Celeste De Luna
Celeste De Luna is a painter/printmaker from the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. She received her MFA from the University of Texas Pan American in 2008. She has shown artwork in group exhibitions since 2007 in the various cities in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, San Diego, San Francisco, Council Bluffs, and Chicago. “A true daughter of the borderlands, her art celebrates the quotidian and the exceptional on the border,” writes Ines Hernandez-Avila. De Luna continues to explore the geo-political aspects of post-911 militarization of her environment such as border walls, drones, checkpoints, and bridges. Much of De Luna’s work is centered on the border experiences of mixed documentation status communities. Her iconography frequently shows razor wire, fences, bridges, and “anchor babies”. De Luna started as a painter but now primarily works as a self-taught printmaker whose work includes large scale woodcuts. Influenced by political printmakers of the Chicago school such as Carlos Cortez and Mexican master Jose Guadalupe Posada, her violent subject matter is social commentary with a feminine sensibility. Currently, De Luna has also begun printing on fabric and experimenting with sewing and installation. Recently, De Luna’s work was included in the book Entre Guadalupe Y Malinche by Ines Hernandez-Avila and Norma E. Cantu and published by UT Press. She works part time at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and lives with her family in Harlingen, Texas.
Cyndie Bellen-Berthézène’s diverse artistic gifts and academic accomplishments – in modern dance, opera, languages, the visual arts and as a published children’s book author and creative director – support and energize the innovative arts-based pedagogy of Time In. After studies with some of the world’s leading dance teachers, Cyndie became director of Windham College’s dance department at just 18. She danced professionally in New York and Paris, and then turned to opera, studying with Alberta Masiello, Rita Patane, Adele Addison, Eugene Kohn, among others. Combining opera theory with doctoral work as a Fellow in Slavics at Penn and Columbia. Cyndie received awards and fellowships in both disciplines. She was an Opera Fellow at Aspen, taught Russian at the University of Pennsylvania, studied extensively in the former Soviet Union, writing and presenting musico-literary scholarship at conferences in the US and the USSR. In the field of early childhood education, Cyndie is a proven innovator. She developed a unique, interdisciplinary pedagogy suited to the multi-modal learning style of very young children. Cyndie’s extraordinary programs – Opera ‘N Art, Arty Readers: An Operatic/Literary Journey through Manga and CosiTV – are an engaging marriage of high and low art forms for children from Pre_K-Grade 5. For her groundbreaking work in arts and education, Cyndie was the recipient of the very prestigious 2007 Maxine Greene Award. Huffington Post’s 2015 Woman of the Year in Art, Cyndie is the creator of studio-art based classroom materials for over two dozen operas, ballets and symphonic works. She was the Creative Director/author for Scholastic’s Kidsketch. Through her unflagging commitment to equality, opportunity and access for at-risk public school children, Cyndie has changed the lives and learning of over 2000 of New York City’s youngest and most at-risk public school children from Harlem and the South Bronx and brought a decade of meaningful work to up-and-coming artists in New York.
Heidi Boisvert is a new media artist, creative technologist, experience designer, researcher and writer. She founded and serves as the CEO and Creative Director of the futurePerfect lab, a boutique creative agency that works with nonprofits to develop imaginative applications of integrated media and emerging technology. Heidi was formerly the Media Director at Breakthrough where she designed, developed and promoted a range of viral, new media and pop culture campaigns that helped raise awareness and instigate policy change on pressing social issues. She created the first 3D social change game, ICED I Can End Deportation, to shift the frame around unfair U.S. immigration policies. Heidi also designed America 2049, an alternative reality game on Facebook about pluralism, which was nominated for Games for Change and Katerva awards. Most recently, she co-founded, XTH, an open-source bio-creative technology start up, and was named a Harvestworks Creativity + Technology = Enterprise Fellow as well as a Media Impact Fellow at both the Harmony Institute and the Norman Lear Center at USC. She received her PhD in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is currently an Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Technologies at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) and a research affiliate at the MIT OpenDoc Lab.
