What’s New With U? – Week 1

Welcome, welcome to Usdan’s 2017 Summer Season.  This week, we rekindled old friendships – and fostered new ones. We kicked off the first of three two-week programs and re-visited many of our favorite classes.

Here’s the first of what will be weekly recaps of the sights and sounds, art and action around campus.

Let us know what you think – and onwards to Week 2!




TEACHING U: New in the Art Department

There’s some Ivy over in the Art Department these days…

This year, new faces and talents have been added to the visual arts team – several Ivy League-educated—all of whom have active art practices in parallel to their teaching ones.

We grabbed time with three and asked them a few questions about teaching, art and summer excitement:

First up: Meet Amy Beecher, the new chair of the Art Department.  She is a graduate of Yale and Brown, a working artist, and a professor of painting at Marlboro College in Southern Vermont. Her work—sculpture, installation and performance that comically examines the institutions and industries that shape the identities of white American women—has been presented in art centers and galleries nationally, including recent exhibitions and programs at Storm King Art Center, Creative Time, and Bruce High Quality Foundation.

How does being an educator influence you as an artist, and how does being an artist influence you as an educator?

Being a teacher is about teaching skills and concepts but also about modeling a type of thinking and a lifestyle. So when I teach, I’m sharing how I think with my students. It sounds cheesy, but my students teach me too, especially when we are looking at art together. Students bring generational experiences to interpreting works of art that I do not have access to. It’s fascinating.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

I am looking forward to seeing art students’ individual, awesome ideas come to fruition! There’s a lot of sketching and planning going on now. It’s so gratifying to see how students’ ideas evolve on their way to their final iterations. It’s just the first week and already I’ve heard detailed plans for a cardboard airport terminal (Junior Sculpture), a comic strip about a superhero who only eats soup (Junior Comics). I’m hoping one of the sewing students will let me borrow one of their convertible beach towel/cover ups to wear to our pool party! And last but not least, I’m excited to work with Pedro Lasch, our artist in residence, whose paintings I will be hanging in the art gallery next week.

What’s your favorite Usdan “U”?

My favorite Usdan U is the rainbow. Rainbows are symbols of hope and inclusivity. We need that now more than ever!

Next, let us introduce you to Sakura Maku, teacher of the Comic Drawing Class – another “Yalie” and faculty member at SVA and SUNY Purchase.

How does being an educator influence you as an artist, and how does being an artist influence you as an educator?

Being an educator helps me out with my art because I find that the students really inspire me to have confidence in my own craft.  And being an artist helps me understand where young artists are when they are first developing their voice.  So I find that I encourage them to feel confident because I understand how difficult it can be.

What are you most excited about to this summer?

I’m looking forward to seeing fireworks the 4th of July… and maybe finishing a few paintings  or two or getting ready for the fall.

What’s your favorite Usdan “U”?

I tend to like all the different types of “U”s. It feels nice to see all different types of getting along together in one place. It would make me nervous if all the “U”s were the same.

Finally, we’re pleased to present Deirdra Hazeley – Usdan alumna and a graduate of both Cornell University and Columbia University.  She was a resident artist at the League Residency at Vytlacil and the Vermont Studio Center and a participant artist in the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller.

How does being an educator influence you as an artist, and how does being an artist influence you as an educator?

Being an educator and being an artist go hand in hand. As an educator, I’m always looking for new inspiration.  As an artist, I’m always looking for other ways/perspectives on things.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

Being back at Usdan! I attended as a dance student as a pre-teen. Being back on campus is exciting for me. I’m working with students as young as four and as old as fourteen. It’s a fabulous range of ages – and it’s so refreshing to engage in art with students who are so motivated.

What’s your favorite Usdan “U”?

The paintbrush, of course!


The uniqueness of the Usdan summer experience hinges on the incredible pedigree and the work of our teachers. Acclaimed for their work in the classroom and as practicing artists themselves, Usdan instructors hail from the best art schools, conservatories, institutes, and universities.  They are a diverse and talented bunch committed to and immersed in the Usdan teaching philosophy.

Expectations for Usdan faculty are as high as our belief in every student.

Using the Usdan faculty code is the cornerstone, we offer our team highly-flexible guidelines of our teaching philosophy and strategy in order to maintain the camp’s core creative principles of skill, play, community, nature, collaboration, diversity, voice, and design.

The result? Our students have the invaluable opportunity to venture into uncharted waters, take bold and brave chances, and find the confidence to fearlessly create.

What other things make Usdan unique? Share with us here or via questions@usdan.org.

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