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Abby (she/her) grew up in northeast Ohio in a family of writers and art-lovers. She has an academic background in modern/contemporary art history and hopes to cultivate meaningful opportunities of social equity for living artists, art workers, and museum audiences. Outside of her professional life, Abby spends time with her cat Jasper and enjoys practicing yoga, trying new foods, watching too much TV, and tending to her house plants. Her favorite work in the Art Bridges collection is Shizu Saldamando’s Sandra and Tammy, Hollywood Forever for its tender depiction of interpersonal relationships and creative use of surface.
Director, Fellows Program
Alana grew up in California, Colorado, and New Hampshire, in a science and tech family. Before joining Art Bridges, she worked at university art museums in New York and Ohio. Alana is passionate about supporting critical dialogue on contemporary ideas and issues through art, especially with students. She loves to explore new cities, practice yoga, and write and receive letters. In her extra time, she volunteers for arts advocacy and access in prison and for therapeutic horseback riding programs. Her favorite work in the Art Bridges collection is Ana Mendieta’s Fundamento de Palo Monte: Silueta Series (Gunpowder Works).
Ashley grew up going to museums, so she knows the importance of exposure to art on young minds and enjoys working with the Art Bridges team and museum partners to promote “access for all.” She loves all the works in the Art Bridges collection, but her favorite is Grandmother Gestating Father and the Washita River Runs Ribbon-Like by Kiowa-Caddo artist, T.C. Cannon. She enjoys spending time at home reading with her husband, Ryan, and their fur kids Archie, Lola, and Nala. Most of Ashley’s bucket list is travel related, but she recently crossed “swimming with manatees” off that list.
Equity & Cultural Engagement Officer
Azuka is committed to creative collaboration with the Arts Bridges team around equity in all aspects of cultural engagement. Azuka brings more than 10K hours as a strategic thinking partner, championing equity through intentional and systemic change. Azuka’s museum spark was ignited as a young girl by her adoration of the bronze statue of The Thinker, located outside the art museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Azuka cherishes a small, eclectic art collection she has curated over decades for her home and garden. Among her favorite works in the ABF collection is Our Land, by Charles Herbert White because it reflects the familiar energy of women she has known.
Director, Awards & Cohorts, Evaluation, and Learning & Engagement
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Brittany enjoys working with the collaborative and supportive Art Bridges team. She loves to visit historic house museums and finds the connections between the former residents of the home and the objects they acquired fascinating. Her favorite work in the Art Bridges collection is I Refuse to Be Invisible by Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Brittany loves to travel and hopes to visit every continent on the planet (she’s already checked South America, Europe and Australia off the list). When she’s not at work, you can find her playing board games with her family and friends or experimenting in the kitchen to create the perfect weekend brunch.
Learning & Engagement Specialist
An honorary Missourian and lifelong New Englander, Camille (she/her/hers) has long held an appreciation for art and its ability to move and challenge us. She has a background in art history and enjoys conceptual and figurative works, and thus counts Félix González-Torres’ “Untitled” (L.A.) and Horace Pippin’s Holy Mountain, I as favorites in the Art Bridges’ collection. She has a personal and professional passion for expanding ways we think about access and interpretation, and considers feminist art history and practices influential to her work. Camille holds an enduring love of wrinkly dogs, and looks forward to welcoming a pug into her family soon.
Traveling Exhibitions Coordinator
Christian “Chris” Guerra (she/ her/ hers) is an activist, librarian, and historian all of which have shaped her as an arts administrator. Her passion for social justice, belief in public service, & skill in making connections motivate her practice. She is most driven when she is working to prioritizing cultural equity & acting as the liaison to partners, communities, & artists. Chris is a NALAC Leadership Fellow promoting & cultivating the BIPOC arts field. She is an AFTA Public Art Network board member collaborating with other art administrators nationally to strengthen the field.
Director, Web Operations
Colin grew up in San Jose, California, playing drums, collecting music and working in record stores (he owned one full time for eight years). His interest in art began through a passion for collecting records and the album artwork of everyone from Derek Riggs to Reid Miles. His favorite work in the Art Bridges collection is Joseph Stella’s Tree of My Life. Colin and his wife, Kat, have two sons, Grant and Will. Outside of work, he enjoys watching his son play baseball, listening to music, family vacations, and building computers.
