Press Release

Vassar’s Annual MODfest to Feature “Welcome to Indian Country,” an Evening of Song, Storytelling, and Satire

January 24, 2023, Poughkeepsie NY – MODfest, Vassar College’s annual tribute to the visual and performing arts, will be highlighted this year by “Welcome to Indian Country,” an evening of song, storytelling, and satire celebrating Native culture. The performance will be held Saturday, February 4 at Skinner Hall on the Vassar campus in the Town of Poughkeepsie. All MODfest events are free and open to the public. See the complete listing of events.

Tom Pacio, MODfest co-director, said this year’s events feature numerous collaborations with visiting artists, faculty, alums, and others. “We are grateful to work with the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education for the first time, with the events featuring Kate McGloughlin and her work on the Ashokan Reservoir,” Pacio said. “We are also thrilled to welcome back Andre Bouchard and Indigenous Performance Productions, who we have wanted to work with more deeply since he took part in the Indigenous Artist Panel in 2021.”

“Welcome to Indian Country,” which premiered in 2019, features a five-piece musical ensemble joined by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest, a winner of the American Book Award, who complements the music with stories and poems celebrating Native culture. 

Bouchard said he conceived of “Welcome to Indian Country” as a way of countering stereotypes of Native culture through stories and song. “I wanted to reflect the sense of community and cultural richness I found in being a member of the Native American community,” he said. “Rena has a wonderful, gentle way of taking us on a journey throughout the show, not just through her own work but through the work the musicians have created with their original compositions and the songs and stories we are bringing from our ancestors.

“It’s a mosaic of a lot of different ideas bound together by a sense of hope and strength and connection and joy,” Bouchard continued. “I term it a ‘low-key celebration,’ akin to curling up around the fire with a cup of cocoa and asking someone to tell you a story.”

MODfest opens January 26 at 5:00 p.m. with openings in three galleries on campus, including a reception in the Palmer Gallery. Painter and printmaker Kate McGloughlin will give a talk February 2 in Taylor Hall about her work. April Beisaw, Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology, met McGloughlin while she was conducting research about the creation of the Ashokan Reservoir, which resulted in the displacement of several villages in the Catskill Mountains. “As a descendant of those whose homes and businesses were among the first taken for the Ashokan Reservoir, Kate has an intimate connection with the watershed landscape both past and present,” Beisaw said. “That connection comes through in her artwork that often depicts the same reservoir that destroyed her family’s way of life more than 100 years ago.”

A pillar of the festival, the annual Adene and Richard Wilson concert will feature premieres of works by Richard Wilson and Jonathan Chenette, and new music by Tyson Davis, Aviya Kopelman, and Elliot Carter. “We are thrilled to highlight many of our faculty and guest artists in this special event,” said Professor of Music Christine Howlett, co-director of MODfest.

On February 3 at 7:00 p.m. in Kenyon Hall, the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre will perform works selected from the current repertory by faculty, students, and guest choreographers, including a special appearance by Heidi Latsky Dance Company. This is a free ticketed event; reservations for general seating are required. Please reserve your tickets.

About Vassar College

Vassar College—based in Poughkeepsie, NY—is a coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college where perspectives cross, ideas intersect, and passion burns bright. Originally founded to provide women an education equal to that once available only to men, Vassar was the first all-women’s college in the nation to become coeducational when it opened its doors to men in 1969. Vassar fosters an intellectual openness and independence in students, who meet each other as equals and are encouraged to absorb diverse thought and impassioned dialogue that give them the insight and confidence they will need in a complex world where they will make important contributions. Consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, Vassar is renowned for pioneering achievements in education, for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the beauty of its campus.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays–Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities can be found on the Accessibility and Educational Opportunity website.

The Vassar campus is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Press Contact

Larry Hertz,, 845-518-3098, 845-437-7938 (Vassar College)

January 24, 2023