Teaching Artists

A.R.T.S. Teaching Artists

Deborah Colotti began teaching in the A.R.T.S. program in 2005. Colotti specializes in 3-D artworks composed of recycled, up-cycled, and easy-to-find materials. “Sometimes the art I do in my studio inspires a direction for a class project, but it also works the other way around! Working with SVMA and A.R.T.S., the students and I go on a creative, discovery tour together; this is the best teaching-by-example adventure I can offer them! I like teaching because I am able to observe the true value in exploring the creative areas of life. Creative pursuits provide new directions from which to trouble-shoot and pull solutions. It takes practice to walk this not-so-linear road!” 
Diane Egger-Bovet is an accomplished ceramicist and fiber artist. She has been with the program since it began in 2000, when the first student show was at the Sonoma Women's Club. “I enjoy teaching because I’m always learning something new. The students get a richer, more in-depth experience due to this program.” A veteran art educator in Sonoma’s public schools, Diane says, “my family has dubbed my car ‘the art mobile’ and whenever I go for a walk and some child sees me, I hear, ‘there goes my art teacher,’ and it makes me smile.” 
Gary Griffith has been an educator in Sonoma for over 30 years and is new to A.R.T.S. as a teaching artist.  Having participated in the A.R.T.S. program for more than a decade and seriously involved in the arts himself, Gary brings a natural understanding and expertise to the program. Gary graduated from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Management and an M.A. in Education from Chapman University.
Cory Hakola is new to the A.R.T.S. team this year.  He is an accomplished painter and teaches art in the Bennett Valley Unified School District at The Strawberry School.  He has taught in and around Sonoma Valley for the past 10 years. "My goal as a credentialed art teacher is contributing art education to a comprehensive education plan that can coexist and compliment core instruction.  I believe that relevant art history and an understanding of the art making process is essential.  It is my experience that when students learn to respect the rigors of studio habits, they construct their own confidence, solve problems and become self-directed learners." A Sonoma State University graduate, Cory holds a B.A. in both Studio Art and Art History.
Rosemary McNeely has been with A.R.T.S. 2005 teaching at Dunbar and Prestwood elementary schools, The Presentation School, and more recently, at Woodland Star Charter School. “I like to work in every medium possible to show students that creativity is easily at their fingertips.” Rosemary holds a BFA in sculpture and painting from Massachusetts Collage of Art and also studied ceramics at Philadelphia College of Art. “I want to show students that their creativity is like a muscle and when exercised, they can surprise themselves, learning that art happens easily when you give it a chance.”
Sarah Parker has been teaching with A.R.T.S. since 2012. Sarah has taught art and art history and designed currciulum for Becoming Independent in Sonoma, The Art Space/Learning Nework in Fremont, and the City of Fremont Department of Recreation. She has also served as a teacher for the National Institute for Art and Disability and the New Haven and Glen Sunol School Districts. Sarah holds a B.A. in Art Practice from the Univeristy of California, Berkeley. 
Alice Pennes is another teaching artist new to A.R.T.S. this year. Alice has fifiteen years of visual art teaching experience in community arts programs, specializing in developing visual arts programming and teaching that encourages the creative spirit. She currently teaches art at Prestwood Elementary School in Sonoma. Alice holds a B.A. in Anthropology with an emphasis in Studio Art and Art History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and and M.A. in Integrative Health Studies. 
Jill Sabel Valavanis has been involved with the A.R.T.S. program since 2011. “I love the program because it allows the students to focus on a theme for several meetings, getting immersed in visual art for an extended period of time. It's also a great opportunity for the kids to create something that is exhibited in a real art museum. When they are adults I hope that they will be more likely to visit art museums and galleries, or perhaps consider a career in the arts.” Jill holds an M.F.A. in Integrated Three-Dimensional Media from California State University, Long Beach. She works with both fiber and metal to create sculptural objects.


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