Debbie Thoma (Classroom Assistant)
Debbie is an arts advocate and creativity encourager, who loves to make her ideas come to life through sewing, painting, and mixed media art. As a lifelong learner, Debbie has shared her enthusiasm for creating art with others through years of volunteering as an art docent for K-6 students in Highline Schools, through leadership of the Washington State PTA Reflections student art program, as a sewing and textile art instructor, and as a K-8 visual arts teacher and community event art instructor for Burien Parks & Recreation. Her teaching experiences through Arts Corps have expanded her horizons and added to her skills in supporting student artists in their social and emotional learning. One of the great joys in Debbie’s life is guiding students through art explorations and encouraging them to discover and use their creative force to make their own art.
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17 + years of teaching experience | Massive Monkees
Jeromeskee started breaking in 1996 and has been performing in B-boy events and competitions since. He is a co-founder of 2x world champion Massive Monkees crew. He has over 17 years of teaching experience, working with corporations, non-profit organizations, private studios, public and private schools, and universities worldwide. He is a founder of Massive Break Championship, school vs school breaking league that serves over 20 different schools.
Jeromeskee co-choreographed and starred in the award-winning “Downtown” music video by the artist named Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and is currently on tour. He has performed and been featured on: MTV’s Video Music Award, MTV’s European Music Award, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon TV show , Ellen DeGeneres TV Show, Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel TV Show, Today Show, MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew (Season 4), Dancing With The Stars, and a coach on MTV/s MADE: I Want To Be A B-boy.
Kisha Vaughan, born in Biloxi, Mississippi and raised in Sacramento, CA has been dancing in and around Seattle for the past 15 years with a focus on hip hop.
She has had the privilege to be a part of various crews including Breaking Point Dance Company, In Effect Hip Hop, and Seattle Storm Hip Hop Squad.
Kisha was a back up dancer for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis where she had the opportunity to tour the U.S. and Canada.
Performances include Showtime at the Apollo, Folklife, Capitol Hill Block Party, Conan O’Brien, MTV Movie Awards, Billboard Awards, Sasquatch, We Day, Rolling Stone Magazine, You Tube, Upstream Music Fest, and Bumbershoot.
Kisha has also been the creative director and choreographer for Emerald City Elite, Poison Poppies, and Garfield High School Puppettes.
Kalei’okalani (Kalei) Onzuka Matsui is of Kanaka Maoli, Japanese, Chinese, and Black heritage and was born and raised in Wai’anae, O’ahu. She is the founder and leader of Huraiti Mana, a Polynesian Dance Troupe in Seattle that began in 2017 and focuses on empowerment and cultural identity through lessons in Hula and Ori Tahiti. Kalei has taught with Families of Color Seattle, is a master teaching artist with Arts Corps, and is the Director of Museum Services at the Wing Luke Museum. She is a dancer, teacher, artist, poet, performer, Polynesian ambassador, and lei weaver. Every day teaching is another personal experience in Kalei’s cultural journey, motivating her to continue teaching, studying, and sharing the love of her people. “Ei aha roa to ‘oe hiro’a. Ia mo’e i e to nuna’a.” May you always keep with you, the consciousness and dream of your origin.
Aaron Walker-Loud is an artist, band director, composer, producer and educator. He is the founder and director of Big World Breaks (a production company built for performance, studio and education), that has shared stages with Janelle Monae, Kool DJ Red Alert, Digable Planets, DJ Qbert, Macklemore, Reggie Watts, Saul Williams and many more. B.W.B. has also produced live show backing for various artists such as: Grammy Nominated vocalists Wayna and Rocky Dawuni, Sy Smith, Zo!, Dynamq, Choklate, Kimberly Nichole, Massive Monkees and Xperience. Aaron is a proud alum of the CD Music Factory (Washington Middle School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Mr. Robert Knatt, and Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble / Drumline, under the direction of Mr. Clarence Acox). Aaron began working with youth and families in 1999, eventually becoming the Education Director for Seattle JazzED (2010-2016), a teaching artist for Arts Corps (2008-present) as well as the drumline director for Washington Middle School (2008-2016) and O’Dea High School (2012-2018). Most recently Aaron became a member of the Creative Advantage roster, co-founded 50 Next: Seattle Hip-Hop Worldwide in 2012, founded the award-winning intergenerational BWB Drumline in 2015 and co-curated The Legacy of Seattle Hip-Hop exhibit at MOHAI (with over 31,000 attendees and 20 co-produced events), which won the 2016 American Association of State and Local History Leadership in History Award, “the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history”.
