Today the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, announced the 34 recipients of Research & Development (R&D) Grants for 2023. Awarded through a competitive application and review process, these $5,000 grants support Arizona artists as they work to advance their artistic practice, expand their creative horizons, and deepen the impact of their work.

Grantees represent a variety of artistic disciplines and reside in communities throughout the state.

2023 Research & Development Grant Recipients

The following artists were awarded 2023 Research & Development Grants. (For artist bios, project descriptions, and additional information, click a name below.)

Julie Anand (Phoenix)
Katie Baird (Tucson)
Susanna Battin (Tucson)
William Bryant (Prescott)
Derrais Carter (Tucson)
Amber Doe (Tucson)
Noemy Esparza-Isaacson (Chandler)
Mary Fitzgerald (Phoenix)
Flor de Nopal (Tucson)
Lex Gjurasic (Tucson )
Estephania González (Tempe)
Isadora Hale (Tucson)
Chris Hamby (Phoenix)
Eugenia Hernandez-Ruiz (Chandler)
Bin Hu (Tucson)
Andrew Dana Hudson (Tempe)
Debra Kay (Maricopa)

Barbara Kemp Cowlin (Oracle)
Michael Kollwitz (Sedona)
Hila Lanciano (Phoenix)
Alan Lewine (Phoenix)
Johanna Lundy (Tucson)
Sophie McTear (Tucson)
Seth Muller (Flagstaff)
Jennie Rhodes (Gilbert)
Rebecca Ross (Tempe)
Safwat Saleem (Scottsdale)
Molly W. Schenck (Phoenix)
Diani Shepherd (Phoenix)
Erin Taylor (Glendale)
Dallas Teat (Phoenix)
Kris Ann Valdez (Phoenix)
Matthew Windham (Flagstaff)
Lia Woodall (Phoenix)

This year, thanks to a public-philanthropic partnership between the state agency and the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF), and with funding from the Newton and Betty Rosenzweig Fund for the Arts, the number of available awards doubled, from 17 to 34.

Bill Desmond Award

In addition to the R&D Grants, the Arts Commission presented the Bill Desmond Writing Award to Michael Kollwitz. The recipient is selected from the pool of applicants for Research and Development Grants and a single applicant may be awarded both. The award, which offers funding in the amount of $1,000 to an excelling nonfiction writer, was established by Kathleen Desmond in honor of her late husband, Bill Desmond, a reporter, editor, and nonfiction writer.

2022 Research and Development Grant Review Panel

Applications were reviewed by a panel of Arizona artists:

  • Amanda Meeks (Tucson)
  • Cynthia Stokes (Tucson)
  • Ruby Morales (Glendale)
  • Ernesto Ortiz (Phoenix)
  • Coley Curry (Phoenix)
  • Dr. Alice Hatcher (Tucson)
  • Gretchen Baer (Bisbee)
  • Alisha Vasquez  (Tucson)

After reviewing and scoring applications individually, the panelists convened online for a public meeting on November 18, 2022, to discuss top-scoring applications and make recommendations for funding. Ben Baer, a Governor-appointed Commissioner of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, acted as the panel chair, overseeing the process without participating in the review.

At their quarterly board meeting on December 8, 2022, the Arts Commission’s Governor-appointed board of commissioners approved the panel’s recommendations for funding.


2023 R&D Grant Recipients

Julie Anand (She/Her/Hers), Phoenix
Visual Arts

Julie Anand and her artistic partner Damon Sauer are artists based in Phoenix, Arizona, and have been collaborating since 2005. Their project Ground Truth has been featured in Wired, Harper’s, National Geographic, and Hyperallergic. The project was exhibited at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC and is held in the collections of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art as well as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


Katie Baird (She/Her/Hers), Tucson
Performing Arts

Katie Baird, a passionate violist and arts advocate, has established herself as an emerging leader among her generation of violists. Within the past two years, Katie was named the 2021-22 Presser Scholar, the Undergraduate Creative Achievement Award Winner, and The University of Arizona College of Fine Arts Outstanding Senior. Katie recently graduated from The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music, where she obtained a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance under the tutelage of Dr. Molly Gebrian. The healing power of music has led Katie to Suite Melody Care, where she serves as the Arizona Chapter Lead. Through volunteer efforts, she organizes themed, interactive concerts for young Arizona artists and performs for audiences in hospitals, long term care facilities, and retirement residences. Katie’s mission is to bring performances of music by composers from traditionally underrepresented communities to audiences who otherwise do not have the ability to attend a high-priced classical concert due to their health, mobility, or financial barriers.


