Events: Visiting Artist Lecture Series

The lecture series offers a unique opportunity for local residents to learn from artists and educators around the country about their specific practice, thought process, and influences behind their work. Wassaic Project invites you to come learn something new and expand your mind, whether you are an artist or just an art lover.

All lectures will be at the MAXON MILLS, 37 Furnace Bank Road, Wassaic, NY 12592, unless noted otherwise.







Ace Lehner

Saturday, January 27, 6pm

Artist + Visual Culture Scholar

Ace Lehner is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar specializing in critical engagement with identity and representation; history, theory, and criticism of contemporary art; visual studies; photography theory and queer and trans theory. Lehner’s artistic practice often embraces collaboration and primarily utilizes photography and video to mine the complex relation between representations and the constitution of identities. Lehner has lectured and exhibited throughout North America, Europe and at the Ghetto Biennial in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and has work held in several private collections. Among other fellowships and scholarships Lehner was a recipient of the Murphy and Cadogen Fellowship in the Fine Arts, and the Digital Arts and New Media Fellowship from UCSC. Lehner has taught and given lectures at various institutions including California College of the Arts, Southern Exposure, University of California at Santa Cruz; Rochester Institute of Technology; and Stony Brook Manhattan.

Lehner is currently a Ph.D. candidate in visual studies in the history of art and visual culture department at University of California, Santa Cruz and resides in the Hudson Valley region of New York conducting research on their dissertation, Trans Representations: Non-Binary Visual Theory in Contemporary Art Photography. Lehner holds an MA/MFA in visual and critical studies/fine art from California College of the Arts and a BFA in studio art with a minor in social anthropology with distinction from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Lehner also studied fine art and art history at Middlesex University in London, UK. Lehner works as a freelance photographer and as a gallery guide with the Dia Foundation.

Currently Lehner has work on view at Alter Space Gallery in San Francisco, California from their recent and ongoing scholarly and artistic project Gender Is A Drag which explores the possibility of transforming gender corporeally and theoretically. Lehner’s video piece Freedom ’17 is now on view at the San Francisco LGBTQ Museum and is published along with Lehner’s writing in OUT/LOOK the Birth of Queer. Lehner recently opened their collaborative project with Libby Paloma: Chingona Por Vida, at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Gallery in Kingston, NY. This February Lehner will be presenting their research paper Trans Selfies as Contemporary Art: The Performative Self-Portraiture of Alok Vaid-Menon, at the College Art Association Conference in Los Angeles.


Taraka Larson

Saturday, February 24, 5pm

Artist + Prince Rama

A pummeling, voluntary thrust into the heart of darkness at the speed of light; a face-first bungee jump off the mortal coil into the gaping canyon of forever; a fistful of snow hurled at death’s grin from high on a ski-lift doomed to eternally climb the summit-less mountain; a motorcycle falls from a tear in Hell; a tesseract constructed out of a half pipe slows down time as life flashes before your eyes in vivid colors; a pastless, futureless XTREME NOW unwinds before you, interrupted only by the consumption of a mysterious glowing green liquid oozing from a shiny aluminum can marked “ENERGY…”
Not much can faze Taraka Larson – born on Beethoven’s birthday, she grew up in ashrams; lived on black metal communes; worked for utopian architects; written manifestos; delivered lectures from pools of fake blood; conducted group exorcisms disguised as VHS workouts; designed a whole line of byzantine extreme sports wear; and toured the world extensively with her band, Prince Rama. The band has become much of a cult enigma over the years, riding the fine line between rock n roll and performance art and are perhaps the only band who have been able to simultaneously incite mosh pits and stage dive while paradoxically reaching  #3 on the Billboard New Age charts. Through the lens of music, Larson has created an unconventional visual arts practice and has exhibited internationally at the Whitney Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, and the MoMA PS 1 VW Dome, to name a few. She has also published several manifestos on the “NOW AGE” a pseudo-religion she created to practice post-internet utopianism that puts forth her music’s aesthetic and metaphysical philosophies, earning both hatred and praise from art and music worlds alike. Her latest manifesto “Xtreme Now” is a meditative examination of speed art, extreme sports, and the sublime experience.  


