September 2023 Cohort

Sunny Allis

Sunny is a trans non-binary multidisciplinary artist whose projects focus on community and connection through different forms of play and storytelling. Their animations have won awards internationally, including at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Madrid Experimental Film Festival, and the Linoleum Festival in Moscow. Sunny released a gender-inclusive, bilingual children’s book called Hooray, What A Day!/¡Viva, Qué Día! They are currently developing a multimedia, inclusive kids TV show.


After graduating with their MFA in creative writing, they moved to the Florida Keys where they wrote their first book, won their first grant and short story award, and began studying nonfiction. Chelsea has been writing since they were eight years old and are currently a member of the Straw Dog Writers Guild and the WriteAngles Conference planning committee.


Born and raised in Springfield, Keshawn Dodds now the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club Family Center, has also become a bestselling author within the juvenile science fiction genre. He is the proud creator of the Menzuo: Solar Warrior’s series and has written eight books within the series and has published the four books with Cosby Media Productions.

Magdalena Gomez

Ms. Gómez is an award-winning performance poet, playwright, performer, teaching artist and highly sought after keynote speaker and workshop facilitator.  She is the co-founder and artistic director of Teatro V!da, the first Latin@ theater in Springfield, and founder of the Ferocious Women’s Group bringing to public view voices of women and girls through writing and performance. Gomez is also a New England Public Radio commentator, national speaker and columnist with the Point of View Newspaper.

Mark Guglielmo

Inspired by his artist grandmother Grace who had 11 children, Mark explores figurative work at the intersection of current events, Western art, and social history to observe issues of race, class, migration, and power. His mixed-media artwork examines the mounting costs Italian immigrants and their descendants have paid to access whiteness and “succeed” in America. He creates welcoming yet provocative collage images that spur conversations around structural racism by engaging Italian American whiteness as a key entry point to understanding race-making in the United States.

Theodore Hinman

Since 1998, Ted Hinman has been innovating and creating a wide variety of art, tools, blades and ways to teach metal smithing. He is driven by his respect for people, nature, and creativity as well as the feeling of freedom and connection he experiences. His works have been exhibited 82 times in galleries in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York City, Pennsylvania, and Vermont including the Outsider Art Fair in NYC, the Wooster Street Gallery in NYC, and the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Jeff Kasper

Jeff Kasper is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator, specializing in public art, design, and social engagement. He creates text-based projects, social spaces, publications, games, objects, exhibitions, community education, and workshops, often in partnership with community-based and non-profit organizations. Much of his recent work merges the tools and techniques of graphic design with participatory learning and contemplative practices, to examine the dynamics of social support, proximity, and safety.

Carmela Lanza-Weil

Carmela is an accomplished theater creator, director, playwright, producer, and actor.  She is currently working on a play about her experiences as a public health worker during the pandemic. A first draft of the play was presented in three readings in the spring of 2023 with audience talkbacks. Plans are afoot to rewrite and re-envision the play for production in spring/summer 2024.

Pamela Means

Pamela Means, singer-songwriter with a penchant for protest songs, guitarist, vocalist, educator, and social activist, is an Out and proud queer artist that cannot be musically contained. A conservatory-trained musician, Means also fronts her own jazz quartet, breathing life into classics once sung by Billie Holiday, Chet Baker and the like; performs the entirety of the album, The Beatles Abbey Road, solo acoustic, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, and now releases her tenth album, “Live at Northfire,” the first with new empowered trio, Pamela Means and The Reparations.

Ryan Murray

Through the medium of spray paint stenciling, Ryan Murray examines important conversations about the stigma of mental illness, with the goal of normalizing the discussion and treatment of mental health in black communities. By utilizing symbolism and autobiographical elements, his work addresses the reality and the reasons people of color suffer in silence more than their white counterparts.

Malaika Ross

Ross is a Caribbean-American visual artist observing and documenting nature through painting and drawing as a black woman as a means to liberation, environmental stewardship, and anti-oppression work. She studied Painting and Drawing at the Rhode Island School of Design, San Francisco Art Institute and the Marchutz School of Fine Arts and completed intensive coursework in sustainable farming, ecological restoration and Hawaiian ethnobotany at the University of Hawai’i, Hilo.

She spent the vast majority of her childhood playing outdoors in St. Croix’s soil, walking among its tall grasses, and learning about the healing qualities of plants from all the women in her family, from which she draws inspiration.


Dani Schmidt is a queer, neurodivergent, freelance illustrator and painter from Holyoke. They use both analog and digital mediums to create narrative-heavy work with organic themes and varying styles. Dani considers themselves to be a multidisciplinary visual storyteller, seeking to forge human connection through their art.

K Adler, Greenfield
Em Ayres, Williamsburg
Lori Clark, Deerfield
Carlos McBride, Northampton
Jason Montgomery, Easthampton
Ivonne Montoya, Northampton
Aisha Russell, Holyoke
Maurice Taylor, Holyoke

June of 2022 Cohort

Faith Alkiewicz, Northampton
Diana Alvarez, Holyoke
María Luisa Arroyo Cruzado, Springfield
Rachel Blackman, Northampton
Frankie Borrero, Springfield
Lori Clark, Deerfield
Keshawn Dodds, Springfield
Michelle Falcón Fontánez, Indian Orchard
Magdalena Gómez, Springfield
Mark Guglielmo, Northampton
Imo Imeh, Holyoke
Maria Kenison, Springfield
Robert Markey, Ashfield
Kurt Meyer, Shelburne Falls
Heshima Moja, Indian Orchard
Ivonne Montoya, Northampton
Samuel Perry, Turner’s Falls
Rochelle Shicoff, Monson
JaJa Swinton, West Springfield
Shandyce Willis, Springfield