Art
Student painting a lion

Our Summer Art Program

Students learn from working artists specializing in their field of focus, such as painting & drawing, photography, ceramics, and sculpture.

 

Campers love Usdan’s summer art programs because our diverse class offerings allow for both deep engagement and exploration.

Seventy open-air studios dot the forested campus and create a sense of flow and community among artists.  Each studio is tailored to its medium with materials, equipment and software. Studios feature large skylights, as well as courtyards that take advantage of natural light and the inspiration of nature, which is a distinguishing feature of Usdan’s summer art programs. Throughout the summer, campers can visit the campus art gallery which mounts student, faculty, and visiting-artist exhibitions.

2020 MAJORS

Animation;  Art Adventure; Ceramics; Comic Art; Cosplay; Metalsmithing; Painting & Drawing; Photography; Sculpture; Sculpture & Ceramics; Sewing & Fashion Design.

2020 MINORS

Comic Art; Lego Design; Painting & Drawing; Photography;

2019 Faculty

Painting and Life Drawing, Lead Teacher

Krista Biedenbach

Krista Biedenbach is a Long-Island based artist and educator with a passion for sharing her love of art-making and art history with young people. She currently teaches drawing, sculpture, and studio art at Hicksville High School, and painting at Usdan. Krista previously directed exhibits and galleries in exhibits in Manhattan and on Long Island. Her mixed media drawings and paintings can be seen at galleries across the tri-state area.

Painting and Discovery, Lead Teacher

Susan Conte

Ceramics, Lead Teacher

Cristalina DeNicola

Cristalina DeNicola is a ceramic artist, sculptor, and educator specializing in three-dimensional artwork that expresses flow and movement. While she primarily works with clay, Christina enjoys working with unique materials and experimenting with different mediums. During the summer, Christina helps Usdan students discover the joy of ceramics.

Photography, Lead Teacher

Jackie Eggleton

Art, Department Co-Chair

Jodie Embelton

Jodie Embleton is a visual arts educator who has dedicated her career to bringing art education back to inner-city students. Beginning as a ceramics assistant and kiln technician at Usdan, to teacher, and now co-chair, she has a true passion for inspiring young people. Following work at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Jodie currently teaches a visual arts in the Copiague School District and co-chairs Usdan’s art department.

Photography, Lead Teacher

Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is an artist who works exclusively through the medium of film. She eschews digital processing for the home-made darkroom she built in her apartment, and enjoys pushing the bounds of reality through the camera lens. Julia also works as a teaching artist at the Brooklyn Museum, Medgar Evers College, and Lehigh University. As Usdan’s photography instructor, she is devoted to helping students push their own boundaries not only in film, but whatever medium of art they choose.

Metalsmithing, Lead Teacher

Dana Neger-Lagos

Dana Neger-Lagos is a master model maker, jeweler, sculptor, and Usdan’s metalsmithing instructor. She has designed jewelry and accessories for Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, QVC, Calvin Klein, Susan Lucci, and other brands. As an educator, Dana teaches at the Art League of Long Island, Dix Hills, Plainview-Old Bethpage School District, and Long Island Libraries. Her artwork fuses metalsmithing and nature, and is on exhibit throughout Long Island.

Animation and Comic Art, Lead Teacher

Christine Roepken

Christine Roepken is a freelance animator, educator, and fine artist. In addition to her many comic book and animation projects, Christine serves as Animation Workshop professor at the School of Visual Arts. She teaches Animation and Experimental Animation at Usdan.

Art Adventure, Senior Assistant

Elizabeth Rus

Art Adventure, Lead Teacher

Sibel Kececioglu

Lego Design, Lead Teacher

Kelly Schulte-Smith

Kelly Schulte-Smith is a multidisciplinary artist, experimenting with crochet, bead-weaving, wire-weaving, resin, polymer clay, fused glass art, stained glass, steel, and mosaic art. Since graduating with a degree in interior design, Kelly has continued her own artistic exploration, while helping young people find their own voices as creators. She brings her unique perspective to Usdan’s Lego Design courses.

Architecture and Designing with Minecraft, Lead Teacher

Oliver Valle

Oliver Valle is an interdisciplinary designer and artist in the fields of architecture and urban design, and teaching artist at Usdan. Prior to founding his own design practice, he served as an urban designer with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where his mixed-use development, transportation design, and urban design won multiple awards. Oliver continues to publish research internationally and he is a frequent guest at Columbia University, Syracuse University, Parsons School of Design, and other universities. Oliver instructs the Designing With Minecraft and Architecture courses at Usdan.

