The Creative Life

The Creative Life: A Conversation Series at UAlbany

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the University Art Museum, New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in conjunction with WAMC Public Radio. Sponsored by The University at Albany Foundation, the series features live onstage interviews conducted by WAMC’s "Roundtable" host Joe Donahue with artists of national and international prominence in conversation about their creative inspiration, their craft, their careers and the demands of sustaining an artistic practice over time. A question and answer period closes each program.  All Creative Life events are free and open to the public. 

Creative Life guests span the creative disciplines including writing, music, dance, choreography, visual arts, architecture, theatre, filmmaking and more.  The series celebrates the depth and range of artistic practices, helps to demystify the creative process for the audience and explores what it means to dedicate one’s life to a creative pursuit.  It is also intended to bring attention to the vibrant arts community on the University at Albany campus. 

Major support for The Creative Life is provided by The University at Albany Foundation with additional support from University Auxiliary Services.  

person with blond hair in black shirt

Lucy Sante
Tuesday, October 18 at 7pm
UAlbany Performing Arts Center

Lucy Sante is a transgender, Belgian-born nonfiction writer, art critic and cultural commentator of astonishingly wide interests, including the Beastie Boys, early photography and the history of New York City reservoirs. Heretofore known as Luc Sante, she is widely recognized for Low Life (1991) about crime and entertainment in Old New York, 1840-1919 as well as her collected essays, Kill All Your Darlings: Pieces 1990-2005 (2007). A second collection, Maybe the People Would Be the Times, came out in 2020. She wrote about her recent gender transition in the February 2022 issue of Vanity Fair.  Honors include a Whiting Writer's Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Grammy (for album notes), an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, and Guggenheim and Cullman fellowships. (photo by Bob Krasner)

woman with white hair and classes in a white shirt with sweater

Maira Kalman
Wednesday, November 16 at 7pm
UAlbany Performing Arts Center

Maira Kalman is one of America’s most beloved illustrators. Her art has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. She is also an acclaimed author of books for children and adults. The creator of many covers for The New Yorker, her work adorns books by Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Michael Pollan, and the bestselling Illustrated Elements of Style by Strunk & White. She collaborated with David Byrne (The Talking Heads) on the 2020 book, American Utopia, with text from Byrne’s Broadway show, and more than 150 paintings by Kalman. She has also designed fabric for Isaac Mizrahi, accessories for Kate Spade, sets for Mark Morris, and— with her late husband Tibor Kalman— clocks, umbrellas and other objects for MOMA. In 2017, she collaborated with choreographer John Heginbotham to produce a theatrical and dance interpretation of her blog, The Principles of Uncertainty. (photo by Kimisa H)


Past Guests and Archived Conversations:


Ruth Reichl - October 5, 2021
Food writer
Culinary editor

Debbie Millman - November 2, 2021
Podcast host
UAlbany alum

Roxane Gay - November 2, 2021
Social activist


Jhumpa Lahiri - January 30, 2020
Acclaimed author
Pulitzer Prize winner
Novelist and short-story writer 


Philippe Petit - October 3, 2019
High wire artist
Star of Man on Wire

Rakim - October 28, 2019
Rapper and MC
Part of the rap duo Eric B. & Rakim

Susan Orlean - March 1, 2019
Author of The Orchid Thief

Paul Reiser - April 4, 2019 
Actor & author
Star of Mad About You






Bibbe Hansen - September 5, 2018
Performance artist
Star of Andy Warhol films

Jean Shin - November 1, 2018
Noted sculptor
Art curator
Public installation artist

Esmeralda Santiago - November 8, 2018
Author & essayist
Social activist
Documentary film writer

Garth Fagan - March 28, 2018
Lion King Choreographer
Tony Award winner
Dance company founder

Patti LuPone - April 26, 2018
Actress, singer, Broadway star
Grammy & Tony Award winner
New York Times best-selling author


Lois Lowry - November 10, 2017
Author of The Giver & Number the Stars
Newbery Medal winner
Leading voice of children's literature

Regina Carter - February 11, 2017
Violin virtuoso
Jazz artist and improviser
MacArthur Fellow

David Salle - March 23, 2017
Renowned painter
Film and stage designer
Author on fine art


Joyce Carol Oates - September 15, 2016
Novelist, poet and essayist
Pulitzer Prize finalist
New York Times best-selling author

Savion Glover - October 15, 2016
Dancer, choreographer and hoofer
Tony Award nominee and winner
Broadway, television and film star