Instructor Bio

Instructor Biographies:

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.


Cora HENSHAW is a printmaker specializing in woodblock and silkscreen, who recently moved to the beautiful Slocan Valley.
Primarily, Cora’s work has consisted in multiplying/reproducing imagery through successive seemingly unrelated media, ultimately affording for different resolutions and depths (such as from photography to woodcut, then to embroidery, for example, or embroidery over a screenprinted paper image).
For the last few years, Cora has run an online art gallery in São Paulo, Brazil, and recently left an unfinished masters in Art Administration at Columbia University, NY- preferring the creation, processes and theory of art-making. These years have given Cora a solid approach to teaching artists about entrepreneurship and taking charge of their identity as makers and their commercial positioning. In parallel, I Cora has also launched an independent, one-person publishing house, working with artists that weren’t interested in gallery representation or didn’t fit the model- resulting in ad-hoc visual stories melding the art and the stories behind them.


Rayya LIEBICH is a bilingual poet, writer, and teacher. After twelve years teaching French at Nelson’s Waldorf School, she recommitted to her writing practice and now works as a professional artist. Rayya’s work has appeared in literary journals internationally. Her essay Radical Choices won the Geneva Literary Award in 2015, and her 2015 poetry collection Tell Me Everything won the Golden Grassroots Chapbook Award and was published that same year. Her play Three Minutes took first place in the 2005 Kootenay Literary Competition. She teaches adult writing classes including Liminal Life Writing and Flash Writing at Oxygen Art Centre and Writing Through the Grief at Kalein Hospice. Rayya also teaches creative writing for teens at the Nelson Public Library and Poetry Alive projects funded through ArtStarts, in several West Kootenay schools.


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:


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.


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.


Bessie WAPP is a musician, theatre-maker, educator, and 2015 City of Nelson Cultural Ambassador. Bessie was based in Vancouver for 20+ years where she was a core member of stilt-dance theatre company Mortal Coil and Eastern European music sextet Zeellia. With these groups she performed throughout North America and in Europe, including at New York City’s Lincoln Centre and Zagreb, Crotia’s, DanceWeek Festival.
In 2006 Bessie co-founded Twin Fish Theatre in Nelson, and with the company co-created Hello, I Must Be Going and Loco Phantasmo, two works inspired by stories in her family history.
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.

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