- Justin Windman-Kerr with his piece Tryptophan,part of “We’re All Human” on view at CCACthrough November 30.
2020 has been a tough year to be in the arts. Whether it's professional dance, theater, music, or visual arts or the educational classes that train people for those opportunities, the last six months have greatly reshaped how we all engage with arts across the spectrum.
As we head into fall with no end to social distancing in sight, however, many arts organizations have renewed their commitments to making their programming work for the "new normal." Among these is the Cornell Creative Arts Center (CCAC) in Kingston, an organization developed by the Arc Mid-Hudson to provide inclusive arts programming to the community.
Located on Cornell Street in Midtown, the CCAC opened its newly completed 12,000-square-foot center in April, just as the pandemic hit the region. The center is home to a ceramics studio, gallery space, art classroom and studio, and an 1,800-square-foot dance and movement studio, as well as a co-working space and four office/studio rentals.
In lieu of in-person classes in its state-of-the-art facility, the CCAC rolled out a robust weekly schedule of virtual workshops, including adaptive dance, a style that modifies traditional techniques for all types of movement and creative expression; chair-based yoga and guided meditation classes; and art workshops designed with both beginning and advanced artists in mind.
For the fall, in addition to the program of virtual classes, the CCAC is excitedly easing into its physical space by introducing limited-capacity and private in-person classes over the next few months. Classes will be taught by the CCAC's growing staff, which includes a dance instructor, Nina Ries Easter; a yoga and meditation instructor, Melissa Mae; and three visual arts instructors—Jillian Rahm, Christina Fusco, and Kasmira Demyan; who incorporate easily accessible found-object art, watercolor, and diverse visual arts practices from cultures around the world.
To make virtual art classes even easier to participate in this fall, the CCAC also recently introduced "Stay-At-Home Art Supply Kits." The kits include all supplies for a select number of classes and can be purchased for pick-up at the center in Midtown.
On Saturday, September 12, CCAC also dipped its toes back into in-person gallery shows with its first in-person exhibition. "We're All Human" showcases the diversity of human experience and was juried by MariaElena Ferrer, a socially engaged artist and the Executive Director of Humanamente Kingston, Chair of Athena Network New York, and Vice-Chair of the Ulster County Human Rights Commission. On September 26 and 27, the exhibition was also a stop on the annual Art Walk Kingston, the self-guided tour that celebrates the city's art scene and local community. "We're All Human" will be open for limited-capacity visits through the end of November. The CCAC will also host an open house tour on Wednesday, November 18 from 12 to 6pm. Visitors can come check out the facilities where in-person classes will be held and stop into the gallery to check out the exhibition, too.
While the CCAC's opening year has certainly brought many challenges, the past six months have also offered plenty of opportunity for the organization to pressure-test the meaning of inclusivity. "Change is the mother of invention and innovation," says CCAC Art Director Rachel Jacob, "Not only has this been a great opportunity for us right now, but it has been a great way of continuing to think about accessible services for the future."