Desiree (Desi) Garnier
Desi is from El Dorado, Arkansas, where she began her love of art and photography through her mother’s documentary lens. As a mother, art educator, artist and former tiny-town resident, she is dedicated to the Art Bridges mission of expanding access to art for everyone. It’s no surprise that one artist Desi most admires is Ruth Asawa. Some of her favorite works from the Art Bridges Collection are the Stuart Davis and Keith Haring. Desi shares her life with four children, two cats and Abe, the best dog ever. She is a huge fan of live music and loves traveling, attempted gardening, and cooking elaborate meals for her family. She is currently learning the Ukulele.
Traveling Exhibitions Administrative Assistant
Born in San-Diego, California, with nothing but a paintbrush in hand and hardworking Filipino parents, Ellah-Mae has come a long way towards achieving her goal of having her work in a museum. Throughout her life, she’s been inspired by well-known artists around the globe, and hopes her passion for art will inspire those who see art as mere doodles on canvas. Her favorite piece in the Art Bridges collection is Duell by Albert Bloch. She dreams of becoming an artist devoted to art through learning every medium, educating others on art history, while making sure pieces reflecting an oppressed voice are heard by all.
Associate Program Officer
Felicia is from Nashville, Tennessee. She became interested in art and art history in high school, which inspired her to work in the museum world. She spent six years working at the Frist Art Museum. Her love of museums and passion for increasing the accessibility of art brought her to Art Bridges. She is excited and grateful to work with the Art Bridges team. One of her favorite works in the Art Bridges collection is Migration by Jeffrey Gibson. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, taking spin classes, binging shows on Netflix, and spending time with her rescue dog, Roman.
Director, Marketing & Communications
Gabriel grew up in a small town in Southern California where he spent the majority of his time in the pool as a competitive swimmer. His father is a senior pastor in the A.M.E. Church where Gabriel participated in Sunday school, youth choir, and various programs until he left for college. Gabriel always had ambitions to live on the East Coast and subsequently studied Media, Culture, and Communication in New York. Gabriel began his career in the communications department at Christie’s Auction House and his work experience spans across globally recognized companies at the highest echelons of art, hospitality, jewelry, and wellness. His passion for marketing and communication is founded in crafting a brands story and sharing its message to a relevant audience. Gabriel will work remotely for Art Bridges as he resides in Boston, MA with his partner, James, and their Bernedoodle, Winston.
Learning & Engagement Specialist
Raised among the bluegrass and horse farms of Central Kentucky, Hanna (she/her/hers) has worked to engage communities across New England, the Southeast, and Intermountain West—beginning her career as an intern at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, WY (now an Art Bridges Partner!), and gaining deep experience in the education department at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Her practice as an educator is informed by a background in creative placemaking and graduate work on collection-based dialogue and the cultural history of American art museums. A connector of ideas and people, Hanna loves crowded tables and collaborative playlists.
Director, Collection Loans & Exhibitions
Jamie hails from Kansas City, Missouri, where she fell in love with the Nelson-Atkins museum and its “magical” sculpture garden. An anthropologist by training, she cares deeply about issues of access and inclusivity. She and her husband Carl have two young children and a 125 pound gentle-giant malamute dog. Jamie likes to scuba dive, snorkel, sail, cycle, run, and learn hip hop dance choreography via YouTube videos. She’s also a voracious reader and is currently working her way through all of Agatha Christie’s books.
Traveling Exhibitions Coordinator
Jessica is from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She didn’t have much access to art when she was growing up so she really admires Art Bridges’ mission to expand access to American art. Jessica developed a passion for art and organizing exhibitions while studying art history and has been curating, coordinating, and managing exhibitions ever since. She loves Impressionism and urban landscapes, so it’s no surprise that two of her favorite artworks in the Art Bridges collection are Childe Hassam’s Italian Day, May 1918 and Archibald John Motley Jr.’s Bronzeville at Night. Outside of work, Jessica enjoys spending time with her family in Oklahoma, reading, being out in nature, and playing and watching tennis.
