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Announcing Resident Artists and Curators for 2013

Jan 07, 2013 By Rebecca Testrake

Spark and Echo Arts is pleased to announce two wonderful groups of artists that will be joining the Spark and Echo Arts team this year. In addition to our staff we will be welcoming a team of active, high-quality artists to be Curators and Resident Artists in 2013. Resident Artists will create work for each of our six themes during the year, while curators select the artists that we feature each week of the year and curate submissions.

Resident Artists

431.180-150x150.jpg#asset:3273Nicora Gangi (Visual Art) was born in Indiana in 1952 and was educated at the Hartford Art School (Connecticut) Montclair State College (Montclair, New Jersey) and Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York) (BFA 1974 and MFA 1976). She was a professor of art at Syracuse University for 29 years. She now resides in New York City. Ms. Gangi’s work has been featured in such publications as Artist Magazine, Pastel Artist International, CMYK, American Artist Magazine, International Artist Magazine and many others. Her work is featured on the cover of several poetry journals including The Comstock Review’s Winter 2008 national poetry journal. In 2011 she was an award winner from the Pastel Journal 100 Competition. She is also a recipient of the Harris Popular Award from the Memorial Art Galleryvin Rochester, N.Y., the 2005 Grand Prize from The Pastel Journal, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award in 2008 among others. Nicora Gangi has lectured regionally and nationally as a visiting artist at colleges and universities and artist’s guilds on such varied topics as, “Spiritual Symbolism in Art” and “Personal Expression Through The Pastel Medium.” Recently she taught for Gordon College in Orvieto, Italy.

emily_hazel_headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3275Emily Ruth Hazel (Poetry) is a New York City-based poet and writer whose work wrestles with themes of relationship and faith. As a believer in poetry that feels accessible and lived-in, she aims to capture the beauty, hope, and humor that can be found in everyday experiences. Emily enjoys cross-pollinating with artists of many disciplines and she has performed her work solo and collaboratively at numerous events. She has been awarded a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize in a national competition for emerging poets, and a collection of her poetry, Body & Soul (Finishing Line Press), was published as a finalist in the New Women’s Voices competition. Her poetry and prose have also appeared in Deep Waters (Outrider Press), Brown Alumni Magazine, Brio, The Mochila Review, The Francestown News, RedeemerWrites, and Creating Space. A graduate of Oberlin College’s Creative Writing Program, Emily has led creative writing workshops for youth at schools, libraries, and community centers in Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, and South Africa. She has also mentored underserved teens through Girls Write Now, a nonprofit dedicated to nurturing the next generation of women writers. A freelance editor and visual artist as well, she lives on the border of Brooklyn and Queens.

SparkAndEcho_resident_artist-150x150.jpg#asset:3277Spark & Echo (Music) is a band comprised of our Executive Directors, Jonathon Roberts and Emily Clare Zempel. Drawing from a classical background, and influenced by the pianism of Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds, the storytelling of Paul Simon, and the vocal harmonies of classic folk duos, Spark & Echo sings epic tales of love and adventure. Jonathon and Emily are Wisconsin natives who now find themselves in the South Bronx, living in a converted piano factory. There they craft songs with beautiful harmonies and diverse instrumentation led by Emily’s longtime companion Boris the Bassoon, with piano, accordion, clarinet and ukulele in tow. They bring forgotten poetry and wild stories from the Bible to city clubs and country corner churches: Visions of sparkling wheels in the sky, hunger and thirst, and legends of love as strong as death weave with memorable melodies and captivating rhythms. This band grows out of and raises funds for the non-profit Spark and Echo Arts which is illuminating the entire Bible through the arts, supporting diverse artists from NYC and beyond. Purchase their music here:


emily_adams_headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3279Emily SoRelle Adams (Dance) is a freelance dancer and teacher based in NYC. She studied dance at S.M.U.- Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, TX before dancing professionally with Ballet Austin and the Washington Ballet. Since moving to the city Emily has had the opportunity to perform with companies including the Metropolitan Opera, New Chamber Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and Rebecca Kelly Ballet. She has also had the chance to share her love of dance to students of all ages and levels. Emily currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband Kenyon and continues to seek out new artistic endeavors here in the city and beyond. She is excited join the Spark and Echo Arts Curators, after serving for a year as an Artistic Advisor.

elizabeth_dishman_headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3281Elizabeth Dishman (Dance) Originally from Colorado, Elizabeth began choreographing professionally in 1996 and earned her MFA in Choreography from The Ohio State University. In 2001 she founded Coriolis Dance Inc., a nonprofit modern dance company based in New York City, where her work has been presented at Triskelion Arts, BRIC Studio, Marjorie S. Dean Little Theatre, and 100 Grand, among other gracious venues. She has received numerous grants and fellowships in support of her work, and was honored in 2009 to be one of six choreographers selected nationwide to participate in BESSIE Award-winning Susan Marshall and Company’s inaugural summer workshop. In her work. Elizabeth seeks intersections between the abstract and theatrical, the universal and deeply personal, and credits/blames her husband and two young sons for most of her recent source

evan_mazunik_headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3282Evan Mazunik (Music) is a composer/performer raised on the prairies of Iowa and rooted in Queens, NY. Fluent in Soundpainting, a sign language for live composition, Mazunik is composer/director for ZAHA, his experimental chamber ensemble. His compositions include commissions for jazz band, chorus, theater, dance, and film, and his work was featured in a documentary for the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Mazunik has performed with Anthony Braxton, Walter Thompson, Carla Bley, Robin Eubanks, Danielson, and Sufjan Stevens, and has played at creative music venues such as Roulette, The Stone, Barbes, and Galapagos. He received a Bachelors degree in piano performance and a Masters in jazz studies from the University of Iowa and has taught improvisation at the University of Indiana and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Mazunik currently serves as music director at Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, where he infuses ancient liturgy with contemporary innovation.

