AVA Faculty

Paula Allen/PollyZoom has dedicated much of her career in the arts to children’s programming and the education in visual arts, performing arts and animation. Over the last few years, Paula has created online programs for kids that are affordable and that bring out their potential as artists, creatives and individuals. Pollyzoom’s unique online interactive classes have attracted students on both East Coast and West Coast. See the animation character design pictured below by talented middle school student Ocean for Pollyzoom’s new animated film on Sea Turtles! Kids can all take class from home! Paula taps into vast knowledge of the arts. She holds a B.S. in Art Education, a MA in Theatre Arts, and MFA in Film, New Media and Animation, the latter from the prestigious Vermont College of Fine Art. She is also in partnership with The Thousand Islands Arts Center in Clayton New York for an online class started together last October. For information on how to join the Pollyzoom Family of artists and animators visit www.pollyzoom.com.

Ginger Armstrong studied Japanese Calligraphy (Shodou) in Vermont with an artist from Hokkaido in northern Japan, Aya Itagaki. After moving to Yokohama, Japan, Armstrong continued her studies with another teacher, Kazuko Makino, who stressed the perfection of form as a whole. Her final teacher, Ooba Sensei, taught in the Chinese tradition of Toseu Calligraphy and gave her a deeper understanding of this art as an expression of spirit beyond form.

Derek Bell received his BFA in Painting in 2008 from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Painting, and spent three of his years there as a Teaching Assistant. As a painter, Derek prefers landscape, portraiture and animals, as well as an occasional still life. Since graduating from RISD, Derek works primarily in oils, watercolor, gouache and more recently egg tempera. www.derekbellart.com


Kim Bernard creates sculptural installations out of recycled materials and is currently building a Portable Upcycling Machine for Plastic, aka PUMP, which will transform plastic trash into sculpture. She shows her work nationally and has been invited to participate in many exhibits, some of which include the Portland Museum of Art, Currier Museum of Art, Fuller Craft Museum, Harvard University, Art Complex Museum and UNH Museum of Art. Her work has been reviewed in the Boston Globe, Art News and Art New England. Bernard is the recipient of the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant, Kindling Fund Grant, NEFA grant and several Maine Arts Commission Grants. She was an artist-in-residence in the Physics Department at Harvard University and at the University of New England. She received her BFA from Parsons in 1987 and her MFA from Mass Art in 2010. Bernard mentors emerging artists individually and teaches professional development to artists nationally. www.kimbernard.com

Jennifer Brown began her art career at a young age making woodblock prints in her family kitchen. She majored in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and earned a degree in art and education from Vermont College as a parent and working adult. Most recently she has taken painting and printmaking workshops at Art New England in Bennington, VT, as well as continuing to study oil painting with painter, Peter Granucci. She explores nature, landscapes, and figures in the landscape using primarily watercolor and gouache.

Robert Carsten graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and was a scholar at Academia di Belle Arti in Carrara, Italy. He is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and a contributing writer to the Pastel Journal and The Artist’s Magazine. Carsten is a Master Circle artist of the International Association of Pastel Societies, and his paintings and drawings have been shown in many museums and galleries, are collected worldwide and have won many awards. www.robertcarsten.com


Elizabeth D’Amico, a graduate of Syracuse and Columbia universities, taught in the Visual Arts Department at Plymouth State University until her retirement. A mixed-media artist, she shows regionally and nationally and is a signature member of the National Collage Society and an active member of the Women’s Caucus for the Arts-NH Chapter. She won a juror’s award in AVA’s 2019 Summer Juried Exhibition. www.elizabethdamico.com



Patty Castellini is known for her colorful abstract monotype prints, paintings, and collages.  The Enfield, NH artist first discovered her love for printmaking when she began volunteering at AVA — a position which evolved into a twenty-five year teaching career. Castellini takes great delight in the creative process, both her own and that of her students. She believes creating art is something that can engage everyone.  She states, “It is this dual process of teaching and painting that adds so much meaning to my life.”


Margaret Dwyer earned her BFA from Sienna Heights University and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Margaret works in several 2D and 3D mediums (though watercolor is her favorite). Her work has been included in numerous juried national and international exhibitions and has been published in art books and magazines. Read more about Margaret here. www.margaretdwyer-artist.com

Amber Geneva Erkiletian received her BFA at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago where she gained a passion for working in large-scale steel sculpture. Her curiosity about the range of materials available for sculpture caused her to pursue diverse fields that feed her professional development and her application of technical knowledge. Amber’s experience ranges from casting aluminum and bronze for art and industry, to fine woodworking and fiberglass construction, to refining microscopic precision components for the Mars mission. As an artist, Amber is drawn to the minute subtleties of expression in human body language. Her arts practice uses welded steel and Pal Tiya Premium, a unique sculpting cement, to create chimerical animal sculptures for outdoor installation. As an independent art teacher, Amber considers it her mission to ensure that everyone who wants to make sculpture can, at any scale and for any environment. For more information about Amber, please visit her website.

