Center for the Arts Continues 50th Birthday Celebration

Andrew ChatfieldJanuary 17, 20246min
1200x660 CFA

Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts (CFA) continues the celebration of its 50th birthday with a spring semester, featuring an anniversary exhibition and live performances by alumni, plus staged readings and workshops on campus.

Director Joshua Lubin-Levy ’06 said that he and his staff are spending time rethinking the legacy of artists who have touched the spaces since the buildings opened in the fall of 1973, the impacts they’ve had, and how it all might guide the choices they will make for the CFA. “From an alumni exhibition in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery that rethinks the very concept of the ‘alum,’ to Scapegoat Garden’s performance which is based on a deep community work to imagine a liturgy for this place, how does art give us tools to build new kinds of collectivity across space and time?” Lubin-Levy asked. That’s a question the CFA team will continue to explore in future performance programs and exhibitions.

Dean of the Arts and Humanities and Professor of Music Roger Mathew Grant said we turn to art in times of trouble to make sense of a disordered world. “The works brought together for the spring season at the CFA form a pathway through that disorder, with embodied interventions by Deborah Goffe and the Urban Bush Women guiding the way,” Grant said. The performances and workshops will engage audiences in movement, clapping, and call-and-response vocalization while participants pay attention to their breathing and feel the weight of their bodies.

The 50th anniversary exhibition in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, “Always Being Relation: 50 Years of the Gallery at the CFA,” puts in dialogue work by artists who studied at Wesleyan with artists who have exhibited their work in the gallery since its opening. The exhibition will be on display from January 30 through March 3.

Curated by Associate Director of Visual Arts Benjamin Chaffee ’00 with Exhibitions Manager Rosemary Lennox, “Always Being Relation” features 31 artists: Janet Biggs, Daniel Buren, Julien Creuzet, Anthony Discenza ’90, Vincent Fecteau ’92, Tony Feher, Ariadne Fish, Renée Green ’81, Salim Green ’20, Lyle Ashton Harris ’88, Rachel Harrison ’89, Elana Herzog, Dana Hoey ’89, Kahlil Robert Irving, Karrabing Film Collective, Sol LeWitt, Glenn Ligon ’82, Hon. ’12, Alvin Lucier, Melissa Marks ’87, P ’23, Nick Raffel, Cameron Rowland ’11, Fred Sandback, Aki Sasamoto ’04, Beverly Semmes, Cindy Sherman, Diane Simpson, Jessica Stockholder, virgil b/g taylor ’15, Franz Erhard Walther, Andrew Witkin ’00, and Carrie Yamaoka ’79.

Scapegoat Garden, directed by Deborah Goffe MA ’19, will present the latest iteration of her work “Liturgy|Order|Bridge,” a participatory dance ritual, with three performances on February 9 and 10. Calling on Black church traditions, a group of performers, along with a chorus of Middletown artists and change-makers, bring the audience into a contemporary ceremony for gathering through acts of care, hospitality, and shared witness.

Members of the Brooklyn, New York-based performance ensemble Urban Bush Women will lead a community dance workshop, “Dance for Every Body,” on February 9. Members of the company, one of the partnering organizations for the University’s Embodying Antiracism Initiative, previously taught Wesleyan students choreography during the “Common Moment” in August 2023.

A staged reading of the one-act play “The Elephant Is Very Like,” written by Ankita Raturi, directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar, and produced by Malaika Fernandes ’23, will be brought to life by Wesleyan students on February 15. The work, which includes multilingual poetry, prose, and the South Asian dance forms of kathak and bharatanatyam, is being presented in conjunction with the Fries Center for Global Studies’ second annual “Power of Language Week,” organized by Global Language and Outreach Fellow Thais García Bagué ’23.

Pianist Donald Berman ’84 returns to Wesleyan to perform a solo piano program, “Other Transcendentalists,” which pairs two works by Charles Ives (1874-1954), in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Ives’ birth, with four newly commissioned musical portraits of women who were pivotal figures in American Transcendentalism, written by Eve Beglarian, David Sanford, Marti Epstein, and Elena Ruehr. The April 5 concert will be the world premiere of Beglarian’s work “as syllable from sound.”

And trombonist, composer, and bandleader Craig Harris brings his sextet for their Connecticut debut, performing the music of saxophonist Sam Rivers (1923–2011) in celebration of Rivers’ centennial anniversary, as the conclusion of the 21st annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend on April 27. A brilliantly innovative composer, Rivers taught at Wesleyan in the early 1970s.

Visit to see all spring events. Tickets for fall events are available online at The box office opens for walk-up and phone sales on January 29.