Starving Artists: Rider grads overcome the obstacles of the art world

By Eric Hinrichsen

This skull painting was created by Stacey Zerilli, depicting a skull in light, pastel colors.
Amy Boras painted this piece in bold colors, using an Abstractionism approach.
This black-and-white abstract piece was created by Monica Welborn, who was unable to attend.

Two young artists painted a picture of their lives and work experiences for the Rider community in Fine Arts on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Amy Boras, who graduated from Rider in 2000, and Stacey Zerilli, 2008 graduate, spoke at the event “Three Young Artists,” hosted by Rider’s art program. The third artist, Monica Welborn, was unable to attend, but the two who were available used the opportunity to show off their works, share their influences and talk about their lives.

Life after Rider has been fruitful for the two. After graduation, the art world took them from a small school to the big city: New York. Boras continued her work a few years later at The New York Studio School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpting. Zerilli originally took the same path, but was forced to switch schools because of monetary issues. However, neither strayed from the city.

The women share more in common than their current location. They began in the same program at Rider for their undergraduate work, both majoring in studio art.
However, Rider provided more than a foundation for their careers. Both artists cited Deborah Rosenthal, a fine arts professor, as a source of artistic inspiration, saying that she helped cultivate their love for art and painting.

Rosenthal only had positive things to say in return.

“I think it’s wonderful how the girls have grown,” Rosenthal said. “All three girls are starting to become a part of the art world. I happen to know some people who are currently teaching them, and it always makes me happy that they have nothing to say but high remarks about them.”

The girls also named New York as a source of great inspiration.

“[New York] is culturally diverse, incredibly stimulating and inspiring,” Zerilli said. “It’s one of the centers for the art world, which is incredibly awesome and useful.”

Rosenthal also mentioned the advantages of the proximity to New York in her profession.

“I love the fact that [Rider] is so close to New York. I have the ability to take my students to paint at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and have them be able to spend the whole day studying there,” Rosenthal said. “I feel that they’re having a very genuine experience.”

These words and their talent led to big goals and aspirations for the future, and both have a general idea of where they want to be a few years down the road.

“I obviously want to keep painting,” Boras said. “I hope to have my own studio to paint in within the next couple of years. However, in order to make a living, I plan to become a teacher at a university somewhere.”

Zerilli has a similar plan for her future.

“I really hope to have the opportunity to teach and have my own studio within the next couple of years,” she said. “But within the next 10 years, I really just want to have a couple shows under my belt and continue to paint.”

Boras and Zerilli reached out to the artists in the audience with their presentations, hoping to inspire everyone to follow their passions.

“It’s a sacrifice, but if you truly love it you shouldn’t be concerned,” Zerilli said.

To view more of their work, visit their websites:, and

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