We are proud to introduce the 15 exceptional young people who will serve on our 2022-23 AZ Youth Arts Council!

Established in 2019, the AZ Youth Arts Council advises the Arts Commission on grant programs and initiatives that directly affect young people. As they do so over the next 9 months, they will review issues related to arts and culture programs and services for young people and learn about policy related to equal access to the arts for all young people in Arizona.

Terrence Banks (He/Him)

Hey my name is Terrence Banks I’m 19 years old I’m a freshman at Eastern Arizona College I’m a Theater Major l. Mainly focusing on the technical side of theater. Super excited to be apart of this council with everyone! :)

Jonas Blackketter (He/Him)

Jonas Blackketter (16) is a homeschooled senior from Tucson, AZ. Some of his favorite pastimes incude writing music, playing the piano, and running. He has placed in city-wide piano competions, and will be participating in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composers Project for the fourth time this year.

Krish Desai (He/Him)

My name is Krish Desai, and I am a sophomore at Paradise Valley High School. I have been learning to play the Tabla (Indian hand drums) since I was 8 years old. In high school, I am also on the tennis team and on the executive board of HOSA. The tabla is an instrument from Indian Classical music, an ancient art form from the 4th century. I am a second-generation American born Indian and would love to promote and preserve ancient arts. Learning the tabla has helped me connect to my culture, and my hope is to help provide access to world music and culture to the youth of Arizona, especially to the underrepresented and underserved. I am excited to be part of the AZ Youth Arts Council.

Jordan Harris (She/Her)

Hello, my name is Jordan Harris, I’m 13 years old, in 9th grade, I love doing art (specifically drawing people), and I was born and raised in Arizona. I started doing art because of the expressiveness that goes into it and because it makes me happy which is why I’d love to make it a full time career out of art in the future. Currently, I go to a private school where I’m hard working and get good grades, but that’s all I’ve been doing which is why I want to get more involved in the art community! I can’t wait to work with this years council.

Thank you,

Jordan Harris

Hiyun Lee (She/Her)

My name is Hiyun Lee, and I am a senior attending BASIS Chandler. My goal is to provide opportunities for youth to use art as a method of communication and self-expression. The art forms I focus on are music, poetry, and poster making. As a musician, violin and piano have always been outlets of creativity for me. Music has also been the start of my connection with others and the basis of my leadership ideology through experience playing in chamber groups. The other forms of art that I participate in more individually help me address issues that I see within our community such as financial literacy and public health. Using art as a language has opened so many doors for me and other youth of Arizona, and I hope to continue expanding the impact of art while serving as a member of this commission.

Alejandra Magallanes (She/Her)

My name is Alejandra Magallanes, but you can call me Ale!
I was born in California but I’ve lived in Mexico for most of my life.
I’m 19 years old and my birthday is October 3rd
I’m currently enrolled in Cochise College and this is my second year. My major is Digital media Arts and I want to be an animator/illustrator.
My hobbies are drawing, painting, baking, cooking, listening to music, singing, taking pictures, playing videogames and hanging out with my friends.
Some of my interests are cartoons, anime ,manga, Greek mythology, makeup, alt goth/dark fashion and cats.

Sabrina Manson (She/Her)

Hello, my name is Sabrina Manson, I’m a 18-year-old senior at Nogales High school. My main focus of interest is Illustration and animation. In saying that, I hope to achieve my dream of attending California Institute of the Arts or CalArts. This College is one of the premier colleges in Animation with graduates such as Tim Burton and John Lasseter, Executive producer of Pixar. In Art, my main focus is with characters and backgrounds, my passion seems to work on character design. Within the Character design I also experiment in writing about the characters and their stories. This has been a passion of mine ever since I was in elementary school. To a point that I have fixated on a single story for 6 years straight. I’m proud of how far the story has progressed and the details it entails. One of my main hobbies is playing video games. I mostly play RPG games and Action games. Some of my favorite games are Stardew Valley, and Legend of Zelda. I think this is where some of my creative design is developed. In the end my primary goal is to work at Pixar animation studios and work on animated films. I have dreamt this since I was very young. Hopefully my goal is accomplished after High School.

Laura Mlera (She/Her)

Hello, my name is Laura Mlera. I currently live in Tucson, Arizona, and I am a 19-year-old college student at the University of Arizona. I enjoy creating digital paintings, and collages.

Stephanie Polasky (She/Her)

My name is Stephanie Polasky and I am a Senior in High school. My hobbies is theatre and making up fun light shows. I am currently and have been the Head Stage Manager for 3 years and I’m so excited to see what this year brings.

