Sobia Ahmad

Sobia Ahmad has two strong passions – art and mental health – and she is always looking for ways to combine them! Sobia is a public health worker and an interdisciplinary artist based in the Washington D.C. area whose practice focuses on autobiographical and conceptual videos, photographs, and mixed media paintings that explore themes of identity and belonging. She currently balances her time between developing mental health programming with the Montgomery County government and her studio art practice. She holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maryland College Park: B.A. in Studio Art and B.S. in Behavioral and Community Health.   

Sobia believes art can help enrich one’s quality of life and allow people to connect with themselves and a wider community. She is very interested in the positive effects of art on mental wellness and has led several art workshops on the topic at the University of Maryland campus. She teaches Conceptual Collaging and mixed media Art & Wellness courses at VisArts.

Sobia’s art has been included in the Sadat Art for Peace permanent collection, and has been displayed in several shows in Washington D.C. metro area, Chicago, California, Texas, Colorado as well as in London, UK. Her work can be found at www.sobiaahmad.com

Michelle Allen

Michelle Allen manages a painting pottery studio in Fulton, Maryland. She enjoys creating art herself but also finds meaning in facilitating that experience for others. Michelle paints custom work for customers and shop promotions. She teaches canvas painting and surface decoration workshops in Fulton. She earned a B.S. in Business Communication from Stevenson University and enjoys working in small business.

She teaches Cocktails & Canvas for VisArts.

Shirin Badie

Born and raised in the historical city of Isfahan in Iran, Shirin began painting at a very young age and carried her love for the arts, in particular watercolors, throughout her busy professional and personal life.

Her paintings often reflect her connection, respect, love, and appreciation for nature as it is the essence of nature that holds, binds and brings about compassion for humans. When painting nature, fresh ideas flow from our minds into our hands, and allow us to express the power of life through art. This positive energy has peaceful and lightening effects.

In her relaxing watercolor classes, and workshops that include meditation, guided meditation, and brain management techniques, she encourages her students to use art to nurture their inner creative voice and to escape from everyday stress to a richer and balanced life.

Shirin has earned recognition and awards on a regional level and her works have been selected in local groups and solo art exhibits in Washington, DC Metro area. The proceeds from her work empowers those in need.

To see her work visit:



Nanette Bevan

Nanette Bevan is a glass artist with more than 22 years of experience in warm glass.  She has participated in 20 juried shows over the past 12 years in addition to teaching warm glass and she currently owns four kilns!

The images and colors seen in her work reflect time spent living in Japan, Iran and New England and her warm glass is alternately intricately detailed and deceptively simple. Nan’s current explorations include work in reactive glass and the possibilities in manipulating transparent glass.

Nan has a BA and MA in English, which she has found more useful than she expected when teaching glass. She enjoys finding new ways to challenge her glass students and creates many classes for experienced and novice glass enthusiasts.

Her work can be found on www.nanettebevan.com and www.nanettebevan.etsy.com

Xiaosheng Bi

Xiaosheng Bi is a native of Xian, China where he worked as a graphic designer before earning his bachelor’s and masters degree at the College of Art at in Beijing, China.  After teaching ceramics at Qinghua University for eight years, Xiaosheng immigrated to Chicago where he continued to teach ceramics and develop his own studio work.  In 2004 he moved to the Washington, D.C. area and now lives in Derwood, Maryland and teaches at Montgomery  College and is a Studio Artist at VisArts as well as teaching Intermediate Ceramics.

Xiaosheng’s work reflects his traditional Chinese influences, yet is infused with a contemporary aesthetic.  Suffused with gentle colors, his delicate forms shine with the brilliant translucency of bone china porcelain.  Traditional Chinese motifs such as bamboo leaves or lotus blossoms are painted with dynamic, nearly abstract strokes.  Through his life and work, Xiaosheng has formed a bridge between the introspective sensibilities of Chinese culture and the dynamism of modern Western culture.

To see more of his work: www.xiaoshengbi.com

Sunju Choi

Sun Ju Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea and received her B.A. in Fine Art from King Sejong University in 1990 and her M.A. and M.F.A. in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004.

With more than 30 years of teaching and painting experience, Sun Ju continues to expand her primary portfolios of landscape, animals and nature. Her media include watercolor, oil painting, pencil, color pencil and acrylic painting.

