By Annette Hinkle
Over the course of the past three years, the Young American Writers Project (YAWP) at Stony Brook Southampton has mentored middle and high school students in the art of writing.
From plays and poetry to personal essay and fiction, YAWP headed by executive director Emma Walton Hamilton and program director Will Chandler, has paired professional writers from the campus’ MFA in Writing and Literature Program with students to guide them in the creation of original works that speak to their unique perspectives.
Now YAWP is adding another component to its mission.
Last Thursday in the historic windmill at Stony Brook Southampton, Hamilton, Chandler and Robert Reeves, director of the MFA program, announced the expansion of YAWP to include visual arts as well.
This past summer, Sag Harbor’s Scott Sandell, who heads up the MFA’s new visual arts department, inaugurated the “almost beachfront digital print studio” with a series of programs for professional artists.
Now, Sandell and fellow Sag Harbor artist and Pierson Middle/High School teacher Peter Solow have teamed up to offer a print-making program for Pierson students at the campus from November 27 to 29. The program, which is being funded by the Reutershan Trust, is the first of many such visual arts collaborations planned for YAWP, which will now be known at the Young Artists and Writers Project, notes Hamilton.
“YAWP’s expansion is a reflection of the expansion of the graduate arts programs at Stony Brook Southampton to include theater and film MFA’s as well as visual arts programs,” notes Hamilton. “There’s never been a more important time for arts in society – writing, visual and performing.”
To that end, a scholarship fund has been created for YAWP and Hamilton notes leadership gifts have been made by Frank and Theresa Maglio as well as The Rose Family Foundation. In addition, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele is sponsoring a $75,000 line-item appropriation for the 2013 State Budget to support the YAWP Scholarship Fund.
Beginning November 5, YAWP will host a week-long playwriting retreat at Stony Brook Southampton with students from local high schools and the FLAGS school. With budget cuts to the arts, Hamilton points out that without the scholarship fund, many schools would not be able to take part in YAWP.
“This kind of gift makes a tremendous difference,” she says.