Aiyana Polk (She/Her)

I am 15 years old and I am a sophomore this year. My birthday is on February 15th. I was born in 2007 in Yuma Arizona and I have lived here my whole life. My favorite place in Yuma is downtown, I like all of the Art that is incorporated into that area, I like the Art museum and Art museum shop, I like to go to all the stores and walk around, I like the jem stone shops, lutes casino, and overall the environment it is just the best thing ever. My favorite thing to do is Art, it helps with my anxiety and helps to clear my mind. Last year was my freshman year at Kofa High School and I was in Art 1 I was also in Art Club as a parliamentarian which was that I knew how to do all the officer positions and fill in for them almost every meeting. I participated in all of the Art contests, do all of my Art projects, and participate in all of the Art “community service” where I would make art works for events for the school. I recently received a 2nd place award for the Arizona Patriotic Art contest and was in the newspaper and in the news. In all of my works besides the Arizona Patriotic Art contest I am proud to say that i received first place blue ribbons and purple ribbons as well. This year I am in Art 2 and I am in Art Club again and I am now Vice President of Art Club. As the Vice President I am set on having the students in it participate more in art contest and learn new things to help them improve and get out of there comfort zones. Another goal that I have is to come up with fundraisers inorder to travel. I have a 9 year old sister and a 6 year old brother, I live with them and my mom, we have a German shepherd and a testudo tortoise. I have been doing art since I was very young I would say about since I was in pre school or younger and it has always been my passion. When I was in elementary school and Jr high I was always in an Art class. In Jr high I was also in an Art club and I would constantly go and participate in all the activities. Also while I was in Jr high I was in yearbook where we would learn how to use cameras and take pictures for the yearbook and learn how to digitally create a yearbook page. Since then I have also been into taking still life pictures on my phone. I often use the pictures that I take as a reference for some of my Art works. I’ve always loved to learn new techniques and styles of Art. I like to try new things and try different medias to improve my skills. I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity.

Cassandra Small (She/Her)

My name is Cassandra Small, I am 20 and am currently going to AWC to get an Associate in Arts. I love working in auditoriums/theaters and learning about the performing Arts. I am also a co-leader for a girl scout troop and get to enjoy going camping and conoeing with them.

Nathan Spencer (He/Him)

My name is Nathan Spencer. I’m 14 years old and love to play the piano and violin. I care a lot about accessibility of the arts to kids and families in underserved areas. I’ve been blessed with a lot of great music opportunities throughout my life, thanks to access to great teachers and outreach programs that came into our rural community in Iowa. I feel I can draw from those experiences to collaborate with others in creating and facilitating those same opportunities for others. I believe accessibility of the arts to kids when they’re young is especially important, so I care about summer programming, camps and workshops, youth organizations, and supporting parents so they can in turn support their kids. Here is a little bit more about me: I’m currently the youngest member of the Prescott Pops Symphony Orchestra. I was fortunate to win first place in my division for both piano and violin in the annual Prescott Center For the Arts Youth Scholarship Competition three consecutive years. This past summer I was selected from applicants around the country to participate in the BYU Musicians Institute, and in the fall of October 2021, I was a vocal soloist with the Prescott Chorale’s performance of Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living. Before moving to Arizona, I won 3rd place in my division at the state level in the Iowa Music Teachers Association’s annual piano competition. I enjoy cross country, Dungeons and Dragons, a great burger, and being the middle child of five kids! I’m grateful for this opportunity and really looking forward to working with my peers on the Arizona Youth Arts Council.

Zara Staheli (She/Her)

Hi! My name is Zara Staheli, I am a 16 year old senior at Higley High School, and I am so grateful to call myself a part of this council! I am passionate in several forms of art from interior design to acrylic, but I am most passionate in the way that art’s methodical creativity translates to every aspect of our lives. I know art to be a powerful vehicle for change and a way to evoke emotions and powerful messages through the most beautiful means. Even outside of directly creating art, I utilize artistic thinking and movement in leading my varsity and club swim teams, connecting and growing as vice president of the largest high school Best Buddies chapter, or pioneering new ways to serve as president of National Honor Society. I have a vast array of interests, from writing to surfing, but within all I work to create an impact whether it be through proceed donations, charitable collaborations, or just sharing my passion and helping others do the same! I am ecstatic to work toward implementing artistically impactful changes and learning from others to further understand how art translates to their lives and communities.

Katie Wilbur (She/Her)

Hello! I am currently a senior at University High School in Tucson! Eight years ago, I began learning piano in honor of my grandma. As I continue to play and teach piano, I am forever grateful for being gifted with that opportunity those many years ago. Music has always been an essential aspect of my life; beyond piano, I have performed in musical theater, choir, dance, and trapeze. Each practice holds a special place in my heart as something that brought joy to my life!

Margot Wilder (She/Her)

Hi, my name is Margot! I am seventeen years old and I’m a senior at Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff, AZ. I have been dancing ballet since I was three years old and I regularly perform in community-wide events, like the Flagstaff Festival of Science. I love studying anthropology in school and being a part of our Model UN Club. Outside of school, I enjoy backpacking with my family and skiing. I am also an avid reader, piano player, and world traveler.

Banner Photo: Residents of Douglas celebrate the completion of a new community mural. Photo by German Padilla, courtesy of Border Arts Corridor.