She is now in charge of ARTSwego
By Melissa Stefanec
Miranda Traudt started her journey as the director of ARTSwego in August 2017. After a semester with the program, she sat down with College Life to share her vision for arts at SUNY Oswego and the greater Oswego community.
What is ARTSwego?
ARTSwego is a presenting arts series whose goal is to support the presentation of arts and cultural programs for the campus and community by collaborating with students, faculty and the administration.
ARTSwego serves as a catalyst for high-quality arts programs that enhance the cultural environment of the college and augment academic offerings. It seeks to introduce students to art forms and performances different from those offered by the mass market. ARTSwego also serves as a bridge between the campus and community. It develops collaborative and interdisciplinary programs that foster patterns of life-long learning and promote cross-cultural understanding.
What a day in your professional life looks like?
I spend quite a bit of time responding to emails and phone calls. This time of year [December], I am receiving many proposals from agents representing artists with potential touring programs. I conduct a lot of research online about artists to see if any would be a good fit for ARTSwego. I usually have a couple of meetings a day to discuss programing logistics or ideas for collaboration.
In January, I will attend the Association of Performing Arts Professional’s annual conference in New York City. This enormous, five-day event offers more than a thousand performances from touring artists. There are also hundreds of art agencies available to meet to discuss potential programing. This will be the first time I am attending this conference, and I am very excited for the experience. I am hoping to see some performances that would be a good fit for Oswego.
Pratt Institute (undergraduate) and Syracuse University (graduate)
Bachelor of Fine Arts in art history; Master of Arts in art history; Master of Arts in museum studies
Professional roads that led you here: After completing my graduate work at Syracuse University, I was hired at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, a non-profit gallery and multi-arts facility, where I began as administrative coordinator and was later promoted to program director. In this role, I created and oversaw programs, including classes, workshops, exhibitions and events. Next, I was hired as managing director of Point of Contact, a contemporary art gallery at Syracuse University. Similar to my role at ARTSwego, at Point of Contact, I focused on using gallery programs to augment student learning. I have also taught graduate and undergraduate courses in arts management, museum studies and art history at several local colleges and universities. Therefore, I am interested in training students for similar careers in the arts industry.
Why are you interested in this job?
ARTSwego is an incredible and unique organization. I was interested in the position because it would enable me to focus on what I love to do — use the arts to educate and inspire others. I am responsible for seeking out artists from all over the world and bringing them back to Oswego to educate and inspire students and our community. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Why do you want to be part of the SUNY Oswego community?
The more I get to know Oswego, the more I am discovering a rich and vibrant community that has so much to offer. I truly feel that Oswego is on the brink of renaissance, and there is an exciting momentum. I also think the arts help build a vibrant community, which can attract people to live and work here. I hope ARTSwego can be a part of this movement, by creating opportunities to experience art from all over the world.
I have never been very good at choosing favorites. My tastes are constantly changing and evolving depending on my mood or what is happening in the world around me. That’s one of the things I love about art; there is something that will speak to you at any and all moments of your life. Overall, I am drawn to works that make me stop and think. Whether it’s a song, a play or a work of art, my most meaningful experiences are those that are serious, potent and expose me to a new and different perspective. I also love experiencing art from different cultures and regions that I don’t normally have the opportunity to interact with.
I have one cat, Cornelia. Most unusual/unique item in your office right now: I actually have a painting by a friend/colleague of mine, Chris Baker. The painting is of the Port of Oswego at night. It has a dark, quiet and mysterious quality about it that I was drawn to. I purchased it several years ago, never knowing that I would someday work in Oswego.
What do you hope to accomplish in the short term?
My goals for the short term are to get to know the campus and Oswego community and build relationships with faculty, staff and community partners. In addition, I have been also familiarizing myself with ARTSwego’s history and daily operations. I am excited to be working with a group of students to rebrand ARTSwego, creating a new visual identity for the organization. I’m also working on planning programs for the academic year.
What do you hope to accomplish in the long term?
My long-term focus is to grow the rich legacy ARTSwego has worked hard to establish. I look forward to continuing to bring artists from all over the world, to offer innovative programs and thought-provoking experiences for the campus and Oswego community. Through partnership and collaboration, I hope to strengthen our ties with the campus and community to create experiences that are attractive and available to all.
What are you looking forward to most about working with students?
What I love about working with students is how open they tend to be — open to new ideas and ways of thinking. At this point in their lives, most students are spending time learning about various subjects. I find them to be thoughtful, collaborative and not afraid to push boundaries or question norms. Working with students makes me constantly revaluate my own notions and ideas, and that’s a great thing.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the recently renovated Tyler Hall?
The recent renovations to Tyler Hall have resulted in a beautiful newly upgraded theater, Tyler Art Gallery and lobby area. Now, you can have a whole multi-arts experience in one space. Last month, I attended Oswego Opera’s Mikado in Waterman Theatre and also had the opportunity to view the current exhibition at Tyler Art Gallery during intermission. That was great.
How do you plan to get more students on campus involved in the arts?
To get students more involved in the arts, I am focused on two areas. One is to develop a sort of student advisory committee who can help inform me on what student’s interests are and also act as ambassadors to spread the word about ARTSwego around campus. I am also working on having more students involved through internships, work experiences and class projects so they can assist with the production of ARTSwego programs and ultimately be more involved in the entire process. The second way I am working on student involvement is to focus on building programs with faculty and staff on campus. That way, I can look for artists that would easily fit into course curriculum and other campus initiatives. The more partners and collaborations there are between faculty and staff with ARTSwego programs, the easier it is to reach students and the more powerful the programs will be.
How do you plan to increase student-community interactions?
I think perhaps the most transparent and achievable way to increase student-community interactions is to partner with community organizations and businesses off campus. While Waterman Theatre was under renovation, many ARTSwego programs took place off campus. This was a great opportunity to experiment with different venues and audiences. I am hoping to take the information we learned from those years and create some intentional programs that take place in the community.
ARTSwego Features “Feathers of Fire”
Don’t miss the next performance brought to campus by ARTSwego, “Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic.”
It will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23 at the Waterman Theatre.
“Feathers of Fire” is a visually breathtaking cinematic shadow play for all ages, created by Hamid Rahmanian, a 2014 Guggenheim fellowship-winning filmmaker/visual artist. The play unfolds an action-packed magical tale of star-crossed lovers from the 10th-century Persian epic Shahnameh (‘The Book of Kings’), who triumph at the end against all odds. Rahmanian’s graphics, derived from the visual tradition of the region, will be rendered as puppets, costumes, masks, scenography and digital animation, all of which will come to life in a “live animation” shadow casting technique perfected by shadow master Larry Reed on a cinema-size screen.
The play also features an original score by the acclaimed musical team, Loga Ramin Torkian and Azam Ali. “Feathers of Fire” had its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2016.
Interview with Melissa Stefanec