Gallatin Arts Festival Sheds Light on Star Students



The Gallatin Arts Festival is a week-long, community-wide celebration of the unique artistry and interdisciplinary scholarship of students at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies.

Emily Fagel, Theater and Books Editor

Last week, the 2018 Gallatin Arts Festival showcased student talent across multiple disciplines. The festival, which originated almost three decades ago, featured both visual and performance art from students within the Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

According to its program, the festival is intended to serve “as a galvanizing force and springboard for action and discussion through the creation and presentation of artistic work.” The weeklong celebration, Gallatin’s largest public event, featured thought-provoking student works, varying in nature and subject, but all provocative nonetheless.

GAF’s visual art component in the Gallatin Galleries drew students to the festival’s opening night on April 9. Featuring work from over 30 students, this element of the festival explored diverse, incensing subjects. The small gallery at 1 Washington Pl. held artwork examining wastefulness, youth, protest signs, vanity and even monstrosity.

A series of performances took place in the Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts during the following four days, with comedy, music, dance, theater and spoken word performances treating audiences to a variety of student work.

“The Optic Trilogy,” a Singaporean play selected and directed by Singaporean Gallatin freshman Kai Sundermann, headlined Wednesday night’s showcase. In the play, Tisch junior Yan Ying Sim’s sassy wit and Tisch alumnus Nishad More’s affable charm hung in perfect balance onstage. The content of the show highlighted the unique struggles of Singaporean city life, and with both featured actors having Singaporean roots, the issues dealt with felt authentically portrayed.

“One of my core aspirations has always been to showcase Singaporean cultural production on a global stage, an arena often dominated by Euro-American works with Southeast Asian works often being relegated to more ‘traditional’ rather than contemporary forms,” Sundermann said. “At the same time, I think that the explorations of what it means to live in an ever-changing metropolis as well as the contours of urban loneliness are things that resonate as strongly in New York as [they do] in Singapore.”

The festival concluded on April 13, and one of the evening’s featured events was two hours of music performed by five separate Gallatin artists. Graduate student LaTasha Barnes explored vernacular jazz, first-year Sylvia Coopersmith performed her “Biology Bops,” senior Leah Lavigne shared feelings of sadness and exchange student Matthieu Marcelin’s act was called “Cubist Jukebox.” Gallatin sophomore Austin M. Christy performed three songs at the event, which was simply titled “Music” in the festival’s program. The opportunity meant a lot to the budding artist, who asked fellow musicians who share his vision group — Peter Cat Society — to perform with him.

“[It] was the first time I played my songs with a band in front of more than three people,” Christy said. “[GAF] was the perfect opportunity to bring my collaborators together and show friends what I’ve been up to. Everything went according to plan — Peter Cat Society killed it.”

According to CAS sophomore Jared Rosamilia, who played bass guitar for Christy at the event, the final night of the festival was very special.

“The atmosphere was really supportive and focused on the music,” Rosamilia said. 

Creative energy hummed throughout the first floor of the Gallatin building for the duration of 2018’s festival. The annual celebration of student art brought to light art pieces of many unique forms and focuses and was enjoyable for performers and audience members alike.


A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 16 print edition. Email Emily Fagel at [email protected].