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MODFEST returns to Vassar as artists explore the theme of “Adapting” in an everchanging world through written and spoken words, visual arts and performance, February 1 - 11, 2018

Actress, singer, and activist, Ali Stroker will headline the 16th annual event

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – Modfest, Vassar College’s annual exploration of the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries, will consider the concept of “Adapting,” February 1 – 11, 2018. Throughout these two weeks, artists will examine different perspectives of what this can mean in our ever-changing world through written and spoken words, visual arts and performance.

Ground-breaking actress, singer and activist Ali Stroker, who made history as the first actress in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway and has performed on stage and screen, will headline the 16th annual event on Sunday, February 11, 3pm in Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film/Martel Theater. Following her performance, a moderated talk discussing her work onstage and off, will be led by Leslie Dunn, Professor of English, who has done substantial work in the area of disability studies. Reservations will be available online beginning January 22, 2018. This is a free but ticketed event. Reservations are required at For more information, please email or call 845-437-5599.

This year’s festival will honor traditions old and new: 2018 marks the second honorary Adene and Richard Wilson Concert as well as Music, Words, and Images, both featuring members of Vassar’s performance faculty. Cappella Festiva Cor Capriccio and Treble Choir, and Stringendo return to present an afternoon of choral and instrumental music by our youngest musicians. Current Vassar students will be featured in performances of the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre and student cabaret, among others.

With events ranging from a collection of images of lasting love against odds to a series of pop-up videos celebrating how species evolve and change to fit a changing world, this year’s festival is full of diverse, powerful, and beautiful programming.

Modfest Events

Ongoing Exhibits

People are Beautiful: Prints, Photographs, and Films by Andy Warhol*
January 26 - April 15, 2018
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

People are Beautiful, a new exhibition of close to 100 rarely seen works by Andy Warhol, explores shifting notions of beauty in the artist’s portraits from 1964 to 1985. Warhol redefined the term ‘beautiful’ and its parameters over and over during his lifetime (1928 - 1987). People are Beautiful focuses entirely on portraits and investigates such themes as Celebrity and Stardom; The Patron-Artist Relationship; Fashion, Models, and the Party Scene; “Most Beautiful” Screen Tests; and Ladies and Gentlemen. This exhibition is part of Warhol x 5, a series of exhibitions in 2018 organized by five academic art museums in the region and drawing upon each other’s collections. Each museum focuses on a different theme, and all five exhibitions feature works donated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. People are Beautiful is supported by the Hoene Hoy Photography Endowment and by the Evelyn Metzger Exhibition Fund.
*The exhibition opens with a lecture, Thursday, January 25 at 5:30pm in Taylor Hall Room 102, “Reel to Real: Andy Warhol’s World” by Vincent Fremont. Followed by a reception at 6:30pm in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Atrium.

Animals, Adapting
February 1-11, 2018
Various locations across campus. Visit for details.

A series of ecological projections that explores the mutability of nature as a constant. Connections are made and broken in an unrelenting cycle of evolution. As one species loses ground, others thrive. The stolid rhinoceros and the marvelous pink dolphin may not be able to coexist with a human world, any more than mastodons and dodos could, but what connections do we lose when they disappear?
Rick Jones and Henry Krusoe ‘17.

Hello, Dear Enemy! Picture Books for Peace and Humanity
February 1-28, 2018
College Center, The Old Bookstore

This exhibition presents an international selection of striking and original picture books that illuminate the motives and consequences of war, especially its impact on the lives of children. Often in quiet and gentle ways, these books speak of everyday life in regions of conflict, of oppression, persecution and traumatic escape, as well as of forbidding borders, threats and injuries. Still, many of them conclude by pointing out paths to a better future, and by cultivating openness, curiosity and empathy.
Curated by the International Youth Library (Munich, Germany).
Mounted by Monica Church.

The First Comes Love Project
January 25 - March 5, 2018*
College Center, The James W. Palmer III Gallery

The “First Comes Love” Project is a traveling exhibition of photographs, stories, and video that bear witness that couples represented in the project have endured the challenges, victories, defeats, births, deaths, loves, and losses that any couple faces in many years together. These couples stand together “for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” and WITHstand the test of time and the discrimination allowed by inequitable laws of many states. The book emphasizes the “normalcy” of these relationships and will serve as a testament to the LGBTQ youth of our community, that long-term, stable, loving relationships are possible for their future.
*Opening Reception on Thursday, February 1, 2018 5-7 pm

Music Library Digital Exhibit

For additional information about this year’s Modfest Artists, please visit Sarah Canino, curator and music librarian.


