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Date: Jun 02, 2012
Hofstra University Library and B.E.S.T. to Host Art Exhibition and Reception
Celebrating the Art of the Backstretch Workers of Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – Hofstra University and Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.), an advocacy group for Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga racetrack employees, will launch PRIDE - an art exhibition showcasing the talents of the backstretch racetrack workers and their families, with an opening reception on June 6, 2012 from 5:00pm until 8:00pm in the Lowenfeld Gallery and Exhibition Hall, 10th floor, Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, South Campus.
The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Special Collections Department at Hofstra University, B.E.S.T., and The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA).
The exhibit, entitled “PRIDE - Celebrating the Art of the Backstretch Workers of Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack” is comprised of various original works of art and photography by backstretch workers and their families, including children. Artistic expression is encouraged among the workers by B.E.S.T. as a means of relaxation and release from a long day at the track handling vital behind-the-scenes work, said B.E.S.T. Executive Director Paul Ruchames. “There are over 15 very impressive works of art that will be on display,” Ruchames said. “They are all done by untrained, unschooled artists with remarkable talent. We deeply appreciate Hofstra’s generosity in hosting this event, bringing the rich contributions of backstretch workers to light. In fact, this is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing collaboration with Hofstra University.”
Geri Solomon, Assistant Dean of Special Collections and Hofstra University Archivist, said the exhibit fortifies Hofstra’s already rich collection of materials representing the Hispanic/Latino population on Long Island.
“The Special Collections Department at Hofstra University has been collecting materials about the Hispanic/Latino population on Long Island since our first Suburban Conference in 2001,” Solomon said. “It was after that conference that we launched two successful grant projects to bring in material about the cultural contributions of the Hispanic and Latino communities. We now have over 45.0 cubic feet of photographs, sketchbooks, letters, newspaper articles and artifacts that document dance groups, music groups, artists, writers and organizations.”
Solomon continued: “This exhibition with the Backstretch workers only adds to the already established ties we have to communities right outside our doors. We take PRIDE in the fact that we are able to bring these exciting visuals to our students and faculty and that we will be able to show future generations what contributions were made by our neighbors.”
The reception will feature music by native Columbian saxophonist and flautist Jay Rodriguez, who has twice been nominated for a Grammy Award as best Latin and jazz artist.
B.E.S.T. is a non-profit organization which is devoted to meeting the health and social welfare needs of the several thousand barn area (“backstretch”) workers of the Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga Race Tracks by providing on-site counseling and primary health care services, B.E.S.T. funded health insurance and case management assistance. B.E.S.T. understands that the foundation and success of the racing industry is absolutely dependent upon the health and welfare of its industrious backstretch workers. In an age of impersonal care, B.E.S.T. will always make the individualized needs of the backstretch workers our top priority. We strive to relate to our workers in their language with respect, honesty and expertise, and to always perform our work with the highest regard for professional ethics.
The Hofstra University Library supports Hofstra University’s mission of providing a quality education to its students in an environment that encourages and nurtures learning through the free and open exchange of ideas. The University Library shares the University’s commitment to academic freedom and to the transmission, advancement and preservation of knowledge. The University Library supports the curricular offerings of the University, fulfilling the research and instructional needs of university students, faculty and administrators through collaboration with these constituents. The University Library recognizes the diverse, multicultural nature of the Hofstra University community and creates collections that reflect these multiple perspectives.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from about 140 undergraduate and more than 150 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business; communication; education, health and human services; and honors studies, a School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as a School of Law and the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.