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Our Teaching Faculty

Education is the center of what we do at Cultivate.  As a team of artists and educators, our goal is to ignite children's passion for fine art through superior teaching. Through one-on-one, small group, and differentiated instruction, our faculty members know and appreciate each student's unique interests, strengths, goals, and multiple learning styles.

Our caring and supportive faculty is composed of certified art teachers and professional artists, more than 80% of whom possess advanced degrees and credentials in education and/or arts.

 

We approach our educational practice with a shared mission: to help every student grow and succeed, and to cultivate community, creativity, and growth. 

Paint

Devin DuMond

Photo and additional bio coming soon. 

Devin Dumond is a multi-disciplinary artist and entrepreneur who specializes in branding for small businesses and illustrations. Dumond teaches graphic design and illustration at Kendall College of Art and Design, and was selected as one of five artists to paint murals for the Gerald R. Ford airport.  

See article here. 

Their mural, “Twilight on the Rapids,” is inspired by their hometown of Grand Rapids and the variety of architecture found within the city. The piece features the structure of the city juxtaposed by the organic shapes of the Grand River and lush green landscape.

Devin DuMond is our Intro to Murals teacher.  

See Devin's design and creative business, Hatch

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Alec Zemper 

Alec Zemper (he/him) is a self-taught oil painter and teacher living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His work focuses primarily on representational portrait, figure, and landscape painting. Alec has spent the past decade traveling and teaching drawing and painting in many places, including Oregon, New York, Italy, and northern India. 

He currently works in the art restoration department of the Michigan State Capitol and spends summers as a drawing and painting instructor at Interlochen Center for The Arts in Northern Michigan. 

Alec has taught many adult courses, including Charcoal Drawing for Beginners, Introduction to Oil Painting, Oil Painting from Observation, Portrait Drawing, and Portrait Painting.  

Please see and support Alec's work at his website.  

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Shannon Mack 

Shannon Mack (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She describes the origins of her work being derived from “of-the-moment” presence, in effect, leaving behind time capsules of the human experience. The layers that exist within her work are attempts to meet the moment with sincerity, each a foundation for the next, until a resolve is revealed.

 

Mack’s most recent solo exhibition was held at Muse Gallery in Grand Rapids. She has shown work at Kendall College of Art and Design’s Alluvium Gallery as well as Mudhouse Art Residency in Crete, Greece. She holds a BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design.

Shannon Mack is our life drawing facilitator, and has also taught our adult Modern Collage class. 

Please see and support Shannon's work at her website.  

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Andy Budnick

Based in Grand Rapids, Andy Budnick (he/him) is a skilled comic artist, illustrator, and painter. He earned his Associate's Degree in Fine Art from Grand Rapids Community College, followed by a Bachelor's Degree in Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design. Throughout his academic career, he consistently made the President’s List and graduated with Academic Honors in 2009.

Andy's artistic range includes a variety of illustrations and fine art paintings, but his primary passion is traditional comic art illustration. As a quintessential 90’s kid, he was deeply influenced by the early 90’s comics boom, a pivotal era in the industry. He admires artists like Jim Lee and Andy Kubert, who took comic art in new and exciting directions, as well as those with a more traditional style, providing him with a blend of old and new school comic art influences.

Combining his love for Renaissance art and human figure studies with the diverse content and styles from this era, he aims to incorporate a contemporary aesthetic with traditional fine art and illustration techniques in his figures and backgrounds. He strives to create art that is both modern and reflective of classic comic art, appealing to a broad audience. He focuses on achieving proportionate and realistic appearances in his work, avoiding overly stylized looks.

Andy has achieved notable success, with his art being selected for review by Marvel Comics on multiple occasions and chosen for poster art at various comic conventions throughout the state. His contributions to comic books include interior art for "Big Jack" and cover art for "God Says Hi". Beyond comic art, Andy has also painted murals around Grand Rapids and created storyboards for films shot in the city. He is currently working on a three-issue supernatural/horror adventure comic, expected to be released in late 2024.

Andy teaches our teen and adult comics courses. 

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Maya James

Maya James (she/her) is an artist, writer, creator, educator, and activist based in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area. Her works center around feminism, anti-racism, collective economics and her experience as a cross-cultural black American.  James is a member of For(bes) the Culture and the recipient of the Underdog award in Artprize for her Black Femme Rider Waite Taurus collection in 2022.