Music, Words, and Images
Friday, Feb 2, 2018 7pm
Skinner Hall of Music

A Modfest tradition since 2010, Music, Words, and Images is being performed for the first time in Skinner Hall of Music. This concert will explore the theme of “adapting” with exciting and diverse collaborations featuring students, faculty, campus organizations, and guest artists. Featuring works by Richard Wilson, Susan Botti, and Zachary Wadsworth, with performances and readings by Barbara Proud, Richard Wilson, current students, members of the voice faculty, and others.

Creative Career Panel
Saturday, Feb 3, 2018 11am
College Center, Multi-Purpose Room

Join us for a professional development workshop that will explore how "adapting" translates to the professional world in creative ways. Learn from local artists and Vassar alumnae about how they use the arts in their careers. Get firsthand information from individuals working in fields that help people learn, heal, grow, and change using different creative methods.

Second Honorary Adene and Richard Wilson Concert
Saturday, Feb 3, 2018 7pm
Skinner Hall of Music

The Music Department at Vassar College is honored to host its second annual “Adene and Richard Wilson Concert.” This year we feature faculty members Frank Cassara, Danielle Farina, Ashley Jackson, Thomas Sauer, and faculty emeritus, Richard Wilson with music by Elliott Carter, Hans Werner Henze, Sally Beamish, and Wilson.

West Side Story: The Mind and Music of Leonard Bernstein
Richard Kogan

Sunday, February 4, 2018 3pm
Skinner Hall of Music

Harvard educated psychiatrist and Juilliard trained concert pianist Dr. Richard Kogan will present a lecture/recital that explores the psychological forces that influenced the creative life of the American composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). The discussion will be illuminated by performance of some of Bernstein’s most beloved music.

Late Night at the Lehman Loeb
Thursday, February 8, 2018
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

5pm. Gallery Talk on the Warhol exhibition, People are Beautiful: Prints, Photographs with Mary-Kay Lombino, curator.

7pm. Robert Osborne, bass-baritone & David Alpher, piano. Featuring David Alpher’s Between Twilights: Sevens Songs of Poems of Marsden Hartley and Francis Poulenc's song cycle Le travail du peintre inspired by Picasso, Chagall, Braque, Gris, Klee, Miró, and Villon, performed among the Lehman Loeb’s exhibit of works by Hartley and artists referred to in the Poulenc cycle.

Dance Performance: Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre
Friday, February 9, 2018 7pm
Kenyon Hall, Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater

Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre performs world premieres by adjunct artist Leslie Partridge Sachs and returning graduate Alaina Wilson’ 16, as well as works selected from the current repertory by faculty, students and guest choreographers. Reservations will be available online beginning January 22. This is a free ticketed event. Reservations are required at For additional information please email: or call 845-437-5599.

Community Youth Concert
Saturday, February 10, 2018 3pm
Skinner Hall of Music

Cappella Festiva Cor Capriccio & Treble Choir, and Stringendo perform in a concert featuring our youngest musicians at Modfest. Elizabeth Clifton, Elizabeth Handman, and Matt Zydel, conductors.

Cabaret Night
Saturday, February 10, 2018 7pm
Skinner Hall of Music

Students from the Music Department perform classics from the American Songbook and beyond. An intimate exploration of songs by Bernstein, Lerner & Loewe, Gershwin, Loesser, Kerrigan & Lowdermilk, and many more. David Alpher, piano and Jennie Litt, director.

An Afternoon with Ali Stroker: Making Limitations Your Opportunities
Sunday, February 11, 2018 3pm
Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film/Martel Theater

A groundbreaking performer, Ali Stroker made history as the first actress in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway when she originated the role of ‘Anna' in Deaf West's acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. She is also the first actress in a wheelchair to graduate from the NYU Tisch drama program. She has starred on both The Glee Project and Glee, and is currently starring alongside Kyra Sedgwick on ABC’s new drama 10 Days in the Valley. Stroker’s remarkable ability to improve the lives of others through the arts, whether disabled or not, is captured in her motto: “Making Your Limitations Your Opportunities.” Reservations will be available online beginning January 22, 2018. This is a free ticketed event. Reservations are required at For more information, please email or call 845-437-5599.

About Modfest

Under the auspices of the Music Department at Vassar College, Adene and Richard Wilson co-founded Modfest in 2003 to explore and celebrate the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries. Adene (Dee) Wilson ’69, Modfest’s director for the last fourteen seasons, was responsible for bringing some of the finest composers and musicians to speak and perform in Skinner Hall of Music. Composers-in-residence have included Pulitzer-prize winners Yehudi Wyner, Steve Reich, and David del Tredici. Leading contemporary ensembles have also been featured including the Jack Quartet, Decoda, Attacca Quartet, the Mannes Trio, and many others. A primary strength of Dee Wilson’s conception of Modfest has been its engagement with the arts across the college, involving students and faculty of the Art, Dance, Drama, English, Film, Music, and language departments in creative projects and performances.

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. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (

Directions to the Vassar campus, located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, are available at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, January 11, 2018