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Who We Are

Meridith McNeal

ART YARD BKLYN is led by Meridith McNeal. Meridith is a Brooklyn-based artist, educator, curator, arts administrator and hula hooper. Meridith has over 20 years of experience in the field of arts education. She has served as Director of Education at Rush Arts and as Curator and Director of Education at Rotunda Gallery (BRIC) in Brooklyn. She has served as Visiting Professor in the Art and Design Education Department at Pratt Institute, and has taught at the Brooklyn Museum and P.S.1 Museum of Contemporary Art. Meridith holds a BFA, an MFA, and New York State teaching certification. She has curated over 90 exhibitions and is on the artist advisory board of Kentler International Drawing Space; she has also served on the advisory board the Coney Island Museum of and the Curatorial Committee of the Brooklyn Public Library. Meridith regularly exhibits her artwork in the United States and abroad. Her work is represented by Figureworks Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.

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Managing Director
Dennis Buonagura

Before his tenure as Education Coordinator at Rush Arts, Dennis worked with the Metropolitan Opera Association overseeing Quality Assurance and Staff Development. He is an active volunteer with Central Park PAWS (a program of the Central Park Conservancy), current President of the program’s Steering Committee and serves as Chairperson for their annual event MY DOG LOVES CENTRAL PARK COUNTRY FAIR, attended by over 8000 New Yorkers and their dogs.  He reads and writes in Braille and is an expert knitter.

Teaching Artist
Golnar Adili 

Iranian artist Golnar Adili holds a Master’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan, where she reviewed the Thesis Aware and the recipient of the2006  Booth Traveling Fellowship to Tehran. She the recipient of numerous prestigious artists residencies including Rockefeller Foundation for the Arts in Bellagio, Italy; SmackMellon; The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown; The MacDowell Colony; The Lower East Side Printshop; the Women’s Studio Workshop; and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Golnar exhibits frequently and her work has been on view at Nurture Art in Brooklyn; the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles and the Cue Art Foundation in NYC. Golnar has been the recipient of several artists grants including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York Foundation of the Arts, Puffin Foundation and the Urban Artists Initiative. In addition to ART YARD she has taught at PS 18, Spence and St. Ann’s.

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Teaching Artist
Claudia Alvarez 

Claudia was born in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, raised in California and now lives in New York City. Working in ceramics and painting and drawing, Claudia’s art explores identity through concepts of memory portraiture, delving into the way social, political, and psychological structures impact our behavior and personal interactions. Her artwork is widely exhibited in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Japan. Claudia is the recipient of many artists grants and artists residencies. In 2017 she was On-site Live in Las Galerías at El Museo Del Barrio in New York City. Claudia is Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute and Lecturer at New York University.

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Teaching Artist
Flávia Berindoague

received her B.F.A. from Escola Guignard in Brazil, a Post Baccalaureate in Contemporary Art from Universidade do Estado de Minas Gerais, Brazil, and an M.F.A. degree from Montclair State University. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she is included in public collections such as Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Campinas em São Paulo and Centro Cultural de Curvelo in Brazil. Her work address subjects like collective memory and oblivion. Born in Brazil, a country with a history of political and social instability, she uses metafictional narratives as a way to visualize the tensions of postmodern society. Her sculptures, installations and photographs articulate memory as a displacement of past into present

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Teaching Artist
Cecile Chong

Cecile Chong is a multimedia artist working in painting, sculpture and installation in which she layers materials, identities and histories. She was awarded fellowships and residencies including Block Gallery/ AIM Artist Hub, BRIC Media Arts, Queens Council on the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Center, Wave Hill Winter Workspace, the Lower East Side Printshop, MASS MoCA Studios, Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, The Center for Book Arts, Socrates Sculpture Park, AIM - Bronx Museum, Urban Artist Initiative NYC, Aljira Emerge and the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant. Her work has been exhibited locally and internationally. She received an MFA from Parsons the New School for Design, an MA in education from Hunter College, and a BA in Studio Art from Queens College. Her early schooling took place in Ecuador, Macau and China. Cecile is fluent in Spanish, English and conversant in Cantonese.

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Teaching Artist
Richard Estin

Richard Estrin’s love for art making and his love for teaching are thoroughly intertwined. In his classes Richard aims to create an environment of trust and comfort, where play, sharing and laughter support rigor and high standards.  Richard has 10 years of experience teaching at the university level, and has worked with all ages, from pre K to older adults. Richard states: “Like art making itself, the classroom offers exciting possibilities for growth, learning and deep satisfaction through the challenging process of developing technical, analytical and social skills.”