Sun Ju also uses her background in graphic design to produce her own children’s books, posters and brochures. Her independently designed book are on permanent display at the Memorial Library in the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sun Ju currently teaches watercolor for adults and children’s  drawing classes (Dare to Draw) and delights in introducing her students to a wide range of media.

Tom Cleveland

Currently an art teacher, artist, and father, Thomas Cleveland fell in love with drawing and painting through trips to our amazing local art museums. He earned his bachelor’s degree in painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Tom has taught ages and skill levels of all kinds. His focus is on distilling drawing and painting into simple, fun steps that anyone could learn. Once a foundation is in place, paintings take on a life of their own.  It is a joy to see each individual’s world open up on a canvas at VisArts.

Emily Eisinger

Emily Eisinger earned her BFA from The University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP). Emily joined VisArts in 2016 as an instructor and professional artist in the Pop Up space on Maryland Ave. She teaches weekly classes, seasonal workshops, private art parties, and corporate team building art events. Emily also recently completed a semester teaching art to the after school Community Companions Group through Catholic Charities. 

Alyssa Fernandez

Alyssa was born and raised in New Jersey and currently lives in Baltimore. She received her BS in ceramics from Towson University in 2017 and creates functional ware, both wheel-thrown and hand-built.

She is inspired by nature, sexuality, and gender and explores these topics in different mediums. Her sculpture is largely conceptual and in a world where discussion around sexuality and gender can still be somewhat taboo, she chooses to create works that are a catalyst for conversation surrounding these topics. 

Alyssa also enjoys photography, documenting the places she travels and people she meets along the way. 

Emily Fucello

Emily Fucello has a lifelong interest in art. She received her BFA from Frostburg State University in 2011 and joined VisArts in early 2012. She teaches painting, drawing and mixed media classes for children and stained glass classes for adults. Emily also teaches multi-media classes to adults and teenagers with autism at VisArts as part of the Accessible Arts program. 

Janet Greer

Janet Greer has made nurturing creativity and curiosity part of her mantra for life. She has taught children and adults art and ceramics for many years in a variety of settings.  She has an MA from Hood College and is currently in their MFA program. Her art history studies have impacted her belief in the importance Art as a unifier in today’s society.  Janet  is a lifelong lover of all things creative. From a young age, making art became her emotional voice and source of empowerment. This continues with her today as she interacts with children, youth and adults alike. Her work is infused with reflections of family and the gift of nature we are blessed with as a human family. She hopes to inspire peace and celebrate unity amidst the chaos of today’s society.

Janet is an Adjunct Professor at Hood College, Frederick, Maryland where she teaches Ceramics.  She loves teaching at VisArts where she is able to continue exploring the endless possibilities Ceramics offers.  She is the Gallery coordinator for the Potter’s Guild of Frederick, where she displays and sells her work.

To view her work, please visit her website at   janetgreerceramics.com

Brandy Gruner

Brandy Gruner is an accomplished and multifaceted artist and graphic designers. With a focus on nature and the environment around her, Brandy uses oil painting to evoke emotion and promote new perspectives of even the humblest of subject matters. She received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2002 and has worked and studied in Paris, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Houston. She currently lives and works in Maryland, along with her husband, daughter, and array of animals, all of whom provide endless creative inspiration. 


Sharon Gude

Sharon Gude is a native of Montgomery County, growing up in Bethesda and spending a large part of her childhood on her grandparent's farm in Rockville. It was there that she learned to appreciate the natural beauty of the Maryland landscape.

She attended Moore College of Art, University of Maryland, and earned her MFA in painting from American University.

Sharon has lived in New York City, Washington DC, Delaware and West Viginia. She currently resides in Rockville. She has created a large body of work which includes oil paintings of cityscapes and landscapes from these locales.

Recently she has been experimenting with abstraction, making canvases of geometric compositions, texture and bold colors.

Sharon has taught art to students of all ages in the Washington Meto area for over thirty years.she has shown her work in New York, Delaware, West Virginia, and widely in the DC area.

Lamine Hamdad

My short stay and visits in Strasbourg, France has left a major mark and influenced my artistic sensitivity to a more Gothic and European art style.