Jess Zimbabwe serves as Director of Urban Development at the National League of Cities (NLC) and founding Executive Director of the Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership—a partnership of NLC and the Urban Land Institute. The Center’s flagship program is the Daniel Rose Fellowship for public leaders, which brings the mayors and senior leadership teams of 4 cities together for a year-long program of learning from land use experts, technical assistance, study tours, leadership development, and peer-to-peer exchange. The Rose Center also convenes thought leaders, conducts research, and delivers educational programs on topics of public/private interest in real estate development, design, planning, economic development, and land use strategy. Previously, Jess was the Director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. During her time at the Mayors’ Institute, she also served as Vice President for Programs at the American Architectural Foundation, overseeing that organization’s Great Schools by Design program and developing the Sustainable Cities Design Academy. Prior to that, Jess served as the Community Design Director at Urban Ecology, providing pro bono community planning and design assistance to low-income neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jess is a member of the urban planning faculty at Georgetown University. She earned a Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in Architecture from Columbia University. Jess was an Urban and Regional Policy Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and a Fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute of the Women’s Foundation of California. She serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Next City, and she holds a mayoral appointment to the Washington, DC Green Building Advisory Council. She is a licensed architect, certified city planner, and a LEED-Accredited professional.
Maria Melendez Kelson
Maria Kelson writes crime fiction, short stories, magazine features, literary essays and poetry. Her mystery novel-in-progress won the inaugural Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award from Sisters in Crime. Her poetry and prose appear in Poetry magazine, Orion, Ms. magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, and numerous anthologies. Author of two poetry collections (as Maria Melendez) published by University of Arizona Press, her books have been finalists for the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the Colorado Book Award, and both received Honorable Mention at the International Latino Book Awards. Several collaborative art and poetry exhibitions have included her work, among them The Language of Conservation, a permanent installation at the Milwaukee Zoo, and Poetas y Pintores, a traveling exhibition with shows at Self-Help Graphics & Art in Los Angeles, the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, and elsewhere. She has given presentations, workshops, and readings at literary festivals, libraries, writers conferences, and campuses around the country, and is a grateful alumna of residencies at Ragdale, Hedgebrook, and Terraphilia. Her community arts engagement includes work as an Area Coordinator for California Poets in the Schools, collaborative arts advocacy projects with Letras Latinas, the literary branch of University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, and three years as editor and publisher of Pilgrimage magazine, a literary journal focused on themes of story, spirit, witness, and place in the greater southwest and beyond. She holds degrees in English/creative writing from Colorado State University and University of California, Davis, and is currently a faculty member in English at Pueblo Community College in southern Colorado.
Michelle Angela Ortiz
Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist/ skilled muralist/ community arts educator who uses her art as a vehicle to represent people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Through painting, printmaking, and community arts practices, she creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues communities and individuals may face. Her work tells stories using richly crafted and emotive imagery to claim and transform spaces into a visual affirmation that reveals the strength and spirit of the community. For eighteen years, Ortiz continues to be an active educator in using the arts as a tool for communication to bridge communities. As a highly skilled muralist, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works nationally and internationally. Since 2008, Ortiz has led community building and art for social change public art projects both independently in Costa Rica and Ecuador and through the United States Embassy as a Cultural Envoy in Fiji, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, and Honduras. In 2016, she completed the first U.S. State funded public art project since the re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Ortiz was awarded the Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Year in Review Award which honors outstanding public arts projects in the nation. She is a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist National Fellow, a fellow of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Fund for the Arts, and recipient of the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award and Art & Change Grants.
Sarah Shotland is the author of the novel Junkette, and a playwright whose work has been performed widely nationally and internationally. She is the Co-Founder and Program Coordinator of Words Without Walls, which brings creative writing classes to jails, prisons, and rehabilitation centers in Pittsburgh, PA. She also teaches in the MFA program at Chatham University. She’s currently at work on a collection of essays exploring her work with Words Without Walls.
Shaun Leonardo is a multidisciplinary artist who uses modes of self-portraiture as a means to convey the complexities of masculine identity and question preconceived notions of manhood. The portraits take the form of cutout paintings, drawings, and sculptures, while also brought to life through performance. Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York City. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and has received awards from Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; The New York Studio School; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Art Matters; New York Foundation for the Arts; McColl Center for Visual Art; Franklin Furnace; and The Jerome Foundation. His work has been presented in galleries and institutions, nationally and internationally, and was recently featured in the exhibitions Crossing Brooklyn at Brooklyn Museum, Radical Presence at Studio Museum in Harlem, and Between History and the Body at 8th Floor Gallery. Leonardo’s current collaborative work Mirror / Echo / Tilt is funded by Creative Capital.