Adam Frelin

Saturday, March 24, 5pm

Artist + Educator

Adam Frelin (b.1973, Grove City, PA) has shown widely at venues such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Getty Research Institute, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and the College Art Association. Frelin has completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, MacDowell Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Fine Arts Work Center, and Yaddo, among others. He has published two books of photography and has had several artworks commissioned throughout the world. Most recently, as lead artist on Breathing Lights, he and his team were awarded a $1 million Public Art Challenge grant through Bloomberg Philanthropies to realize a multi-city, temporary public art installation that involves illuminating hundreds of abandoned buildings with a breathing effect created with light.

Frelin received a BFA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and an MFA from University of California, San Diego. Currently he is an Associate Professor of art at the SUNY University at Albany, and lives in Troy, NY.



Pamela Council

Friday, January 6


Pamela Council was born in Southampton, New York and lives in South Bronx, New York. She received a B.A. from Williams College and an M.F.A. from Columbia University.  Pamela makes sculptures, prints, performances, jokes, and more. Recent works are abstract sensual experiences that freestyle on notions of self care, estate management, personal style, and the preciousness of product. A combination of artist-made and acquired materials is used in the work, which has been featured at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Williams College Museum of Art, Outpost Artist Resources, Rebuild Foundation, and the Wassaic Project. Pamela has created a commission for Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Pamela is a member of Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter, and recently completed a residency at MANA Contemporary.


Carolyn Sickles

Monday, January 23

Artist + Curator + Director of Engagement at Abrons Arts Center

Carolyn Sickles is an artist, curator and arts educator living in Brooklyn, New York. Sickles currently works in Manhattan’s Lower East Side as Director of Engagement at Abrons Arts Center overseeing public programs, classes, and school-based artist teaching residencies. She has facilitated workshops for New Museum, Dia Art Foundation, and e-flux; guest lectured for Teachers College Columbia University, The New School, and Steinhardt School of Education, Culture, and Human Development at New York University; and presented at National Guild for Community Arts Education and NYCMER annual conferences. Previous institutions include the Norton Museum of Art and Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art. Sickles received her M.S. Edu in Museum Leadership at Bank Street College, B.F.A. in Sculpture and B.A. in Art History attending Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Kansas City Art Institute, and Florida Atlantic University. Select residencies, exhibitions, and curatorial projects include Shift, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (New York); Hidden in Plain Sight, Projekt722 (Brooklyn); Truck n’ South, Living Room Gallery (Miami); Beyond Delicate, Whitespace at The Mordes Collection and Materially Speaking, Armory Art Center (Palm Beaches).


MaryKate Maher

Thursday, January 26


MaryKate Maher received her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2004) and her BFA from Arcadia University (2001).  She also studied at the Glasgow School of Art (1999) and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2008).  Maher has received fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts, Franconia Sculpture Park, The McDowell Colony, Yaddo and Socrates Sculpture Park.  Exhibitions have included Tiger Strikes Asteroid (NY), Interstate Projects (NY), Real Art Ways (CT), NURTUREart (NY), Franconia Sculpture Park (MN), with international exhibitions at Kunstwerk Carlshutte (Germany) and Das Gift Gallery (Germany).  Maher was a 2015 Rema Hort Mann Foundation grant nominee and is currently a 2017-17 A.I.R. Gallery fellow.  She lives in Brooklyn, NY.



Sara Maria Salamone + Tyler Lafreniere

Saturday, February 18

Artists + Directors + Founders of Mrs. Gallery

Mrs. is an artist run gallery in Maspeth, Queens in operation since September 2016.  Located away from the geographic epicenter of the New York art world, the gallery showcases contemporary artists in the neighborhood of Maspeth, in hopes of engaging the community and offering a new platform for emerging, under represented and mid career artists.  Mrs. is owned and operated by Sara Maria Salamone and  Tyler Lafreniere.

