ArtsConnection Introduces Inaugural Artist Advisory Council

ArtsConnection is pleased to introduce our inaugural Artist Advisory Council. The purpose of the Artist Advisory Council is to serve as advocates for ArtsConnection and our work. We could not be more thrilled to have assembled such a powerful team of creative minds and influential voices to join us as we embark on the next decade of leadership in arts education.

Artist Advisory Council members embody and amplify our message that the arts are integral to education. Their professional experiences in their given fields, as well as their foundations in arts education, make them valuable contributors to our discussions around arts learning and role models for the young people we serve. We are proud to welcome the members of the Artist Advisory Council to the ArtsConnection community.

Yazmany Arboleda is a Colombian American artist based in Brooklyn. An architect by training, Yazmany’s practice focuses on creating “Living Sculptures,” people coming together to transform their experience of the world through co-creation. Over the past decade he has created public art projects with communities in India, Japan, Kenya, South Africa, Afghanistan, Spain, Colombia, and the United States. Yazmany is the co-founder and chief creative officer of limeSHIFT, a creative agency that brings artists into communities (both public and private) to shape and elevate culture. He is also the director of communications for Artists Striving To End Poverty.

At the heart of his practice is the idea that art is a verb, not a noun.

Aesha Ash danced professionally for 13 years with New York City Ballet, Béjart Ballet du Lausanne and Alonzo King Lines. She was featured in the New York City Ballet Workout II, Barbie Nutcracker, and was the principal dance double for Zoe Saldana in the movie Center Stage. She received the prestigious Mae L. Wein Award from the School of American Ballet and the Women Making History Award from the National Women’s History Museum in 2016. In 2011 Aesha began The Swan Dreams Project, teaching youth that they are not constrained by stereotypes, nor their environment, but only by their dreams.

Purva Bedi is an actress and producer. Theatre: India Pale Ale (Manhattan Theatre Club), Dance Nation (Playwrights Horizons), Ordinary Muslim (NYTW), Uncommon Sense (Tectonic), Idiot (HERE). Associate Artist Target Margin Theatre: Reread Another, The Tempest, Second Language, Ten Blocks on the Camino Real, Old Comedy, These Very Serious Jokes, 5 Hysterical Girls Theorem, Seagull, Sonoma. Film & TV: High Maintenance, She’s Gotta Have It Too, Billions, Sully, Equity, Madame Secretary & American Desi. Co-creator web series, Shrinkage and Assembled Identity which had a successful run at HERE Arts Center last spring.  Member Actor’s Center Workshop Company. Founder Disha Theatre. Teacher Anthony Meindl Actors Workshop.

Tony Award-winner and five-time Tony Award nominee Laura Benanti is a highly celebrated stage and screen actress, currently starring on Broadway as Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center’s revival of “My Fair Lady.” Before that, Benanti was most recently seen onstage in Steve Martin’s hit Broadway play, Meteor Shower. Other Broadway roles include Amalia Balash in She Loves Me (Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee), Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy opposite Patti LuPone (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Tony nomination, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards winner), Into the Woods (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, The Wedding Singer, Nine (starring Antonio Banderas). Other distinguished theater performances include Perdita in The Winter’s Tale at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Anne in A Little Night Music at the L.A. Opera, Eileen in Wonderful Town, and Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella, both for City Center Encores!  Her television credits include recurring and guest appearances “Younger,” “The Detour,” “Supergirl,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Nashville,” “The Good Wife, “Elementary,” “Nurse Jackie,” “The Big C,” NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live” and as First Lady Melania Trump on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

88 keys, a bench, and a mic. Give those things to Peter Cincotti and he can take you anywhere. Like a pilot in a cockpit, when Cincotti sits down at a piano it’s as if the world is at his fingertips. A born and bred New Yorker, Cincotti’s debut album reached #1 on the Billboard jazz charts, making the 18-year old Cincotti the youngest artist to ever do so. Since then, Peter has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious venues from Carnegie Hall to L’Olympia in Paris, collaborated with artists ranging from Andrea Bocelli to David Guetta. Written, arranged, and produced by Cincotti, his highly anticipated new album ‘Long Way From Here’ is an upbeat blend of musical styles that stay active, rhythmic piano playing back into the landscape of modern music.

Scherezade Garcia is an interdisciplinary visual artist born in Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic and based in Brooklyn, New York. Through her practice of drawing, painting, installation, sculpture, animated videos and public interventions, she creates contemporary allegories of history, colonization and politics. Garcia’s work frequently evokes memories of faraway home and the hopes and dreams that accompany planting roots in a new land. By tackling the collective memory as well as the ancestral memory in her public intervention and studio base practice, Garcia presents a quasi-mythical portrait of migration and cultural colonization. Scherezade’s work is included in the permanent collection of The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington DC, El Museo del Barrio in NYC, The Housatonic Museum of Art in CT, and El Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo.

She is currently represented by Praxis Art Gallery in NYC and Lyle O Reitzel Art Gallery in Santo Domingo and is faculty at Parsons The New School for Design in NYC.

Danny Mefford is an NYC based theatre artist. His choreography has appeared on Broadway, far far off Broadway and internationally in the original productions of Dear Evan Hansen (Tony Award Best Musical), Fun Home (Tony Award Best Musical), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Miss You Like Hell, along with many othersHe created all the theatrical sequences for Rise on NBC. He has been nominated for Drama Desk, Astaire and Lortel Awards. He has an MFA in Acting from Brown University and degrees in Theatre and International Studies from the University of Evansville.

