Shanna Nigro is the Assistant Director for the Cornell Creative Art Center and The Arc Mid-Hudson Foundation in Kingston NY. Shanna is currently working on her MBA in project management with an advanced certificate in non-for profit. She received her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Psychology from Empire State University. With extensive experience in community programing, innovative planning activities, and grant writing, Ms. Nigro is responsible for developing and maintaining inclusive, diverse and equitable arts programming for the Art Center. She enjoys artistic expression through photography, culinary arts, acrylic and watercolor painting.
Admin & Graphic Designer
Elena Lo-McEnaney is the Admin and Graphic Designer for the Cornell Creative Art Center. Having grown up in Kingston, she spent her summers during her high school years working for The Arc Mid-Hudson, assisting with any creative projects she could get her hands on. Since then, she has graduated from SUNY Purchase with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies, where she focused on blending her love for art and design with her interest in sociology and media. She’s enthusiastic to be a part of the CCAC team, and to contribute to the work she feels is so valuable to our community.
Supported Arts Instructor
Jillian Rahm is pleased to join the staff at Cornell Creative as a Supported Arts instructor. Jillian received her BFA in communication design from the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan and went on to study expressive arts therapy at the new School for social research. Over her 25 plus year career Jillian has worked as a practicing artist specializing in found object art, as a designer and product consultant for a variety of fortune 500 companies and over the past decade in human services and higher education designing and coordinating both youth and adult educational and empowerment programs. Ms. Rahm has recently founded Lost and Found studios, a working art studio that offers classes in found object collage design. Jillian believes deeply in the healing power of the expressive arts and brings her creativity, compassion, and humanity to all life’s endeavors.
Belly Dancing Instructor
Barushka fuses folkloric, tribal style belly dance with swing and vintage jazz. She started studying traditional belly dance in 1996, tribal belly dance in 2001 and swing in 2017. She has studied the following styles of belly dance: ATS, tribal fusion, folkloric, Egyptian, Turkish, sword and floor work. Previous trainings include bollywood, bhangrah, odissa, flamenco, Tunisian African, salsa, butoh, hip hop, breakdance, swing and vintage jazz. Her instructors included Carolena Nericcio of Fat Chance Belly Dance, Paulette Rees-Denis of Gypsy Caravan, Suhaila Salimpour, Heather Stants of Urban Tribal, Jill Parker of Ultra Gypsy, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and Mardi Love of the Indigo to name but a few. Plus swing/jazz teachers such as Emily Vail and Linda and Chester Freeman. Barushka primarily combines classical Indian, cabaret, modern, swing & vintage jazz dance forms to create her specific style of fusion belly dance.
Barushka has performed restaurants, theater stages, salons, gala events and festivals. She has taught and performed internationally and nationwide. She includes working with props such as veil, finger cymbals, and sword. Barushka was a member of the Alchemy Tribal Collective in NYC, and was also a former, first tear member of PURE in NYC. She was the co-founder of the tribal fusion troupe The Bleeding Hearts Belly Dance Co. She is also a member of the Kingston vintage jazz chorus-girl troupe The Uptown Lowdown. Her desire is to help raise the public’s frequency through the art of dance and help bring belly dance to a higher art form.
Yoga and Art Instructor
Patty has lived and worked in the Hudson Valley for 25 years creating, teaching and exploring the outdoors. Recently retired from Saugerties High School as an art teacher and Department Chairperson, she looks forward to reinventing herself teaching art in a non academic environment. She is also a yoga instructor with Advanced Certification from the well known Shakti Yoga in Woodstock. When teaching art or yoga Patty is light hearted and intuitive by nature. She looks to empower her students by guiding them thoughtfully through the creative process in art and the intricacies of body movement in yoga
Anna Mayta grew up in Chile and is a dance improviser, choreographer, and instructor. She graduated from Empire State College in June 2001 with a BA in Dance in Education. In November 2008, she received a certificate to teach yoga from Svyasa Swami Vivekananda Yoga University in Bangalore, India. In 2006, she was awarded a dissemination award from the Dutchess County Arts Council in Poughkeepsie, New York. Ms. Mayta was accepted to Bethany Arts Community Center residency program in October 2020 where she choreographed a new piece called “The world of Humanity has two wings.” Ms. Mayta has been teaching, performing, and choreographing for over 15 years. She has traveled for her work to Bangalore, Pune, Lucknow, and Bombay in India. Additionally, she has taught for The National Ballet of Zimbabwe in Africa, in England, and in the greater Boston Area. Currently she is working in the Mid Hudson Valley NY.
Maxine Leu is an emerging artist, art educator, and environmentalist from Taiwan. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Tainan University of Technology (TUT), Tainan, Taiwan and her Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture at the State University of New York at New Paltz. She has worked in sculpture, printmaking and art education for several years. Her work tends to focus on the environment, communication, and identity. Leu has been promoting several workshops about upcycling and recycling that have been inspired by concerns over global warming, waste production, and other environmental issues.
KJ is an artist-activist and educator who makes clay sculptures to address sociopolitical issues. The transhistorical and transcultural nature of ceramics makes it the perfect material for metaphor. Her sculptures have been exhibited in the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, the Katonah Museum of Art, the Barrett Art Center and the Dorsky Museum of Art among others. She holds a MFA in ceramics from SUNY New Paltz and a BFA from Manhattanville College with a minor in political science. Karen is an enthusiastic teacher who enjoys sharing her knowledge of clay’s vast properties that span across many fields, including alchemy, geology, and anthropology. She is a seasoned educator who has worked with people of all age groups and learning capacities at community centers, public schools and universities, art centers, museums, and summer camp. She especially loves working with senior citizens and underrepresented folks. Karen employs a therapeutic approach in the classroom and draws out students’ collective knowledge when teaching traditional historical methods and contemporary practices to foster community and connection.
