at Vassar.
Igniter Project Billboard Gallery
The Billboard Gallery is an alternative exhibition space for Hudson Valley artists, proposed by local artist and educator Abigail Gunnels and supported by Engaged Pluralism.
“Colleges often have, or are perceived to have, an ‘invisible fence’ surrounding them, creating a separation between the institution and the city/town where they exist...this alternative space [will] engage with Vassar and Poughkeepsie communities.”
—Billboard Gallery mission statement
The Arts working group has supported an Igniter Project, called the Billboard Gallery. It’s located at 357 Hooker Ave in Poughkeepsie (far side of the former Mole Mole restaurant parking lot).
The Billboard Gallery is an alternative exhibition space for artists proposed by Abigail Gunnels and supported by The Engaged Pluralism Initiative (EPI) at Vassar College. The gallery will focus on Hudson Valley artists. By choosing this location/billboard it will blur that boundary between the Vassar campus and the city of Poughkeepsie. Colleges often have, or are perceived to have, an “invisible fence” surrounding them, creating a separation between the institution and the city/town where they exist. By creating this alternative space to showcase artists, The Billboard Gallery will engage with Vassar and Poughkeepsie communities, and the larger Hudson Valley region by showcasing local artists’ work outside of a traditional gallery setting.
The Arts Working Group was recently able to fund a preview and production of Vassar senior Arshia Iqbal’s play Wedding Scraps. The production, produced in association with the Muslim Student Association, was presented in late February, 2023.
“My most fulfilling part of working with Engaged Pluralism was helping to realize Arshia Iqbal’s (’23) production of her play Wedding Scraps at the Aula. Engaged Pluralism provided generous funding for the production of her play which was produced in collaboration with the Muslim Student Association (MSA.) It was deeply moving to see Arshia’s play produced which she worked and re-worked for more than a year through my playwriting classes. But more, it was deeply inspiring to see sold-out houses filled with Muslim and/or Desi students across the campus and from our local community attend a work that was written with their enjoyment in mind. The effort to diversify audiences is buoyed by supporting artists that serve those audiences. Engaged Pluralism helped to make that possible.”
Engaged Pluralism offered funding to support Matt Andres’s senior project in collaboration with Hype and VC Royalty. Andres designed and presented a drag show on April 4 using found materials on campus.
Matt Andres’ thesis show “TRANSCEND” is a drag show that is a celebration of all facets of drag as it has bloomed into the mainstream. It features talents from VC Royalty and the Hudson Valley drag scene.