Mike Reiss has won four Emmys and a Peabody Award during his twenty-eight years writing for “The Simpsons”.  He ran the show in Season 4, which Entertainment Weekly called “the greatest season of the greatest show in history.”  In 2006, Reiss received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Animation Writers Caucus.

Reiss has written nineteen children’s books, as well as “Springfield Confidential”, a best-selling memoir of his three decades at “The Simpsons’. Reiss has written jokes for such comedy legends as Johnny Carson, Joan Rivers, Garry Shandling… and Pope Francis!  For his comedic contributions to the charitable group Joke with the Pope, in 2015 Pope Francis declared Reiss “A Missionary of Joy”.

Jordan Smith has celebrated two successful albums, Something Beautiful and ‘Tis The Season, working with Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster (Céline Dion, Michael Bublé, Josh Groban) and modern hit maker Stephan Moccio (The Weeknd, Ellie Goulding, Miley Cyrus). Something Beautiful initially debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 and “earned the highest ranking on the chart by any winner of a television singing competition in almost 5 years.” It also broke the records for the “highest album sales debut from a new artist in 2016” and “most first-week album sales for a winner of the Emmy Award-winning show, The Voice.” Tis The Season would go on to claim the #1 spot on the iTunes Holiday Album and Amazon Digital Album charts as well as landing in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200. To celebrate the re-release of ‘Tis The Season this year he is including his holiday TV special, also entitled ‘Tis The Season, which aired on public television across North America last year, and will return on the road with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.

Cartier Williams is a Hoofer,Choreographer,Filmmaker and Performer who hails from Washington, D.C., began his tap dancing career at the age of four. Cartier learned his first tap steps from his grandmother Audrey Williams. At the age of six Cartier performed a piece choreographed by Mýa. Cartier won Apollo Kids at The prestigious Apollo Theater and distinguished as one of The Apollo Theater’s youngest “Apollo Legends”. Later that year Cartier was invited to the Kennedy Center Honors alongside Robert Downey Jr. Mr. Williams studied at The Washington School of Ballet under the tutelage of Mary Day. When he was 10 years old, Cartier Co-Starred with Tap Legends Buster Brown, Jimmy Slyde and Dianne Walker in the International tour of FOOTNOTES. Cartier consider it a blessing to have danced and shared the stage with tap pioneers and masters Peg Leg Bates, The Nicholas Brothers, and Gregory Hines. He has performed for 2 U.S. Presidents, and in 1998 Co-Starred in the PBS Special: In Performance at The White House with President Clinton. He toured the U.S. and Japan in the Tony Award Winning BRING IN ‘da NOISE, BRING IN ‘da FUNK, Co-starring with Savion Glover.He has performed at The Joyce Theatre, New York City Center as well as the L.A Kodak Theatre where he performed The AFI Awards: A Tribute to Tom Hanks.

American artist Stephanie Hirsch creates conceptual objects that explore themes of self-transformation and awareness. Using mediums often associated with women’s work, Hirsch pairs words and images to metaphorically represent notions of strength, courage, humanity, rebirth and renewal. Stitched together with a feminist bent, her works delve deep beneath the shimmering surface to contemplate the meaning of words, images, and reality.  Hirsch has exhibited at numerous museums and galleries, including Lyons Wier Gallery, New York City; the New Gallery of Modern Art, Charlotte, North Carolina; the Watermill Center, Watermill, New York; the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado; and the De Re Gallery, Los Angeles. She has participated in numerous art fairs, such as Art Miami, Miami, Florida (2016), and Art Southampton, Southampton, New York (2016). Hirsch’s work is also part of the permanent collection at the Newcomb Museum at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2012, Hirsch was commissioned by beauty brand Erno Lazlo to create a window installation for Harrod’s London, in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In 2015 Hirsch completed her artist residency at P3 Studio, curated in partnership with the nonprofit Art Production Fund at the Cosmopolitan Hotel of Las Vegas, where she presented #LightSeeker, an aesthetically charged interactive installation. In early 2018, Hirsch was included in Flora, a group show at Cornell Art Museum, Delray Beach, Florida. She was also selected by ArtLeadHER and the Carole A. Feuerman Sculpture Foundation to participate in Senses & Perception at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, New Jersey. This same year, Hirsch exhibited in The Ideal Feminine/The Feminine Ideal? a group show at Winston Wächter Fine Art Gallery, New York, New York. Hirsch’s work will be published in 50 Contemporary Women Artists in the world at large release date Oct 28, 2018

One of Variety’s “10 Actors to Watch,” Grace Van Patten most recently starred opposite Glenn Close in the Public Theater’s critically acclaimed Mother of the Maid. On screen she starred in Noah Baumbach’s  The Meyerowitz Stories opposite Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Dustin Hoffman, Wilde Wedding again opposite Glenn Close, and in Adam Leon’s Tramps.  Her stage debut was in The New Group’s Whirligig, opposite Zosia Mamet. She can next be seen opposite Andrew Garfield in Under the Silverlake and in Emily Mortimer’s Good Posture.  She recently completed shooting A Violent Heart produced by Sean Levy.