Welcome to the ninth issue of Gandy Dancer—the result of hard work by State University of New York students and the SUNY Geneseo editorial staff. While the SUNY system is affected by a lack of institutional support for the arts, we must recognize those who have stepped forward to make this journal possible. We could not publish Gandy Dancer without the gracious support of the English Department at SUNY Geneseo and the Parry family. Seeing this issue of Gandy come together reminded us of why we make this journal, why we’ve committed ourselves to the arts. We believe that finding beauty, responding to injustice, and reaching out to others, is the responsibility of artists. The visual art and writing here represents what we believe is some of the best creative work in New York State. To everyone who submitted, we admire and thank you. Try as we might to gather submissions from all sixty-four SUNY schools, communication remains difficult, which only pushes us further to encourage students to create and share their work. As Jeffrey Lependorf of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) says, a literary journal is a “a printed gathering place.” At its best, then, Gandy Dancer is a community.
When we were freshmen at Geneseo, our college cut the art department. This closure has had tangible consequences: student-led art groups have struggled with participation, our departments have drifted apart, and the arts building, Brodie Hall, is half-empty. What do we lose when we lose the arts? A dynamic culture and vital access to the ways in which other people think through life. Our communication with each other, with the world, on the level of poetry, painting, and storytelling, loses its place.
In our own attempt to foster community and fight for the arts, we started a local chapter of the national Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE). Originally an effort to connect Gandy Dancer with other undergraduate journals across the country, FUSE became an opportunity for us to open a dialogue between writers, to create a physical gathering place for students to exchange ideas and encourage the creative arts outside of the classroom. With the artists, writers, and performers in one room on campus, we came to the consensus that artists need each other—we need the space to sit and talk.
We see Gandy, and art in general, as an avenue that allows us to connect community colleges and state universities, Eastern and Western, upstate and downstate. Despite our ideal vision, public schools are still losing state support, and we have witnessed the daily disappearance of what we believe should be a public resource. The arts should be made available to the public, supported by the public, and participation should be incentivized. In this public school system, the incentive is fading, the support is packing its bags. Even as we write this, our administration has decided to cut its funding for The Finger Lakes Opera, a local cultural outlet for the broader community.
The loss of the arts is not a simple issue of funding or of institutional support. In the wake of this year’s election, we see it now as evidence of a national social fissure. What you see before you is the ninth issue of Gandy, yes, but it is also evidence of resistance, of beauty, of curiosity, of vital expression and communication—evidence of students’ attempts to navigate our shared world.
In this issue, these voices reach out to you. Stories like Jason Birkelbach’s “I Don’t Buy It,” in which the narrator must consider his morals and his own vulnerability; the simple, careful eye of our featured artist Amanda Tetreault, her attention to lines and shapes that make everyday objects beautiful; the whirlwind voice of poet Nilson Carroll who captures surreal visions of houses, parties, and the absurd nature of the everyday; the poet Carolina Fernandez’s lyrical affirmation of her heritage, and of life itself—“here…yes, here.”
We hope this issue of Gandy Dancer does what we think art does best: offer connections, inspirations, and a sense of community. In her piece “Untamed,” essayist Joanna Greenberg sums up best what we hope you find here: “Love, bursting from one heart to another, refusing to be tamed.”
Evan Goldstein & Oliver Diaz
On behalf of the Gandy Dancer staff
November 17, 2016