Seth Bernard’s journey—from potent young Interlochen Center for the Arts idealist to iconic troubadour of the Great Lakes region—has been rooted in the woods and water, soil and soul of Michigan. Born on Earthwork Farm in Lake City on April Fools Day 1980, Bernard has been playing the trickster-bard ever since.
Seth came to an understanding early that music, poetry and art, along with activism, farming and earth science, all intertwine into one great work. Probably because of the crowded farm dinner table, where books of poetry, tapes of jazz, blues, rock n’ roll and traditional music, guests of all kinds, and even the occasional raptor being rehabbed all shared space. Some folks call this “folklife,” and in Seth’s music it’s as likely to show up through a Casio SK-1 or a Gretsch electric as much as a fiddle or high harmony.
Like a true old-school folkie, he writes and plays the songs because they mean something, and that something they mean drives a life beyond just playing songs.
Gail is a full time artist coming from a commercial art form, design, and marketing background. Her current success with mosaic artwork has enabled her to move from the design field to pursue mosaic art full time; she calls herself an artrepreneur. Her community mosaic projects draw in participants to work collaboratively to create large-scale mosaic installations, resulting in the unique sense of ownership and pride that comes from seeing their individual contributions blossom into a finished piece of art. “The final reward to my work is seeing the effects of the mosaic process on participants. The shattered glass is like the broken parts of their lives and yet even with splintered pieces, they can create a new beautiful whole, and a new image of themselves and their lives.”
Benjamin Cohen is a composer, musician and educator. He has traveled the country with various music projects, composed music for film and television and has taught the art of music production and beat-making to people of all ages all over the United States. He a founder of the experimental electronic Jazz collective HEAVY COLOR and the Midwestern Nostalgic Folk Group The Antivillains. His music has been featured on AllMusic.com, Detroit Metro Times, Time Out New York and WNYC.
Estar Cohen is a musician and educator specializing in voice, improvisation, and composition. As a bandleader and vocalist, she has toured the United States with her original Jazz ensemble, gaining recognition for her compositions by the ASCAP Foundation, the International Society of Jazz Composers and Arrangers, and the New York Youth Symphony Jazz Series. Cohen’s core values in teaching center on mindful, creative practices that focus on the needs of each artist as an individual. In addition to her work as a musician, she is a comedic improviser, sketch actor, and teacher; the values of both art forms supporting each with a strong foundation for listening, collaboration, and presentness. Her work with young artists has been fostered by Earthwork Music, Young Artists at Work, the Faber Institute of Ann Arbor, and Youth Arts Alliance.
Emily is a passionate farmer, mother, wife, yoga instructor and Farmers Market Coordinator in the Chelsea community. She is dedicated to creating environments where humans get to connect to their food shed, connect to their bodies, and connect with each other. Emily is very committed to helping youth find both internal and external empathy and create change for their own and others lives.
Cellist and vocalist Jordan Hamilton merges musical styles to tell stories of the human experience through a variety of musical genres. A member of Last Gasp Collective and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Jordan can be found performing primarily in the Midwest where he has opened for national acts such as Eric Roberson and Nappy Roots. His most recent release “Vibrations” is a compilation of feelings expressed in sound with no words.
Lavinia Hanachiuc (1974) is a Romanian-born ceramic and mixed media artist.
Hanachiuc’s was first introduced to the arts through communist party “pioneer” clubs as a young student, where she fulfilled her participation requirements by submitting graphic designs for propagandistic graphic art competitions. The artist’s youth was typical of the era, primarily defined by the political and cultural forces of Marxist communism – with no access to European television, film or music, and only very limited access to western literature. Hanachiuc also experienced the social and economic constraints of the time, which forced individuals to strictly self-censor their ideas and opinions in public—and to endure extreme shortages of necessary items including food and fuel.