Nick Gaffney received an MFA in Photography from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and a BA in English from New York University. Nick is a documentary photographer who has exhibited nationally and internationally. He has taught Photography and Studio Art in higher education for more than 15 years. ngaffney.net


Jenny Gelfan, MAed. has written professionally as a journalist, a publicist, and creatively in verse and short stories, some published. She has taught writing at the college level, participated in and led creative writing groups and workshops, and worked as an editor. Her life has many chapters. She says, “Writing is one of the ways I explore this amazing world and myself.”

Katrina Geurkink, M.Ed., Six Sigma Black Belt, is a consultant and textile artist living in Lebanon, NH. She has studied and worked with leaders, organizations and learning communities for over 33 years.  She is a skilled facilitator, consultant, coach, teacher/trainer and graphic facilitator and has a wonderful way of interweaving these different abilities in her work with clients.  She has a special interest in coaching and supporting artists and others involved in creative pursuits, as well as leaders in non-profit, international and activist roles. She has traveled to many countries around the world, leading projects, giving presentations at conferences, designing and facilitating learning experiences, and consulting with a variety of organizations and communities.

Rich Gombar has a BFA from the Pratt Institute and has taught at Hofstra University as well as built exhibits for such institutions as the Museum of the American Indian and the Guggenheim Museum. He exhibits his paintings and drawings around New England and has his work in private and corporate collections nationwide. https://www.facebook.com/richgombarpaintings/


Stephanie Gordon received her BFA from the University of Michigan. Stephanie taught art at Hanover High School for 18 years before retiring. She currently teaches community art classes for adults and teens. Stephanie has most recently been making encaustic paintings. She exhibits work locally and regionally and her art is in many private collections. sbgordonart.com

Daniel Gottsegen taught for close to twenty years at California College of the Arts in Oakland and San Francisco, teaching all levels of painting, drawing, Foundations and working with graduate students. Gottsegen has done large scale Public Art Projects; he recently created a series of twelve large windscreen glass panels for the new light rail station in Westminster, CO, just outside of Denver. Gottsegen has won many awards and fellowships. Recently he was selected to be the Artist in Residence in 2017 at the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. He has also been awarded a Vermont Arts Council Individual Artist Creation Grant. www.dangottsegen.com

Harrison Halaska received his Masters of Fine Arts from the Laguna College of Art and Design in 2018. His focus has been painting still lifes, landscapes, and portraits from life. He is engaged by the uncovering and discovery of his environment through painting. His paintings have been in various exhibitions, including shows at George Billis Gallery, Huntington Library, Laguna Museum of Art, and the 2018 XL Catlin Art Prize exhibition. He has also taught at the California School of the Arts San Gabriel Valley high school for two years. Harrison is excited to begin making paintings of his girlfriend, dog, and the beautiful New England landscape. harrisonhalaska.com


Joan Hoffmann paints impressionistic oil and watercolor landscapes and birds en plein air. She is dedicated to painting, teaching and preserving the wild landscapes that she explores. Joan lectures on the History of American Landscape Painting, National Parks, and Public Lands and the Art of Landscape and teaches and exhibits her work in UT, CO, CA, and at her studio in South Royalton. www.joanhoffmann.com


John Hikory is a granite carver who worked as an independent carver in Barre, VT. for 28 years. While there he carved various saints and soldiers on memorials ranging in size from 8” high 3/4” in reliefs to the nine foot statue for the Korean War Monument in South Boston. Born and raised in the N.Y.C. area as John Houk, he monitored classes at The Arts Students League of N.Y.C. in the early ‘60s and attended Columbia University’s School for General Studies and School of Arts, 1964-1968. He has been a artist in residence at the Carving Studio in West Rutland and shown his art at several venues including AVA Gallery, Cider Hill Gardens, and Sculpturefest in Woodstock. Now living in Windsor, VT, he pursues creating his own abstract and expressionist images at his studio.

Patricia Killian earned an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, a BFA from the Boston Museum School and Tufts University, and an Advanced Diploma from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. She won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for her portrait and landscape painting. She also designed the logo for the Upper Valley Haven.

