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SUNY Plattsburgh to Present "Crossing the BLVD" Oct. 6

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ A special presentation on the struggles of immigrants and refugees coming to America since 1965, will be held at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, Hawkins Hall.

"Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America" will be presented by the Music Department, the Art Department, The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the Center to Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion.

The multimedia performance by Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan portrays the struggles, humor and pathos of new immigrants and refugees in the most polyglot locality in the United States. At a time when immigration patterns are re-shaping American culture, the award-winning book, the exhibition and performance sheds light on the experiences of people who came to the United States after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Amendment that mandated an end to immigration policies favoring white Western Europeans.

Lehrer, a photographer, writer and book artist, and Sloan, an oral historian, actress and audio artist, traveled the world for three years by trekking the streets of their home borough of Queens, N.Y., the most ethnically diverse locality in the country.

The "Crossing the BLVD" project documents the people and stories they encountered along their journey. In the performance, Lehrer is the tour guide, providing wry commentary on the follies of Queens living and the U.S. immigration policy, while Sloan "channels" a variety of interviewees. Their performance is illuminated by projected images of the subjects, objects they have carried with them from home to home, landscapes and maps, along with Sloan's engaging soundtrack of original music, sounds and voices.

The New York Times called the performance, "an offbeat tour of one of the country's most ethnically diverse counties...riveting stories about a new wave of immigrants to America. And The Washington Post described the performance of "immigrant life in Queens, as told in the intimate, rich, comic, ironic and sad stories so often seen but not heard in America's big cities.

About the Project

"Crossing the BLVD" is a project of EarSay, a non-profit arts organization founded by Sloan and Lehrer, dedicated to documenting and portraying lives of the uncelebrated. They began their research for "Crossing the BLVD" by conducting storytelling workshops in libraries, schools and community centers throughout Queens. They continued with extended interviews with over 100 people in bodegas, family-owned restaurants, places of worship, public housing projects, apartments and private homes. They documented the results of their oral histories, photographs and recordings in a beautifully illustrated and award-winning book of photographs and stories (W.W. Norton), an award-winning audio CD, a series of public radio documentaries, a traveling museum exhibition, an interactive website www.crossingtheblvd.org and Mobile Story Booth, and a multimedia performance.

Along with favorable reviews, Sloan and Lehrer received the 2004 Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Art Society of New York and "Crossing" was selected as one of the Best Books and CDs of Indie Culture 2004 from the Utne Reader. The project's first award, prior to publication, came from the Archivists Round Table of New York, "Crossing the BLVD" won the 2003 Innovative Use of Archives Award, for "exploding the paradigms of oral history and re-interpreting them our multimedia century."

The museum exhibition consisting of 90 photographic portraits, more than 100 photographs of landscapes and objects and 13 audio sound stations that opened at the Queens Museum of Art and is now traveling throughout the United States. The exhibition is sponsored with a major grant from the Ford Foundation.

EarSay received major support for their research and development of the "Crossing the BLVD" project from The Rockefeller Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the Greenwall Foundation; a Furthermore publishing grant; a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund; A V-Day Award; the Puffin Foundation; the New York State Council on the Arts; the New York Foundation for the Arts; the Lucius and Eva Eastman Foundation; and the Queens Council on the Arts. The Mobile Story Booth in the community was sponsored with funds from Verizon.

"Crossing the BLVD" was developed in partnership with Human Rights First (new name for Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), The Queens Museum of Art, New York Public Radio, Elders Share the Arts, the Queensborough Public Libraries and the Brooklyn Arts Exchange.

About the Artists

Warren Lehrer is a photographer, writer and designer whose pioneering books and theatrical works celebrate the music of thought and speech, the complexity of character, and the relationship between social structures and the individual.

His books, acclaimed for capturing the shape of thought and reuniting the traditions of storytelling with the printed page, include: The Portrait Series: a quartet of men ; GRRRHHH ; i mean you know ; versations and FRENCH FRIES .

He has won numerous grants and fellowships including those from NEA, New York State Council and Foundation for the Arts and the Ford Foundation. He has also garnered several awards including The International Book Design award and three American Institute of Graphic Arts book awards.

Lehrer is an Associate Professor of Art at the School of Art and Design at SUNY Purchase and a member of the graduate faculty at the School of Visual Arts' Designer as Author program.

Judith Sloan is an actress, oral historian and audio artist whose multi-character solo performances combining humor and a love of the absurd include Denial of the Fittest, Responding to Chaos, and A Tattle Tale: eyewitness in Mississippi.

She's received grants from the New York Foundation on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her work has been produced throughout the United States and abroad in such venues as The Public Theater, The Jewish Museum, the 92nd Street Y and The Smithsonian Institution.

Her plays, commentaries, and essays have been published by Second Story Press , the Forward and the New York Times . Her radio documentaries have aired on National Public Radio, New York Public Radio and Pacifica stations.

Sloan is a member of the faculty at the Gallatin School at NYU where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in documentary art, oral history, theatre and community projects. She is also the director of Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts, an arts mentorship and training program creating collaborations between disparate communities.

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