Susanna Battin (She/Her/Hers), Tucson
Multidisciplinary Arts

Susanna Battin mixes research and visual art to turn a playful lens on environmental politics. She is interested in how images shape people’s relationships with land, and the performance of images within the history of colonization. She works between video, cartography, painting, social action, and reading legal documents and nature poems. Battin has exhibited at MOCA Tucson, Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, Gas Gallery, and Human Resources LA. She teaches and co-organizes SNAG (School of New Art Geographies) with her partner in Tucson, AZ.


William Bryant (He/Him/His), Prescott
Literary Arts

William Bryant earned a master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Wyoming and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Iowa. His academic training equipped him with skills for exploring American lives and telling American stories, especially stories of the West. He has worked as a writer, editor, and educator, and currently operates a business, BetterRhetor, that helps high school students prepare for college-level writing. He lives in Prescott, AZ, with his wife and son. Shepherdess is his first novel.


Derrais Carter (He/Him/His), Tucson
Multidisciplinary Arts

Derrais Carter (he/they) is an interdisciplinary artist and writer. A student of black culture, Carter’s creative work knots nostalgia, imagination, and archival material to produce stories, artists books, and other visual texts about black folks.

Carter’s work has been supported by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright Program, and the Andy Warhol Foundation.


Amber Doe (She/Her/Hers), Tucson
Visual Arts

Amber Doe, @amberdoestudio is a multimedia artist who uses textile, sculpture and performance to bear witness to the experiences of black women even as American society aims to render us and our lives as invisible and meaningless. Doe was a 2020/21 Abbey Awards Fellowship award holder and is a current 2022/23 Projecting All Voices Fellowship award holder. Her work has most recently been exhibited at Snakebite Gallery, Tucson, AZ, The Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI and Amarillo Museum of Art for the AMOA 600 Biennial, Amarillo, TX.


Noemy Esparza-Isaacson (She/Her/Hers), Chandler
Digital Media Arts

Noemy is a research-based digital media artist, electro-acoustic improvisational vocalist, and digital technology educator who recently received a Master of Fine Art in Digital Technology from Arizona State University (2022) and a Master of Education in Teaching and Teacher Education from the University of Arizona (2020). Noemy’s work is inspired by research lines of questioning that are rooted in her personal history and the origin stories of her indigenous lineage. Noemy fosters not only a performative practice whose foundation is built around this research, but also a teaching practice in the areas of digital media, technology, and world languages. She is a tricultural, Mexican/Yaqui/American and second-generation immigrant female. Her parents immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico to Las Cruces, NM. where in time Noemy pursued her undergraduate studies and became the first in her family to graduate from college. Her personal experiences, social justice investigations, child advocacy, and educational outreach projects shape her studio practice.

Noemy’s artistic palette encompasses not only a variety of traditional mediums but also digital music, performance art, AR/VR/XR media, video, and animation.  Her background as a professional recording artist in the regional-Mexican genre also serve as inspiration for her sound based works and compositions. Noemy combines different genres of music and sounds as source material for her interactive and live performances that are often supplemented by visuals generated by her voice and movement. Noemy’s artistic practice also includes experimental video and 2D/3D animation that often form part of her live performances.


Mary Fitzgerald (She/Her/Hers), Phoenix
Performing Arts

Mary Fitzgerald is a dance artist based in Phoenix, Arizona, who has devoted her career to dance making, performance, and interdisciplinary collaboration. For the past 20+ years, she has been creating work in a range of forms, from contemporary modern dance choreography and multimedia art to social practice to dance film. She is fascinated with how the intersections between different art forms and disciplines expand our ways of creating, seeing, and knowing. Fitzgerald’s recent projects, which range in scope from evening-length performances to short dance films, have focused on issues around dance, women, and aging and on ideas around the sustainability of the body and environment. Her work has been presented in the U.S. and abroad and has received support from such organizations as the Japan Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research, and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Fitzgerald is a professor at Arizona State University, where she has the privilege of teaching dance, somatics, and art making to emerging artists, educators, and leaders.


Flor de Nopal (They/Them/Their), Tucson
Performing Arts

Born in the bustle of Mexico City and raised in the desert of their father’s ancestral lands, Flor de Nopal is a blossom born from the collision of multiple cultures on one land. A celebration of border existence and resistance, Flor de Nopal brings their experimental synth compositions to perk ears and feed brown souls; music is their offering.


