The Arizona Commission on the Arts is proud to announce the graduates of our second AZ Creative Aging Teaching Artist Institute. A component of our AZ Creative Aging initiative, funded by a grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, The Teaching Artist Institute is a comprehensive training program that introduces teaching artists to the variety of settings, programs, and partners that make up the creative aging field, and provides skills-building activities for participants to attain the specialized knowledge needed to work successfully with older adults. Inspired by ArtSage( and other national models, the Institute was developed around the philosophies of person-centered care, a process-based approach, and cultural responsiveness.

These 10 artists, who come from cities and towns across the state and specialize in a variety of artistic disciplines, join the 10 artists of the inaugural cohort of Teaching Artist Institute graduates, applying their skills and knowledge to work with older adult populations.

2018 AZ Creative Aging Teaching Artists

Ann Wilkinson

Ann began her professional career in the entertainment field as an actress, eventually moving behind the camera as co-owner of an independent Los Angeles casting company. In 2001, Wilkinson segued into a full time faculty position with the theatre department of Central College, a small liberal arts college in Iowa, where she remained until accepting her current position with AWC.

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Lisa Swanson

Lisa Swanson, a ceramic sculptor, teaching artist spanning 37 years and director of the ArtMobile: A Community-Engaged Arts Program for Enhancing Well-being in Older Adult Populations. Lisa has continued to develop ArtMobile into a visiting community-engaged arts and aging program to under-served older adult populations in Casa Grande, AZ.

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Swarna Sitaraman

With a passion to share her skills with others, Swarna Sitaraman started teaching at local art stores and city classes, helping people find the 'creator' in them. After working as an interior designer at a local high-end retail showroom, she started her company, SpiceUp Arts and Design LLC to offer her design and artistic services by adding ‘spice’ to the spaces of her clients.

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Rachel Saeger

Since moving to Arizona in 2016, Rachel’s primary work has been providing senior clients with in-home care needs in the east valley of Phoenix, in addition to working at the City of Tempe Edna Vihel Center for the Arts providing art recreation classes to the public. With any remaining hours in the day, Rachel can be found in her home studio creating handmade, fiber art pieces for her small business called Sun Locked Fibers.

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Olivia Rojas

Olivia Rojas is a traveling flamenco singer artist and co-owner of Arizona-based, Flamenco Por La Vida along with Angelina Ramirez. She performs in various venues throughout the Valley and teaches a weekly flamenco cante and communication class at the Lost Leaf in downtown Phoenix.

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Kim Porter

Kim Porter is a writer/performer who coaches solo performers and storytellers. Porter has performed her stories around the valley at venues as small as the 49 seat Space 55 Theater and as large as the 800 seat Virginia G. Piper theatre. In 2015 she was named Best Storyteller by Phoenix New Times.

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Sydney Jackson

Sydney Jackson has worked throughout the valley since 2012, serving as both collaborator and performer for much of her professional career. Jackson considers herself a movement artist, using the experience of motion of the body as her source, and choreography as her medium.

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Shana Chanel

Shana Chanel is a life message artist born and raised in Bronx, New York. A singer, songwriter, and actress, Chanel has developed a passion for music and theatre while striving to make change around the world, sharing her talents and gifts. Shana first discovered her love for the arts at the age of five, singing in local church choirs from state to state.

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Trisha Burrough

Trisha Burrough is a member of the 2016 AZ Creative Aging Teaching Artist Institute cohort.

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