At age 14, the artist was identified for admission to a fine arts high school. She specialized in etching and printmaking and experimented with large scale ceramic sculpture. Her high school years coincided with the fall of Romania’s dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Hanachiuc was among the first generation of young artists to enter the highly competitive Bucharest University of Fine Arts during the post-communist era.
The artist’s focused changed to ceramic arts during her university years, where she was influenced by the study of primitive art from early cultures, medieval motifs, and Russian and Turkish folk lore. These themes continue to be found in her work. For the first time, the new political freedoms allowed for Hanachiuc to participate also in group happenings and installations that highlighted social concerns such as the plight of artists in the country and homelessness.
Hanachiuc has resided in the United States since 2011 and has continued to create fine art ceramics, production pottery, and fine art photography. She has exhibited locally and internationally. The artist recently returned from an extended residency in the Eastern Icelandic Fjords .
Lavinia Hanachiuc currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Stephanie is a visual artist, teacher and community arts curator based in Detroit. Stephanie incorporates art therapy approaches to facilitate positive coping skills and general self-development. With experience working in classrooms, after-school programs, hospital settings and in residential care facilities, Stephanie uses art as a tool to help youth explore themselves and understand the world around them. In her personal practice Stephanie is an installation artist and has curated community exhibitions that link art, healing and collective struggle as a way to preserve space to creatively process injustices and reflect the wisdom and resilience of one another.
Akili Jackson is a Consultant, Instructor and Community Activist- He is on the front-line 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.
Kana is a poet and visual artist with a focus on altered art books and found poetry. She is a founding YAA teaching artist and deeply values her collaborations with youth in creative writing, altered art books, and other expressive arts practices. Kana believes art creates space for emotional healing and self-discovery, and is thrilled to be working with YAA!
Imani Lateef is an award-winning graphic designer and poet, specializing in newspaper/editorial design and logo design. He is the owner of PeepGameComix.com, an e-commerce website specializing in digital comic books by Black comic book creators and publishers.
In 2016, he won second place in the University of Toledo’s Pitch and Pour business pitch competition for his e-commerce business.
In 2017 he sponsored Toledo’s first Black Comic Book Festival in partnership with The Toledo Lucas County Public Library.
Currently Imani has created Joon Bug’s World, a series of comic book workshops and events that teach creative children how to bring their stories to life with the help of sequential art.
Yusuf Abdul Lateef
Yusuf Lateef is a visual artist that works collaboratively to create positive and vibrant murals for neighborhoods in the midwest and abroad. He earned his BFA in the field of painting and drawing from the Columbus College of Art and Design. Since then, he has completed over 16 murals including projects for Toledo Public Schools, The Toledo Fair Housing Authority and Bowling Green State University. With his guidance, participants are able to share their thoughts and aspirations while learning about the fundamental elements of painting.
John is a native Pennsylvanian and grew up just outside the Pittsburgh area. A former bench jeweler and diamond setter for 15 years, he left the jewelry industry and pursued his BFA in ceramics starting at Penn State University and then completed his Bachelor’s Degree at Slippery Rock University in 1994. In 2001, John completed his MFA in Ceramics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 2003 John accepted a position as Ceramic Studio Coordinator for the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design. He held this position for 17 years and has recently retired this past year. He is on the board of Ceramic Water Filter Solutions and collaborates with groups from countries in Africa, Nepal, and Central America. These collaborations empower local peoples to develop small ceramic filter making centers in their communities, that will bring clean water and better health to many families from these regions.
Josh is an improvisational actor and educator, performing with Go Comedy’s Dragon Army resident team and various other improv troupes in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area. He’s also a graduate of the Pointless School of Improv program and has written sketch comedy both independently and through the Planet Ant Theater. As an educator he’s worked as a tutor, a teacher in both school and home settings, and as a summer camp program director for over ten years. Josh enjoys creating stories and jokes with others and is always ready for a game Dungeons and Dragons.