Lex Gjurasic (She/Her/Hers), Tucson
Visual Arts

Lex Gjurasic is a visual artist originally from rain-soaked Seattle, WA currently living in dusty Tucson, AZ. She has exhibited her work nationally for over 25 years most notably in 2009 as a featured artist in the exhibition Kokeshi: Folk Art to Art Toy at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA. In 2017 her video was made part of the permanent collection at the Getty Institute as part of Miranda July’s Joanie4Jackie archive. Recently she has delved into Public Art completing a mural with the City of Tucson’s Downtown Murals Project as well as a temporary immersive exhibition at the Scottsdale Public Library with Scottsdale Public Art. She was nominated in 2018 for Best Visual Artist with The Tucson Weekly then in 2021 was nominated for the Governor’s Arts Award. In 2021 she collaborated with the New Mexico based art collective Meow Wolf as part of the permanent immersive experience Convergence Station in Denver, CO.


Estephania González (She/Her/Hers), Tempe
Digital Media Arts

Estephania González is a Arizona-based multimedia artist from the Midwest. Using video, animation, installation, and performance, she explores concepts of spacetime, cosmologies and identity. González explores the complexities of identity politics and their relation to the physical and psychological borderlands. This concept is the foundation for much of her work from which she creates new narratives that reflect upon and take into consideration a contemporary understanding of the human condition through her lens as a Latinx woman living in the United States. She is inspired by physics theories, Mexica cosmologies and how these two intersect with personal identity. Using the cosmos to reflect on the microcosm, González’s work aims at sharing visual narratives to better understand each other in a time where harsh realities plague our species and our planet. She has done performance artworks in Mexico, Iowa, Arizona, and Chile and her works have been shown at the UNI Gallery of Art, Step Gallery, and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. González received her MFA in Intermedia Art from Arizona State University. She received a BFA in Performance Art and BA in Art History from the University of Northern Iowa. She has been a resident at Guapamacataro, Michoacan Mexico, and La Wayaka Current in the Atacama Desert in Chile.


Isadora Hale (She/Her/Hers), Tucson
Visual Arts

Isadora Hale lives with her husband and children in Tucson, Arizona. She grew up in Northern California, and has always loved anything involving either creativity or animals. She studied Creative Writing and Art Studio in college, where she was thrilled to have her art featured in several exhibitions. While she deviated from fine art for awhile after college, applying her creativity to the digital arts via graphic design and website development, she is very happy to be back in the thick of it now, painting, drawing and creating art every day.

Isadora has had her art on display in many shows and exhibitions throughout Arizona, including Artlink’s 18th Annual Juried Exhibition at the Heard Museum, a solo exhibition at Hotel Congress in Tucson, as well as in shows outside of Arizona, including the highly publicized “Art as Protest” show at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in California.

Isadora’s art encourages people to see their surroundings not just as a moment in time, but as something affected by their specific life experiences. She believes that individual cultures, family dynamics, major life events, and even the pop culture people have consumed can create entirely different perceptions as they move through their lives. Appreciating how diverse experiences can affect perception creates empathy and understanding, and Isadora hopes to encourage this through her art. She paints with an often surreal and humorous twist, adding lightness and fun to art that has a more complex meaning for those who choose to look deeper.


Chris Hamby (He/Him/His), Phoenix
Performing Arts

Chris Hamby  is an award-winning director and the Artistic Director for TheaterWorks. During his 13 years with the organization, he previously served as the Education Director. Chris has worked with many valley theater companies throughout the years including, Greasepaint, East Valley Children’s Theatre, Mesa Encore Theatre and Desert Foothills Theater. He also was a teaching artist for Phoenix Theatre for 10 years where his residencies included work with the Kennilworth Elementary School, the Girl Scouts of America and a as a full time teacher for the Franklin Arts Academy. In 1999 he co-founded the Vagabond Youth Theatre.  In 2003 he served as an education intern with the world famous, Seattle Children’s Theatre. In 2015, Chris participated in the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s ANIMOTION: Puppetry Intensive Training Program in addition to completing the American Express Leadership Academy’s Nonprofit Leadership Management program. He has been honored with an outstanding service award by the Arizona Thespians for his work for high school theatre students. Chris has over 30 ariZoni nominations for his theatre work and has received 10 ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence. He is also a past President for that organization. Chris was awarded with the Governor’s Arts Award in the Artist category for his body of work in 2020. Additionally he was named the Home Town Hero-Trailblazer for his accomplishments in the city of Peoria, AZ. Chris also sits on the national Board of Directors for the American Association of Community Theatre.