Sculpture and Cosplay, Lead Teacher

Chris Vivas

Chris Vivas is a ceramic artist whose work has been exhibited across the United States and Europe, as well as Turkey, Korea, and Japan. Drawing inspiration from the existential literature of Nietzsche, Sartre, and others, Chris’ work has brought him to notable ceramic residencies throughout the world. Chris instructs sculpture and cosplay courses at Usdan.

Sewing and Fashion Production, Lead Teacher

Bailey Whitney

Animation and Comic Art, Senior Assistant

Sally Eckhoff

Archery, Assistant Teacher

Abigail Hesselton

Art Adventure, Lead Teacher

Sonya Derman

Art, Assistant to the Department Chair

Rebecca Vecchio

Art, Senior Assistant Teacher

Kathleen Mikolajczak

Ceramics, Assistant Teacher

Jason Keichline

Comic Art, Assistant Teacher

Garrett Weinstein

Lego Design, Assistant Teacher

Cheryl Dobres

Metalsmithing, Assistant Teacher

Leighann Martone

Open Studio and Painting, Lead Teacher

Courtney Surmanek

Courtney Surmanek is a multidisciplinary artist, strategist, and organizer. Their work uses performance-poetry, art installations, and community initiatives to explore law, trauma, public space, and gender. Courtney is currently a Fellow of the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics’ EMERGENYC program and The Performance Project at University Settlement. They were a recent guest artist with the Broadway Advocacy Coalition at Columbia Law School and have participated in art residences at Cornell University, the Center for Artistic Activism, and others. Courtney has exhibited work across New York City and enjoys sparking creative exploration and risk-taking as a painting and drawing teacher at Usdan.

Painting and Discovery, Assistant Teacher

Alexa Finkelstein

Painting and Discovery, Assistant Teacher

Mariah Seignious

Painting and Discovery, Lead Teacher

John T. Harris

Painting and Drawing, Lead Teacher

Annie Ewaskio

Annie Ewaskio is a painter and artist in Brooklyn, New York. She has participated in prestigious solo and group shows across the country, and her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Brooklyn Rail, and New American Paintings. She is the recipient of numerous fine arts grants, including two Kossak Painting grants, and teaches painting and drawing at Usdan.

Painting and Drawing, Lead Teacher

Karine Falleni

Karine Falleni has been practicing yoga for 20 years and instructing for 13. Her teaching has brought her to special programs in Arizona and schools, outreach programs, and studios across Greater New York City. Karine is passionate about making yoga more accessible to all people by bringing the practice outside traditional studios. She has taught meditation, restorative yoga, breathing, yoga therapy, prenatal yoga, and Anusara.

Painting, Assistant Teacher

Lindsey Dannenberg

Painting, Assistant Teacher

Taylor Cohen

Photography, Assistant Teacher

Anna Penny

Photography, Assistant Teacher

Diana Foronda

Photography, Assistant Teacher

Jillian Davis

Sculpture and Cosplay, Lead Teacher

Jared Peer

Jared Peer is an artist and educator. He currently teaches art at Urban Assembly School for Media Studies and is pursuing his Master’s in Technology Specialism from Columbia University. Jared’s work explores combining technology and traditional woodworking with wearable interfaces. He is a Teaching Assistant at Usdan’s architecture program.

Sculpture, Assistant Teacher

Alanis Vulpis

Sculpture, Assistant Teacher

Emily Halper

Sewing and Fashion Production, Lead Teacher

Jaclyn Brautigam

Video Game Art and Design, Lead Teacher

Jordan Williams

Departments

Art

Art

Chess

Creative Writing

Creative Writing

Dance

Dance

music-summer-program

Music

Nature

Nature

summer-arts-camps-for-kids

Discovery

recreational-arts

Recreational Arts

summer-theater-program

Theater

Art

 

Campers love Usdan’s summer art programs because our diverse class offerings allow for both deep engagement and exploration.

Seventy open-air studios dot the forested campus and create a sense of flow and community among artists.  Each studio is tailored to its medium with materials, equipment and software. Studios feature large skylights, as well as courtyards that take advantage of natural light and the inspiration of nature, which is a distinguishing feature of Usdan’s summer art programs. Throughout the summer, campers can visit the campus art gallery which mounts student, faculty, and visiting-artist exhibitions.

2020 MAJORS

Animation;  Art Adventure; Ceramics; Comic Art; Cosplay; Metalsmithing; Painting & Drawing; Photography; Sculpture; Sculpture & Ceramics; Sewing & Fashion Design.

