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Leadership and Faculty

We are an artist-led arts organization, and education is the heart of everything we do.  Cultivating conversation and empathy in our gallery work, creativity and growth in our fine art courses, and community and artist education in our artist resource center. As a team of artists and educators, our goal is to ignite a passion for art and learning through our community-minded practices.

Our leadership is composed of our core team members.  With a diverse range of experience and expertise, this group understands contemporary gallery practices, curation, new media and foundational studio art practices, volunteer support, and arts administration. 

Our teaching faculty is composed of certified art teachers and professional teaching artists.  Through one-on-one, small group, and differentiated instruction, our teaching faculty knows and appreciates each student's unique interests, strengths, goals, and learning styles. They honor each student and foster a sense of belonging in the space.  We approach our practices with a shared mission: to cultivate growth, creativity, and community. 

Cultivate Core Team 

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Mallory Shotwell

Founder and Director

hello@cultivategrandrapids.org

Mallory Shotwell, the Executive Director at Cultivate, an arts organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan, brings over 13 years of diverse experience to her role, encompassing arts administration, curatorial expertise, and art education. As both the Founder and Director, she has been a driving force in establishing Cultivate as an essential part of the art community.

Her tenure at Cultivate has been marked by a harmonious blend of managing the art gallery, overseeing a comprehensive art education program, and facilitating an artist resource center. Each aspect is given equal importance, reflecting Mallory's holistic approach to nurturing the arts. The gallery under her leadership showcases a range of local, regional, and national artists, while the education program offers studio based art education for all ages. The artist resource center, seamlessly integrated into Cultivate's framework, provides vital support for artists' professional development.

Before Cultivate, Mallory's professional journey includes significant roles in arts administration and curation, showcasing her depth of experience in the field. Her leadership style is defined by collaboration, with a strong emphasis on community engagement and fostering artistic dialogue. Her art practice is similarly based in the intersection of community and mutual care, noted by bodies of work that are deeply investigative and interdisciplinary.  

Outside of her professional commitments, Mallory is deeply engaged in personal pursuits that mirror her professional passion. She enjoys reading, gardening, and the art of slow cooking, and is a mother to a 15-year-old son. This personal connection to art extends beyond her professional life, reflecting her commitment to the arts in both spheres.

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Claudia Pimentel 

Claudia Pimentel (she/her) is a Peruvian-American illustrator, comic artist, and Education Director at Cultivate in Grand Rapids MI. She received her BFA in Digital Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design, after which she worked as a freelance illustrator, before returning to KCAD as an adjunct professor in the Digital Art and Design and Foundations Programs. 

Claudia has worked as an educator in Grand Rapids since 2017, in higher education and in public schools with special needs students, honing her focus on and understanding of neurodiversity, multiculturalism, and the importance of varied learning and teaching styles. At the heart of her role as an educator is the belief that all students should have access to enriching, comprehensive, and empowering education, facilitated with empathy and confidence by those guiding them. 

As an illustrator, her love of storytelling shapes her teaching methods and style, with her work a constant love letter to the process of The Narrative. She strives to deliver the message of the importance that stories have on the individual and collective identity, and that how we communicate within community and with ourselves fosters the growth that empowers us all.

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Corey Bordo

Director of Finance 

finance@cultivategrandrapids.org

bio coming soon

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Brian Criner

Brian Criner (he/him) is a video producer who has worked in the OTT broadcast sector in various large metro markets for over 15 years. He has collaborated with a plethora of organizations, corporations, governments, dignitaries, and celebrities, such as NPR, EPA, Stanford University, and Google.

 

Brian is also a musician and visual artist, working with video, pencil, and digital manipulation. He has released three singles under his moniker b.Lamrouex and is currently on creative sabbatical, working on new songs and a found footage edit titled “Do You Copy?”.

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Ryker Huizinga

Ryker Huizinga (he/him) is a creative marketing professional and art enthusiast based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Professionally, he leads a digital marketing team of multimedia storytellers and brand-builders. Personally, he explores interests in photography, video, music, creative writing, and graphic design.

Ryker studied communication at GVSU — focusing on media literacy — and is fascinated by how the stories we tell inform our understanding of the world around us, each other, and ourselves. 

He also curates the Murals of Grand Rapids Instagram account, spotlighting murals throughout the city and striving to create a space of appreciation, celebration, and support for local artists. 

Ryker is the Volunteer Coordinator at Cultivate and is passionate about creating engaging, meaningful opportunities for volunteers to get involved and connect with the arts community. 

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Hailey Ciesluk

Digital Media Coordinator

media@cultivategrandrapids.org

Hailey Ciesluk (she/they) is an illustrator and painter who creates art for the eclectic, the colorful, and the mildly chaotic. Based out of Grand Rapids, MI, Hailey got her BFA in 2020 (good timing) with an emphasis in Illustration from Grand Valley State University.

 

Her work explores the vital connection between creativity and self-care, and encourages viewers to see art as a healing medium. Hailey’s art practice is based in pointillism (i.e. an obscene amount of dots), though subject matters include mental health, literature and/or folklore, and her experience as a queer person.

 

Her work has been shared at events such as ArtPrize and the Festival for the Arts, and she has more recently joined Cultivate as their Digital Media Coordinator. Other passions of Hailey’s include art history, choreography, and exploring+protecting our beautiful planet.

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Veronica Polniak

Collage Club Facilitator

Veronica Polniak (she/her) passionately believes that engaging in hands-on creation is a reliable path to a life brimming with wholehearted joy. As the visionary behind Little Art Park, a community playgroup born during the pandemic, she advocates for local families to embrace creativity, playfulness, and outdoor activities.


Drawing from her background in hospitality and culinary arts, Veronica has mastered the art of hosting, infusing gatherings with her contagious enthusiasm that leaves hearts fulfilled.


Veronica approaches art with a playful spirit, regularly changing materials and encouraging everyone to tap into their inner artist through interactive material play.


Beyond organizing events, Veronica dedicates her time to raising her daughter, supporting her husband in managing his businesses, and indulging in outdoor running and visiting local libraries, parks, and thrift shops.


For a glimpse into her joyful journey, you can follow Veronica on instagram at @littleartparkgr 

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Bud Kibby

Photographer for Cultivate

Veronica Polniak (she/her) passionately believes that engaging in hands-on creation is a reliable path to a life brimming with wholehearted joy. As the visionary behind Little Art Park, a community playgroup born during the pandemic, she advocates for local families to embrace creativity, playfulness, and outdoor activities.


Drawing from her background in hospitality and culinary arts, Veronica has mastered the art of hosting, infusing gatherings with her contagious enthusiasm that leaves hearts fulfilled.


Veronica approaches art with a playful spirit, regularly changing materials and encouraging everyone to tap into their inner artist through interactive material play.


Beyond organizing events, Veronica dedicates her time to raising her daughter, supporting her husband in managing his businesses, and indulging in outdoor running and visiting local libraries, parks, and thrift shops.


For a glimpse into her joyful journey, you can follow Veronica on instagram at @littleartparkgr 

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