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Teaching Artist & CREATE Program Manager
Sarah Gumgumji

Sarah Gumgumji was born in Saudi Arabia. She moved to New Jersey and graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a major in Computer Art and Design and minor in Psychology and communication degree. Has an interior design certificate from New York University. Sarah was an art education volunteer and teaching artist for Rush Arts. She is currently volunteering and teaching for ART YARD BKLYN at PS6 in Jersey City and at 107 Bowers Gallery.

Sarah has a strong interest in painting, drawing, illustration as well as other diverse media. She also worked in photography, digital arts, knitting, and pottery. Other than visual art making, she is also passionate about fashion, meditation, travel, living a healthy lifestyle and food blogging. 

Sarah believes that art defines our identity. Sarah sees art as a way for us to heal, to connect with others, raise our society and environment and to always be inspired. Her work has been exhibited at 107 Bowers Gallery, Fairleigh Dickinson University Art Gallery, Fairleigh Dickinson University library, the gallery at PS 6.


Teaching Artist
Candy Heiland

Candy Heiland lives and works in NYC.  She earned her BFA from Ball State University with a BFA in Fiber Arts and a double minor in drawing and photography.  Using black paper and oil pastels, Candy is able to capture the texture of weaving while exploring images of color, light and the subculture of Coney Island and New York City at night.  Candy has worked in set design for the film industry since 1985.

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Teaching Artist
Jane Huntington

Born in Washington, D.C., Jane Huntington grew up in New York and Connecticut. She attended the School of Visual Arts and Art Center College of Design as an undergraduate, and received her MFA from Pratt Institute. Originally a painter and printmaker, she started taking photographs in the 90s. Her work has appeared in Vibe, Rolling Stone, Details, Blaze, Newsweek, Esquire, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, and several other publications. In addition to photography, she also works on video, audio, and installation projects. Currently living in Brooklyn, she has won numerous awards, and has shown her work at Hot Wood Arts, Harpers Books, Pratt Institute, Art Center College of Design, Hunter College, School of Visual Arts, Projects, and 200 Schermerhorn through the Downtown Brooklyn Development Corp. At the International Center for Photography, she has conducted several large format, lighting, printing and photoshop tutorials, as well as giving presentations and critiques as a visiting artist.

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Teaching Artist
Reg Lewis

Teaching artist Reg Lewis is a native New Yorker who specializes in ink intense portraits & abstract landscapes he affectionately calls “playgrounds.” He has taught art to students ranging from the ages 3-70 with his highly intuitive approach. He also currently teaches English in the NYC Department of Education and lives in Harlem.

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Teaching Artist
Glendalys Medina

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx, Glendalys Medina is an interdisciplinary artist who received her MFA from Hunter College. Medina’s work has been exhibited at such notable venues as The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Kitchen, The New Museum, PAMM, Artists Space, Museum of Contemporary Art in Vigo Spain, the Bronx Museum of Art and El Museo del Barrio. She was awarded a SIP fellowship at EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in 2016, a BACK IN FIVE MINUTES artist residency at El Museo Del Barrio in 2015, a residency at Yaddo in 2018 and 2014, the Rome Prize in Visual Arts in 2013, a NYFA Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Art in 2012, and the Bronx Museum Artist in the Marketplace residency in 2010.

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Teaching Artist
Felix Plaza

Felix Plaza was born in Puerto Rico, raised in Spanish Harlem, and has lived for over 30 years on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He has been a practicing and exhibiting artist primarily focused on printmaking and painting for over 50 years. For more than 20 years Felix has been a Keyholder at the Lower East Side Printshop. Felix worked at the Williamsburg branch of Brooklyn Public Library for over 25 years as a children’s specialist, providing library programs and outreach for the community. Felix is fluent in Spanish, English, Italian, French, and conversant in Russian.

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Teaching Artist
Claude Vlaud Peralta

Teaching Artist Claude Viaud Peralta was born and raised in Queens, NY. His family hails from the Dominican Republic and he is bilingual in Spanish and English. Along with fellow ART YARD Artist Vera Tineo he was a finalist for the open call for community murals for NYC Health + Hospitals’. He attended Queens College. Claude tells us: “I love to create in different mediums. I believe art can liberate us in many ways and allow us to learn from one another. I also believe that anyone has the potential to make something great. Therefore I am not a fan of hearing "I dOnT KnOw HoW tO dRaW". Claude enthusiastically looks forward to teaching ART YARD students of all ages!

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Teaching Artist
Rachel Rath

Rachel Rath is a Brooklyn native, born in Dumbo when it was still an enclave for artists.  One of her earliest memories is of her father teaching her one point perspective using her Thomas the Tank engine toy.  She still draws every day, ending each night with an all-ink self-portrait drawn in front of a mirror.  She has degrees in Fine Art from both New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and London's Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.  She was one of the founding teachers for Rush Little Kids, a program focusing on art education for children aged 2-6.  