Research and Evaluation Associate
Kara Bledsoe (she/her) is a cultural sector researcher and project manager committed to justice, equity, and organizational sustainability. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and grew up in Memphis, TN, where her parents greatly encouraged creativity and exposure to the arts.
Kara has worked in service to public and nonprofit organizations in the arts and higher education. She is currently a MLIS student at the Pratt Institute studying strategic leadership for information professionals and the history of Black cultural heritage stewardship. Her favorite artists are Howardena Pindell and Robert Rauschenberg, and she would always rather be on the water or in the garden.
Kristi Beckwith Dane
Program Officer & Manager of Administration
Kristi is from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The daughter of teacher parents, Kristi remembers summers spent driving around the U.S., stopping at every large and small museum, historic house, landmark, and historical marker. She believes that art, cultural knowledge and experiences are for everyone, and are a powerful conduit for understanding, unlocking emotion, and expressing humanity. One of her favorite works in the Art Bridges collection is Brenda P by Barkley L. Hendricks. Kristi lives with her spouse, toddler, cats Daphne and Munchkin, and dog Reginald. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, traveling, nature, and vegetable gardening. She is a fledgling basket weaver and is currently learning her native Caddo language.
Associate Program Officer
Laura (she/her) grew up in Northwest Arkansas and saw first hand the area transform into the vibrant and flourishing community it is today. After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in Recreation and Sport Management, Laura lived in Colorado where she worked within the Olympic and Paralympic Movement and developed a passion for non-profit work. Laura is thrilled to return to the Ozarks working with Art Bridges to increase access to American art. Laura enjoys hiking, road trips and has a goal to visit all 63 U.S. National Parks.
Mary is from Detroit, Michigan, and will forever love and appreciate the Detroit Institute of Arts in her home state. A former first grade teacher, she found fulfillment in work that focuses on the education of others. She believes art has the capacity to do the same for people by provoking introspection and awareness of others simultaneously, and is excited to work for an organization that pursues such a mission. Mary enjoys cooking, entertaining, reading, traveling, trying new restaurants, and being outdoors in whatever way she can.
Fellows Program Assistant
Max was born In Medellín, Colombia and grew up in Twinsburg, Ohio. He’s always been passionate about music, art and any creative activity, which led him to study Arts Management at Ohio State. Max loves art because of the way it helps him empathize with others by learning about different people’s perspectives on the world. Max is thrilled to be working with Art Bridges, and his favorite piece from the collection is I Refuse to be Invisible by Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
Megan grew up in Searcy, Arkansas, and came to art through a passion for Greek and Egyptian art and history. That quickly became a desire to foster interest and appreciation in others through working in art and museums. She is excited to help make incredible works of art and exhibitions available to many who may never have had access to them. Megan loves all the works in the Art Bridges collection, but she particularly enjoys Moving Stillness: Mount Rainier, 1979 by Bill Viola. Megan recently returned to Arkansas after six years as the curator and registrar at the Alexandria Museum of Art in Louisiana. When she’s not working, Megan likes to bake new desserts, read, and travel.
Traveling Exhibitions Registrar
Growing up in Central Connecticut, Melisa was immediately drawn to creating art through the influence of her talented mother. A transformative high school trip to Italy in 1995 ignited her passion to preserve and promote the accessibility of all art for future generations. A Registrar for more than twenty years, Melisa has worked within a variety of cultural institutions within the United States and abroad. She most recently worked as the Head Registrar at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, where she collaborated with several artists to help encourage public access and education of contemporary sculpture. Melisa enjoys the outdoors with her daughter Eila and Maltipoo Miss Fluffly, as well as, adventuring to other countries on her bucket list….which also often leads to binge watching Anthony Bourdain episodes.
Curatorial Project Administrator
Monica is a Computer Information Systems & Analytics major, minoring in Studio Art at the University of Central Arkansas, where she will be graduating in August, 2022. She’s a family-oriented person and enjoys spending time with family and close friends.
Her passions include reading and collecting books, as well as collecting stationary items. Monica’s favorite book genre is mystery-thriller, fantasy, and sometimes romance to lighten up her mood. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson are her two favorite trilogies and her best recommendation for others to read is Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tue.
