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Meet the Intern: Dominic Sloma


Hello, my name is Dominic Sloma.  I am a senior History Major at Marist College, and will be interning at the Hudson Valley River Institute for the fall semester.  I am looking forward to diving deeper and help out the Hudson Valley River Institute’s mission.  I am from Niskayuna, NY and being from the Hudson Valley, I have always appreciated the history throughout the area.  My interest in New York State history has been passed down from my father who works for the NYS archives in Albany.

I have had an interest in knowing more about the state and the history of sports, military, and ethnic backgrounds and how these pertain and have shaped New York to what it is today.  I am a former lacrosse player here at Marist, and a currently on the Marist’s club soccer team.  My love for athletics and the outdoors has made me always attempting to travel around the Hudson Valley region and really take in what is all around historically.

After college, I hope can give back to the community and lend a hand.  I aspire to become either a firefighter or a police officer, with possibly joining the National Guard.  I have always looked up to those risk their lives on a daily basis for the protection and freedom we are able to have every day.  Both my parents were in the army, and my family has roots spread around the country in law enforcement, so these have had factors on me as well.  I also hope I can get involved with youth groups and sports, to give kids wherever I am located an outlet to be able to obtain their goals and using sports and education to further their education, as I was able to do.  I hope I can be able to offer a hand on the projects the Institute does here, and can’t wait to get started.

Frederic Edwin Church: Nature and American Spirit on Canvas

winter sunset

With the picturesque landscapes of the Hudson River Valley, it is not surprising that this region inspired the first influential American art movement. From the period roughly between 1825 and 1870, a collective group of artists spawned a Romantic art movement known as the Hudson River School.[1] Frederic Edwin Church was one of the most famous artists amongst the second generation of the movement and one of the most successful American artists of the nineteenth century.

Frederic Edwin Church was born on May 4, 1826 in Hartford, Connecticut. Church’s father, Joseph Church, was a silversmith and watchmaker, both very profitable careers at the time.[2] Joseph was also the son of Samuel Church, who founded the first paper mill in Lee, Massachusetts, all of which provided the Church family with a certain amount of affluence.[3] This wealth allowed Church to pursue his artistic ventures at a young age. Church became the student of Thomas Cole from Catskill, NY at the age of eighteen.[4] Thomas Cole was a painter who is recognized as the founder of the Hudson River School. Church under Cole’s guidance soon rose to be a prominent artist during the mid-nineteenth century, travelling to places such as Canada and South America to paint beautiful scenery.

Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860. Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900). Oil on canvas; 101.6 x 162.6 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1965.233.

This piece, Twilight in the Wilderness, was painted in 1860 and depicts a sunset on the Penobscot River near Katahdin Mountain in Maine.[5] It is characteristic of a Hudson River School piece through its use of landscape, realism, dramatic hues, and presenting an idealization of nature. In particular, Church uses luminism, a type of painting style that evokes the effects of lighting on a landscape while concealing the brush strokes to create a calm feeling to the piece. Church, like many other artists of the Hudson River School, was also highly patriotic and expressed American nineteenth century ideals of manifest destiny within his paintings. In Twilight in the Wilderness, he symbolically presents perfect, untouched American nature and wilderness waiting to be explored. Compared to some of his other works, Twilight in the Wilderness has depth to it with his use of darker tones that creates a warmth but also a looming feeling that something is about to happen. The Cleveland Museum of Art describes the painting’s subject as a premonition of the Civil War’s beginning, “symbolically evoking the coming inferno.”[6] Church put this piece up for seven weeks on exhibition at a prestigious art gallery where the piece enjoyed much publicity and a large amount of spectators during its display.[7]

Twilight in the Wilderness is in my opinion, one of Church’s best works and a representative piece for this chapter of America’s history. Unlike his oil masterpieces of Niagara Falls or tropical paradises, this painting is not as grand, yet its simplicity is what makes it majestic. Since it is not as exaggerated as his other paintings, it is almost more realistic. When looking at Twilight in the Wilderness from a distance, the detail of the clouds in the sky and the trees makes it almost look like a photograph rather than a painting. Without researching anything about this painting, I would not have known it depicted scenery in Maine. The anonymity of the scenery in this painting represents many areas of wilderness in the United States, which allowed me to connect with it. For me, this painting reminded me of my home in the Delaware Water Gap in PA, a family vacation in Shenandoah River Valley, and the Hudson River Valley all at once.


