Situated in the Southern Catskills on a 200-acre campus, Denniston Hill was established on the conviction that it is imperative for artists of all disciplines, backgrounds, and career stages to have time and space for reflection and research. The organization was founded in 2004 by a group of primarily LGBTQ artists, architects, and writers of color. We are an artist-centered interdisciplinary arts organization that fosters an inclusive, practical discourse about the aesthetics, function, ethics, and meaning of contemporary artistic practice. Our work is guided by the principle that creative and critical voices are important in shaping a just, equitable society.

— History

Denniston Hill was established in 2004 by artists, architects, and writers interested in fostering dialogues across disciplines through residencies, and a wide range of public programs. For at least five years before, the farm house, barn, and surrounding grounds were a place of exploration, exchange, and renewal for what would become Denniston Hill’s first board of directors. For example, Paul Pfeiffer used the site for his Orpheus Descending (2001) and Julie Mehretu painted some of her first large-scale paintings here. Artists, architects, and writers have used the Hill and its facilities as a canvas, a studio, a source of inspiration, and a place to re-charge. Denniston Hill’s unique location in the southern Catskills invites site-related investigations from artists, architects, writers, and scholars in the visual arts, literature, architecture, sciences, and the humanities.

In addition to our current board of directors, our founding members included John Letourneau, kara lynch, Jessica Rankin, Beth Stryker, and Robin Vachal. Early visitors to the farmhouse included Lyle Ashton Harris, Zoe Leonard, and Akram Zaatari.


Our Activities

— Curated Residencies

We invite artists, architects, writers, poets, and cultural workers at any stage of their career to have time and space for engaged reflection, research, and production. 

Explore our residency programs →

— PERFORMANCES & public programs

Denniston Hill commissions alumni with performance-based practices to create new live-art works, conducts inquiry-driven forums such as The Swerve Conversations between Denniston Hill alumni and other practitioners, and also conducts art and agriculture initiatives and collaborative programs with institutions of higher learning.

Explore our upcoming performances and events →


Our digital publishing initiative. A forum for the exchange of ideas across disciplinary boundaries, in order to better understand “the stuff of the universe.”

Read Swerve →



Grounds & Facilities at Denniston Hill (click to enlarge)





Board of Directors

Credit: Timothy Gerkin

Credit: Timothy Gerkin

Lawrence Chua

Lawrence Chua is a historian of the global modern built environment with an emphasis on Asian architecture and urban culture. He is an assistant professor at the School of Architecture, Syracuse University and was most recently a fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies in Leiden and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg. His writing has appeared in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Journal of Architecture, Journal of Urban History, Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, and Senses and Society. He received his PhD in the History of Architecture and Urban Development from Cornell University in 2012. He is the author of a novel, Gold by the Inch, and edited the collection Collapsing New Buildings.

Credit: Anastasia Muna

Credit: Anastasia Muna

Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu is a world renowned painter, born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1970 who lives and works in New York City and Berlin.  She received a Master’s of Fine Art with honors from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu is a recipient of many awards, including the The MacArthur Award (2005) and the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015). She has shown her work extensively in international and national solo and group exhibitions and is represented in public and private collections around the world. Recent projects include completing two large-scale paintings for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Atrium in September 2017, entitled HOWL eon (I, II). Upcoming exhibitions include Venice Biennale, Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, and a mid-career retrospective beginning at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in November 2019, and traveling to The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, High Museum in Atlanta, and The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. 

Image courtesy of Paul Pfeiffer

Image courtesy of Paul Pfeiffer

Paul Pfeiffer

The gallery’s ninth annual marathon reading of Gertrude Stein’s “The Making of Americans,” performed at 155 Wooster Street on New Year’s Eve, 1982-83. The announcement suggested, “For your comfort bring your own cushion.” Photo by Jane Jesse Cardinale. Wall drawing by Sol LeWitt. Sol LeWitt, “Wall Drawing #238: Stars with three-, four-, five-, six-, seven-, eight-, nine-, ten-points, drawn with ten-inch (25 cm) wide band of yellow color ink wash. The area inside the band is red color ink wash and the area outside the band is blue color ink wash. The stars are separated by bands of India ink wash.” First installation six-pointed star: Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY, December 1982 executed by: Jose Albiol, Anne Patry, Anthony Sansotta, Magdalena Zajac.


Board of Advisers

  • Adrienne Edwards

  • Amy Sadao

  • Chomwan Weeraworawit

  • Christine Kim

  • Dean Daderko

  • Eungie Joo

  • Franklin Sirmans

  • Hilton Als

  • Jodie Vicenta Jacobson

  • kara lynch

  • Moukhtar Kocache

  • Regine Basha

  • Renaud Proch

  • Sérgio Muñoz Sarmiento




Executive Director

Yona Backer


Residency Program Manager

Rachel Carrigan



John Letourneau


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