Seathra BELL received her BFA from the Alberta College of Art+Design in 2011 and has recently completed a Masters in Textile and Fashion Design at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. Seathra has received several private commissions and has participated in fine art and design shows in Canada and the UK. The recipient of a major project grant from the Columbia Basin Trust, Seathra is currently conducting research into the traditional textile and dye plants of the First Nations within the Columbia Basin. Seathra divides her time between teaching, costuming for film, and working from her home studio near Nelson B.C.
Susan Andrews GRACE has published five books of poetry, four of which have been longer form poetry. Philosopher at the Skin Edge of Being (Signature Editions, 2013), her most recent and a long poem, was shortlisted for the 2014 Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry.
Rayya LIEBICH discovered the transformative potential of writing as a vehicle for healing following the death of her mother, and has completed a poetry manuscript entitled Tell Me Everything. Her non-fiction essay Radical Choices won the Geneva Literary awards in 2015, her poetry has been published in R.K.V.R.Y Journal (July 2015), Offshoots Anthology (2015), Seasonings Cookbook edited by Anne De Grace, and her play Three Minutes was awarded first prize in the Kootenay Literary Competition in 2005.
Rayya is a bilingual poet and writer, a graduate of McGill University (B.A English Literature), and has taught French at the Nelson Waldorf School for the past ten years.
Catherine MCGRATH – Multi-instrumentalist Catherine McGrath has played and sang in a number of acoustic folk bands over the past twenty-plus years. She was a founding member of Nelson’s Heavy Shtetl, a klezmer and traditional jazz band, Cattle Annie & the Crooked Corral, a western swing group, and Kootenay Kontraband, an old-time dance band. She is currently performing with Vendredi, a traditional and gypsy jazz trio and Oxygen Orkestar, a Balkan Brass group. As well as teaching folk band classes Catherine gives individual lessons in piano, accordion, mandolin, guitar, claw-hammer banjo, and ukulele. Cattle Annie & the Crooked Corral – Miss Molly
Amber SANTOS is an artist and art educator based in Nelson, BC and is grateful to live and create on Sinixt traditional and unceded territory. She has been working as an educator with kids, youth, and adults for 16 years. She brings a passion for collaborative and process-based work as well as a love for drawing on walls. Currently, in as a mixed settler (German, Italian, French) and indigenous (Saulteaux, Metís) woman, she is interested in themes of decolonization, healing, connection to landscapes and belonging in her personal painting practice. Check out her illustration, murals and full bio here: www.arti2de.com/bera/
Natasha SMITH holds a BA Hons. in Fine Art Printmaking and has been a practicing visual artist for over 20 years. Natasha’s personal and physical environment inspires her most recent semi-abstract works, which combine printmaking, collage, painting and assemblage. Natasha works intuitively, allowing process, landscape and a love of the primitive mark to direct her work. She is a self-defined teaching artist and has taught at KSA (Kootenay Studio Arts at Selkirk College), Oxygen Art Centre, Red Deer College, Metchosin International School of the Arts and Malaspina Printmaking Studio in Vancouver. Natasha has been an artist in residence in Slocan Valley and Nelson schools as part of the ArtStarts in Schools, Artists in the Classroom Program. Natasha works from her studio in beautiful Krestova, BC. and is on the faculty of Oxygen Art Centre. http://natashasmithart.com/
Deborah THOMPSON is a Canadian visual artist who resides in Nelson, B.C. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1984 spending her final year of study in Florence, Italy. She then spent a decade teaching and traveling in wilderness environments from East Africa to the North American Arctic during which she received a B.A. in Experiential Education from Prescott College in 1995. She then put roots down in Missoula, Montana to return to her studio practice completing an MFA in painting at the University of Montana in 1997. She was awarded the Fell-Oskins Scholarship (faculty award) two years in a row for her studio work. She has done residencies at the Vermont Studio Centre and the Banff Centre. She now resides in Nelson, B.C where she maintains a studio and exhibition practice, teaches for the Oxygen Art Centre (she is a founding member of the Centre,) and curators for Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History. In 2008 she went to the Netherlands to research medieval altar pieces in Holland. In 2011, she received a Major Project Grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance for the research and creation of Bird Woman in which she is exploring the ascetic practices of female mystics in the late middle ages. This spring she is going to Avila, Spain to continue her research focusing on the life and work of Saint Teresa of Avila.
Local stage roles Bessie has performed include The Witch (Jorinda), Hedwig (and the Angry Inch), Pontius Pilate (Jesus Christ Superstar), Hekate (KHAOS), and Orpheus (& Eurydice).
Bessie regularly performs with acoustic quartet Bessie Wapp & Friends, RnB dance band Bessie & the Back Eddies (2012 Kootenay Music Award), estrogen supergroup Kootenay Divas, Balkan brass band Oxygen Orkestar, and as a guest vocalist with Clinton Swanson & Friends.