Instructor Bios

Stefanie Baechler

College student and fashionista Stefanie Baechler has been passionate about art since primary school. She has been instructing youth classes and arts adventures programs at the Farmington Valley Arts Center for four years and is pursuing a degree in Art Education. She loves working with pen and ink, as well as clay and watercolor.

Maurice Casas

Maurice Casas’ art is a result of several years of experimentation and a search for identity. It is the fusion of these two disciplines plus his personal sensitivity that have given him a new vision for color and design. His work creates an environment of invented realms and is juxtaposed between past and present. He uses semi-abstract and figurative mark making to create tension between reality and fanciful. Using Pre-Columbian Art and Iconography and elements of Architecture, Maurice has developed a unique and colorful language with its own vocabulary. Originally from Colombia in South America, Maurice has attended Colegio Antonio Narino and New York City Technical College. He has lived in the United States for 35 years where he has worked as a Visual Artist and Architectural Designer. Visit Maurice's Facebook page.

Pedro Centeno

Pedro creates functional pots such as, teapots, mugs, plates and jars using wheel throwing, hand building, and mould making techniques. His love of old building material, wood, rebar, and rusty metal, influences each piece. Through multiple glaze applications and firings, the desired weathered appearance is achieved and intriguing illusions of materials are formed. Visit Pedro's website.

Drew Darley

Drew Darley is a full-time potter who focuses almost exclusively on wheel thrown vessels putting a strong emphasis on a clean refined form. Drew enjoys glaze chemistry and the science behind mixing and formulating his own glazes. His current focus is on crystalline glazes. While in college Drew studied ceramics and mathematics. He found connections between the two disciplines in regards to glaze calculation and form which allows him to constantly to push the materials to the limit. Visit Drew's website.

Peggy Dembicer

Peggy Dembicer is a fiber artist with a contemporary design aesthetic. Her background in tapestry and pattern weaving has evolved to focus and explore the unique and intricate possibilities of paper weaving and bead artistry. Her background includes years of teaching adults and children in public and private educational settings. She exhibits her work regularly in CT galleries, including Gallery on the Green in Canton, Silvermine Art Guild in New Canaan and West Hartford Art League. She also exhibits regularly as a member of Connecticut Women Artists and the Surface Design Association. Visit Peggy's website.

Carolann Dvorak-Brewer

Carolann has accrued an impressive list of honors and awards. A first class realist, you may come upon her work in the form of Trompe L’oeil (French for “fool the eye”) murals, faux finished walls and furniture. Carolann paints these illusory scenes in Oil or Acrylic using brushes, rags, sponges, or feathers. Wherever you find her Art, you will find it to be vibrant, happy and alive. Carolann has a BA degree Magna Cum Laude from Douglass College at Rutgers University. She has been teaching at FVAC since 1991. Visit Carolann's website.

Moiray Giannola

Mo’s artwork is inspired by landscapes and the figure, her illustrations have been displayed nationally, and in many different group exhibitions. Her paintings can be found in numerous private collections as well as available to the public through public art commissions. Currently, she works full time as an Illustrator in addition to teaching watercolor classes. Mo graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Illustration program at the Hartford Art School, and is currently working on a residency at the Farmington Valley Arts Center. Furthermore, she is passionate about bringing art to the community, she is an active board member at the art League of New Britain and the Chair Person for their new Gallery Committee. Find Mo on Facebook, Mo Myra Art and Instagram @mo.myra.art.

Elena Gibson

Elena Gibson has been a practicing fiber artist and educator for over 15 years. Her work is represented by galleries in Connecticut and Massachusetts. As an experienced art teacher, Elena has run numerous workshops in CT and MA in a variety institutions including Farmington Valley Arts Center, West Hartford Art League, Mandell JCC and New England Felting Supply. Originally from Slovakia, Elena has a background in graphic design.

Paul Iezzi

Nature for Paul, is the stimulus for artistic expression - the essence of the work of art. His endeavor is unity of formal consideration, with the process or thought, spontaneity of vision is sought to achieve simple awareness of living. Harmony and balance are key components in the construction of image. Of course, a little disorientation could lead to insight. Color lays the foundation for all of his work. Whether abstract, figurative, or figuration, color emotes the possibilities of the universe. This revelation becomes clear, and begins to take shape as the work evolves. “My methods and approaches vary according to the subject. Changes happen and occur spontaneously as needed. I find media and methodology change to suit the course of life's events. Creativity is an expression of what is experienced, thought, felt." Visit Paul's website.