Eugenia Hernandez-Ruiz (She/Her/Hers), Chandler
Performing Arts

Eugenia Hernandez Ruiz, PhD, MT-BC is a Mexican music therapist, working mostly with autistic children and their families. Eugenia is Assistant Professor of music therapy at Arizona State University. Throughout her career, she has provided clinical music therapy services, workshops and educational materials for parents, and supervision to other professionals. She created Cantando Crecemos™ (music recordings and manuals) to provide music resources to parents and professionals working with children with neurodevelopmental conditions. She has presented her work at regional, national, and international music therapy and autism conferences. Her research has been published in the Journal of Music Therapy, Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Music Therapy Perspectives, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, Psychology of Music, and Arts in Psychotherapy.


Bin Hu (She/Her/Hers), Tucson
Performing Arts

Founded in 2016, Duo Chinoiserie is a unique project initiated by Chinese guzheng performer Jing Xia and classical guitarist Bin Hu, who are both highly achieved musicians in their professional fields. With their global vision, this duo reproduces the elegance of the Chinoiserie style and brings the best of Eastern and Western culture together through music. Its bold and carefully handpicked selection of repertoire explores the instruments’ dialogue and complementary textures while uniting contrasting musical styles into a cohesive, well-defined whole.

The Duo has appeared on stage in Spain, China, and the United States while maintaining an active concert schedule. It’s been presented by the Arizona Arts Live, Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, St. Andrew’s Bach Society, Tucson Guitar Society, Qinling International Guitar Festival and its upcoming engagements include the Northeastern Illinois University, Phoenix Guitar Society, and a collaboration with the Ballet Tucson. Their performances have been described as sensational by audiences and critics alike, and their creative artistic activities have been featured by mainstream media outlets including the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. The Duo’s award-winning debut album “Chinoiserie: Building New Musical Bridges“ released by Navona Records includes newly commissioned works by Sérgio Assad, Mathias Duplessy, and Yusuke Nakanishi alongside the Duo’s creative arrangements. It is highly regarded by music critics as “the most engaging anthology showcasing artistry at the highest level”.

Embracing the passion for exploring new musical forms and expressions, the Duo welcome collaborations that integrate chamber music into other creative forms of performing arts.


Andrew Dana Hudson (He/Him/His), Tempe
Literary Arts

Andrew Dana Hudson is a speculative fiction author, sustainability researcher, editor and futurist.

He has published over twenty short stories, which have appeared in Slate Future Tense, Lightspeed Magazine, Vice Terraform, MIT Technology Review, Grist, and many other . His nonfiction has appeared in Slate, Jacobin, and more. His fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, longlisted for the BSFA, and translated into Italian. In 2016 his story “Sunshine State” won the first Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest, and in 2017 he was runner up in the Kaleidoscope Writing The Future Contest. His 2015 essay “On the Political Dimensions of Solarpunk” has helped define and grow the “solarpunk” subgenre. He attended the 2022 Clarion Workshop and is an active member of the SWFA. His first book, Our Shared Storm: A Novel of Five Climate Futures, was published in 2022 by Fordham University Press.

Andrew has a master’s degree in sustainability from Arizona State University, where he is an Imaginary College Fellow at the Center for Science and the Imagination. He has previously worked in journalism, political consulting, and healthcare innovation. He also teaches yoga and writes the newsletter solarshades.club.


Debra Kay (She/Her/Hers), Maricopa
Visual Arts

Debra Kay began making art quilts in 2016 after she and her husband retired in Tucson.  With the encouragement of a local quilt club, Debra submitted two pieces to a Call for Entries from a gallery in Tucson and was accepted into the exhibition.  Both pieces sold, and she has never looked back.  Debra’s first solo exhibition was in the Spring of 2019.  “The Mighty Saguaro” opened just two weeks after the death of her brother.  Debra dedicated the show to him.

Debra joined Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) in 2019 and became the Regional Representative for the State of Arizona in January 2020, a position she holds through 2023.  During the lockdown, she produced a monthly newsletter and held meetings on Zoom.

With a commitment to bringing quilted art to Phoenix, Debra supports the movement by mentoring two artists on the business side of making art.


Barbara Kemp Cowlin (She/Her/Hers), Oracle
Visual Arts

Barbara Kemp Cowlin lives/works in Oracle, Arizona, a small mountain town between Phoenix and Tucson.

She earned a BFA in Printmaking and an MA in Printmaking from Northern Arizona University.

Kemp Cowlin was awarded the 2019 Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Individual Artist Grant, in addition to being a finalist in 2018 and 2014. She received an Anonymous Was a Woman Emergency Relief Grant in 2020 and Professional Development Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts in 2015. She was selected to participate in the Ox-Bow Longform Residency in 2021.

