Art and Public Space at Vassar and in Poughkeepsie

July 27 and July 28, 2021

To kick off the year-long theme of “Looking Back, Looking Forward, and Opening Better,” the 2021 Summer Institute for the Liberal Arts focused on art and public space at Vassar and in Poughkeepsie.

As Vassar continues to explore the development of the physical space that will serve as the Vassar Institute for the Liberal Arts, the current moment is an exciting time to consider the role art, architecture, and public space play (and have played) in engaging dialogue and building community. Art, broadly defined, has been cited as a pillar of Poughkeepsie’s civic renewal, and this Summer Institute explored unique partnerships between arts organizations in Poughkeepsie and Vassar. The convening of this two-day, virtual event included panels and lectures from scholars, practitioners, community activists, and local art leadership from nonprofit organizations from Vassar, Poughkeepsie, and beyond.

Tuesday, July 27

Welcome and Setting the Stage

1:00 p.m.–1:05 p.m.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President, Vassar College

Vassar’s Campus: Landscape Architecture as Art

1:05 p.m.–2:15 p.m.

Karen Van Lengen ’73, William Kenan Professor of Architecture, University of Virginia

Frederick Fisher, Partner, Frederick Fisher and Partners

Moderator: Elizabeth H. Bradley, President, Vassar College

Optional Informal Chat in Zoom Meeting

2:15 p.m.–2:45 p.m.

Designing with Nature

2:45 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Mark Schlessman, Professor of Biology, Vassar College

Richard Jones, Collections Manager, A. Scott Warthin Museum of Geology & Natural History at Vassar College

Adedoyin Teriba, Assistant Professor of Art and Urban Studies, Vassar College

Cara Hunt ’15, Research Data Associate, NYU Langone Department of Population Health

Moderator: Anne Brancky, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Wednesday, July 28

Strengthening Communities Through the Arts

1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.

Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt, Executive Director, The Art Effect (formerly Mill Street Loft + Spark Media Project)

Christopher Kroner, Principal, MASS Design Group / Hudson Valley Design Lab

With a Prerecorded Message from Carmen McGill, Co-Founder, Celebrating the African Spirit

Moderator: Bart Thurber, The Anne Hendricks Bass Director and Lecturer in Art, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College

There are countless examples across the United States of nonprofit organizations working together to help revitalize communities by promoting art, design, and culture as part of their ambitious workforce development, education, and outreach initiatives. These national trends are evident in a number of local case studies—especially those involving children, young adults, and traditionally underrepresented residents—and highlight the power of art to foster greater civic engagement and to encourage more social cohesion. These undertakings reflect an ongoing commitment to broaden and amplify the role of the arts as a catalyst for creative and social justice work.

Optional Informal Chat in Zoom Meeting

2:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

Prototyping Partnerships

3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.

In this session we will take a closer look at some public art partnerships between area colleges and community organizations. We will focus on the productive, the challenging, the inspiring, and the uncomfortable in these collaborations.

Moderators: Katherine Hite and Tom Pacio

Celebrating the African Spirit and Colloqate Design

Asho Ashittey, Vassar College, Class of 2023

Bryan Lee, Founder/Design Principal of Colloqate Design

Hudson Valley Performing Arts Laboratory and SUNY New Paltz

Liz Dahmen, Founding Artistic Director, Hudson Valley Performing Arts Laboratory

Kiana Duggan-Haas, SUNY New Paltz, Class of 2023

Vassar and Poughkeepsie City School District

Christine Howlett, Associate Professor and Chair of Music and Director of Choral Activities, Vassar College

Aidan Anderson, Vassar College, Class of 2020

Center for Creative Education & Bard College

Bryant “Drew” Andrews, Executive Director, Center for Creative Education (CCE)

Sakinah Bennett, Bard College, Class of 2021

Moderator(s): Katherine Hite, Professor of Political Science on the F. Thompson Chair and Director of Research Development; and Tom Pacio, Director of Creative Arts & Institutional Grants Innovation

Closing Remarks

4:30 p.m.–4:45 p.m.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President, Vassar College