Meet Loreal and Alaina, Byrdcliffe’s Program Assistants

As the last session of residents is settling in – after a productive working week that already included a night of work shares, a BBQ, and a trip to the local town swimming hole – we are taking time to introduce our two new Program Assistants! Our assistants work behind-the-scenes to ensure that the Artist-in-Residence program remains a productive working experience for our artists and writers! Below, our two program assistants answer some questions about themselves:

Loreal Alana Prystaj

On a rock!

Tell me about your experience at Byrdcliffe, so far:

I am truly grateful to be here!

I was grew up upstate, Rochester, NY, and moved to New York City to attend The Fashion Institute of Technology, where I received a BFA in Photography. I now live in Brooklyn, and am so thankful to be pursuing my artistic endeavors, surrounded by supportive people!

Byrdcliffe has been the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of New York City, and to be in an environment very similar to the one I grew up in.

While I have been here, I have been inspired by the environment – the shadows, the lighting, and the nature, truly come to life here – with just a simple breeze, there is movement in all elements of Byrdcliffe!

I have been capturing such moments with my camera; filming dancing shadows, photographing timeless moments, and recording sounds that can only be heard from the facets of nature! It is great to be in a place full of beauty with such passionate people! Being surrounded by nature and creative minds is the perfect formula to put oneself at ease and progress artistically.  I am cherishing the whole experience here! I will walk away knowing I have grown as an artist and have met brilliant minded people from all over the world!


Alaina Nuehring

Alaina Nuehring

Who are you and where are you from?

I am a painter and sculptor – originally from Minnesota, lived in Providence, Rhode Island while attending the Rhode Island School of Design, and now living and working in Queens, New York.

What are you working on at Byrdcliffe?

Arriving here at Byrdcliffe, I was intrigued by the vastness and serenity that this forested landscape provides. On a daily basis, I am surrounded by trees, mountains, and streams embedded in this natural landscape – a setting that I have found rare to experience before coming here. I have found that my work has been heavily influenced by being in this environment. In addition to making paintings and sculptures, I have been making digital drawings of idealistic landscapes that utilize the scenery near Byrdcliffe. These digital drawings will eventually make there way into my paintings.

What is your impression of Byrdcliffe and the Woodstock community?

I love it here! Being surrounded by such a diverse group talent artists within this creative community is so exciting and deeply informative to my own working practice. Byrdcliffe provides an opportunity of uninterrupted, deeply focused working time – free of the everyday distractions you would experience elsewhere. Not only is there much talent here, but a great community as well. In addition to diligently working in the studio, the residents often take breaks to engage in lively discussions, go on the abundance of hiking trails, take trips to the swimming hole in town, and watch movies at night. It is a really exciting environment to be in!

What do you think you’ll take away from this experience?

There have been so many opportunities here that have enhanced my working experience here. Not only have I learned more about the daily operations of running a residency program, but also met a lot of great artists within the Byrdcliffe community and the greater Woodstock community as well – connections and experiences that I will value and cherish forever!

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