Solo exhibits include 1ART Gallery, Tucson, AZ, the Eric Fischl Gallery, Phoenix College, Phoenix, AZ; The Balcony Gallery at London Gold in Scottsdale, AZ; Rancho Linda Vista Gallery, Oracle, AZ; Powell Museum in Page, AZ; Casa Grande Art Museum, Casa Grande, AZ; Blue Dome Gallery, Silver City, NM; Yuma Art Center, Yuma, AZ; Agua Caliente Ranch Park Gallery in Tucson, AZ; Willo North Gallery, Phoenix, AZ; and the @ Central Gallery, Burton Barr Central Library, Phoenix, AZ.

Collections include the City of Phoenix Print Collection; University of Arizona Special Collections; Providence Medical Center, Everett, Washington; Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio; First Bancorp Headquarters, Troy, North Carolina; Baylor University Medical Center, Houston, Texas; Edison & Sprinkles Architecture & Design, Vancouver, British Columbia, Grafix Company, Maple Heights, Ohio.​


Michael Kollwitz (He/Him/His), Sedona
Multidisciplinary Arts

Michael Kollwitz is a speaker, author, composer, and prolific recording artist on the best musical instrument you’ve never heard of— The Chapman Stick®. The Stick is an American stringed instrument invented by Emmett Chapman in 1974. Kollwitz was one of Chapman’s first proteges and an early adopter of Emmett’s revolutionary Free Hands playing technique. With more than 30 independent releases, his peaceful music has been described as the sound of swaying palms on a moonlit night and has provided relaxation to listeners worldwide. His albums have made the Billboard charts and garnered numerous awards over the years. His soon-to-be-released 2023 book, “Stick With It – Adventures of a Chapman Stick Player” chronicles the earliest days of the instrument from his perspective as a student of the inventor. In “Stick With It” Kollwitz also recounts his struggles and humorous encounters with strange characters throughout the journey as his musical dreams unfolded. Kollwitz first moved to Arizona in the early 1990s and currently resides year-round in Sedona.


Hila Lanciano (She/Her/Hers), Phoenix
Metalwork

Biography not provided.


Alan Lewine (He/Him/His), Phoenix
Multidisciplinary Arts

Alan Lewine has been a working bassist since the late 1970s. He is a composer and the founder of Owlsong Productions (www.owlsong.com). In Phoenix since 2020, Lewine has performed and recorded all over the U.S., Europe from Spain to Israel, Cuba and Mexico. His influences include many forms of music – the history of jazz, flamenco, North African, salsa and gamelan music. He has performed with afropop stars as well as many jazz and some classical notables. Milt Hinton was an early mentor, and later Charlie Haden, Leroy Vinnegar, Ray Brown, John Clayton, Lynn Seaton and Bruce Gertz. Alan also studied traditional Ghanaian (Ewe) percussion with Obo Addy, Balinese gamelan with I Nyoman Suadin, flamenco with Julián Vaquero and Victór Monge, and traditional country blues with Johnny Never. Alan has performed with Eddie Daniels, Kenny Davern, Richie Cole, Joe Henderson, Clifford Jordan, Henry Threadgill, Vinnie Golia, Anita O’Day, Sheila Jordan, Mose Allison, Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, Roy Hargrove, Herb Ellis, Gus Johnson, Sweets Edison, Mickey Roker, Stephane Grapelli and many others. Reviewers have compared some of his compositions and leadership to Charles Mingus, which flatters him greatly, but he remains intensely interested in the creative flowering of the “avant garde jazz” movement of the late 50s and early 60s.


Johanna Lundy (She/Her/Hers), Tucson
Performing Arts

Johanna Lundy is the principal horn of the Tucson Symphony, a position she has held since 2006. She has received critical acclaim for her “robust sound” and her “breathtaking” and “extraordinary” performances. The Green Valley News hailed her Tucson Symphony solo debut as “the highest level of professional musicianship. Every attack was pure, controlled and perfect. [Lundy] left the audience in a state of near-euphoria.”

Since moving to Arizona, Lundy has performed extensively throughout the state, performing regularly with the Phoenix Symphony and Arizona Opera. In fall 2010, she was named one of Tucson’s 40 under 40 by the Arizona Daily Star. As a soloist and recitalist, Lundy has appeared with the Tucson Symphony, the Arizona Symphonic Winds, the Tucson Chamber Artists, the University of Arizona Guest Artist Series, the Sierra Vista Symphony and the St. Andrew’s Bach Society. For seven seasons, Lundy served as the principal horn of the Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra. For three years, she participated in the prestigious Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland, under conductor and composer Pierre Boulez.