ZAG, real name Amr Awwad, is a Hip-Hop artist, Spoken Word Poet, and DJ. Since coming to the US from Zagazig, Egypt in 2015 when he was 16 years old, he’s developed a passion for writing poetry and music that expresses his identity both back home and in the diaspora. Driven by his passion for social justice and Equity, ZAG has been vocal and active in the Hip-Hop and Spoken Word community, performing at many venues including The Moore Theatre and MoPop’s Sky Church. ZAG is also a 2016-2017 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador. In the future, ZAG hopes to go back to Egypt and start his own nonprofit, helping youth know their rights through art and self-expression.
Erica Merritt began singing and performing at 5. In middle school, she was featured in a band called “Starlighters,” which consisted of three student vocalists and a few members of the faculty. At 14, she joined theatre and music performance groups at Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center. She studied voice and music in college, and began teaching choir through Northwest Folklife in 1998. She has continued to teach voice, songwriting and choir intermittently through various art organizations over the last 10 years. Erica has also worked in the field of social and human services for over 15 years and has enjoyed the amazing opportunity to combine her passions of social well-being and music through the art of teaching.
Erika is a Seattle-born and raised writer and vocalist. Since her childhood discovery of the shared family trait of musicality, Erika has sung and provided musical instruction in churches and community spaces most her life. She played the role of Nina Simone in Nu Black Arts West Theatre’s Dark Divas in 2015, has toured with Seattle groups Black Stax and artist Daniel Pak, sharing stages with Clinton Fearon, Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Divinity Roxx, and J Boog, and has worked alongside Top 40 recording artists. A self-taught drummer and beatmaker, Erika sees life as one continuous song. Her passion for community and youth empowerment powers her work as manager of West Seattle’s arts hub, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (DNDA). Erika believes the realization of one’s purpose has power to change lives, and worlds.
Matt Sablan, aka Sabyu, is a singer/songwriter and producer born on the island of Saipan. Growing up, his family moved to Hawai’i and then to Seattle where he now resides. He started learning guitar at 14 years old, and picked up other instruments along the way such as ukulele, bass guitar, drum kit, cajón, and piano. Matt has a foundation in music production and a likeness for world music through his Ethnomusicology studies at UW Seattle. His music is rooted in the Pacific Islands & Pacific Northwest, playing acoustic, hip-hop, and reggae sounds weaved with love. Matt has been a teaching artist with Totem Star and Arts Corps since 2018.
Michael Grant is an educator, musician, facilitator, and producer, committed to finding new and engaging ways for youth to take creative risks. As an educator, he has seven years of experience developing and implementing relevant, interdisciplinary music curriculum. He has collaborated with the San Francisco Symphony, Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center, and hundreds of public school students in Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle to use music as an access point for community-building, social justice, passion exploration, and cultural expression. Michael also works as a Restorative Justice practitioner, helping schools transform their discipline systems and school climate into ones that foster belonging, connectedness, and healing.
Michael has been making music his whole life, starting with singing himself to sleep as a baby. He performs as a singer, keyboardist, and Klezmer trumpeter. Michael has performed for President Obama at the White House, toured in six countries, and has been featured on FOX’s Glee and ABC’s Good Morning America. He studied music and composition at Tufts University, and holds a Washington State K-12 Teaching Certificate, with endorsements in Music.
