Munawar Ahmed

Board Member Emeritus

My Wassaic story begins with Damian Gutierrez. We didn’t know each other well, but knew there was something in the cards for us. I met Damian at Control Group. We didn’t work together, but would always say hello in the hallway, exchange a few light-hearted quips and knowing glances. That was it.

In March 2014, Damian invited us up for a weekend at his house in Wassaic. We took the train up on a rainy Saturday morning, not having ventured out on the Harlem Line before. Damian picked us up in a well-worn 1979 International Harvester and we made our first stop at a fantastically muddy field, full of old farm equipment, buyers, sellers, and browsers. We made our way on to the kilns, Kent Falls, pork roast dinner, drinks at The Lantern, and a fantastic DJ set that night.

There wasn’t a moment that weekend that either Matthew or I felt the need to check in with our devices — or the rest of the world. We felt present. And grounded. And warm. There was magic in this tiny hamlet at the end of the train line. And we could feel it.

We spent a few more weekends in Wassaic that year and eventually met Eve, Bowie, and Jeff. My husband, Matthew, has always been interested in artists and art, and we were completely blown away with the work emerging from artists in the residency program here. Walking through the summer exhibition that year, we felt even more connected to Wassaic and the inspired work emerging from this place.

The pull was too great and it didn’t take long to find a spot we could call home. We spend our weekends and summers in Wassaic now. Our boys, Owen and Alastair, are growing up in this incredible place, surrounded by artists, musicians, dancers, and filmmakers. They spend time on the weekend visiting farms, helping tend community gardens, and jumping into ponds. I spend my time renovating the art classroom, overseeing the website, and making connections in the community.

There is a sense of self — and a sense of that thing that is greater than ourselves — that brought us to Wassaic. We’re thankful for the spark that brought us here, and we’re thankful for the fire that keeps us.

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