Artist-faculty member Judith Sloan is now a 2014 fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts. “I am really honored and also really proud to be recognized,” Sloan says about the $7,000 award. “This money has allowed me to upgrade my home studio and to buy a new music program that allows me a tremendous amount of independence and freedom in my live performances.” Sloan’s attitude to art is nothing if not free. “I make music out of found sound, tongue twisters, prayers, street noises,” Sloan says. “The technology has allowed me to change the dynamic of the performance and is really allowing my relationship with the musicians to fly.”
New technology has not only changed the way Sloan makes art, but also the way she teaches it. “Technology is allowing us to share that work in a bigger way with sites like the Gallatin Confluence site,” Sloan says. “Now my students can upload their short films, and radio or audio pieces, visual art and writing.” Remote access has its limitations, however. “The site does not replace the kind of visceral need that we have as human beings to sit in a room and be present for a performance,” Sloan says, “but it does allow the work to be seen by more people.” Virtual audiences are, then, both more and less. “The one thing that technology cannot replace or really capture is a sense of community with human beings sitting in a room together experiencing a show,” Sloan says. “Now our public space is fragmented, more than ever before.” How do we de-fragment? Sloan adapts. “The trick is to not be seduced by the technology nor by a nostalgic longing for a purist kind of theatrical experience, but to use the technology and multi-media in a live event where the audience is a necessary and integral part of sharing the stories.”
Sloan has put theory into practice with a student-led Live Radio Show for the upcoming Gallatin Arts Festival. “This is a way of marrying the technology and audio listening with the human element and old-fashioned need for storytelling in the presence of a community,” Sloan says. “It is not that different than the way the ancient Greeks used the theatre in the public space.” Ancient Greece is not the only place to get public. “I've been really glad for the opportunity to be in the audience at other events that are produced including the talks, performances, and conferences are taking place more often now at Gallatin,” Sloan says. “It is important to be in a community where we are pushed to think and feel and think critically about how we are engaging with the world.” Artist-professors at Gallatin really exemplify such engagement. “Gallatin, by the nature of having an artist/scholar model of working in the arts, has been a tremendous catalyst for me as well as a great inspiration to be among colleagues who are steeped in the similar ways of thinking about art and social justice,” Sloan says.