Drawing has been a passion I practiced since I could hold a pencil. I am self-taught and perfected my craft throughout years of practicing in drawing Manga style, landscapes, animals and insects. In 2008 I took a capstone class of drawing taught at the George Washington University School. It helped me learn more professional approaches to present my work and share it with the rest of the world.

My drawings have been featured in a myriad of exhibits and venues such as The Art League in the Torpedo Factory, MOCA DC, LATELADC, The French Alliance, L2 Lounge, and many more.

You may find samples of my body of work on my web site: www.lhartek.com/drawings 

Ryan Harding

Raised in Las Vegas but nurtured in the rolling hills of Virginia, Ryan Harding realized his affinity for art at a young age. His early career flourished in the Shenandoah Valley with Six Regional Gold Key awards, ultimately culminating in a National Gold Key awarded by the Scholastic Arts in Carnegie Hall. After high school, Ryan chose to pursue a serious art career and attended Maryland Institute College of Art for one year before realizing that his talents needs a more personal focus. His intentions to a major in Fine Arts were overshadowed by his need to step beyond the classroom and soak in the studios of working artists. His sketches matured with swaths of color when art became an intimate medium as he apprenticed under Caleb O'Connor. The two stepped through the front doors of Tuscaloosa's new Federal Courthouse with immortalizing brush strokes, painting a region's vibrant history within its judicial halls. Upon completion of the sixteen murals Ryan returned to Virginia to work on his own art, aspiring to imbue the same dedication and technique he has learned along the way.

Ann Hobart

Ann Hobart has been a professional potter and teacher of pottery for more than 40 years. Ann is an Adjunct Professor at Hood College, Frederick, Maryland in the Ceramics Program, where she teaches Handbuilidng, Wheelthrowing, Raku and Surface Decoration.

Ann created the Potters’ Guild of Frederick in 2007, which is a non-profit educational organization that holds monthly meetings and operates a gallery in downtown Frederick featuring the work of its members.

Ann’s thrown, functional work is influenced strongly by English Country pottery, but her love of surface decoration has lead her work in entirely new directions that she delights in sharing with her students.


Michelle Izquierdo

Michelle Izquierdo is a locally- based artist who was born and raised in Montgomery County and earned her BFA from the University of Maryland.

Michelle possesses a unique eye for color and draws inspiration from the vibrant images and different textures observed in every day life. Michelle believes art should be an interactive experience and she strives to create art that is engaging and multi-dimensional and encourages viewers to touch her art in the hope it will stimulate other senses and enrich the overall experience.

Michelle regularly creates color-inspired and upbeat paintings for commission. She’s had the pleasure of showcasing her artwork throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., New York and London. To feed her artistic hunger, Michelle teaches Cocktails and Canvas classes at VisArts.

Hiral Joshi

Hiral Joshi was born and raised in India, and moved to the US some years back. She graduated with a degree in science and then Computer Animation Design & Multimedia, for over 10 years she has worked as a Visualizer.

Today she is far away from computer-aided creativity — instead she ventures out into the world of imagination and abstraction. Her visual artwork consists of acrylics, watercolors, and mixed media.

Her water media portrayals combine playful spontaneity with an exquisite sense of drawing, colors and textures. Her work is about the colors, abstraction, beautiful birds, animals bold brush strokes, textures and loosening up emotions.

She has exhibited in numerous group and solo shows and have received awards too.

Hiral has taught dozens of creative workshops and shared her passion for Acrylic and mixed media with hundreds of students over a period of years. 

To see her work visit:  http://hiraljoshifineart.com/

Ellen Lafferty

Ellen Lafferty teaches both adult and children’s classes at VisArts. She also teaches in Montgomery County Public Schools, St. Joseph Regional Catholic School in Beltsville and Create Art Center in Silver Spring. Prior to becoming an art teacher, Ellen worked in the travel industry honing her event planning, communications, marketing and organizational skills. As a college student Ellen studied art history in Rome, Italy through Temple University’s study abroad program and she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art with an emphasis on History from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

At VisArts Ellen teaches Cocktails and Canvas, Wine Glass Painting, Wine and Weave, Mosaics, Open Paint and Finishing Touches.  She also teaches children’s class throughout the year and at VisArts camp in the summer.

