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Malik Whitaker

Teaching Artist

Malik Whitaker was born and raised in Newark, NJ. From a very young age his parents recognized his passion and talent as an artist and enrolled him in several workshops and art classes. He studied advanced art while attending high school at St. Benedicts Prep and later at Rutgers University and the Art Institute of America, along with several artist programs and residencies.


While growing his art career he has consistently worked as a bartender and massage therapist to support his dreams. From his studies, he has translated his style and technique into a complete disciplinary form. This form he has used to mentor inner city students for the Newark public school system and charter schools, such as Team Academy and Great Oaks Charter School, who are interested in art and want to learn how to apply their artistic disciplines to their daily lives.


His illustrations have appeared in many poetry books and publications. He is also an accomplished muralist whose work can be seen on several buildings, churches and colleges throughout Essex County. Malik is most famous for his “Brick City Project”, a collection of bricks with painted scenes of Newark, which he’s displayed in many galleries and exhibitions around Newark, Jersey City and NYC. As a Newark born artist, the trials and tribulations of living in the inner city has helped to shape Malik’s passion and appreciation for life. His artistic style is pure, unique and thought provoking. It reflects his passion towards his fellow man. He seeks to pass on and inspire positive messages to his community an all who view his works.


He specializes in portrait and figurative painting impressions through visual translation based on individualized customer needs. He has studied many forms of art; oil, watercolor, acrylic, pencil, charcoal and pastels. His specific style offers a strong, colorful and mysterious perspective of people in their natural elements geared to show the forgotten beauty in all of us. Through this technique, he aims towards inspiring everyone to remember their own vitality for life and creativity. He currently is the owner of M-Print Art studios in Newark, where he continues to display his art while working on projects and mentoring students. Malik is also currently mentoring and teaching art to students with physical and mental disabilities and facilitating workshops in public school systems.


John Garcia

Teaching Artist

John Garcia is a local artist specializing in portrait and landscape painting, also working in many additional styles and media. He graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in Fine Arts. He has enjoyed sharing the process of inspiration and technique with students for several years as a teaching artist. 


Laurie Ruggeri

Teaching Artist

Born and raised in Matawan, NJ. Talented artist with over 25 years of experience . Self taught and extremely successful. with a long career in creating unique pieces for high end shops throughout New Jersey. Her wide range of talents brought her to many art shows, private parties ,painting murals, decorating, traveling and many other things.  As a way of giving back Laurie started her teaching career . Specializing in mixed media workshops including vitro and applying many different techniques of her own to unique furniture pieces. One of the lead teachers for over a decade at The Middletown Arts Center. (Middletown NJ) Laurie's courses became an integral part of the community. These courses included painting, mixed media, sculpture, collage and whimsical creations of her own. 


Carol Mcglynn

Special Education Teacher

Certified in students with disabilities and elementary education.

Graduated from Farleigh Dickenson University, Sumatriptans Cum Laude.

Over 25 years teaching Experience

Lives in Rockaway, NJ


Joan Cummings

Teaching Artist

Joan Cummings has worn many creative hats during her 40 years of experience. As Assistant Crafts Editor at WOMAN’S DAY MAGAZINE where she designed “how-to” craft and decorating projects. She then moved on to Avon Products as Senior Designer where she designed gifts products for women, men and children. Continuing her corporate career, she moved to Scholastic Media as Director of Creative and Product Development. There she managed the creative development of toys, electronic games, apparel and museum exhibits, all based on Scholastic’s properties such as “Clifford The Big Red Dog”. Presently, Joan is a teaching artist.  Through her lessons, she introduces her senior adults and special needs students to new art styles, techniques and materials that are fun, creative all while challenging for her students. Joan also is a jewelry designer and has had her work in several juried shows including the Newark Museum, Kean University, New Jersey City University and the Morris Museum as well as selling her work through local galleries and fairs. Joan holds a BFA in Merchandising and Management from Pratt Institute.  She lives in New Jersey with her husband.


Lorena Vera

Teaching Artist

Born in Chile, Lorena Vera is an NJ-based artist. She received a BFA from the University of Chile, and continued her studies at SVA, NY. 

Her portraits have been displayed in several venues throughout the world. After a battle against breast cancer, Lorena is cancer free and managing her company,The Pickled Artist Center. A company dedicated to the artistic development of Seniors and disabled students. Lorena has been teaching  and sharing her skills since 2013  to youth, young adults living with disabilities and seniors and is very excited with her new venture. Her plan is to show the world the many hidden talents of her students and those of her team and their students.


Luisa Fernanda Pinzón

Teaching Artist

Colombian-born photographer, Luisa Fernanda Pinzon, began her photojournalism career at age 18 when she moved to La Paz, Bolivia in South America to work for local newspaper, The Bolivian Times. After 2 years of working as freelance photojournalist Luisa Pinzon returned to the United States to continue her Photography studies at School of Visual Arts.  


 Pinzon’s next few years will include a photo editors position at NJ’s newspaper Star Ledger, followed by a position working for the Newark Arts Council which gave her the curatorial and management knowledge to then become Gallery Director of French Photo Gallery YellowKorner.  


As small business owner, she operates LFPVision Art Services and her eponymous freelance photography company.  

Ms Pinzon’s new endeavors include a fulltime art career with an Art Internship at Index Art Center.  


My goal is to provide and share the beauty and importance of photography as an artistic medium. While discovering new ways of using photography as well as other mediums to tell my story of the world around me.  


"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still" Dorthea Lange


Joan Brenner

Teaching Artist

Holding an art degree from St.Thomas Aquinas and Textile Surface Design  (with a concentration in weaving) from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology).

I worked for 20 yrs in the apparel business, designing prints and graphics primarily in the children’s wear market.

When not working I could be found teaching ‘on the side’ both art classes and yoga classes. I also was a Big Sister and Muralist with NY Cares, one of the things I’m proudest of was being honored as a featured muralist with them, one of the murals I designed was even featured in the the newst version of “Orphan Annie”.

Working with volunteers and seeing children’s reactions to their newly painted schools were some of my most rewarding memories. The great thing now is I get to teach art and see happy creative faces all the time and the rewards are endless!

I also continue to teach yoga and work as a licensed massage therapist. I like to say that now I get to cover body, mind and spirit.


Paul Walcott

Teaching Artist

Paul Walcott is an American illustrator and graphic artist. Born September 17th, 1990, Paul is graduate of

the Kubert School ( formerly the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic art), which is located in Dover, NJ. His drawing style is a combination of both Japanese Manga style and American comic books. Paul’s artistic ability is in high demand as people far and wide are willing to pay great money for his commissioned pieces.

His goal in life is to a be world famous manga artist.

His freelance work comprises of working with Fractured Pixels

(Illustrator), Time Warp Comics and Games (Work for Hire, Illustrator). Focusing on his entrepreneurial efforts, Paul

is currently working on his webcomic,

Blonde Bomber and the first issue of his well-received Graphic Novel, SeiShin Brawl. Which is to be released

September 2021, with consecutive issues being released thereafter.

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Julia Thomson

 Teaching Artist

Julia Thomson is a mixed media artist from NJ with her BFA from Pratt Institute. She studied painting and printmaking and worked as a studio assistant in Venice, Italy. She's continued to work many different art-related jobs since, lending to her experience in art handling, art installation, gallery assistance, mural painting, and special art collection inventory, care and archiving. Ultimately, she has found that teaching art is her calling. She currently works with kids and teens, and with adults with disabilities. Her work has been shown locally and internationally in both galleries and museums.

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