Sara Maria Salamone is a photographer and curator who has earned her BA in Photography from Hampshire College and her MFA in Photography and Related Media from Parsons The New School for Design.  Her most recent solo exhibition was held at GCA in Brooklyn, NY.  Salamone has curated exhibitions at Albany Center Galleries, LAUNCH F18, NYCAMs, site95 and is an active curator with Doppelgänger Projects.  Salamone also comes from a diverse and experienced background, having worked at Casey Kaplan, site95, LAUNCH F18, The Armory Show, Frieze New York among many others.  Salamone lives and works in Brooklyn.

Tyler Lafreniere is a visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2006, Lafreniere earned his BA in Fine Art from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. During his undergraduate studies, he also concentrated in Printmaking at Goldsmiths University in London. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in New York and around the United States and has been represented by LAUNCH F18 since 2012.


Lacey Fekishazy

Wednesday, February 22

Artist + Founder of SARDINE

Lacey Fekishazy (born Poughkeepsie, NY 1981) is an artist, gallerist, and draftsman for the Estate of Sol LeWitt with roots in the Hudson Valley and NYC art communities.  In 2011, Fekishazy founded the contemporary art gallery SARDINE in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  What started as a small enterprise has grown into more than five years of operation and approximately 50 events and exhibitions.  SARDINE is a space for emerging and mid-career artists, and continues to diversify in its breadth of art.  SARDINE has been featured in ArtNews, Artsy, The New York Times, Time Out New York, and Hyperallergic.  After a decade in NYC, Fekishazy currently lives and works in Newburgh, New York with her young family.  She has organized the outdoor sculpture/installation show Glenlily Grounds (GLG) as part of Newburgh Open Studios (NOS) for the past 3 years.  In 2016, she also curated the inaugural exhibition titled SILENT SHOUT at the Gallery at ATLAS in Newburgh.
Fekishazy earned her MFA at Queens College CUNY in 2010 after working at Dia:Beacon and for the Estate of Sol LeWitt for many years. She holds a BFA in Painting from SUNY New Paltz (2003) and an AAS degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology (2001).  She has shown her own artwork with Possible Projects (Brooklyn, NY), ATM Gallery (New York, NY), Small Black Door (Brooklyn, NY), Dorsky Gallery (DGCP)(Long Island City, NY), The Puffin Room (New York, NY), Art 101 (Brooklyn, NY), and Mass Moca (North Adams, MA).


Jesse Firestone

Friday, March 17


Jesse Firestone is an independent curator who organizes exhibitions that utilize art as a generative field fueled by meditation, catharsis, alchemy, and action outside the market.  These exhibitions feature a range of mediums and curatorial tactics designed to create immersive and participatory experiences. By using art as a nexus to open a wide range of topics, Firestone turns the gallery into a zone for production, experimentation, and introspection as opposed to a blind worship or alienation. Firestone is particularly interested in fostering art as active resistance and art that prompts feeling through stimulation and interaction.
Firestone is currently the Curator in Residence at Trestle Projects in Brooklyn NY, Project Manager at Satellite Art Show, and a contributor to D/Railed Magazine. His projects have been exhibited at Young at Art Children’s Museum (FL), Pulitzer Foundation of the Arts (MO), Mary Sky (VT), SATELLITE (FL), and Trestle (NY), among others. Firestone’s projects have received shoutouts from Hyperallergic, Konbini, ArtNet, Playboy, and the Sun Sentinel among others.

Hillary Reder

Sunday, March 26

Curatorial Assistant at MOMA

Hillary Reder is a Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art. She has contributed to exhibitions including A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde; Jackson Pollock: A Collection Survey, 1934-1954; and Andy Warhol: Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953-1967. Currently she is working on an exhibition on women artists and postwar abstraction. Before joining MoMA, she held positions in the curatorial departments of the Williams College Museum of Art, where she assisted on an Anselm Kiefer exhibition, and the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, where she worked on a Terry Adkins publication. She received her Masters degree in the History of Art from Williams College, where she wrote her qualifying paper on Max Beckmann.