 

As an artist, James’ works have been exhibited all over the United States, including but not limited to Artprize 2018 at the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives (which won best juried venue) and 2021 at the Fountain Street Church and a sponsored mural in Calder Plaza, Black on the Block in Los Angeles and Washington DC, the Dennos Museum, the Black Arts and Cultural Center and the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. Maya was the first black female recipient of the National Arab American Museum City Hall Art Space Residency in 2019, and has been a speaker at numerous events on the importance of black liberation in arts and media.

 

She is author and illustrator of Maamoul Press’s graphic novel “LUKUMI”, a story of the importance of black female solidarity, friendship, loss, and faith.

Maya teaches elementary art courses. 

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Danielle Benson-Fennell

Danielle Benson-Fennell is an art teacher/artist. She has been teaching at Mona Shores High School in Muskegon for 24 years.

 

She lives in Grand Rapids and have a studio in my home for metalsmithing. She and her husband have a small business for metalsmithing called "Grand Metal Designs".  She took up this endeavor as a student back in 1990s at WMU and fell in love working with copper.  

 

She is a haphazard gardener and enjoy the out-of-doors most of our 4 seasons.  She loves cats and traveling and everything about the Michigan lakeshore!

Danielle teaches adult courses and leads many teen courses, including our upcoming AP Art Studio art program. 

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Gail Long

Gail Long (she/her) is an artist whose current work explores the natural world through textiles.

Gail received her BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, and her MA from Grand Valley State University.

 

She has participated in both virtual and in-person exhibitions, and her work has been featured in multiple publications, including Create Magazine, The Huts Magazine, and Painting Our World. 

Gail teaches our fiber and textiles courses for K-12 students and adults, including Introduction to Fiber Arts, Textile Collage, Sustainable Mending, Botanical Embroidery, Freeform Embroidery, Mini Loom Weaving, and more. 

Please visit and support Gail's work at her website. 

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Natalie Lewandowski

Natalie Lewandoski (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist and art educator who works with paper collages, illustrations, and clay. She received a BFA with a concentration in ceramics, and an art education certification from Northern Michigan University.

 

Natalie believes art is an avenue into all subjects, and that art enriches our daily lives. She teaches art to add depth, find connections to the natural world, explore identity, and provide hands-on experiences. Natalie delights in providing resources to families outside the classroom or studio space by creating newsletters and social media posts containing resources and topics of discussion.

 

Natalie’s favorite part of teaching is being surprised by the intuitive aesthetic and design choices students make, especially by those who have yet to hone gathered skills. She enjoys encouraging students to follow their natural knowing and continue to listen to their own unique vision and understanding. Teaching students to be nimble in their creativity and problem solving is one of her greatest joys as an educator.

 

The themes found in her artwork are self-care and life experiences/memories of family and friends, nostalgia, simple joys, textures/patterns, and abstraction of organic shapes found in nature. Her work is extremely tactile and layered. She describes her work as, "unapologetically wholesome." She lives and works out of her home pottery studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two rowdy aussie dogs.

Natalie is our lead teacher, and leads many of the teen courses and elementary classes including but not limited to painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and printmaking. 

Please visit and support Natalie's work at their website. 

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Aidan Donahue

Aidan Donahue (he/him) is an educator and artist who is passionate about growth through creative expression. Aidan has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California - Los Angelos in Sociology and Economics, and a Masters of Science and Education from John Hopkins University, and was also named the Secondary English Special Education Resident of the Year. Having taught multiple ages and subjects, he cultivates inclusive environments where artists of all backgrounds use their new skills to take risks.

 

An abstract artist and former educator, Aidan paints every day to nurture his wellbeing. His work is driven by his intuition, making it a highly sensory and tactile experience. This is reflected in his mixed media usage and bodily reference within portraits, figures, and anatomy studies. Above all though, his work centers on color as a means for understanding and imagining.

 

His expressive abstract style focuses on color, mark-making, words, and the human body; this work was exhibited at his shows "Contradictions" at the Aggregate 136 Gallery and "Abstract Fiction" at ArtPrize. When not painting or teaching, he enjoys reading, gardening, and good conversation. 

Aidan teaches elementary courses, and many of the adult Starting from Scratch series courses, including but not limited to Starting from Scratch: Art Materials Survey and Watercolor. 

See and support Aidan's work at his website 

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