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
Founder and Director
Mallory Shotwell (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and educator. Her artistic practice operates at the intersection of art, storytelling, and community engagement. She lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mallory also serves as the founder and director of Cultivate.
Mallory has served as a longtime curator at Arts and Literature Laboratory, the Bubbler, Cultivate, and most recently a juror with the Lansing Art Gallery. Her research-based studio practice spans a variety of media, including photography, video, sound, writing, and interactive installation.
Mallory’s current body of work is an international visual study and articulation of the breast cancer experience. She features in-person and written interviews of people in various stages of breast cancer, the art created over this multi-year project utilizes the artifacts of cancer, large-scale paintings, alternative photographic processes, and walking audio tours.
Director of Education
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.
Director of Exhibitions firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie (Kae) Pershon (she/her) is a photographer, artist, and curator based in Grand Rapids, MI. Over her artistic career, Kae has worked in a variety of mediums, but is consistently drawn to digital media. Her work often captures the abstract and sublime, as she is fascinated with the way a combination of mundane objects can become beautiful. Much of her work focuses on identity, intersectionality, and her personal experiences of having ADHD and ASD and navigating in a world not built for her.
Kae’s practice is often impulsive and a matter of experimentation through trial and error, which lends well to the immediacy of digital photography. She strives to create work that is, on its surface, broadly approachable. Through her filtered perspectives, Kae’s work also creates a space to educate viewers about being neurodivergent.
Her work has been shown across the Great Lakes region, including the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, the Grand Valley State University Art Gallery, and the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.
Her recent work is an ongoing series, titled (less), a photography exhibit that focuses on representing ADHD symptoms through different photographic styles. Thus far, she has exhibited three collections in the series, time(less) which addressed time blindness, and cease(less) which discussed emotional dysregulation, and mind(less) which deals with the ephemeral nature of memory and ADHD.
Director of Operations
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?”.
Arielle Creps (she/her) has worked in the non-profit sector for nearly ten years, focused on helping organizations develop sustainable avenues of support through volunteerism, intentional relationship building, and traditional fundraising efforts.
Arielle holds a BA in Art History and Visual Culture with a specialization in Museum Studies and a BA in Anthropology with a minor in Geography from Michigan State University. Additionally, she is a current graduate student in the Arts, Cultural Management, and Museum Studies program at MSU.
Arielle is excited to serve as Cultivate's Development Advisor, overseeing our fundraising efforts.
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.
Digital Media Coordinator
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.