Es una artista-activista y educadora que hace esculturas de arcilla para abordar problemas sociopolíticos. La naturaleza transhistórica y transcultural de la cerámica la convierte en el material perfecto para la metáfora. Sus esculturas se han exhibido en el Centro Histórico y de Arte de Williamsburg, el Museo de Arte Katonah, el Centro de Arte Barrett y el Museo de Arte Dorsky, entre otros. Tiene un MFA en cerámica de SUNY New Paltz y un BFA de Manhattanville College con especialización en ciencias políticas. Karen es una maestra entusiasta que disfruta compartir su conocimiento de las vastas propiedades de la arcilla que abarcan muchos campos, incluida la alquimia, la geología y la antropología. Es una educadora experimentada que ha trabajado con personas de todas las edades y capacidades de aprendizaje en centros comunitarios, escuelas públicas y universidades, centros de arte, museos y campamentos de verano. A ella le encanta especialmente trabajar con personas de la tercera edad y personas con poca representación. Karen emplea un enfoque terapéutico en el aula y extrae el conocimiento colectivo de los estudiantes al enseñar métodos históricos tradicionales y prácticas contemporáneas para fomentar la comunidad y la conexión.
Shana is a multi media artist with a current passion for watercolor. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Visual Arts Education with concentrations in Photography from SUNY New Paltz. After a long career in higher education she has turned her focus to bringing art instruction to her community in the Hudson Valley. She enjoys all the variation watercolor offers and loves to paint in a loose and vibrant style. She also appreciates the delicacy of controlled realism, and simplicity and power of illustration that can be achieved through the medium. She believes everyone has a creative self and loves to help students find joy and pride in their creative work.
Yoga & Art Instructor
Gigi Grace (she/her) is a contemporary working and teaching artist from Saratoga Springs, New York. She now lives and works in Kingston, NY as a teacher and freelance artist.Gigi graduated from State University at New Paltz, New York, in 2018. Since then she has been involved in the curation, coordination, and shows of over 30 art exhibits, galleries and spaces in New York. She has worked as a Museum Educator for k-12, as well as a social media arts coordinator, Teaching Artist, art panel juror, grant funded sculpture coordinator, and yoga instructor. She has also had the opportunity to be a part of a cultural exchange and artist residency in the summer of 2019. For this residency she went abroad to Nanchang, China and completed a mural with the other chosen members over the course of 3 weeks, funded by the Hua Quan Village.
Gigi has also been practicing yoga for over 6 years and has advanced her practice to a 200 hour teaching level. She has taught in upstate New York at Aikido Dojos as well as online classes, outdoor sessions, and personal sessions for individual clients. Gigi was introduced to yoga at a very young age through her grandmother who has been a yoga practitioner for 30 years and a student of Ram Dass. Her favorite practice is both hot yoga and vinyasa yoga which are the asanas and breathing techniques she bases her classes around.
Christina Fusco is an artist and arts educator with a passion for universal learning and fostering access to the arts. She studied Communications and Studio Art at New York University, and initially worked as a graphic designer in advertising. Interested in shifting her career to teaching and traditional arts, she obtained her Master’s in Creativity Development and Art Therapy from Pratt Institute in 2015. Christina has taught children, teens and adults in public schools, hospitals, private studios and art museums around NYC, including the Rubin Museum of Art and the Children’s Museum of the Arts.
Christina’s personal works are representational and minimal. She enjoys using meditative mediums like watercolor to capture the inherent beauty in people, animals and landscapes.
Kerry holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art and an MPS in Creative Arts Therapy. She has been
an art educator for over ten years and has worked with adults and children in a psychiatric
hospital as an art therapist in training. She uses the creative process to teach the fundamentals of
mindfulness and as a means of addressing trauma and difficult emotions in an embodied,
Tara Sanders came to her yoga mat to explore and heal. Having a strong commitment to serving the community and advocating for underserved populations, she has taught students at a mental health advocacy agency, homeless youth, and developed a therapeutic yoga & mindfulness program for a domestic violence shelter in Upstate NY. Since 2017 she has been working with the Ulster County Crime Victims Assistance Program in developing trauma informed yoga programming that is available for free to sexual assault survivors, anyone supporting survivors, and professionals working to support survivors with their healing. She was on the advisory board of Exhale to Inhale (2014-2020), a non-profit organization that brings yoga to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in New York and Los Angeles through free weekly classes at shelters and community-based organizations. She was one of Ulster County’s 2019 Raising Hope honorees, for her work in women mentoring women to success & Raising HOPE (help, opportunity, passion, empowerment) in our community. She is currently the Director of Girls, Inc. of Ulster and Dutchess Counties. A national nonprofit organization, our mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.
Tara is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher, and has extensively continued her education with an emphasis on trauma-informed yoga, Yoga Nidra, children’s yoga, mindfulness, restorative yoga, adaptive yoga therapeutics, anatomy and bodywork, meditation, Ayurveda, and somatic healing. Working with adults and youth, it has been a dream come true to share the healing and grounding practice of yoga, and to be a conduit for the practices and teachings that have had such a profound impact on her life.