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Jamal Farr a.k.a. Jace is a Seattle hip-hop fixture. He’s been involved with the Seattle hip-hop scene since the mid-1980s and has done work with such organizations as National Black United Front, Impact Management/K Records, and Loose Groove/Sony, as well as rapped on many independent releases.
As a hip-hop performer, Jace participates in the broader arts scene, beyond just the hip-hop scene, and uses his time to help young people in his creative writing classes to navigate their lives with words. Jace is currently a member of the hip-hop/soul-inspired group Black Stax. He prides himself of the work they do with other artists internationally as well as within the Seattle community.
Olisa “Spyc-E Enrico has been rockin’ the mic for over 20 years. Born into a life of music Olisa began exploring theatre in 2003. She has a BFA in performance and an MFA in Theater Pedagogy. Olisa believes that artists and art are vital to the state of culture and society and hopes to share her soul through performance and teaching. Olisa is a board member of www.TheConciliationProject.org (TCP) (501c3) whose mission is “…to promote through active and challenging dramatic works, open and honest dialogue about racism in America in order to repair its damaging legacy”. Olisa teaches students of all ages and stages. Her teaching, of any subject, incorporates principles of community and shared responsibility.
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Hi, I’m Zakk!
I was born and raised in the greater Seattle area. I’ve been a photographer and filmmaker going on seven years now. I studied at Bellevue college in Media Arts but am primarily self taught ( Youtube tutorials for the win!). I have a passion for capturing emotions and conveying stories with my art. When I’m not running around with a camera I’m chasing my 7-year-old and 10-month-old sons around while admiring my wife’s patience! This is my first year with Art Corps and my first experience teaching. I’m looking forward to continue to grow in my ability to teach the joy and importance of Art!
Here are a couple of links to my work:
Gabriela Ayala-Cañizares is a trauma-sensitive, healing-focused art and yoga instructor. She has a Bachelors of Fine Arts and Masters of Arts in Yoga Studies focused on the healing modalities of yoga, mindfulness and its potential impact on social change. Gabriela teaches a yoga, mindfulness and art class to elementary students and yoga classes with elderly refugees. Her main goal as a teacher is to provide a space for people of all ages and backgrounds to discover tools of self-empowerment, build skills like non-judgmental curiosity and awareness of body and mind. The development of these skills always come with a focus on discovering how our individual thoughts and actions greatly impact our experience of life and our communities. Gabriela explores these topics within her own yoga and art practice creating work that translate her inner experience and connection to the natural world into visual drawings, graphics that express love for community, and capturing experiences of freedom and self-empowerment through video and photography.
I am a new generation artist, sent here to teach the youth, and help my family n’ friends. I speak in different dialects based on my mood, I have more than one name. And I loveeee teaching the next “groups”, It really keeps me grounded, and inspired. So shout out to Hazel Valley 🙏🏾
Rachel Chloe Uttech
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Roldy Aguero Ablao
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At age 15, Shelby Handler performed at a poetry slam for the first time and upon finishing their piece, immediately ran off the stage. Since then, Shelby has been running back and forth from the stage and supporting the next generation of poets to take the mic. As a writer and performer,
their work queers accepted notions of belonging, ancestry and home through explorations of Jewish identity at the margins. Their work has been featured in books, public buses, literary journals and stages across the country. Shelby is honored to call Youth Speaks Seattle one of their forever poetry homes. They used to manage the Teen Leadership Program but henceforth, they shall assume the role of Awkward Fan Grrl at the slam series and if they’re lucky, a teaching artist for Arts Corps and YOUTH SPEAKS! Find more from them @shelbeleh.