Sicily Amaris McRaven is a fibers and drawing installation artist, community arts facilitator, and activist working to move the conversation forward in her own right, on radical sobriety, social-behavioral/communication-based health, and art as social practice. Sicily graduated in 2011 from Wayne State’s dual degree program Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science in Education and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Fiber Arts and a minor in Social Sciences. Deeply inspired by growth found in the natural world in our bodies, flora, fauna, and the social structures we create for them, her work explores the systematic themes found within the condition of the earthly experience.
Jen Munford is a California-born tattooer and artist calling Michigan home since 2008. Jen loves to experiment across visual mediums, with primary interests in relief printmaking, creating zines, and drawing. Core inspirations for Jen’s work are mythology and symbolism, spiritual and emotional experience, and nature (especially bodies of water). Jen has been tattooing professionally since 2005 and opened their private Ann Arbor studio, Three Bird Tattoo in 2016.
Madelyn Porter is a member of Actor’s Equity Association (AEA), and has worked in professional theatre for over thirty years. She currently performs Storyliving for Detroit Historical Museum, The Henry Ford, and Troy Historical Society. Porter is lead instructor for Michigan Opera Theatre’s Create and Perform, House Manager for Detroit Public Theatre, and tours a series of One-Woman Shows on a regular basis. She believes that “Theatre is a powerful art form to reach one and teach one.”
Jennifer is a Detroit-based writer where her focus is on creative nonfiction as well as hybrid work that combines both image + text. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Northern Michigan University, and also teaches with InsideOut Literary Arts where she helps to excite and instill elementary school students with a love of words. She understands what a pivotal role writing plays in youth finding their voices, and her teaching focuses on building empathy and a sense of self through the power of the written word.
Anna Schwartz is a multidisciplinary artist, teacher and facilitator based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she began exploring the intersections of ceramics, performance and land art. In her practice, Anna often thinks about the artifacts that will come to tell a personal and collective history of now. Her greatest hope is to aid individuals in self-empowerment through sharing some of the intuitive, skill-based art practices she has come to learn and lean on.
Jenna is a performer, educator, choreographer and movement therapist. She has worked and studied in Ireland, England and the United States, obtaining a Movement Science BS from the University of Michigan and Dance Movement Psychotherapy MA from Goldsmiths, University of London, England. Her mission is to empower, inform and inspire individuals and communities through movement and the arts.
Shazia is a licensed professional counselor and board certified art therapist who graduated with an MA in counseling and art therapy from Wayne State University in 2011. She works with teens and young adults to help them recognize and utilize their strengths to heal and transform, as well as cope with obstacles along the way. She is involved with YAA because she believes so strongly in its mission to use creativity as a tool to alter potential.
Darien Vaughn aka D.Vaughn the illest is a Hip-Hop recording artist from Flint,Michigan. The Illest is a passionate lyricist and Emcee that keeps his hip-hop as pure as possible. Reminiscent of the grittiness from The Wu-Tang Clan, with original Boom-Bap Production of hip-hops golden era. Vaughn’s style consists of strong comedic lyrics with a hype delivery and an aggressive tone. Vaughn’s stage show is second to none with his energy and delivery that goes off every time in any weather. Darien believes that through the art of rap and the culture of Hip-Hop we have the power to save lives and minds, and with the help of YAA that can be achieved.
Isaac Wingfield teaches photography in the Residential College at the University of Michigan. He completed his undergraduate studies at Appalachian State University and received an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to traditional college level photography courses his teaching has included building out a darkroom at a Title I elementary school, working at an alternative middle and high school, and teaching a photography-based workshop that brings together college students and incarcerated adults.
Emily, a Michigan native, has a Program in the Environment degree from the University of Michigan. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Environmental Health Sciences through the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her love and admiration for art came as a surprise during her sophomore year of college when she had to take a humanities course. The course happened to be partnered with Youth Arts Alliance. Having always loved working with children and listening to others, the course seemed perfect and eventually introduced her to the world of trauma-informed art healing. Her experience inspired her to continue working with YAA and a passion to continue this type of work in her future career.