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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.


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. 

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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.


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.


Alexa Emerson

Teaching Artist

A New Jersey native, graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1999. Through rigorous practice in all facets of design, graphics, typography, packaging and communication holding a BFA in Communication Design. Hired as Senior Graphic Designer at Kate Spade handbags. Worked her way Creative to Director for Jack Spade; undertaking the inception and creation of Kate Spade’s mens merchandise line. Upon moving to Lambertville, NJ from New York City. She began her own design studio in 2002. Spending the next several years working with internationally recognized clients based mostly in New York City and Los Angeles.


                                She continues to run my design company balanced by family life (two beautiful children, 4 and 13) and volunteering with the elderly and disabled.

In recent years she begun hand printing textiles using botanicals that she hand presses from her own harvest – truly a passion that has manifested from a desire to create in a more relaxed setting than the fast paced design world that she has lead for over two decades.


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. 

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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.

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Wiliam (BJ) White

Teaching Artist

BJ White is a New Jersey born multimedia artist who has extensive experience working with traditional media as well as digital. Originally trained in classic drawing, illustration, and painting techniques, he began transitioning his talents towards digital media in 2010. In 2015 BJ published his first art book titled "Forever Unfinished" which featured a collection of his highly detailed ballpoint pen artwork. Using his experience with digital drawing, graphic design, and computer technology, BJ also currently works with multiple area businesses as a social media manager and creative content designer. 


Julie Gallagher

Teaching Artist

 Julie Gallagher is a New Jersey based artist specializing in drawing and painting. She graduated with a BFA from Kean University. Primarily working in oils and watercolor, she creates representational works drawing inspiration from traditional subject matter such as landscape, still life, and figure. Work and can be viewed on her website and instagram.



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Victoria King

Music Therapy

Victoria King was born and raised in New Jersey, and comes from a long line of musicians. She grew up singing, playing piano, flute, guitar, ukulele, and enjoys composing as well as recording her own compositions. Victoria graduated from The University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Music, concentrating in music business & technology. With a passion for both music and mental health, Victoria began studying at Montclair State University in 2020. Here, she is in their Music Therapy Graduate Equivalency Program, currently completing her Master’s Degree and working toward board certification in music therapy (MT-BC). Throughout this program, Victoria has had opportunities to work with children and adults with varying disabilities, older adults, as well as adults with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. She also works in activities at a Senior Living home, where she continues to share her love for music with others. Whether providing music therapy or music instruction, Victoria meets individuals where they are at, focusing on their unique strengths and preferences.


Janice Buinis

Creative Writing

Janice Buinis has been a Special Education

Teacher for twenty-two years. She has certifications from preschool through adult education. Janice has a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and Masters in Special Education both from William Paterson University. She joined our team a little over a year ago. Janice teaches the different types of creative writing such as: poetry, free writing, short stories, and more. Janice believes in offering her clients the proper tools but runs her sessions collaborativelv. Client and teacher work together-as they move towards their goal of independent communication and expression. Janice is semiretired but con nues to teach because of her love for it!


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 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.


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.


Cella Mahoney

 Teaching Artist

Passionate about children's book illustration and story-telling, Cella is a whimsical watercolorist that brings emotions to life with color and character. She was raised in Austin, Texas, received her BFA in Illustration at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, and has studied abroad in Florence, Italy. After graduating, she spent a year living and volunteering with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry in Silver Spring, MD and then decided to stick around the DC area to work as a custom picture framer as well as begin selling her own greeting cards online. 

Now you can now find Cella painting and doodling in central New Jersey. She loves exploring the less-visited beaches, sipping matcha lattes at her favorite coffee shops, and checking out her favorite graphic novels at the library. 

Cella’s portfolio can be found at and her greeting cards and icons are for sale in her online shop, as well as at occasional local craft fairs. 


Adrienne Frodella

 Teaching Artist

Adrienne graduated from FIT with an associates in fine arts, an associates in advertising and a BFA majoring in graphic design for brand packaging. She started as a designer at a prestigious, packaging design firm in New York City. There, she worked her way up to an art Director’s position. She continued in the industry until a multiple sclerosis diagnosis forced her to take a break from the stressful demands as a Director. She re-visited her love for Finearts and used her creativity as therapy. She loves to share her love of art with others and currently teaches step-by-step painting to children & adults and hosts occasional Paint Parties. You can find her on Facebook @hazletshappyartstudio & @hazletshappyhourart

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Pam Bianco

Teaching Artist

I am an artist with no one favorite medium, although what I've done most in my life is drawing. I have NJ teachers certifications in elementary education K-5 and art education K-12. At The College of NJ I studied elementary education with a focus on fine art which gave me a basic understanding of and experience with many art and design mediums from drawing and painting and printmaking to sculpture, ceramics and jewelry making. I worked for many years as art teacher for a K-12 special services school district and have also worked in art programs for adults, as I continue to do. I can teach many basic art skills but my favorite thing is to build an individual's confidence in their own creative processes and abilities. 


Meghan Ochenduszko

 Teaching Artist

Meghan Ochenduszko is an artist and teacher from NJ. She studied fine art at Brookdale Community College and received her Bachelors of Fine Art from Montclair University. While in college, Meghan studied painting and art history in Florence, Italy. Her passion is in painting. She has experience working with oil, acrylic, and watercolor. Meghan is an art teacher for an Elementary School in NJ. She is the art assistant to the drama club which creates sets and props for the yearly play. In addition, Meghan has ran the digital media club for the middle school and works with students to create portfolios for art programs in High School. Meghan has a drive to help others achieve their best work and loves working with those with special needs. She believes everyone can be an artist if they only try. 

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