Gabrielle Pescador is an MFA candidate at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and holds a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Master of Arts, Linguistics from McGill University, Montreal and a Bachelor of Arts, Linguistics, from the University of Toronto. She has an abundance of professional artistic experience working as a community activist through solo and collaborative exhibitions, group exhibitions, as a curator, performance artist and film maker. Gabrielle’s work stems from a deep desire to explore the human body as a continually evolving landscape, shaped by social, political, economic, psychological and ecological environmental conditions, and to envision how all these factors contribute to the construction of human and gender identity. She is particularly focused on the dehumanizing injustices that result from patriarchal structures, the notion of the “other” and the commodification of human experience, and how this information is imprinted in the human body and consciousness.
Juan Javier Pescador is a photographer & filmmaker based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Born in Mexico, Juan Javier’s photography has gravitated toward visualizing the Mexicano/Chicano experiences in the Great Lakes, the barrios’ vibrant life and the diverse dimensions of Mexican ancestral and popular cultures. He has exhibited his photography in solo exhibits in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Portland, Mexico City and Windsor, Canada. He has also collaborated on installations, particularly on Day of the Dead ofrendas, that have been exhibited at museums and galleries in Chicago, East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. His most recent documentary film “Just because I am”, about homophobia and youth, has been screened in different film festivals and events in Detroit, New York City, Chicago, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Windsor and Ann Arbor. It was selected for the New Filmmakers Festival in New York City in 2012 and received the award for best film in the LBGT category in Ferndale, Michigan.
Akili Jackson is on the frontline in the movement towards innovative ways of enhancing the quality of education for children in Southeast Michigan. He has over 10 years experience as a Youth Development Worker specializing in programs that inspire positive character development in youth. As an advocate for community based programs, Akili has participated in and coordinated groundbreaking urban projects that served to motivate parents, and inspire youth to become forces for positive change in their communities. Akili has conducted workshops in Community Education using Hip Hop music as a tool for classrooms in Columbus OH, Atlanta GA, and Manhattan NYC. Akili has presented as a frequent guest speaker for the National African American Parent Involvement Day (NAAPID) and a panelist/speaker at Antioch University, University of Pittsburg, and University of Windsor Law School. He has served as a guest lecturer at Washtenaw Community College for African Poetry and Literature and at Eastern Michigan University for “Building Effective Classroom Communities”. Currently Akili serves as a founding member and Chief Development and Learning Officer for Community Records L3C an organization dedicated to building community activism through music.
Yusuf Abdul Lateef is a visual artist from Toledo, Ohio. He studied painting and drawing at the Columbus College of Art and Design where he not only learned more about the fundamentals of art making, but also confirmed a healthy work ethic. Yusuf paints on panel using aerosol and acrylic creating a harmony with the frame. Lateef scratches the surface to create depth and to show the history and layers of the piece. His art deals with creating the image of the inner voice that all people possess. Lateef flows between mediums but still holds to a consistent universal vibration. It is of his own belief that art is temporal and long lasting. One can arrive at the point of art just by consciously changing a thing from its basic quality into a thing with meaning or value. Yusuf challenges his ideas through experimenting with painting, drawing, collage, or whatever is at his disposal; making a point to work as spontaneously as possible in order to create something new for both viewer and artist alike. He recently led a group of students through a summer-long program with the Toledo Arts Commission’s Young Artists at Work Program which provides paid summer work for a selected group of young artist/students, teaching them the skills of being a working artist.
Ben Cohen began teaching with Manhattan Youth an organization which serviced much of lower Manhattan’s public school system with positive and creative after-school programming. He taught music production, chess, science fiction and drama. Upon relocating to the Midwest from New York City he partnered with Community Records based out of Ypsilanti Michigan, teaching classes and workshops in Libraries, Homeless Shelters, Public and Private Schools and Music Festivals all over Michigan and in Toledo his Hometown. He also composes music for film and web content, runs a small studio in Ohio and teaches music production to people of all ages. His band the Antivillains have been featured by Time Out New York, WNYC and AllMusic Guide.
Mary Thiefels has over 10 years of experience facilitating and developing unique arts-based programming for teens and adults. Holding a BFA from Eastern Michigan University, Mary works along-side the Visual Arts Council, hosting two annual youth art shows, organizing gallery and museum visits, and connecting with the community through public art and outreach as The Neutral Zone’s Visual Arts Coordinator. She has over 10 years of public mural art experience in consulting, designing, facilitating, and implementing projects for communities, and has instructed courses in acrylic and mixed media painting and visual arts in Ann Arbor Public Schools and at Ann Arbor Art Oasis among others. Along with her experience as an instructor, coordinator and muralist, Mary has designed multiple programs including “Art Inside and Out,” a course aimed at teaching Community High School students the various way to bring art into the community by executing public murals.
Carol Morris holds a B.A. in Sociology from Eastern Michigan University and an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Michigan State University. In her 30 plus year career, Carol Morris has worked as a caseworker and Senior Policy Analyst for the State of Michigan and also as an independent artist, producing a wealth of material in various artistic mediums. Her poetry has been published in many literary journals including the Manhattan Review and the MacGuffin. She has been a featured reader at a plethora of venues including, but not limited to the University of New Mexico, Michigan State University, University of Oregon, and the Wild Swan Theater. Additionally, Morris has produced spoken word recordings, produced, directed and edited films shown on Ann Arbor’s Community Television Network and had her one of a kind greeting cards and wreath assemblages displayed in galleries throughout the state of Michigan and other galleries in the United States.
Gail Christofferson is a self-taught mosaic artist with a background in graphic arts and advertising. She designs and creates mosaic glass and large community-based installations. Her unique work of art from Animal House Glass is inspired by a world she loves. A place where goats, rabbits, chicks, calves, pigs and lambs have all made their home. A place where, in her studio, cast-off windows take on a new life, filled with color and joy. Her vintage window sash frame mosaics featuring folk art imagery can be found in galleries and upscale retail locations. Today she is designing, coordinating and installing a growing number of community-based projects. These fun, collaborative art projects attract a wide range of participants who work together to create beautiful large-scale mosaic artwork. This unique community approach results in a sense of ownership and pride as each individual’s contributions combine with others’ to blossom into a finished piece of art.