jonathon-roberts-CRW_9414a-Lo-Fi-velvet-crunchy-peeled_HEADSHOT.jpg#asset:3293Jonathon Roberts (Music) is a composer and performer from Wisconsin living in New York City. His compositions range from solo piano/vocal pieces to large ensemble works, electronic music and theatrical sound designs, drawing from a classical background influenced by pop, jazz, and musical theater. He performs in NYC and across the continent with Spark & Echo and The Renaldo The Ensemble. He has an ongoing goal of setting the entire Bible to music and has toured the US with the multimedia theater work Project Paul, a piece he created with Scott Baye and Christy Bagasao.

emily_hazel_headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3275Emily Ruth Hazel (Writing/Poetry) See Resident Artist bio above.

Shann_Ray_headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3291Shann Ray (Writing/Short Story) is the winner of the Subterrain Poetry Prize, the Crab Creek Review Fiction Prize, and the Ruminate Short Story Prize. He grew up in Montana and has lived on the Northern Cheyenne reservation, as well as in L.A., Alaska, Germany and Canada. He served as part of a group Fulbright project in leadership at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and as a visiting scholar for the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Center in Manila, the Philippines. He was nominated by the Inland Northwest Center for Writers for the Best New American Voicesanthology, and received a Pushcart nomination from McSweeney’s for his story The Great Divide which was also selected for the anthology The Better of McSweeney’s, Volume 2. His poetry was an open competition winner in the Best New Poetsseries. His collection of short stories, American Masculine, won the Bakeless Prize. Shann Ray lives with his wife and three daughters in Spokane, Washington, where he teaches leadership and forgiveness studies at Gonzaga University.

Michael_markham_Headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3290Michael Markham (Theater) is an actor/photographer/filmmaker based out of New York City. As an actor his favorite roles in New York include Platonov in The Spectacular Demise of Platonov at Shapiro Theater; Frizer in Christopher Marlowe’s Chloroform Dream at The Red Room, Giant in Giants at HERE; and The Singing Soldier inMother Courage and Her Children at The New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park. Film and television include Law and Order; Coda, Terminal Legacy, Unearthed, Game Theory, and Blind Date. Regionally he has performed in A Little Night Music, Hamlet, the title role in Julius Caesar, and The Ibsen Project: A Lonely Light. His photography has been featured in Skating Magazine, online at, and the international The InsideOut Project from Artist JR about which a documentary is due in 2013. As a filmmaker he has directed and produced several videos for Redeemer Presbyterian Church including two New Birth Portraits. His first Narrative short, completed in the summer of 2012 is waiting to hear from film festivals all around the country. Michael graduated from the Juilliard School Drama Division, and has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Acting from Washington University in St. Louis. Michael grew up in Montpelier, VT but has lived in 7 different states throughout his life. He currently resides in Central Harlem with his wife, Karen, and their 3 cats.

Zempel_shorthair_crop-150x150.jpg#asset:3292Emily Clare Zempel& (Theater) is an actor and musician based in New York City. She received her MFA in acting in 2007 from Brooklyn College, and has since been acting both in NYC and regionally. Favorite credits include Katherine in Love’s Labour’s Lost at Milwaukee Shakespeare, Ophelia in Hamlet at Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing at Roosevelt Shakespeare, and Wittenberg at Rep Stage, which was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award. She plays bassoon, ukulele, guitar, clarinet, and other assorted toys in Spark & Echo the Band and has co-created the original play Esther.

JeffreyLeiser_headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3297Jeffrey Leiser (Film) is a composer, screenwriter and sound editor. He started in 2001 with his brother Eric’s short film Autumn, moving on to compose original music and sound edit 23 short films and 3 feature films. In 2011, he won a Gold Medal for best use of music in a feature film [Glitch in the Grid] at; the Park City Film Festival. Jeffrey has released 11 albums through iTunes and CDBaby. As a colorist assistant for Technicolor, Jeffrey worked on hit TV Shows like USA’s White Collar and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, as well as feature films like The Town, Black Swan, and a host of other films and TV Spots. In 2007, Jeffrey graduated from Video Symphony, a Pro Tools accredited institute for post-production. He is the co-founder, with his brother Eric, of Albino Fawn Productions, an independent film company focused on exhibiting experimental, non-narrative, and/or spiritual works. He also wrote the screenplay Finding Infinity, a biopic about Georg Cantor, and Twilight Park, about a boy who gets the chance to live out his grandpa’s past memories.

charis_headshot-150x150.jpg#asset:3296Charis J. Carmichael Braun (Director of Visual Art) A painter, designer, instructor and arts administrator, Charis earned her MFA from the New York Academy of Art. She currently works at the Vytlacil Campus / Residency, teaches Art History at Felician College and is also the President of the Academy’s Alumni Association. In addition to her studio practice, Charis enjoys connecting people with opportunities, sharing information to strengthen communities, and creating culture. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally.