2013 Summer Camps at the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination

SHEILA ALI is the Director of the IF Center and an art and green energy instructor. She holds a PA Teaching Certificate for Visual Art (K-12), a B.A. from Brandeis University, and an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College. She has taught hundreds of classes, camps, and workshops over the past twenty years at places such as the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the Silver Eye Center for Photography, Spring Valley High School in Las Vegas, Chatham College and others. Her work has been shown at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Las Vegas Museum of Modern Art, Vermont College, and over 40 other venues. Her movies have played at the Three Rivers Film Festival, the Olympia Film Festival and Pittsburgh’s Film Kitchen. Sheila recently received collaborative grant from the Grable Foundation and The Pittsburgh Foundation with support from the Sprout Fund as part of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum Makeshop Maker Micro grant program of 2012.

ALBERTO J. ALMARZA is a Chilean artist and teacher based in Pittsburgh, PA. Although Almarza has formal training in design, drawing, painting, and photography, his focus for the past several years incorporates experimental and invented media, mixed-media assemblage and any other necessary means. Alberto regards art as a form of inner science, meticulously negotiating elusive boundaries between what is consensual and what is potential. Almarza has shown his work in galleries nationally and abroad, and directed the Pittsburgh Visionary Arts Festival held in August of 2009. He teaches adult courses at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, occasional Waldorf School summer camps, and also teaches visual art at CAPA School for the Creative and Performing Arts. []

EVA BARINAS has spent nearly ten years working and playing with children in alternative learning environments including but not limited to horse trail riding, mural painting, beekeeping, water balloon throwing, and campfire cooking. In her own work, you often see patterns inspired by nature as well as unusual perspectives drawn from observing the local world close up. Most recently she directed the Frick Environmental Center ‘s lower elementary summer and school programs, and works with Kindergarteners at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh. She is very excited to join the IF Center camps this summer to share her love of nature and all things colorful, and looks forward to creating with you!

CHRISTINE BETHEA grew up as part of widely traveled military family, and she is now a local salvage artist and arts educator who has worked with artists of diverse generations. She has been recognized by the Pittsburgh Council for the Arts and the Hill House for her work in forming arts and businesses collaborations. Her personal quilting projects have been archived with the Senator John Heinz History Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate. Ms.Bethea is also the founder of the city’s award-winning eco, art, and tech festival — GA/GI (Gah-gee) Festival. Ms. Bethea’s roots are firmly planted in the East End where she serves on the boards of Friendship Development and The Irma Freeman Center.

DENNIS CHILDERS has been making art for more than 30 years, and teaching art for almost as long.He began by documenting life with black and white photography on the streets, subways, and clubs, capturing the character of the times. His art then quickly evolved by being closely tied to the development and video manipulation tools, combined with sculpture and installations as his canvas to express his interpretation and the political climate. He has 27 years of experience as a teacher with Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts 6–12 (CAPA), and 10 years with the PA Governors School For the Arts.

JOYCE COMPTON cannot remember a time when she was without the urge to create. She works primarily in felted wool, polymer clay and mixed media. A graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, she worked for 16-years as a graphic artist. “A chance stumble across the art doll world renewed my spirit and I was again making art,” Joyce explains. “Creating art dolls, or figurative sculptures, opens doors for expressing my view of the human condition as well as gives life to the playful, imaginary creatures that often dance in my mind. Being a part of Jane Street Art Doll Collective since its inception, I have been afforded the opportunity to engage with many other wonderful and talented artists. Our group personifies what can happen when artists meet regularly to share ideas and explore new artistic techniques.”

KATY DEMENT has offered her expertise as a papermaker to educate the public in the metro Atlanta school systems and as an independent art educator with Young Audiences / Woodruff Art Center, Georgia Council for the Arts and other community outlets since 1990. While continuing her independent studies in fiber and costume design, she attended Georgia State University majoring in Art History and psychology. Currently DeMent continues her studies in printmaking, paper making, independently working on welding and sculpture. She is an obsessive gardener and beekeeper too. These natural influences are reflected in her work. DeMent’s achievements are varied and numerous she continues to show her work at art festivals and galleries. In 2009 she was awarded Best of Show, Kentuck Festival held in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

JENNIFER HEDGES has been teaching Zumba for six years, and she has been a dancer since the age of 4. She currently works for Club One and substitute teaches at the JCC in Squirrel Hill. She also owns her own performance space, where she teaches Zumba five times a week. “Zumba is a part of my life and soul and my goal is to help students of all ages find the fun and joy that I feel while I’m teaching!”

LAVERNE KEMP has an extensive background as a Teaching and has been a Resident Artist working with School and Community Programs. She has also worked with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Gateway to the Arts, The Children’s Museum, and the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. She has been a weaver and fiber artist for 35 years now. She makes one-of-a-kind hand woven clothing, accessories and jewelry out of her fabrics and also creates sculptural wall hangings and quilts. LaVerne has exhibited her works in many fashion shows and art exhibitions nationally. Her most recent well-received Sprout funded community based project was “Knit the Bridge”.

MICHAEL LUBBERT – Over the past six years Yoga has enriched all aspects of Michael’s life; including his artistic endeavors as a writer, performer, and musician. In the summer of 2011, he completed a 200 hour, Yoga Alliance certified teacher training with Yoga to the People in New York City and has studied under Sam Chase, German Bravo, Michel Swornik, Mary Jarvis, and Zeb Hobison. Michael then returned to his home town of Pittsburgh, PA where he established a roster of dedicated private clients and has been teaching regular classes at The Yoga Hive and X Fitness–Shadyside. Michael teaches an adaptable Vinyasa-flow, Hatha hybrid with strong emphasis on the breath, body alignment, and Asana mechanics–utilizing aspects of other forms of Yoga, philosophy and theoretical/quantum physics–inspiring his students to use the practice they build on the mat to enhance the rest of their lives.

MICHAEL “FIG” MANGIAFICO is a glass artist and teacher working in Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated with a BFA in glass art from Carnegie Mellon University in 1985, and has continued his education by attending glass art seminars at The Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle WA, Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, and The Pittsburgh Glass Center. In 1996 Michael built a glass studio. It is called FiG Studios – Forms in Glass. He designs and creates sculptures and craft items from glass by blowing, casting, torchworking, and coldworking. FiG Studios has work in fine art galleries around the country. Michael has been teaching torchworking and glass blowing in the capacity of teacher or teaching assistant since 1993 at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, Pilchuck, Corning School of Glass in NY, Touchstone Center for the Arts in PA, and Penland. He was the vice president of The Three Rivers Glass Beadmakers, the Pittsburgh chapter of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers, from 2000-2001. Michael demonstrates torchworking at schools, fairs, galleries, museums, and other organizations. His specialty is making glass insects such as spiders, wasps, ants, scorpions and many others. []

OLATOKUNBOH “OLA” OBASI, MSc. is a medical herbalist and owner of Ola’s Herb Shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Originally from East Africa, she is a community leader and is involved in the sustainability of medicinal plants. She received her Master’s of Science in Herbal Medicine from Tai Sophia Institute School of the Healing Arts. She specializes in all herbal medicinal systems including Ayurveda, Western herbalism and other indigenous healing systems. Her experience lies in women’s health, pediatrics, infectious disease and chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue syndrome. Her interests lie in education, community leadership, dance, travel, storytelling, and gardening. Olatokunboh has taught children and adults for over 15 years; this is her utmost joy. She cherishes sharing her knowledge in the art and science of plant life, physiology, and the 5 elements that govern all life on earth.

TOM SARVER is an artist and puppeteer with fifteen years of experience teaching students of all ages. He is an organizer of Puppet Happening, a group that organizes puppet events throughout the year. His other projects include The Tom Museum, Art Olympic Theatre and Sarver’s Bait & Tackle.

ERIC STEADLE is an Engineer and Computer Programmer with a highly developed interest in electronics, robotics, and new technology. He has worked on machines of all scales, including commercial nuclear power reactors, hydraulic sawmills, and computer controlled microscopic scanners. His interest in both electronics and robotics combine to form a fascination with 3-d computer printing systems and the revolution in micro-manufacturing. Mr. Steadle is also a musician who plays electronic music as part of the Pittsburgh trio “Universal Beat Union”.

HONG ZHAO has degrees in Fine Art and Art Education from Hubei Art University in Wuhan, China, where she focused on Traditional Chinese Painting. In China, she has taught art to children for many years and in a variety of contexts. Hong has also studied and is proficient in Chinese Traditional Music, Dance and Calligraphy. She has been the editor of Child Art Magazine for 17 years. Hong has a certification in counseling and is actively involved in children’s art therapy. She will come from China for exclusive engagement at the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination Summer Camp, and will bring along traditional Chinese art supplies to teach this very special class.


KELLY-STRAYHORN THEATRE (KST) is named for two of Pittsburgh’s most celebrated talents in the last century – dancer Gene Kelly and composer Billy Strayhorn. KST contributes to the renaissance of East Liberty and redefines theater with provocative, original programming and a social experience unlike any other venue in the region. KST is approaching its centennial anniversary in 2014, a time to celebrate its role in the vibrant and diverse cultural history of Pittsburgh’s East Liberty. Through The Alloy School, artSEEDS initiative and our artist residency programs, KST encourages diverse, inclusive, and high quality, artistic, cultural and educational activities. By nurturing these pursuits, we contribute to cultural understanding, quality of life, as well as economic development in community, county, city and region. Visit for more information.

THE GEMINI THEATRE is a nonprofit organization which was established in 1996 by Lani Cataldi and Dennis Palko as an interactive, musical children’s theater company. Gemini Theater Company has grown over the past fifteen years, developing numerous programs and activities for children and adults, reaching over 45,000 through its Classic Children’s Theater, Pittsburgh New Play Festival, Special Needs Workshops, Tickets for Underprivileged Children Program, Summer Theater Camps, School Assembly Performances and Outreach. Visit to learn more.

MENTORING THRU MARTIAL ARTS is a grassroots program that nurtures, empowers and enriches the lives of youngsters through dynamic mentoring practices. Head mentor and founder Eric Bies received a teaching degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and did his M.A. and doctoral studies in Sociology and Anthropology at Florida International University in Miami. He began mentoring with Big Brothers and Sisters of Indiana Co., and went on to teach at Fairfax County Public Schools and the Cesar Chavez School for Public Policy. He then pursued a path of martial arts (Capoeria Angola) and holistic health practices. He has traveled the world extensively, studied under Mestre Nego Gato of Bahia, Brazil, and continues to work for Nego Gato Inc. in Pittsburgh. Visit to learn more.