During the last 20 years of his life, Church was afflicted with Rheumatism in the hands and had difficulty painting as a result, although he continued to paint, albeit at a slower pace.[8] He passed away on April 7, 1900 at Olana, his house in Hudson, NY. The house is now a museum and historical site.[9] Olana is an artistic work in itself with its unique architecture and stunning grounds overlooking the Hudson River. To learn more about Olana or how to visit, go to With his mesmerizing and exotic depictions of various landscapes from around the world, Church is easily one of my favorite American artists. His legacy had a lasting effect on American art and hopefully, his paintings will continue to do so for years to come.



By Michelle Linker










“Biography of Frederic Edwin Church”. Frederic Edwin Church: The Complete Works

“Frederic Edwin Church.” Britannica Academic.

“Twilight in the Wilderness (1867)”. Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900). Oil on canvas; 101.6 x 162.6 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1965.233.from


[1] “Frederic Edwin Church.” Britannica Academic.

[2] Biography of Frederic Edwin Church. Frederic Edwin Church: The Complete Works.

[3] Ibid,.

[4] Ibid,.

[5] Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860. Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900). Oil on canvas; 101.6 x 162.6 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1965.233.from

[6] Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860. Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900). Oil on canvas; 101.6 x 162.6 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1965.233.from

[7] Ibid,.

[8] “Frederic Edwin Church.” Britannica Academic.

[9] Ibid,.

Meet the Intern: Reagan Walker

Reagan_WalkerHello! I am Reagan Walker and I will be working with the HRVI this semester. I am a senior at Marist College studying Adolescent Education and History. I hope to incorporate both of my fields of study into my time here at HRVI to enhance the experience of both myself, and hopefully any of my readers. Originally, I am from Fairfield, CT, an area with a great deal of history itself. Between colonization, battles against the British, and witch-hunts, Fairfield is the place where I realized my passion for history, and the Hudson River Valley is where I have come to pursue it. Growing up I have always been a “nerd” for history. Even though I have always known that teaching was the profession for me, history was always in the background, and I knew it was something I had to pursue further in life. Marist and HRVI give me the opportunity to do just that. My studies have completely changed the way I think about our human race, both past and present, both globally and locally.

My love of the subject has taken me to some truly amazing places; over the course of the past 3 years, I have taken several trips to Europe in an attempt to expand my “cultural pallet”. I have studied Renaissance artwork in Italy, metropolitan architecture in France, and extraordinary castles in Austria. My long-term goal is to explore regions of the globe other than the “Western World”, and really to push myself out of my comfort zone. This January I will be taking a service trip to Nicaragua with my family to help with the design and construction of homes in an impoverished village. Someday I hope to chase all of my favorite foods around the globe to experience them in their purest form. These tasks include trying tacos in Mexico, pastel in Brazil, and sushi in Japan. It may seem like a daunting task, but I assure you I am up to the challenge. I ultimately hope to take my skills in education abroad; teaching in a foreign country is my perfect idea of how to pursue my work in the classroom, while immersing myself in a different culture and learning about new parts of our globe.

Since my first visit to Marist, the Hudson Valley has enchanted me, as it has with so many others. Aside from the both iconic and scenic river, the spirit of this location is one that captivates every visitor. I have a professor here at Marist who said, “The Hudson Valley is a revolutionary place”, and I could not agree more. The history of this area is one so rich and deep, it is far too tempting not to delve into, as it is not surprising to me that some of history’s greatest figures have chosen to settle in this location. I plan to further pursue many of these topics here at HRVI, and look forward to deepening and expanding my knowledge through my “nerdy” studies, (of which I could not take more pride in) and sharing them with the rest of my community.