Before joining the TSO, Lundy was an active freelancer in the Boston area, performing with the Albany and New Hampshire Symphonies and the Boston Philharmonic, among others. Lundy attended the Aspen Music Festival as a fellowship recipient for five summers, where she appeared as soloist in 2005.

Lundy currently maintains a private teaching studio in Tucson and has served on the faculty at Pima Community College. In the 2007-08 season, she joined the faculty at the University of Arizona as a guest lecturer in horn.

She holds a Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory and a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory and principal teachers include James Sommerville, Richard Sebring, Roland Pandolfi, John Zirbel and Richard Deane.


Sophie McTear (They/Them/Their), Tucson
Visual Arts

Sophie McTear is a nonbinary, disabled illustrator and graphic designer inspired by vulnerable self-expression, mysticism, and their LGBTQ+ experience. They have spoken out in support of bodily autonomy as a uterus-haver, and a chronically ill person with stage four endometriosis. They often use their art as a means of raising funds for charitable grassroots organizations, like Community on Wheels, Tucson Abortion Support Collective, and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. In 2020 they helped open the non-profit Groundworks Tucson, an arts and music space for the youth community to express themselves. Their work has been featured locally in shops and galleries, and nationally on the covers of Scholastic children’s books, and in stores like Hot Topic.

Their goal as an artist is to fight back against bigotry and stand up for queerness. With their upcoming tarot deck they wish to remind us all of the magick we hold within ourselves, and the power of the collective when we work together in community.


Seth Muller (He/Him/His), Flagstaff
Literary Arts

Seth Muller is an educator, author, and freelance journalist based in Flagstaff, Arizona. He relocated to the Southwest in 2001 to fervently explore the deep map of the Colorado Plateau. He writings and explorations led to two published Grand Canyon books: Canyon Crossing: Experiencing Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim (Grand Canyon Conservancy) and Heart in the Bony Middle (Vishnu Temple Press). His work also extends into fiction, as he collaborated with the late Navajo artist and illustrator Bahe Whitethorne Jr. to create a middle-grade series called Keepers of the Windclaw Chronicles (Salina Bookshelf). Along with published books, Seth has created numerous works for the stage, including the plays Convergence and Monsters, both commissioned by Canyon Moon Theatre Company, and has several produced short plays. Two of these, The Completely Nonsensical Sky and Separation Creek won the Northern Arizona Playwriting Showcase in 2012 and 2015, respectively. He has served as a board member, advisor, and volunteer for the Northern Arizona Book Festival since 2005 and has volunteered for the Tucson Festival of Books as a panel moderator. For his contributions to writing and the literary community in Flagstaff, he received the 2014 Copper Quill Award from the Friends of the Flagstaff-Coconino County Public Library. Seth teaches as a Lecturer of English at Northern Arizona University, where he also received his Master of Fine Arts in 2017 and graduated with distinction.


Jennie Rhodes (She/Her/Hers), Gilbert
Performing Arts

Composer and violinist Jennie Rhodes creates musical experiences focused on setting and story telling.  Her compositions are designed for specific people and performance purposes, each work a springboard to conversations, spoken and musical, that give audiences and performers a deeper connection with the music they hear and the people they share it with.  Much of her music is for chamber ensembles or string student performance, and her catalog includes both secular and sacred work.  Ms. Rhodes is currently composer-in-residence at Heritage High School Orchestras (Mesa) and the in-house composer for 7 City Strings, a violin studio that also leads student ensembles. Several of her professional level vocal chamber music works have been recorded and released by Phoenix-based trio Salonnières, as well as premiered internationally on UK-based Classical Crossover Magazine’s virtual concert series and as part of the Interharmony Music Fest in Italy.

Ms. Rhodes’ 20+ years as a professional violinist have seen her performing with orchestras such as the Tucson, New World, and New Mexico Symphonies as well as Utah Festival Opera Company, where she was a featured soloist, and as a collaborative artist with Santa Fe New Music.  As a founding artist for Salonnières, she performs themed, salon-style concerts and has released two full length albums, and she has served as the concertmaster for Millennial Choirs and Orchestras (AZ) for over a decade.  She received her BM from the University of Michigan, and her MM from Rice University, both in violin performance.