Nik is originally from North Little Rock. He has always loved the arts but it was during his time living in NYC when he was able to visit places like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Museum of the Moving Image to see timeless classics up close. In 2020, he returned to Arkansas with his rescue pitbull, Knuckles. When Nik isn’t learning about the latest trends in graphic design, he can be found playing music, taking care of his house plants, hiking, or paddle boarding.
Chief Executive Officer
Paul launched his career as a curator at the New-York Historical Society before moving to Christie’s to become its director of American art and eventually, deputy chairman. As leader of the Art Bridges team Paul is excited to be working with such talented people who are so committed to what they do. Paul loves American art and culture; growing up he was always fascinated by architecture and all types of paintings, drawings, and sculpture. He believes wholeheartedly in the transformational power of art to change lives, as it did his, and he’s dedicated to advancing Art Bridges’ mission so the same thing can happen for others. His favorite work in the Art Bridges collection is Alphabets by Jasper Johns. In his spare time Paul and his partner Pepe work in their garden which includes lots of native plants and an apple orchard.
Chief Financial Officer
Philip grew up in southern Africa, graduated from Rhodes University on South Africa’s east coast and has lived and worked in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, the United Kingdom and, since 2016, Northwest Arkansas (NWA). He qualified as a Chartered Accountant working for KPMG in 2004 and prior to joining Art Bridges worked as a finance professional in various sectors, most recently for Walmart. He enjoys traveling and spending time with his family (playing video games and passing the curse of triathlon to the next generation). Philip is passionate about NWA and wants to contribute to making it the best place to live in the USA. He is still exploring the Art Bridges collection.
Program Coordinator, Collection Loan Program
Originally from Denver, Sarah started her career working in university art museums and is a firm believer in the importance and impact of local art spaces in the community. This love of small but mighty museums brought her to Art Bridges to further increase access to American art in all communities. Sarah’s favorite piece from the Art Bridges Collection is Robert Smithson’s Double NonSite, California and Nevada which she researched heavily while in grad school. When she’s not conspiring with friends about pop-up exhibitions, Sarah is learning ceramics with the Colorado Clay Club or playing with her dogs Cameo and Sloane.
Administrative Assistant, Awards & Cohorts, Evaluation, and Learning & Engagement
Shannon is originally from Georgia, but moved to Northwest Arkansas during her college years, and has since fallen in love with the area. The natural beauty, plentiful trails to explore, and vibrant art presence create such a wonderful community, and she is so grateful to live here.
As a lover of all forms of art, she is excited to be part of the Art Bridges Foundation, and to work with a team that creates opportunities for even more people to enjoy art.
Shelly Roman is from Chicago and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area. One of her favorite local arts organizations is the de Young museum, with its outstanding collection, special exhibitions, and sculpture garden. Her work with the Terra Foundation for American Art (which started in 1996) brought her to Art Bridges, where she enjoys being part of a dynamic effort to increase access to art nationwide. Untitled (Black and White Variation of “Pochade”) by Stuart Davis is her current favorite in the Art Bridges collection. Outside of work, Shelly enjoys taking road trips with her family, which always include stops at local museums and coffee houses.
Stephanie began her career at ARTnews, where she helped launch the magazine’s social media channels. From there, she went on to develop social strategies for dozens of arts organizations, all the while contributing to various art and design publications. As a digital marketing specialist, Stephanie gravitates toward experiential artworks, and for this reason she especially appreciates Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (L.A.) from the Art Bridges collection. When she’s not scrolling through Instagram, Stephanie is spending quality time with her pug, playing piano, or training for her next marathon.
Registrar, Rights and Reproductions Specialist
Whitney is from Bentonville, Arkansas. She believes art makes the world accessible, and is proud to work with a foundation that provides that access across the country. Growing up, she didn’t have access to a museum, and enjoys helping kids (like herself) who want to see all the art and beauty in the world but don’t have the ability or privilege to travel to do so. Her favorite work in the collection is Edward Steichen’s In Exaltation of Flowers. Her current office mate and golden retriever’s name is Barklay.