Tiffany Smith

Thursday, March 30


Tiffany Smith is a visual artist who uses photography, video, design, and installation to create conceptually based work focused on identity, cultural ambiguity, and representation; particularly within minority communities. Her work examines individual narratives pulled from an array of multi-cultural influences, derived from her upbringing between Miami, Florida, Nassau, Bahamas, and Jamaica, and molded by her current home of Brooklyn, NY. Smith’s practice searches for new perspectives on dominant historical narratives and aims to provide insight into issues surrounding communities and how they are formed, defined, and identified.

Smith received a BA in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design and an MFA in Photo, Video and Related Media from School of Visual Arts, NY. She has been written about in The New York Times, Hyperallergic, and featured on pdnonline and Her work has been exhibited internationally and throughout the United States including shows at The National Gallery of Jamaica during the 2014 Jamaica Biennial, Photoville 2015, New York, Photo NOLA, New Orleans; public art installations in Newark Penn Station through The Gateway Project and in Marcus Garvey Park during Flux Art Fair, Harlem; and most recently at Long Gallery, Harlem.



George Ferrandi

Wednesday, May 17

Artist + Director of Wayfarers Studio Program and Gallery


George Ferrandi is an American artist whose performance, installation and participatory projects address issues of vulnerability, impermanence, fallibility and spectacle, often through experimental approaches to narrative. Employing a unique humor and a deep sense of humanity, her work stimulates a rethinking of cultural assumptions.

George Ferrandi’s work has been performed or exhibited at the International House of Japan in Tokyo, Abrons Arts Center in New York, the Kitchen in New York, Cinders Gallery in Brooklyn, Sleuce Art Fair in London, the McKinney Contemporary in Dallas, the Wexner Center in Columbus, the Harn Museum in Gainesville, Florida, and Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. She has been awarded grants from the Franklin Furnace Fundwinners for Performance Art, the Mid Atlantic Arts Council, Pratt Institute and in 2015 she was an NEA funded Fellow with the Japan-US Friendship Commission. George is the director of Wayfarers Studio Program and Gallery in Bushwick, and was the founding member of the touring performance project Cloud Seeding: Circus of the Performative Object. She is currently developing an intergalactic cultural festival called JUMP!STAR slated for 2020.  George teaches Sculpture and Performance Art periodically at Pratt Institute, Virginia Commonwealth University and at the Rhode Island School of Design. She also runs a small business specializing in the restoration of statues of saints for churches.



Jessica Rath

Wednesday, June 28


“I want viewers to experience a non-human perspective of our shared world. I make my work in shifting habitats, both those examined by scientists and those unnoticed because of limited definitions of the “natural world,” including agricultural land.”
Through her practice Los Angeles-based artist Jessica Rath considers how the aesthetics of agricultural production and human containment of the landscape effect non-human species. Her 2015 solo exhibition a better nectar was based on the symbiosis between bumblebees and the plants they pollinate and included a human-scaled bumblebee nest tied to a NOAA weather feed that resonated a 40-person chamber choir. Recent exhibitions include The Oscelots of Foothill Boulevard with Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood (Pitzer College Galleries, 2016) and take me to the apple breeder (Jack Hanley Gallery, 2012) which garnered reviews in Art in America, Artforum, Xtra Contemporary Art Quarterly, LA Times and Smithsonian. Jessica has received awards from the California Community Foundation, Headlands Center for the Arts, Reed Foundation, Metabolic Studios, Graham Foundation, Durfee Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation and the City of Los Angeles. Her new film “The Last of the Herd,” will premiere at the Center for Art and Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art this summer during an exhibition of her research process. Jessica received her B.A. in Sociology from University of Missouri and M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts. She currently teaches writing, research and fine art at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.