Rebecca Ross(She/Her/Hers), Tempe
Visual Arts

Rebecca Ross is a photographer, educator, and public artist. Ross’ photographs have appeared in many juried and invitational exhibitions nationally and abroad at venues such as the Eye Gallery, San Francisco; Society for Contemporary Photography, Kansas City; and the Canon Photo Gallery, Amsterdam. Her photography is included in a number of permanent art collections including the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston, Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale, and the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. As staff at the Maine Photographic Workshops, Ross served as assistant to Sally Mann, Arnold Newman, Eugene Richards, and Duane Michaels. In addition to her photography, Ross has completed more than a dozen public art projects. Nominated for a Governor’s Art Award for her collaborative mural project on Tempe’s Rio Salado, Ross often works with community members as participants, volunteers, and makers. Her projects have included poetry; ceramics; Morse Code; glass tile; photographs on porcelain-enameled steel, tile, and dyed aluminum; and water features. A longtime collaborator, she has worked with both visual artists and writers. Ross is the recipient of numerous awards for her photography including a Visual Arts Fellowship and Artist Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. As an experienced art educator whose teaching has been recognized by the Scottsdale Cultural Council and Center in Santa Fe, she has worked with disadvantaged youth, neighborhood groups, and senior citizens. Her current work involves collaborations with public gardens in the US and Mexico.


Safwat Saleem (He/Him/His), Scottsdale
Visual Arts

Through a multidisciplinary practice that ranges from graphic design, illustration and writing to film and sound, Safwat Saleem’s art focuses on making visible  immigrant narratives that are lost in an attempt to belong. His body of work weaves together themes of displacement, preservation, resistance and brown joy as an immigrant father raising a multiracial child in the American Southwest. Select exhibiting institutions include Open Data Institute at Cartagena Data Festival, Columbia; Puffin Cultural Forum, Teaneck, New Jersey; TED Talks, Vancouver, Canada; and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Arizona. He is the founder of the former online Pakistani music magazine Bandbaja. Saleem is a recipient of Rocky Mountain Emmy Award (2022, 2021), American Advertising Award (2022, 2021, 2015), and TED Fellowship (2015, 2013). He lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona.


Molly W. Schenck (She/Her/Hers), Phoenix
Multidisciplinary Arts

The body of work by Molly W. Schenck (MFA, MEd.) is rooted in a quest to understand humans. She is fascinated with human movement – whether that is a social justice movement, individuals persisting through systems, how a medium is shaped on a canvas, and how a body moves through space and time. She is also interested in what interrupts the full expression of movement (stress, trauma, burnout, injuries, chronic pain, etc.). This has guided the evolution of her studies and career path. She worked in higher education as an arts adjunct professor and administrator for ten years. She taught mind body and group fitness classes for twelve years. She specializes in the intersection of creativity and trauma and is the creator of Trauma-Informed Creative Practices and hosts a podcast to share knowledge with others. She is the founder of and creative producer for Grey Box Collective (an interdisciplinary, experimental, post-dramatic, trauma-informed arts organization that devises original performances around topics of social and emotional wellbeing i.e. makes weird art about tough stuff). She is the author of ‘Trauma-Informed Teaching Practices for Dance Educators’. She is a certified Trauma Support Specialist, certified Personal Trainer, a 500-hour experienced yoga teacher (focused on asana, pranayama, and meditation), Certified Teacher of BodyMind Dancing™, a Registered Somatic Dance Educator and a Dynamic Embodiment™ Practitioner. For more information visit mollywschenck.com


Diani Shepherd (They/Them/Their), Phoenix
Visual Arts

Diani Shepherd is a multidisciplinary artist, fashion historian and cultural anthropologist born and raised in the American Southwest. Diani focuses on the interconnectedness of folks through time via creative textile works and collaborative gatherings. They share their love of fashion to re-work garments that challenge gender constructs in the western world. As an entrepreneur and environmentalist, they co-founded a community sewing project, ‘Grandma’s Hands,’ a project that was most recently awarded funding through the global organization, Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Diani works to curate interactive visual workshops utilizing a no-electricity model – strictly using vintage and antique sewing machines to render stories of textile creators through time. By leaning into the somatic practices of treadle and hand-crank sewing, they honor the artistry and history of textiles in the west. In this way, Diani shares her purpose of bringing people together in new and ancient ways to gather a visually expressive and authentic community.


Erin Taylor (She/Her/Hers), Glendale
Digital Media Arts

Erin Taylor is a self-taught digital artist and comic writer. She has a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Northern Arizona University and is currently pursuing a pharmacy degree. Although she is a science major, art has always been her passion. Her enthusiasm for drawing started at an early age that advanced throughout the years. In grade school, Erin created paintings for family members. In high school, she created a clothing line with a distinctive logo that was sold online & in boutiques. In adulthood, she created illustrations for a children’s book. Over the years, she has worked to gain skills and form a unique style. She enjoys learning and creating in a variety of mediums, mostly digital, but also painting and crafts. This year, she’s learning 3D art and developing a webcomic with friends.