With a degree in Counseling/Psychology and a specialization in Expressive Therapy, Carla Kimball has long known the value of the arts to expand people’s awareness. As a long time practitioner of the contemplative arts (meditation, tai chi, yoga), a facilitator of group experience, and a photographer of ordinary things, she has experienced the power of mindfulness to calm the spirit and of photography to focus the mind. revealedpresence.com


Michael Kraatz holds a BS in Art from the University of Wisconsin and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has been a roster artist with the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts for many years, completing numerous Arts in Education residencies in public schools. He works in both 2-D and 3-D and is particularly known for his blown glass. Kraatz’s work has been shown nationally and regionally, including at AVA. www.kraatzrussell.com

Layne Kull (Digital Drawing & Painting) is a 15 year-old sophomore at Hanover High School. She has been attending AVA art camps for most of her life and has also worked as a camp assistant. AVA helped inspire and nurture her passion for art. She has been dabbling in digital art for about four years and has taken several Photoshopclasses. Her dedication to practicing on her own time has allowed her to become familiar and comfortable with software like Photoshop and ArtStudioPro. Her techniques and processes for creating completely original pieces of digital art are inspiring. layne.m.kull@gmail.com



Maggie mayfly Kundtz Joseph: Visual artist; AVA studio tenant since 2013; AVA instructor.  Strives to nurture & empower-young and old-in the creative process.  Earned a BFA from the University of Michigan in painting & photography; Master’s in photography from Maine Media College.  Early life, worked in the gallery/ museum arena and NYC photography scene; Currently, immersed in art making and raising a family.  Created the artist persona, mayfly, to better embody the ideas of ephemerality and transformation in her art. Read more about Maggie mayfly Kundtz Joseph’s life and work here.

Jimmy “The Welder” Martell has been welding for 35 years, most of those running his own business near his home in Wilmot, NH, and the last six years with Dartmouth College. As a teacher his primary objective is to introduce the basic, critical techniques of welding—to be learned before self-expression and improvisation can factor into any trade or craft. By committing to learning the techniques, his students will increase their appreciation for welding in everyday life, and be inspired to create their own functional, durable, and beautiful objects.


Sue Martin majored in art at a teaching college in Ripon, Yorkshire, England. Currently retired as a classroom and reading teacher, she has time to rekindle and expand her artistic interests to include stained glass.  She finds great delight in incorporating found objects into her work and she has exhibited it in the Upper Valley.


Beth McGeeBeth McGee is a teacher, artist, scenic painter, costume designer and mom in Thetford, VT. Born and raised in Hanover, NH, and Pretoria, South Africa, Beth graduated from Dartmouth College, where she concentrated in visual arts and mathematics, and studied costume design with Margaret Spicer. Beth has costumed over 30 shows, including 4 years as costumer for The Christmas Revels in Hanover. Recent theatrical projects include costume design for The Lion King at Crossroads Academy; Antigone and The Insanity of Mary Girard at Thetford Academy; Willy Wonka at the Lyme School; Spinning into Butter for the Parish Players in Thetford; and Man of La Mancha at the Briggs Opera House (whenever we can get back into theaters!) Beth enjoys the challenge of drawing photorealistic portraits and painting large murals, but has found her passion using art – and her sewing machine – to bring stories to life on stage. She loves inspiring students of all ages to experience that artistic magic for themselves.


Meg McLean is a painter and children’s illustrator living in the Upper Valley. She has a BA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her illustrations appear in books and publications such as Click Magazine, Weekly Reader, and Zoo Books, and her paintings are in collections around the country. She has an MFA in Painting and Drawing from Cranbrook Academy of Art and is a member of the Copley Society of Art, Boston. www.megmclean.com


Chris McGrody has been building custom furniture and handcrafted cabinetry professionally in his shop for 15 years. Prior to starting his own shop, Chris worked for a number of years at a local furniture studio building high-end traditional Shaker furniture. While working there as a craftsman, he also ran the workshop program and taught week-long and weekend workshop courses. Chris also instructs regularly at the Dartmouth College Student Woodshop. Chris enjoys passing along his knowledge of woodworking through project based classes. www.chrismcgrody.com

Mary Mead received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA from the Boston Museum School and Tufts University. She has taught printmaking and art history at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH and at Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction, VT. Mead is a member of the Boston Printmakers Society. www.marymead.weebly.com

Karl Neubauer has been a studio artist and artisan for thirty years. His work can be found in shops and galleries throughout the US and locally at The Artisan’s Hand in Montpelier, The North East Kingdom Artisan’s Guild in St Johnsbury, Catamount Arts Gallery in St Johnsbury, and AVA Gallery.  He has been teaching art to young people in and out of public school for over seven years. www.karl-art.com

Robert O’Brien received his BA from S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo and has worked in watercolor for 40 years. Since moving to Vermont in 1977, he has focused his work on the landscape and architecture of New England. He studied with James Whatford, Tony Couch, and Marshall Joyce. He is a member of many watercolor societies and has won numerous awards. www.robertjobrien.com


Laurel Pollard has a degree in physics and a middle-level math teaching certificate. She has been teaching and coaching young students in technology, computer science and engineering since 2002 with an emphasis on bringing the arts and creativity to the STEM fields. She has been making jewelry and programming a computer since high school.  Now she has combined the two with 3d printing, bringing out the beauty of math and code.