Leeza Meksin

Thursday, July 27

Artist + Founder & Co-Director at Ortega y Gasset Projects

Leeza Meksin (Born 1977, Moscow, Russia) is an interdisciplinary artist, who makes paintings, installations, public art and multiples. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at Miller Contemporary, NYC (2017) and a 2-person show at GBS, Los Angeles. Meksin has created site-specific installations at The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City (2016), The Kitchen, NYC (2015), BRIC Media Arts, Brooklyn (2015), Brandeis University, Waltham (2014), the former Donnell branch of the New York Public Library (2011), Cosign Projects, St. Louis (2011), and in a National Endowment for the Arts funded project at Artspace, New Haven, CT (2012).  Her work has been exhibited at Regina Rex Gallery, NYC (2011, 2014), Airplane Gallery, Brooklyn (2014), Primetime, Brooklyn (2013), Adds Donna, Chicago (2011) and Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC (2009). In 2017 Meksin was awarded a summer residency at The Banff Centre in Canada. She is the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist grant (2015) and the co-founder and director of Ortega y Gasset Projects, an artist-run gallery in Brooklyn, NY since 2013.  Meksin received a MFA in painting from Yale, a BFA from SAIC and a joint BA/MA in Comparative Literature from The University of Chicago. She lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.



Vince Contarino

Saturday, August 19

Artist + Co-Director at Present Company

Vince Contarino is a Brooklyn-based artist and curator. He received his BFA from Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL and has exhibited in and outside of NYC for the past decade. Awards and residencies include The Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program and a 2012 Painting Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, where he currently serves on the Artist Advisory Committee for Painting. Recent publications include “Frozen Mansfield”, with poet Geoffrey Young and “Golden Age: Perspectives on abstract painting today”, published by NUTUREart. His work has been covered in Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail, and SFAQ, among others. He previously organized numerous exhibitions as co-founder of the artist-run curatorial initiative, Progress Report and is currently a partner and co-director of Present Company, a Brooklyn-based exhibition, and social space.


Pali Kashi + Sarah Welsh Elliot

Sunday, September 24

Directors of Safe Gallery


Safe Gallery was founded by Pali Kashi in August 2015. Named for the turn-of the-century safe that sits central in the gallery space, this unusual environment lends itself to the overall attitude expressed by Safe Gallery’s curatorial intent. The dynamic exhibitions on offer aim to be anything but cautious. The 1,400 square foot gallery is a truly unique space, proud to display its quirks in lieu of strict white walls. Rough wood floors, exposed brickwork, and a wall of polished wood paneling create a singular setting, adding to the charged dialogue of Safe’s two-person shows.

Kashi brought on Sarah Welsh Elliott as partner in January 2016. As the co-founder of L.A.’s Welsh Beck gallery in the late 1990s, Elliott has a long history of innovative curation. She was one of the first to show work by fellow RISD alumni Joe Bradley, Melissa Brown, and Jim Drain. Kashi and Elliott are long time residents of Brooklyn and are deeply invested in the creative community that has flourished around them. This sense of community informs the purview of Safe, but does not limit its aesthetic scope. Kashi and Elliott do not consider the gallery a simple project space, but rather a focused venue that showcases emerging art in the form of thoughtfully curated exhibitions.



Brett Hunter

Friday, October 20

Artist + Educator

Brett Hunter is an artist, educator, and facilitator living in Hornell, NY. He teaches courses in research-based, contextual, and social practice in the Sculpture/ Dimensional Studies Division at Alfred University, where he is dedicated to bringing students out of the school and into the street.  With a belief that the stories we tell and the dialogue we have form the foundation of our communities, he collaborates to create structures and moments to facilitate, collect, and share these conversations. Dedicated to the role of art in rural communities and supporting committed citizens in shaping the places they live, he is currently the director of the Hornell Community Arts Center and co-founder (with Angie To) of Broadway Union, an arts programing organization and set of physical spaces dedicated to linking artists and their work with the varied communities of Hornell. He works as a part of two collaboratives: Like Riding a Bicycle with Katie Hargrave and Ghost and Robot with Andrew Oesch.