Karen Israel

Karen Israel is an award winning pastel artist currently serving as President of Connecticut Pastel Society. Her paintings are created as a celebration of light and color that aim to delight the eye and engage the mind. Karen’s paintings are representational but symbolism and abstraction are constantly emerging in the frame. Her work can be found in many collections throughout the Northeast and Canada. Visit Karen's website.

Deborah Leonard

Deborah is an impressionistic and abstract painter that lives in West Simsbury Connecticut. Using acrylics as her medium, she enjoys plein air painting as well as studio work. Deborah’s love of nature, through observation and academic study has a strong influence on her painting. Her work has appeared in numerous juried shows and is in many private collections in the U.S. and Europe. Visit Deborah's website.

Laura Marks

Laura was hooked on Zentangle after being introduced to it in 2014. She attended the Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) Seminar #22 and has been teaching ever since. Laura obtained a BFA from Eastern CT State University in 1989 and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of Hartford in 2001. To her, Zentangle is a nice combination of these two fields as she can express herself through her art while sharing this method she loves to others who may need to soothe anxieties, relieve stress, enhance their creativity or just make something unique and beautiful. Visit Laura's facebook page here.

Andy Mars

Andy Mars is a freelance photographer, photo artist & instructor: She photographs events (specializing in weddings), people and pets. She is a photography instructor teaching classes & workshops in digital photography, iPhoneography, mixed media photography and computer file organization & workflow. Her work has been exhibited at the Memorial Arts Museum in Rochester, NY, Manhattan and CT galleries and various Soho Gallery restaurants. Visit  Andy's website.

Dori Melowicz

Self-taught in the ancient Japanese art of origami, Dori Melowicz has been folding for over 25 years. She submitted a piece for the 2001 Moscow Origami Peace Tree Project and is affiliated with Origami USA, OrigaMIT, and the Paper Artists Gathering. At the Webster Hill Elementary School of West Hartford, Dori certified the authenticity of the largest origami butterfly ever folded, according to Guinness World Records. She has taught various levels of origami at the Newington Public Library, the West Hartford Public Library system, and the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Donna Miller

Donna Miller is a certified interior designer with twenty five years of upscale residential design experience. She has participated in BFA and MBA programs and museums nationally and continues to be active in the arts of the Farmington Valley. Her four session workshop and workbook highlight all of the major topics considered by professional interior designers that can be applied to home decorating projects.

Erika Novak

Erika Novak is a ceramic artist who focuses on wheel thrown collections of pottery both functional and decorative. Her work includes series of cups and mugs as well as vases, bottles, and hanging objects like lamps and planters. Erika pulls inspiration from patterns and textures found in Art deco architecture, early 20th-century design, as well as pattern found in American Southwestern textiles. After studying ceramics and art in college Erika now works as a full-time potter creating and selling her work at nationally ranked art fairs and showcases. Visit Erika's website.

Lisa Pichnarcik

Lisa Pichnarcik has been designing jewelry for over fifteen years. Her metalwork and mixed media designs are rooted in her study and exploration of a variety of techniques, including fold forming, wirework, stitching, stringing and knotting, chainmaking, lampworking, and beadmaking using precious metal clay, polymer clay, paper clay, and wool. The inspiration for her designs, although broadly ranging from living creatures and natural items to industrial forms and tools, comes from the emotional impact, mood, or memory associated with places and objects. Her work has been published in several magazines, including an honorable mention in CLOTH PAPER SCISSORS magazine’s Mixed-Media Excellence Awards in 2017. Lisa’s designs have been sold at various vendor shows, shops and galleries, and as commissioned pieces. She shares her love of jewelry design by teaching classes to both adults and children.

Julie Weaver

Julie Weaver is a practicing artist in Hartford, CT. She received her MFA from the School of Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and a Certificate of Museum Studies from Tufts University. She has shown her work in galleries throughout the United States including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio and Washington, DC. Julie is primarily an oil painter and hand paper maker. She is interested in community systems, human relationships, and the borders that separate neighbors. Visit Julie' s website.