2020 MINORS

Comic Art; Lego Design; Painting & Drawing; Photography;

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All

Chess

Usdan’s chess summer camp program follows the principles of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation and is uniquely designed to meet the needs of each student, whether they are new to chess or are experienced competitors. The Usdan Chess Ladder groups students in varying levels, from absolute novices to advanced tournament players. New players learn rules, notation, and the opening, middle, and end games. Advanced players develop a vast repertoire of complex strategies and the ability to apply them shrewdly in-game. All of our chess players benefit from improved problem solving, critical thinking, and concentration.  Students hone their skills through game-play and tutoring in competitive chess tournaments and exciting team competitions. Individual and group lessons are conducted by highly-ranked tournament players with decades of experience.  A major highlight of our chess summer camp is that celebrated chess masters come to Usdan to serve as guest teachers and share their expertise with our young players.

For more detailed information, please visit our Classes page.

 

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All

Creative Writing

Creative Writing at Usdan takes full advantage of New York City’s pool of exceptional writers to lead our summer creative writing programs. Our faculty is comprised of accomplished authors who are also experienced in nurturing students in the discipline and art of writing.

Whether their preferred form is poetry, plays, short stories, novels, or non-fiction, our young storytellers get to practice their writing in small, collaborative groups. Working in peaceful, open air writing studios, our writers build imaginative narratives and find their creative voices, while experimenting with the core elements of storytelling like style, structure, setting, point of view, conflict and resolution.  One vital element of our teaching involves encouraging our students to experience empathy, both as an ingredient and a result of their writing practice.  Finally, all writing students gain invaluable editorial experience by shaping and contributing their works to a new installment of Usdan’s literary magazine, Painting with Words.

2020 Majors

Creative Writing; Making Magic & Monsters; 

2020 Minors

Creative Writing; Performance Poetry & Podcasting;

 

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All

Dance

In our summer dance program, our dancers study technique, classic repertory, and original choreography with nationally renowned dancers and choreographers. We offer classes across a wide range of styles and traditions, including contemporary dance, ballet, jazz, hip hop, funk and tap. 

Instruction at our dance camp is rigorous, caring and fun.  Our studios are spacious and mirrored, with soft floors and generous skylights that give an open-air effect. Each class culminates in a freshly choreographed dance performance for the entire community, including friends and family, in the dance department studios or on Usdan’s main stage.

Ranking Model

Students participating in the Dance Department will rank their class choices according to the listed offerings. On the enrollment form, students will be asked to rank their first, second, and third choice for their major, minor or recreational activity. After review in late January, Usdan will announce Dance class offerings based on student interest. A placement form will be sent after enrollment. Usdan staff will try to place students in their top ranked class, however, it may not always be possible based on levels and scheduling. 

Please note, Junior students, with the exception of 4th graders, who choose to major in Dance will have two classes to rank instead of three.  

Junior Majors (2nd-3rd)

  • Dance Adventure
  • Choreography

Junior Majors (4th)

  • Dance Adventure
  • Contemporary Forms
  • Choreography

Junior Majors (5th & 6th)

  • Contemporary Forms
  • Choreography

Senior Majors (6th-12th)

  • Contemporary Forms
  • Choreography
  • Ballet
  • Hip Hop
  • Ballet/Hip Hop

Junior Minors (2nd-6th)

  • Tap
  • Broadway Jazz
  • Contemporary Forms
  • West African Fusion
  • Hip Hop

Senior Minors (6th-12th)

  • Tap
  • Broadway Jazz
  • Contemporary Forms
  • West African Fusion
  • Hip Hop

2020 MAJORS

Ballet; Ballet/Hip Hop; Choreography; Contemporary Forms; Dance Adventure; Hip Hop;

2020 MINORS

Broadway Jazz; Contemporary Forms; Hip Hop; Tap; West African Fusion; Yoga.

 

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All

Music

 

Usdan's celebrated music program features four orchestras, four bands, two choruses, chamber and jazz ensembles, rock bands, and instruction in strings, brass, reeds, woodwind, and percussion. Piano, guitar, and ukulele students work on technique and perspective through individual and ensemble practice and performance. With classes for absolute beginners to advanced students, budding musicians of every level can find a place for themselves in our music department. Musicians will have unique opportunities to work and collaborate with contemporary composers and artists-in-residence. 

Classes, rehearsals, and performances take place in studios sized for each group and specialty. Throughout the summer, our music students have opportunities to present their summer’s work to family, friends, and the entire Usdan community. Select performances will take place in the McKinley Amphitheater. 

