Dear Friends of Denniston Hill:
As you know, we are entering a critical historical period. The unprecedented challenges we seem set to face following the US election underscore the importance of our work as a community more than ever before. Thanks to you, we are poised to build a vital arts organization that will continue to be a center of critical arts practice where we can come together and imagine alternatives to the present. As we reflect back on the past year and project into our future, we know we could not have accomplished so much without the support of our extended community.
The year’s illustrious line up of Denniston Hill residents included the acclaimed video and performance artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, visual and performance artists Wu Tsang and boychild, poet Brenda Shaughnessy, and Performa curator and Walker Art Center visual arts curator at large Adrienne Edwards. They were among eighteen distinguished residents we hosted at our 200-acre campus in the Southern Catskills; residents who lived, worked, discussed and cooked together -- communal meals at Denniston Hill are made with produce harvested from our organic farm – a reflection of our commitment to organic agriculture and the environment.
This year we were especially thrilled to honor choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili with our inaugural Distinguished Performance Artist Award, and as well to host Kenyan artist Michael Soi as part of a new partnership with AFRICA’SOUT! (AO!) – an expansion to our live art programs. Highlights of this program included an 8-hour performance by Cuban artist Carlos Martiel, and a participatory performance led by Okwui Okpokwasili, which took place at our first annual Open House.
2016 also marked for us a year of expanded public discussions and geographic reach, with talks co-presented with like-minded partners such as Hurleyville Makers Lab (HML) in the Southern Catskills, and Independent Curators International (ICI) in downtown Manhattan. In 2017, we will further develop these institutional relationships and partner with other progressive organizations including Skowhegan, Performa and the Dedalus Foundation. We will also be announcing another exciting extension of Denniston Hill’s platform, in the form of a journal, in the months to come.
Our newly formed Visionary Circle Program is a membership group of culturally active and committed individuals and art lovers who have long been invested in radical thinking around the arts and the global future. As part of our Visionary Circle, members are invited to attend exclusive social, educational, and fundraising events, and to engage with our artist community in intimate settings; part of our ongoing effort to bring their iconoclastic vision and thinking in the arts to the Denniston Hill community. At this time we thank Marc and Laura Andreessen; Dorothy Berwin and Dominique Levy; Andrew Gundlach and Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Foundation for their early support and for continuing to lead the way.
As we gear up for our tenth anniversary in 2017 and look to the future, our mission is more critical than ever. We will continue to be a place of reflection, transformation, and discussion where creative work can critically address the world we live in and imagine future possibilities and alternatives that are not present in our current political and economic reality. The founding ideals of arts communities and collectives such as Denniston Hill have never been more relevant given the specter of violence, repression, and hatred that faces us. It is more important than ever to support artists, writers and cultural producers, whose practices connect the arts to social, economic, and political change. Our programs seek to deepen the power of creative work while making a progressive contribution to our diverse community of stakeholders.
Your contribution of any size will support Denniston Hill’s program and organizational development, ultimately helping us better serve our community of artists, writers, scholars, agriculturalists, architects and other cultural producers. Most importantly, your contribution will go a long way to sustaining our residency and public programs, which foreground alternative communities, promote a shared value system based on an artist-centered ethos, and advance an alternative arts discourse – one that runs counter to market-driven trends and that embraces inter- and cross-disciplinary practices.
You can help us be our best by making a year-end, tax-deductible contribution. Thank you for being such an important part of our community.
With much appreciation,
Julie Mehretu Lawrence Chua Paul Pfeiffer
The Board of Directors