Faculty Members Win NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowships

Friday, February 19, 2021
dennis russo outside in blue sweater

Two professors from Raritan Valley Community College’s Arts & Design Department have been honored for their creative work, receiving 2021 Individual Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Dennis Russo of Wayne, Professor of Theatre, was awarded a $4,100 Fellowship for Screenwriting and Playwriting for his play, Yellow with Grey Edges. Adjunct Professor William Macholdt of Raritan Borough (Somerset County), who teaches ceramics at the College, received a $6,000 Fellowship for Crafts.

Dennis Russo has been teaching at RVCC for 20 years, 17 years as a full-time faculty member. He is a two-time semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference and a two-time Fellowship recipient for Playwriting from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Winner of the New Jersey Playwriting Competition (William Paterson University), he is a member of the Actors Studio and the Playwrights/Directors Unit at the Actors Studio. His plays have been produced throughout New York and New Jersey, as well as through on-demand digital platforms.

Yellow With Grey Edges, the play’s current title, is a project Russo completed during his Spring 2020 Semester sabbatical after presenting a draft at the Playwrights/Directors Unit at the Actors Studio in November 2019. The work centers around a children’s book author/illustrator who decides to write a play in response to Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s “Stages of Dying,” which later became known as the “Stages of Grief.” The play includes Russo’s attempt to offer his own “Styles of Grief” based on painting styles such as Cubism, Expressionism, Surrealism and Impressionism.

William Macholdt, a faculty member at RVCC for close to 20 years, has taught at numerous institutions in New Jersey, including Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and William Paterson University. His work has been shown in galleries and museums throughout the metropolitan area, as well as nationally. Macholdt also received a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Artist Fellowship in 2009. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bennington College in Vermont.

The ceramic pieces Macholdt submitted for the Fellowship are from a group of works titled the “Lever and Fulcrum Series.” The title was initially conceived as a fairly literal translation of the visual appearance of several of these works. However, it also came to embody what the pieces represent metaphorically. Says Macholdt, “My desire is to create and to enjoy the freedom to make the things that I make, and also to allow a viewer to find their own way into the work and to engage with it on any level they choose.”

According to information from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts: “The Individual Artist Fellowships are competitive awards to New Jersey artists in 12 rotating disciplines granted solely on independent peer panel assessment of work samples. The anonymous process is focused on artistic quality, and awards may be used to help artists produce new work and advance their careers. New Jersey artists applied for awards this year in the categories of crafts, interdisciplinary performance and interdisciplinary visual art, photography, and playwriting and screenwriting. This program is carried out in partnership with the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.”

Ranked by WalletHub.com and Niche.com as the #1 community college in New Jersey, Raritan Valley Community College has been serving as an academic and cultural center for Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for over 50 years. The College has been nationally recognized for its service to the community, environmental stewardship, and commitment to diversity. It is home to a Planetarium, Science Education Institute, and an Honors College for high achieving students.

The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, small business assistance through the Small Business Development Center, and professional development courses. RVCC is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 19, 2021

Media contact: Donna Stolzer, 908-526-1200, ext. 8383

PR #60