Aishé Keita, a first generation Malian-Jamaican-American performer, actress, teacher and yogi, attended Cornish College of the Arts and American Conservatory Theater. During her time in Seattle Aishé has been in productions at Seattle Shakespeare Company, Intiman Theater, Seattle Repertory Theater , Book-it theater, Freehold theater and toured to Minneapolis and played at the Guthrie theater. She splits her energy teaching at Washington Correctional Center for Women funded by Freehold theater , providing artistic outlets for the incarcerated. Aishé is dedicated to storytelling, studying ritual, African traditions in her homeland Mali in order to keep her history alive. Aishé was recently awarded a Gregory for best actress for her role, Young Maya in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Lauren Appel has worked as an arts educator at many cultural institutions in Seattle and New York, including Seattle Children’s Theater, Youth Theatre Northwest, Rubin Museum of Art, Abrons Arts Center, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and also currently works at Hilltop Artists in Tacoma, where she runs a visual art program for court-involved girls in Pierce County. She has worked with students of all ages as a visual arts educator, a theatre teaching artist, and a museum and gallery educator. She has a particular interest in curriculum-integrated arts learning and collaborating with classroom teachers and school administrators. Lauren holds a BA in theater from Smith College and a MSEd in Museum Education from Bank Street College of Education.
Meredith Arena is a writer and interdisciplinary teaching artist from New York City with 18 years of teaching experience for youth ages 5-15, both in afterschool and school-day arts integration environments. Before teaching at Arts Corps, Meredith was a teaching artist in Brooklyn, New York. Meredith holds an BA in Cultural Studies, a BFA in photography and an MFA in Creative Writing. She teaches at the intersection of creativity, self-awareness and community building. Her favorite classes to teach are Performance and Creativity (students explore theater as a tool for self-awareness and community building) Media Arts (students make, photo essays, podcasts and documentaries about issues of concern to them) and any Writing class that involves writing and performing poetry and monologues. She also facilitates meditation for adults and young people. Meredith endeavors to make her classes a joyful and safe place where students can examine and subvert the status quo. She wants students to know that creativity is all about making choices, both in their art and in their day to day lives.
I am an illustrator and designer and have been working in the Seattle Arts Community for the past five years. I believe that art in it’s best forms connects people through inspiration and collaboration, and can empower people to speak with a new, and more powerful voice. I grew up doing visual art in all its forms with only my school art classes as a resource, drawing and painting in high school, and branching out into design and digital media in college. Now I collaborate with artists working in other mediums to publish a zine and connect creative people to spark meaningful conversation. I have worked to help facilitate a space for artists, and believe that we should be working to show that there is a place for young people in the creative community. I help run the Screen Print Studio at the Vera Project in the Seattle Center and help create programming to teach skills that young artist can use as an outlet as well as a means of living. Empowering through art creates opportunities for growth on so many levels, and I enjoy being that supportive role for youth in community.
Born in the Philippines, Carina A. del Rosario immigrated to the United States as a young girl. She earned her B.A. in Communication from Santa Clara University in 1991. She has studied photography with Magnum Photographer Alex Webb, Rebecca Norris Webb, Raul Touzon and Eddie Soloway, and a variety of visual arts media at Pratt Fine Arts, Cornish College of the Arts and other cultural institutions. In addition to her own creative and documentary projects, she is a teaching artist and helps youth use visual arts and digital media to explore their communities, advocate for what matters for them, and express their own experiences. She works with a number of schools, cultural institutions and community-based organizations to help students develop 21st century skills through the visual arts. She collaborates with non-profit organizations and educational institutions to help illustrate issues such as poverty, education, health and civil rights. She also founded IDEA Odyssey, a collective that promotes cultural diversity, community development and economic prosperity in the International District/Chinatown neighborhood through visual arts. In 2013, the International Examiner honored her with a Community Voice Award for an Individual Artist.