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Teaching Artist & Video Programs Manager
Vera (Vee) Tineo

Vee was born and raised in Brooklyn.   For junior high school she attended The Young Women’s Leadership School (which was at that time one of our partnership schools) and met Meridith when her class visited Figureworks Gallery to view Meridith’s exhibition Liar, Liar. She earned a Gordon Parks Foundation Scholarship to support her college studies as she attended Clarkson University and then transferred to Hampshire College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in a self-directed art focused major. She has worked in many artistic mediums including drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and metalworking. Working as an intern with ART YARD has allowed Vee to continue making art in a vibrant artistic community and to dip her toes into teaching with her lesson “The City That Moves” presented during Summer Session 2019.  Vee is fluent in Spanish and English.

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Teaching Artist
Fatima Traore

Fatima was born and raised in Bronx, NY. She discovered her passion for visual art in Junior High School. She graduated from Virginia State University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. While getting her education, she studied abroad for a semester in South Africa at University of Johannesburg. Through her college experience she became most passionate about painting and traveling. Fatima is a figurative artist working primarily in acrylic and watercolor. She was a volunteer teacher at Bronxworks in the Bronx and has painted several murals for in disadvantaged schools and orphanages abroad. Beginning in the summer of 2017 Fatima worked as a Teaching Artist with Rush Education Programs. She loves teaching children art skills and techniques that will help them express themselves visually. 

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Teaching Artist
Quentin Williamston

Brooklyn native Quentin Williamston earned his Masters Degree in Architecture from Hampton University in Virginia. He was a recipient of the Gordon Parks Centennial Scholarship which supported his college studies. Quentin enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Rush Arts Education Programs -- beginning as a young student, progressing to Intern and finally working as a Teaching Artist. He has made a commitment to bringing thought-provoking and inspiring art education to underserved youth. In the summer of 2018 Quentin traveled to Thailand to teach English in several elementary schools. In his own art practice Quentin enjoys working with watercolor, pen and ink. His artwork explores an intersection of abstraction and architectural wonder. Quentin’s artwork was included all annual Rush Education Exhibitions from 2005-2018 at Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn and Rush Arts Gallery In Chelsea. In 2017 Quentin’s work was included in Notes from Abroad at 107 Bowers Gallery in Jersey City, NJ

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Kyra Novick

Kyra was born and raised in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.  She has a life-long passion for art and animals.  Kyra graduated from Mary McDowell Friends School.  She earned a Gordon Parks Foundation Scholarship to support her college studies as she attended SUNY Oswego and is currently enrolled at Brooklyn College.  Kyra is a licensed Squirrel Rehabilitator and has interned with many veterinarians on the city specializing in the treatment of exotic animals and companion animals, and at The Bronx Zoo.  She developed her excellent skills in Early Childhood Education as an intern with Rush Little Kids.  Collage is Kyra’s specialty in which her focus is her use of color, texture, and whimsy.  She exhibited her work regularly in the annual Rush Education Exhibitions at Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn and Rush Arts Gallery in Chelsea.  Her collaged poster was used in the Kenneth Cole Art For Good public art campaign to bring awareness to Gay Rights and AIDS activism

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Leslie Ramirez

Leslie was born in Mexico and raised in the Bronx. She graduated with honors from Essex Street Academy. She was awarded a Gordon Parks Foundation Scholarship to support her college studies as she attended Bronx Community College where she received her Associates Degree. She is currently enrolled at John Jay College of Criminal Justice majoring in Criminal Justice with a certification in Spanish legal translation and interpretation services. Leslie is dedicated to the practice of social justice and promoting rights for immigrant populations. She approaches that work through her educational pursuits as well as in her artwork.  Leslie was a panelist on the Gordon Parks Dialogues presented by NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Pratt Institute School of Art in 2017.  She is bilingual in Spanish/English.

Web Consultant
Roger Dapiran

Roger is a Brooklyn-based web consultant with over 30 years experience in media production and design. He has worked extensively in the as a designer and production professional for the custom publishing divisions of The New York Time, Forbes, American Express and Time Inc. As a web and digital magazine producer, his clients have included IBM's Beyond Computing, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure as well as designing and producing digital magazines for private clients. He is excited to bring his skills and expertise to ART YARD BKLYN and their students as they enter a new phase - their Time of Transformation. 

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Video Consultant
& ART YARD Documentarian
Scott Greenfield

Scott is a Queens-based video producer and editor, and has a strong passion for both storytelling and collaboration. Scott currently works on the children's TV show, Wonderama, and whose work has also appears on VH-1, The Food Network, TruTV, Lifetime, and HGTV. He has also worked on numerous narrative and documentary film projects, and plenty of traditional corporate work.