Dallas Teat (He/Him/His), Phoenix
Digital Media Arts

Dallas Teat is a researcher, documentary filmmaker, and actor who has appeared on stage, in radio, films and television. Dallas was born in Pondtown, a small, close-knit African-American community on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Dallas’ on-screen roles include “The Last Movie Ever Made” (2022), “Voyage Trekkers the Movie” (2018), “All These Little Things” (2018), “808s & Ankle Breaks” (2018) and the Salt River Project media campaign “Solutions That Make a Difference” (2022). As a professional puppeteer with the Bob Brown Marionettes of Alexandria, Virginia, Dallas appeared with the Browns to produce “The Elves and the Shoemaker” for Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Dallas has worked as a News Producer for the Mutual Black Radio Network in Washington, DC., and an Audio Engineer for National Public Radio at WDET Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

He relocated to Phoenix in 1980 to begin a career in Information Technology at Honeywell’s Large Information Systems Division. By the year 2000 Dallas had returned to his artistic endeavors. In 2006 Dallas established a professional audio-video production studio at the Arizona Department of Health Services’ (ADHS) where he produced the award-winning documentary “Bats at Schools: Prevention of Rabies Exposure” which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) optioned and distributed nationally.

Dallas has also been a respected faculty member with the Film and Media Production program at Glendale Community College (GCC) in Glendale Arizona for eleven years.

For over twenty years Dallas has researched, documented, and preserved portions of Arizona’s rich African-American history.


Kris Ann Valdez (She/Her/Hers), Phoenix
Literary Arts

Kris Ann Valdez is a middle-grade and young adult writer based in Phoenix, Arizona, whose work explores themes of identity, self-determination, poverty, and family bonds. Since 2017, she’s completed four novels and published various literary pieces in “Tunnel of Lost Stories: Short Story Anthology” by Wingless Dreamer, For Women Who Roar, The Kindred Voice, Mothers Always Write, among others.

In 2020, Kris Ann signed with literary agent Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio to represent her novel-length work.

Currently, she is researching and exploring her familial ties with mid-century Mexico to complete her semi-biographical middle-grade manuscript based on her father-in-law’s childhood.


Matthew Windham (He/Him/His), Flagstaff
Performing Arts

Matthew Windham is Producing Artistic Director for The Giddy Round Theatre Collective, an ongoing transcontinental performing arts collaboration. He is a theatre actor, director and designer, and has written or co-written 16 plays produced by theatres across the United States. He wrote and directed “This Little World: A Solo Performance of Shakespeare’s Richard II Starring Owen Corey”, which continues to tour internationally, and which was awarded Best Solo Show at Pittsburgh Fringe. He was the Founding Director of the Parker Theatre’s Shakespeare Festival (UT), and a winner of the Utah Best of State Award for playwriting for “Breakfast with Shakespeare”. He has directed traditional Shakespeare plays for audiences young and old, multimedia history plays, an onstage baseball game, plays about the history of flight and the space race, an adaptation of Tolkien, ensemble-based devised works, new short works, and much in between. Matthew is also a Private Chef in Flagstaff and Sedona, AZ. You can learn more about his Private Chef business at https://www.windhamchef.com.


Lia Woodall (She/Her/Hers), Phoenix
Literary Arts

Lia Woodall is an award-winning essayist who experiments with form to explore her experience of twin loss to suicide and family brokenness. Her writing has appeared in “Best American Experimental Writing 2020” (digital edition), “under the gum tree” (annual contest winner) “Literal Latté” (annual contest winner), “Sonora Review” (third place) and elsewhere. It has been recognized with Pushcart Prize nominations and as notables in The Best American Essays series. Lia’s hybrid chapbook, Remove to Play (The Cupboard Pamphlet April 2020), won the annual contest in 2019. In it she deconstructs and interrogates a photo of her and her twin brother, Larry, in the form of a slide puzzle. A black and white photo that Larry, by then a professional photographer, candidly takes of them at their tenth high school reunion on the eve of their 28th birthday. Their last photograph together. Lia is working on a collection of essays called Leaving Twinbrook: A Memoir of Duality.

Lia is a Poli Sci graduate of Arizona State University and holds a J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She is a recovered attorney who prefers her supportive creative writing community to court filings and lawyer jokes. She now lives in Phoenix against the north side of South Mountain under skies of tumbled turquoise within the homeland of the O’Odham and Piipaash peoples and their ancestors. Find Lia on Twitter and IG @liawoodall.