Lisa Pressman’s career as an artist has been marked by exploration of the expressive potential of a variety of mediums, among them oil, encaustic, cold wax, and mixed-media collage. Her work is abstract, conceptually based, and process-driven, featuring marks, forms, colors and patterns that are evocative rather than descriptive. Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts degree in fine art from Douglass College at Rutgers University, with an emphasis in ceramics and sculpture, in 1979. As a graduate student she changed her emphasis to painting, and in 1981 was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from Bard College. Since then she has exhibited regionally and nationally in solo and group exhibitions, and her work is held in numerous private and public collections. Her work is represented by Susan Eley Fine Arts in New York, Addington Gallery in Chicago, and The Gallery of Fine Arts in Telluride, Colorado.  Most recently, Lisa has been awarded a solo exhibition at the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, Kansas. lisapressman.net

Lia Rothstein has BA and MFA degrees from Boston University. She has been a professional photographer for over 40 years, has taught digital photography and imaging in colleges and art centers throughout New England, and has also worked as a photographic specialist for Dartmouth College. From 2009 through August 2012, Rothstein directed the award-winning PHOTOSTOP Gallery in White River Junction, VT. She has exhibited her work in galleries and museums across the US and is in numerous private and public collections. Rothstein’s encaustic and cold wax paintings are featured in the book, Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts and Conversations by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin. She has been a presenter and teacher at the annual International Encaustic Conference, held annually in Provincetown, MA. www.liarothstein.com


Jonathan Rose taught pastel (and oil and acrylic) for 10 years in Nevis, West Indies. In addition to AVA, he has taught pastel at Center for the Arts, New London. As a teacher Jonathan emphasizes Pastel’s flexibility, as well as as a gateway medium to other art making methods. jonathanhrose.com

Susan Davis Shimko earned a BA from Smith College in Education and Child Study and an Ed.M. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in Learning and Teaching.  She has taught in the elementary grades in both public and private schools and is a long-time Masterpiece Art Program educator.  Ms. Shimko studied art history at both Smith College and Harvard University and is an avid proponent of art literacy and integration in the classroom.  She is familiar with the New Hampshire K-12 Curriculum Framework for the Arts and the Vermont Department of Education Arts Grade Expectations.

Jay Singh is a skilled woodworker and sculptor. He is known for his use of texture and color, and it is often difficult to tell what material was used in any given piece. His work has been strongly influenced by his interest in spirituality and African aesthetics, and has been exhibited widely and featured in private collections. He has been an instructor in the Fine Woodworking department at Santa Fe Community College.

Meredith Smith holds a BFA and MAT from Rhode Island School of Design and did post graduate study in costume and theater design at Brown University. She has worked as a costume and jewelry designer, college professor, and owner of a London-based clothing company. Meredith is a juried member of the League of NH Craftsmen.


Lea Wells is a professional illustrator who studied advertising at the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale and the University of Florida.  She has worked with a wide variety of clients on illustrations for books, magazines, advertising, and websites. Her work has been recognized by the AIGA (the professional association for design), the Art Directors Club of Denver, and the Denver Art Museum. She has shown her work nationwide and teaches art at various workshops around the country. www.leawells.com


Evan Williams received his BFA from Syracuse University. He began his career in pottery as an Apprentice Potter at Simon Pearce before becoming a Master Potter with Miranda Thomas Pottery where he has worked since 2002. Evan exhibits his work throughout the US and is a juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. www.graceandevanpottery.com

Stephanie Wolff works with paper, text, textile, and the book form. Her projects often explore themes of weather, history, and rural life. Her artist books have won awards and been exhibited in the United States and Germany. They are included in 500 Handmade Books, Volumes 1 & 2 (Lark Books) and held in public and private collections. She loves teaching book arts to help others share their stories. www.stephaniewolffstudio.com Instagram: @stephaniewolffstudio

Allison Zito received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of the Arts. Her artwork has been exhibited in numerous museums including The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield MA, The Delaware Art Museum, The Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Allison has decades of teaching experience, having taught a considerable variety of classes at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, PA, and at the University of Pennsylvania Morris Arboretum. She has been teaching Studio Art in the Upper Valley with excellent results at AVA Gallery and Art Center, Hanover League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, ArtisTree, and Claremont Maker Space. Allison Zito was awarded The Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 for her work as an artist and art educator. In 2019 Allison was awarded an Artist in Residency at The Claremont Maker Space. There she created an art installation addressing the issue of “Global Warming” and she organized a symposium on site, to inspire positive action within the community. Making a statement and expressing herself through art; is the cornerstone of Allison’s career, as an artist and art educator.