Kate Lanxner

From the age of six, Kate Lanxner knew she was going to be an artist. Now an art teacher for children, teens and adults, a printmaker, and an illustrator (books, magazines, newspapers), Kate has also completed calligraphy projects for clients, outdoor signs, and has co-produced a children’s neighborhood newspaper with her daughter. The South End Good News was published by and for kids, with art and creative writing. Kate received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in Art Education and Printmaking, and went on to study color etching at the international studio, Atelier 17 in Paris, France (now called Atelier Contrepoint). As well as teaching in public and private schools and camps, she was on the staff of the Community Education Program of the H.F. Johnson Museum of Art of Cornell University. More recently, before moving to the D.C. metropolitan area, she organized and taught her own vacation camps, art lessons, and art birthday parties in the Geneva, Switzerland region.

Meg von der Linden

Meg von der Linden is the owner and artist of Ironworks Pottery. She has a degree in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and has been teaching pottery for four years. Her focus is in functional works of art for the home. Ironworks Pottery is based out of Hanover, MD.


Michael Metzner

Michael Metzner is a ceramic artist currently living in Frederick, Maryland.  Having worked with sculpture since he was a child, Michael turned to wheel-thrown pottery while attending Hood College.  In his freshman year, Michael began working as a studio assistant and artist for local potter John O’Neill, at O’Neill Stoneware Design, where he gained valuable skills in functional and production pottery.  Michael graduated from Hood with a B.A. in Ceramics and a certificate in Art Education in May of 2009.

Since 2010 Michael has been teaching High School art in Montgomery County and is currently entering his fourth year teaching ceramics and darkroom photography at Albert Einstein High School.

Sarah Sater Murray

Sarah Sater – Murray is a self-taught artist who has been creating for as long as she can remember and loves to work with unusual objects and just about anything she can get her hands on.

Sarah’s goal for every class is to help each student tap into his/her own wealth of diverse personal experience to create exciting projects and learn new skills.

Richard Nussbaum

As a third generation stained glass artist, I have designed and executed both religious and secular commissions, utilizing traditional stained glass techniques and materials as developed through apprenticeship, training and employment by major stained glass studios in New York City including: Lamb; Rambusch; Greenland; and Glassmasters. I have been an instructor at Stuyvesant Adult Center and YWCA adult class in Manhattan. I feel the breath of my work reflects the relationship with my father and grandfather, who were both respected stained glass artists and innovators; who worked in the same creative medium and within the same studios that I have worked in. There is a history that was inherited which generated a new wave of enthusiasm for a traditional skill that began centuries ago.

Elaine Parks

Elaine has been creating as long as she remembers. She earned a Bachelor of Studio Arts from the American University and went on to earn her Masters in Art Therapy from The George Washington University. She has worked with adults and children in a variety of settings. Not only has Elaine been sharing her passion for art with clients, but with her three children as well. Elaine began working at VisArts at the start of the VisAbility Art Lab pilot program in 2015 where she is now the director. She also teaches a multi-media class to adults with autism as part of the Accessible Arts program at VisArts.

Ryan Rakhshan

Ryan received his BA in art history and philosophy from Hood College in 2011. After teaching at VisArts from 2011 through 2014 he spent a year as an artist in residence at Brockway Center for Arts and Technology in 2015. After brief stints as a used car dealer, an industrial kiln loader, and a production potter, he has returned to teach at VisArts. Ryan is currently an MFA candidate at Hood College. His work is inspired by the absurdity of human existence in a society that seems to have lost its grip on reality and morality. 

Raya Salman

Raya Salman was born in Lebanon, subsequently studied in France at the Sorbonne University and lived in England before coming to the US in 1991. Raya has taught art for many decades and has exhibited her oil paintings in numerous London galleries and London’s International Contemporary Art Fair.

Raya’s use of vibrant pigments in her paintings reflects her strong Mediterranean influence and her style is characterized by bright clean colors, a lot of blending and a personal Gouache technique that she developed for oil painting.. In addition to her passion for painting and teaching, Raya enjoys cooking, biking, swimming, hot yoga and holds a third degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.

At VisArts Raya teaches acrylic painting, Cocktails and Canvas and Finishing Touches.