2020 MAJORS

Advanced Jazz Ensemble; Concert Band (Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Trumpet, Saxophone, French Horn, Trombone, Baritone, Tuba, Percussion); Guitar;  Intermediate Piano; Intermediate/Advanced Piano; Instrumental Ensemble: Traditional Classical Chamber; Instrumental Ensemble: Contemporary Classical Chamber; Instrumental Ensemble: Jazz Ensemble;  Instrumental Ensemble: Silent Film Orchestra; Instrumental Ensemble: Rock Band; Jazz Ensemble (Trumpet, Saxophone, Trombone, Guitar, Bass, Drum Set, Piano); Junior Chamber Ensemble; Orchestra (Violin, Viola, Cello, String Bass); Vocal Ensemble; 

2020 MINORS

Absolute Beginner Brass; Absolute Beginner Guitar; Absolute Beginner Lower Strings;  Absolute Beginner Piano; Absolute Beginner Ukulele; Absolute Beginner Upper Strings; Absolute Beginner Woodwind; Advanced Beginner Piano; Chamber Music (Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Trumpet, Saxophone, French Horn, Trombone, Baritone, Tuba, Percussion, Violin, Viola, Cello, String Bass, Piano); Guitar & Songwriting;  Jazz Ensemble (Trumpet, Saxophone, Trombone, Guitar, Bass, Drum Set, Piano); Rock Band; Senior Vocal Ensemble.

 

 

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All

Nature

 

In our hands-on nature program, students study the art of planting, growing and cultivating food by caring for Usdan’s own fruit and vegetable gardens. Exploring the flora and fauna in Usdan’s idyllic woodland forest allows students to understand the delicate relationships at the heart of Long Island’s vibrant local ecosystem. In an innovative course on sustainable art, students are challenged to combine art, science and empathy to identify creative and sustainable solutions to pressing environmental problems. Students also care for the Nature Department's pet snakes, lizards, and tortoise.

 

2020 Majors

Nature, Ecology & Design; Sustainable Design.

2020 Minors

Nature, Ecology & Design; Garden to Table.

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All

Discovery

Play and exploration are at the heart of Discovery, where children enjoy music, art, dance and swim multiple times a week.  Rather than select a major and minor, Discovery students experience a special multi-disciplinary program tailored for their age group.  Discovery students experience the arts through hands-on practice with Usdan's esteemed faculty. Each class is led by a minimum of four adults who provide individualized attention and support.

Throughout the summer, Discovery campers attend select Festival Performances performed by professional and student artists. In addition to the core program, additional activities draw from Usdan's diverse offerings such as theater, nature, archery, chess and photography. With the Discovery Center as a base, campers explore the arts together in small groups with dedicated college-age counselors to guide them throughout their adventurous day.  

Children from all over the New York metropolitan area choose Usdan’s Discovery program because it is a singular summer arts camp for kids who share a common love for the arts.

Typical Day
9:30 a.m. : Children are helped off of their bus by one of the Discovery counselors
10:05 a.m. : Music
10:45 a.m. : Snack
11:05 a.m. : Art  
12:00 p.m. : Swim
1:00 p.m. : Lunch / Supervised Play 
2:05 p.m. : Discovery Period*
3:00 p.m. : Ice Cream and children are brought back to their buses

* The "Discovery Period" is an activity that is scheduled weekly such as theatre or a scheduled visit to one of the junior/senior classes such as chess, archery, or sewing. 

 

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All

Recreational Arts

 

The Recreational Arts program augments Usdan’s core mission to support campers’ creative development by encouraging physical fitness and an appreciation of the natural world. This comprehensive approach to our children’s creative, spiritual, and physical development makes Usdan unique among camps in our region.  Set in an idyllic woodland forest, our campus spaces are joined together by walking paths and are designed for optimal enjoyment of fresh air and natural light.  Across campus, students can enjoy nature walks, splash in two large outdoor swimming pools, play sports on multiple playing fields, as well as practice yoga and archery.

 

Each day, students spend a dedicated period enjoying a Recreational Activity of their choice. Each of these activities, with the exception of Recreational Swim, can also be chosen as a Minor.

2020 Recreational Arts classes

Archery; Beginner Tennis; Free Swim & Poolside Games; Gaga & Basketball; Instructional Swim & Poolside Games; Quidditch; Tennis; Yoga.

(Each of these classes can also be selected as a Minor, except for Free Swim.)

 

 

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All

Theater

 

The dynamic hub of the Usdan theater program is the extraordinary Lemberg Drama Center, which includes an air-conditioned indoor theater, two outdoor theaters, and rehearsal studios, as well as costume, prop, and set shops. With offerings in both drama and musical theater, our students have several opportunities to experience the full of cycle of staging and performing a play or musical throughout the summer.  Recent productions include Into the Woods, Frog and Toad, Finian’s Rainbow, and Oliver!

High-school aged students may audition for The Usdan Troupe which presents one fully staged musical production every year.  Former company members describe it as "summer stock theater for teens."

2020 MAJORS

Curtain Up; Drama Lab; Musical Theater; Musical Theater Adventure; Theater Tech Workshop; The Usdan Troupe.

2020 MINORS

Improvisation; Performance Poetry & Podcasting (also listed under Creative Writing).

 

 

 

For detailed class descriptions, please visit our Classes page.

View All