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‘Stone Canoe’ will showcase arts in Upstate New York
‘Stone Canoe’ will showcase arts in Upstate New YorkFebruary 20, 2007Eileen Jevisejevis@uc.syr.edu
Syracuse University has launched a new community-oriented arts annual called “Stone Canoe.” Subtitled “A Journal of Arts and Ideas from Upstate New York,” the publication has a two-fold mission: to augment the University’s ongoing efforts to build creative partnerships within the larger community and to showcase the impressive range of artistic activity that characterizes life in the Upstate New York region.
The journal takes its name from the ancient Native American story of the Peacemaker, who traveled from the shores of Lake Ontario to the Finger Lakes to bring the message of peace to the warring tribes of the region and founded the Haudenosaunee Confederacy on the shores of Onondaga Lake. The Peacemaker traveled in a stone canoe, and its miraculous ability to float demonstrated to the tribal leaders the power of his message.
Apart from its importance as the first recorded instance of peaceful coexistence and participatory democracy in the region, the Peacemaker’s story is a journey of self-awareness, and his magic songs are a wonderful metaphor for the transformative power of art.
According to Bea Gonzalez, interim dean of University College, where the journal is housed, “Stone Canoe” is a “perfect example of what Chancellor Cantor means by Scholarship in Action. This is a project that came to life as a result of the collaborative work of SU faculty and students and several community organizations, such as the Y Writer’s Series, the Cultural Resources Council, the Syracuse City School District and the Community Folk Art Center. The entire project has created dialogues between people who otherwise would not likely have interacted.”
According to Robert Colley, associate dean at University College and executive editor of “Stone Canoe,” the journal is a community effort in the broadest sense, involving contributions from faculty, staff or students from 11 regional colleges and universities, and a tremendous range of community artists and writers — 71 in all — either from Upstate or with some connection to the region. But, he adds, the thrust of the journal’s content is anything but parochial and demonstrates in dramatic fashion how global concerns are central to the work of regional artists.
The journal also features a deliberate mix of superstars and beginners, ranging from well-known writers such as SU professors Mary Gaitskill and George Saunders and Pulitzer-prize winners Steve Dunn and W.D. Snodgrass, to people publishing their first poem or story. Ages of the contributors range from 16 to 80.
Unlike many arts journals, “Stone Canoe” features a wide range of visual arts, including photography, painting, sculpture and multimedia installations. The artwork in the inaugural issue will be on view at the Delavan Art Gallery in downtown Syracuse for the month of March.
The work for issue No. 1 was chosen by a team of editors from SU: Michael Burkard, poet and professor in the Creative Writing Program in The College of Arts and Sciences; Johanna Keller, director of the Goldring Arts Journalism Program at the Newhouse School; David MacDonald, ceramicist and professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ (VPA) School of Art and Design; and Daniel Torday, graduate student in the Creative Writing Program and former editor at Esquire Magazine. Saunders also served as contributing editor for the inaugural issue. The editorships for the various genres will rotate each year among faculty or community arts people, to ensure a fresh perspective for each issue.
Denise Heckman, associate professor in VPA’s Department of Industrial and Interactive Design, will work with a group of students to create an innovative Web version of “Stone Canoe,” which will use some of the latest thinking in designing interactive media for inclusive audiences.
Three Stone Canoe prizes have been created for emerging artists and writers contributing to the journal, and are funded by private citizens. At a March 3 ceremony to celebrate the journal’s launch and open the art show at the Delavan, the 2007 awardees will receive a cash prize of $500 and a replica of the original commissioned stone canoe alabaster carving by noted Native American artist Tom Huff. The awardees: Diana Whiting, a photographer from Skaneateles, won the Michael Fawcett Prize for Visual Arts; Lucy Harrison of Baldwinsville won the Bea Gonzalez Prize for Poetry; and E.C. Osondu, a Nigerian citizen now studying at SU, won the Allen and Nirelle Galson Prize for Fiction.
“Stone Canoe” will be available in March. To purchase a copy ($18), contact Syracuse University Press at (315) 443-2597 or 1-800-365-8929 or order online at http://www.SyracuseUniversityPress.syr.edu.