Alex Schmiechen

Alex Schmiechen has been working with ceramics since early high school and has always loved expressing herself through a wide variety of media. She grew up in Minnesota and then earned a BA in Biological Chemistry at Grinnell College. While at Grinnell she also took several art classes and explored her artistic voice in the campus ceramics studio. Alex originally came to the DC area to work in a cancer biology lab at NIH but is shifting her focus towards art and hopes to send even more time teaching ceramics in the future.

Alex works with many types of media and often translates her paintings and drawings into surface designs on her ceramics work. Her intricate patterns are influenced by the natural world and often incorporate both abstract and realistic depictions. She particularly enjoys ceramics as an art form due to its inherently functional and technical nature. Alex creates a wide variety of wheel thrown forms that include tableware and other home accessories.

At VisArts Alex teaches Try the Wheel, Beginning Wheel Throwing, and assists students during open studio on Sundays. You can view her art on Instagram: @cabynfever or her online store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/cabynfever 

Alexandra Sherman

Alexandra was born in New York City but spent much of her childhood living in London and traveling across Europe with her family. Much of the art and architecture that she was exposed to while traveling through the continent became the basis for her love of art, especially Victorian paintings and medieval manuscript illuminations.

After she received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison she moved to the DC area and has since focused on drawing, painting and exhibiting her watercolors. Recently Alexandra has been painting on non-traditional watercolor surfaces such as synthetic non-absorbent paper and colored backgrounds. She is drawn to positive and negative space and their role in composition.

Alexandra was also the curator of the Dadian Gallery and teaches drawing and painting in a variety of different settings and formats. She lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 2014-15, where she was an Artist-in-Residence and explored new scenery and aesthetics. She recently moved to Maryland. Her work can be viewed at www.ansherman.com

Kim Swanner

Kimberly Swanner has a degree in Japanese and an abiding love of gaming, comics, and all things nerdy. This perspective shows itself in the playful nature and modern twists she brings to both her 2-D and 3-D artwork.

Her online portfolio is at www.KimNKaboodle.com

Kim currently teaches children and adult ceramics classes as well as Cocktails and Canvas.


Eric Westbrook

Eric Westbrook is a professional painter, illustrator and instructor living and working in Washington, DC. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelors degree in Graphic Communications and Studio Art.

His paintings have been shown extensively in solo and group shows in and around the Washington DC area. Exhibitions of his paintings have been held at Studio Gallery, Dumbarton Concert Gallery, Gallery Plan B, and the Arts Club of Washington. His paintings are held in private collections as well as in the permanent collection of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Eric’s paintings are known for capturing the spirit of the urban landscape in a series called Urban Nature. Rendered in a style that has been described as “heightened realism”, they depict the little-noticed corners of the city where man-made structures combine with the forces of nature. In addition to landscapes, Eric’s recent work has explored the portrait and figure in landscape settings both realistic and idealized. He is currently accepting portrait commissions.

Eric currently teaches drawing and painting and Cocktails and Canvas at VisArts. His work can be seen at www.ericwestbrook.com and eric@ericwestbrook.com

Clare Winslow

A native of Washington, D.C. and third-generation artist, Clare’s training includes a degree in painting, a master’s degree in Teaching, and years of post-graduate study at the former Corcoran College of Art. Her focus on printmaking has allowed her to integrate a broad range of artistic interests: drawing, photography, digital imaging and painting. Clare’s work has been included in group and solo shows in the US and overseas. She is a former Denbo fellow at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and received an Artist and Scholars Grant from the Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland in 2016.  Clare’s work is united by the themes of connectivity, the decline of nature, and the passage of time. She teaches art and Printmaking at Visarts, the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Hyattsville, Maryland and the Yellow Barn, Glen Echo, Maryland.

Joe Yablonsky

Joe Yablonsky specializes in gelatin silver photographs of public sculpture and architecture. The photographs are taken when a rare combination of lighting and atmospheric conditions are present to highlight the sculpture and its environment. Subjects include works by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Daniel Chester French, Isamu Noguchi and others. All photos are hand-printed and in a traditional darkroom using fiber paper and are then selenium toned for increased archival permanence.

His work at can be seen at www.JoeYablonsky.com.