The Teaching Artists of CEPA

CEPA is privileged to have an incredible group of teaching artists working with our staff and students through our Arts Education programs. Bringing their passion for teaching, a wealth of knowledge and experience, and true creativity and vision, these artists embrace the notion that creativity is inherent—and that learning is a lifelong endeavor.

Danni Jo Bechtold

Danni Jo Bechtold is a writer, artist, and actress. She was born in Bozeman, Montana and is currently studying to become an art therapist. She has created content her entire life and is drawn to help young women heal from trauma by helping them process it through art.

During her childhood summers, she would visit extended family in Buffalo and even took this very camp that she is now teaching this July! She loves having a million art projects up in the air, working with children, and wandering through CEPA’s art galleries.

Christian Coronado

Christian is a freelance photographer and is currently attending school for computer engineering. He has been involved with CEPA since 2012 now teaching youth and adult workshops. Christian has always had an interest in photography since he was 9 and has taken his passion and turned it into a business that he loves. His depth of knowledge of the technical aspect of photography makes him invaluable when it comes to helping others in the field of photography. Christian currently works with CEPA managing social media while going to school full time.

Caroline Doherty

Caroline Doherty is an artist and educator based in Buffalo, NY. Her work employs multiple mediums, including sculpture, performance, video, and public projects.  She has exhibited and been a resident artist internationally, most recently at In/Future Ontario Place in Toronto, SOMA in Mexico City, ArtPark in Lewiston, NY, Tsinghua University in Beijing, the Chongjiang Contemporary Art Museum in Chongqing, and CEPA Gallery in Buffalo. She has been a Teaching Artist for over 15 years, facilitating artmaking for youth, university students, and adults in formal and informal settings in the US, Mexico, and Canada.  She holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, and an MFA from the University at Buffalo (SUNY).

Aitina Fareed-Cooke

Aitina Fareed-Cooke’s beginnings may not have started off ideal. Losing her biological mother to drug abuse, dealing with low self-esteem and depression, left her feeling worthless as a child. However through the support of her adoptive mother, a few mentors, and youth programs during her teens, she was given the opportunity to strive. She learned about the “magic” of photography and film and since has started her own photo and film business, Get Fokus’d Productions, specializing in children & family portrait photography and commercial video. “My camera is my weapon of mass creativity and as the artist behind the lens I am able to capture reality’s truth with the hope to influence thought in those around me.”

Aitina has served as a Say Yes Community Schools’ Navigator, Young Audiences WNY Education Coordinator and Teaching Artist, Youth Services Site Coordinator with the CAO N.U.R.T.U.R.E. Academy, Boys & Girls Club Youth Development Professional, Youth Skill Builder and Mentor with The Heart Foundation and Gateway Longview, and CEPA Gallery Photography Teaching Artist. She currently dedicates her time to her photo and film business, serving as a teaching artists for Young Audiences WNY and CEPA Gallery, and managing a youth program/movement, Young & Fokus’d, that she created in order to promote youth who display dedication, perseverance, and “fokus” in their academics, arts, and/or their community. She teaches youth how to use art as their weapon and voice through life’s challenges. Her desire is not only to compose compelling images and film that allow viewers to reflect on life, evoke ideas, and to construct their own stories, but also to teach and inspire the next generation with this tool of expression.

See Aitina’s testimonial about CEPA and photography

Karen Lewis

Karen Lee Lewis is a Teaching Artist, poet and photographer. Karen is an arts education specialist who teaches creative writing using all the arts. Her poetry, short fiction, features, interviews and photography have been widely published. She develops programming for many non-profit organizations throughout Western New York. She also teaches creative writing to children in a variety of settings, including public, private and parochial schools. Karen offers adult writing workshops at The Blue Plate Studio: A Creative Writer’s Workshop. Karen is a member of the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Audubon Society, and she serves on the Literary Advisory Council for Villa Maria College. She is a fellow of The Banff Centre, Canada’s creative leader in arts and culture, and the Western New York Writing Project. Karen participated in the first National Seminar on Teaching Artistry at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her publications include a full-length collection of poetry entitled What I Would Not Unravel (The Writer’s Den), and a chapbook of poetry illustrated with her photography entitled Solitude.