Greg is a teaching artist, small business owner, visual artist and screen printing instructor who has a great passion for teaching youth. Greg was a restaurant manager and had been for many years when he was asked in the fall of 2013 by a local school district to present a curriculum for an art program in the district’s middle schools. From the first minute of his first class, Greg knew he had found the job that he wanted to do for the rest of his life – teaching and engaging students with art. At the beginning of his teaching artist career, Greg also had an opportunity to teach teens at an inpatient drug/alcohol treatment facility and at programs involving court-involved youth. Those experiences solidified Greg’s desire not only to teach students in a public school setting, but also to work closely as a teacher and mentor at-risk youth and youth in need. Greg engages students in the creative process by focusing on them as individuals, helping them to express their fears and their dreams, to set goals, and to develop the desire to succeed despite possible difficulties. Greg’s main goal is that each of his students learn to express their own voices in a creative and positive way. Greg’s lessons also teach skills that translate to other areas of the students’ lives – collaboration, leadership, acceptance, empathy, public speaking. Greg realizes that not every youth will become a great artist during his courses – but that truly is not the goal. Greg simply asks each student to embrace the journey of discovery and hopes that creating art helps build confidence in his students and that they have fun.
Jiéyì Ludden is an interdisciplinary artist who has shapeshifted through many mediums. Jiéyì was born in Nagoya, Japan and moved around many times as a child before landing in rural Kentucky as a queer, trans, and mixed race tween. Making art has been a refuge to return to because it is a way of tapping into the generative space between words. Through art, Jiéyì opens towards play and imagination so that they can untangle the truthiness of a story. They hold an MFA in 4d art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they focused on socially-engaged arts practices. Jiéyì lives in a collective house in Seattle, Washington and likes to dance wildly in the kitchen.
Maria Luisa Guillen Valdovinos (Poesia Mariarte) is a visual creative thinker/artist, educator/art therapist and Indigenous Rights observer in environmental, food, and social justice movements; based in occupied Coast Salish Territories. Art ingrained in cultural experience, she graduated in 2010 from the University of Washington in Bio-Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Gender & Sexuality Studies. She was born in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Mexico and after studying graffiti in Lima, PERU IN 2009 with Jorge Miyagi and drawing flowers in Biology projects begun building creatively in cultural political movements, traveling with the National Indigenous Congress, parents of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa, and visited Autonomous Zapatista communities as a human rights observer with FRAYBA, an indigenous human rights organization based in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas Mexico. Featured as a performer in BBC’s 100 Womxn in Mexico City 2016 and A Published Writer featured in “Chapter 9: Travels of a Diaspora Community: From La Sierra Madre Y Tierra Caliente to the Pacific Northwest” MEXICAN-ORIGIN FOODS, FOODWAYS, AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: A DECOLONIAL PRESPECTIVES, The University of Arkansas Press 2017; Publication “Xin Fronteras”, Seattle Journal for Social Justice Seattle University School of Law. Overall she is a lover of all things creatively expressive.
Mylen Tumaliuan-Huggins believes that the arts are an essential part of being a person. She is greatly inspired by and thrives on the creativity and expressive confidence that comes from young emerging artists. Trained as a graphic designer/illustrator, her true passion is teaching artistry, engaging youth in the creative process of visual arts. She’s been a teaching artist for over a decade serving youth ranging from kindergarten to high school from her early days at The Children’s Museum to several Seattle and Highline Public Schools as well as teaching for Arts Corps and Seattle Art Museum. In addition to being a teaching artist, Mylen is also an artist mentor for Arts Impact and serves on the board for Arts Corps.
Sabrina Chacon-Barajas graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a BA in Studio Art. She used her senior art show to challenge the SPU community on stereotypes of the Latinx community. Her work incorporates multi-media art to represent the intersectional identity of being a brown femme. Her work mostly consists of creating illustrative profiles of people and diving into the issues and experiences of the Latinx diaspora. Sabrina is a teaching artist that cares about representation in the classroom and closing the achievement gap through the power of the arts. She centers her curriculum around sense of belonging in the classroom using culturally responsive pedagogy. Sabrina speaks Spanish and empowers her students to speak and write in their language by being transparent in her experience as a first generation person who is more comfortable with Spanglish and translanguaging. Sabrina has taught with various art programs and non-profits in the PNW such as REEL GRRLS, SAM, Gage Academy of the Arts, South Park Community Center, Ailey Camp, Pratt Fine Arts, and Centrum in Port Townsend.