Meet the Intern: Elijah Bender

elijahpictureMy name is Elijah Bender and I am currently a senior at Marist College. This is my first time interning at the Hudson River Valley Institute and I am excited to apply my interest in this region and its past toward the Hudson River Valley Institute’s initiative. I was born and raised in Manhattan and eventually moved to Rhinebeck, NY where I currently live. I developed my love for history in my early years through the stories told by my father and grandfather. Together, we would go antiquing and sightseeing and they would point out notable landmarks, share tales of individuals, and narratives of various historical events.

Growing up in Greenwich Village in Manhattan provided me with a wealth of historical
diversity. In deciding my major, history was a no-brainer and seems to be a perfect fit. I am deeply interested in the Hudson River Valley and constantly seek out sites and stories concerning local history. Marist has been a great experience and I have even learned that I am interested in other areas of history outside of my own; for instance, African studies which I find fascinating. I was honored to be inducted into the Phi Alpha Theta history honors society for my academic achievements and am also a member of the Marist College History Club and the Prelaw Club on campus. Law school is in my future and I am currently studying to take the LSAT and begin the application process. I strongly believe that my degree in history has best prepared me for this next course of education and complements the study of law nicely.

In my free time, I own and operate Foster’s Coach House Tavern in Rhinebeck with my
father. We bought the restaurant in December of 2016 and have worked for the past six months to revive and enhance this Hudson Valley landmark. It has been a wonderful experience to continue the tradition of such a notable establishment and has provided me with a great deal of experience. Outside of academics, I enjoy activities like fishing, shooting, cross country skiing, antiquing, hobby carpentry, historic preservation, cooking, and other similar activities. I find time to volunteer at the Rhinebeck Fire Department where I drive the ambulance and serve as the recording secretary. I am also working on restoring a 1944 Dodge Powerwagon that was an army ambulance in WWII. It’s in rough shape but will hopefully be a showpiece soon enough. I always like a good movie and am fond of the classics. I always gravitate toward watching sports, when time permits, particularly Baseball, Football, and Hockey. I consider it a great honor to be
associated with the Hudson River Valley Institute and am confident the relationship will be mutually beneficial.

Meet the Intern: Michelle Linker


My name is Michelle Linker and I am senior at Marist College. I was born and raised on Long Island, NY until the age of eight, when my family moved to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Before attending Marist, I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Education with a Social Studies concentration from Dutchess Community College. When I arrived as a transfer student to Marist in fall 2016, I decided to pursue history alone as my major because of my passion for the subject and my love of writing. Outside of school, I do volunteer work at the Mid Hudson Regional Hospital, spending time with and helping patients.

My two favorite hobbies are music and travelling. Before graduating high school, I almost considered becoming a music major. Music has always been central to my identity. I played french horn in high school and I taught myself piano and guitar and have been playing them since middle school. Michael Jackson in particular is a very important figure in my life who has inspired me both through his music and his charity to others. I am also very fond of travelling and learning about different cultures, especially trying different types of cuisine. I especially enjoy taking road trips and in the future, I hope to do more international travelling. This year, from April-July, I studied abroad in Japan. I was so lucky to have this opportunity to use my Japanese skills and study the language even more deeply. It was the most life-changing and amazing experience I have ever had, and my outlook on the world broadened immensely. I’m proud to say that I now have family not only in Japan, but from all over the globe.

My interests in travel and being abroad has led me to have an interest in working overseas one day. Specifically, I would be interested in going back to Japan one day since I have studied and speak the language and I really enjoyed living there. I want to use and mold the experiences I gain from my time at Marist to help realize my dreams and hopefully gain employment in a position with a global non-for-profit organization or embassy work. With the HRVI, I am very excited to learn more about the local history in the Hudson Valley and in New York state, especially with the region being so rich with culture and famous landmarks such as FDR’s presidential library and the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park as a few examples. I am looking forward to this internship at HRVI as an opportunity to expand my horizons and to gain useful skills for the workplace in the nearing future.