Sabrina Marrazzo

Sabrina Marrazzo was introduced to CEPA Gallery at age 8 with a Summer Photography Camp. The program inspired her to venture off on an independent pursuit of digital photography. She rejoined CEPA in 2012 mentoring with Lauren Tent, Education Director. Not long after, she launched her own photography business specializing in portraits. Sabrina became an assistant teaching artist with CEPA in 2013. She has been awarded Photographer’s Forum Magazine, Best High School and College Photographers 2015, WNY, and Best High School Sports Photographer, 2015. She is now a teaching artist at CEPA for the summer camps. In the Fall she will be attending her second year at The Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan for an AAS in Communication Design and a BFA in Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design with a minor in Art history.

Sara McKenna

An artist and educator working in the Buffalo area, much of Sara McKenna’s work ranges from traditional processes such as wet plate collodion, salt printing, and 16mm to digital photography and video production.

She has taught both public school children and adults at various public institutions in Hillsboro, Oregon, and upstate New York.

More about Sara McKenna

Megan Metté

An artist who specializes in photography, video, and sound, Megan Metté holds an M.F.A. in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a B.F.A. in Photography from the University of Louisville.

Megan has taught at R.I.T., Community Darkrooms, Genesee Community College, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

More about Megan Metté

Danielle Perla

Danielle Perla began teaching CEPA Gallery’s Summer Camps in 2003, and she’s been hooked ever since. In addition to teaching at CEPA, Danielle has taught summer classes at Artpark and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and has been a ski coach for the Holiday Valley Freestyle Team.

Currently she teaches art at Orchard Park High School.

More about Danielle Perla

Saffi Rigberg

Saffi Rigberg is a photographer and photography instructor with a focus on children, families, and the special needs community. She approaches both her personal work and work as an instructor with an element of inquisitiveness, self-exploration, and play. Using mindfulness in her workshops, she aims to teach the individual how to observe as a means of capturing the subject in a uniquely thoughtful way. Her work has been displayed at Museu Cerdà in Puigcerdà, Spain.

Kim Sholly

Kim has been teaching and sharing her love of the black and white darkroom since 1990, first in Madison, WI
as a mini-course instructor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and then at the Center for Photography
at Madison (which she co-founded). She moved to Greenville, SC in 2002 and founded, directed and taught at
the WestEnd Darkoom Photo School and worked full-time at the Metropolitan Arts Council, a non-profit arts
organization advocating and supporting the thriving arts community in Greenville. She has exhibited her work
widely around the Midwest and in Upstate South Carolina. She moved to Buffalo in late summer 2017 and looks
forward to being part of CEPA and Buffalo’s vibrant photography community. And until she gets a darkroom set
up in her Elmwood Village home, CEPA’s darkroom will become her beloved creative space.

She shoots primarily with homemade pinhole and 1960’s plastic toy cameras and says that the fun of shooting
low-tech is the unpredictability of the resulting images, images that cannot be choreographed or reproduced and are only discovered later in the darkroom.

Alison Slein

An artist and educator with a wide variety of experience teaching at institutions including Virginia Tech, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the University of Rochester, Alison Slein received an M.F.A. in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a B.A. and B.F.A. in Art History and Photography from the University of Missouri.

As an artist, Alison has been awarded an NYFA Fellowship for photography from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Fellowship, and an Individual Artist Grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts.

More about Alison Slein

Jeannine Swallow

Jeannine Swallow is a Buffalo native and Photographic Artist. She is passionate about analogue photography and alternative processes. She received her Associates degree from Villa Maria College and later a BFA in Visual Studies, at the University of Buffalo. Owner and operator of FilmXposed, a local photography business specializing in creating contemporary and often surreal images; with a strong focus on multiple exposures. Swallow possess an avid love for travel and has exhibited both internationally and through out the Buffalo area.

Michelle Tomaino

Michelle Tomaino is an artist, a photographer and enjoys mixed media, creative writing and Photoshop. She currently attends Arts Experience at People Inc. Michelle started an internship at CEPA in September 2014 through the Western New York Employment Training Program and is now an official teaching artist for our youth program.

Visit Michelle’s CEPA blog

Joseph Poloncarz

I’m an autistic film photographer from City Honors who started on photography at the age of 12 at the 4 week program for Autism Services at CEPA Gallery. Then in 2014, I became interested in film photography. In the Spring of 2014 in hope for a bright future to learn about photography, I shot my first black and white film with Kodak TMax 100 and it took almost 2 years to learn how to develop black and white film myself without any problems. I continued to shoot and develop black and white film as well as color film in the right chemistry. I begin as a teacher assistant at the 2018 Summer Camp for Darkroom with Sabrina Marrazzo to teach the basic elements of photography and learn how to print using the darkroom and other darkroom basics to start their interest in the darkroom. I will graduate City Honors in 2019 with a Regents diploma.

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