The Teaching Artists of CEPA

CEPA is privileged to have an incredible group of teaching artists working with our staff and students through our Arts Education programs. Bringing their passion for teaching, a wealth of knowledge and experience, and true creativity and vision, these artists embrace the notion that creativity is inherent—and that learning is a lifelong endeavor.

Danni Jo Bechtold

Danni Jo Bechtold is a writer, artist, and actress. She was born in Bozeman, Montana and is currently studying to become an art therapist. She has created content her entire life and is drawn to help young women heal from trauma by helping them process it through art.

During her childhood summers, she would visit extended family in Buffalo and even took this very camp that she is now teaching this July! She loves having a million art projects up in the air, working with children, and wandering through CEPA’s art galleries.

Christian Coronado

Christian has always been interested in capturing a moment and became interested in photography when he was about 9. He used his Mom’s digital camera at first and then in 2012 he came to a CEPA Summer Camp where he learned how to use a film camera and the darkroom. Since then Christian has taken all of the CEPA classes and has broken into the professional field of photography as well as becoming a teaching artist for CEPA. Christian has acquired the equipment necessary to shoot weddings, portraits and most anything that comes up. His depth of knowledge of photography and technology and his interest in sharing his love of photography with others has led to his teaching a youth workshop of his own.

Kate Ebling

Kate Ebling is an artist and educator originally from Buffalo, New York. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Art Education with a minor in Art Therapy, as well as her Masters’ in Educational Technology from Buffalo State College.

Kate currently teaches at John F. Kennedy High School, in Cheektowaga.

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Nikki Gorman

An artist and educator originally from Syracuse, New York, Nikki Gorman received her B.F.A. in Photography and M.Ed. in Teaching In and Through the Arts from the University at Buffalo.

She has been the lead teaching artist for CEPA since 2009, and is the owner of the vintage apparel company Clock & Mouse.

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David Jaan

David Jaan is a self taught photographer from Buffalo, NY who has developed a style of portraits focusing on the use of natural light. He spends his time studying modern photographers and the never ending creativity involved with capturing a stunning portrait.

David’s goal with his images is to capture a sense of intimacy giving a glimpse into a person that others don’t normally get to see.

See David’s portfolio at

Karen Lewis

Karen Lee Lewis is a Teaching Artist, poet and photographer. Karen is an arts education specialist who teaches creative writing using all the arts. Her poetry, short fiction, features, interviews and photography have been widely published. She develops programming for many non-profit organizations throughout Western New York. She also teaches creative writing to children in a variety of settings, including public, private and parochial schools. Karen offers adult writing workshops at The Blue Plate Studio: A Creative Writer’s Workshop. Karen is a member of the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Audubon Society, and she serves on the Literary Advisory Council for Villa Maria College. She is a fellow of The Banff Centre, Canada’s creative leader in arts and culture, and the Western New York Writing Project. Karen participated in the first National Seminar on Teaching Artistry at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her publications include a full-length collection of poetry entitled What I Would Not Unravel (The Writer’s Den), and a chapbook of poetry illustrated with her photography entitled Solitude.

Kaitlyn McCleary

A documentary filmmaker with a strong background in photography, Kaitlyn McCleary developed her eye for composition and camera placement while shooting and editing in Santa Barbara at Brooks Institute.

Her work experience includes freelance photography, documentaries, weddings, dance film, concerts, and multimedia productions.

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Sara McKenna

An artist and educator working in the Buffalo area, much of Sara McKenna’s work ranges from traditional processes such as wet plate collodion, salt printing, and 16mm to digital photography and video production.

She has taught both public school children and adults at various public institutions in Hillsboro, Oregon, and upstate New York.

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Megan Metté

An artist who specializes in photography, video, and sound, Megan Metté holds an M.F.A. in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a B.F.A. in Photography from the University of Louisville.

Megan has taught at R.I.T., Community Darkrooms, Genesee Community College, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

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Amy Meza Luraschi

Amy Meza Luraschi is an Artist and Educator from Buffalo, New York. She works primarily in photography and craft media. Recently adding window merchandizing to her experience, Luraschi designed several windows for Zillycakes in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village.

Luraschi has an extensive background in Art education. Originally trained as an artist, she received her BFA from the University at Buffalo and did graduate work at the University of Illinois. She received her MAT in Interdisciplinary Art Education from Columbia College in Chicago in 2005.

More about Amy Meza Luraschi

Danielle Perla

Danielle Perla began teaching as a part of CEPA Gallery’s Summer Camps in 2003, and she’s been hooked every since. In addition to teaching at CEPA, Danielle has taught summer classes at Artpark and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and has even acted as a ski coach for the Holiday Valley Freestyle Team.

Currently, she teaches art at Orchard Park High School.

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Alison Slein

An artist and educator with a wide variety of experience teaching at institutions including Virginia Tech, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the University of Rochester, Alison Slein received an M.F.A. in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a B.A. and B.F.A. in Art History and Photography from the University of Missouri.

As an artist, Alison has been awarded an NYFA Fellowship for photography from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Fellowship, and an Individual Artist Grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts.

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Kate Stapleton Parzych

Kate Stapleton Parzych is a visual artist and arts educator whose work includes Zen-like digital images of water and reflections, darkroom explorations of light drawings and cyanotypes as well as handcrafted artist books. She prefers to record the spaces between the moments we recall later as memory.

She is an instructor at Daemen College, has taught at University at Buffalo where she received her MFA, and conducts workshops at CEPA and WNY Book Arts Center.

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Charlie Stiffler

Once described by legendary Buffalo photographer and imaging pioneer George Campos as “weaned on Dektol,” Charlie Stiffler got his first camera at the age of eight, and built his first darkroom at the age of ten. Over the last 45 years, he has explored countless facets of photographic imaging, from pinholes to customized film chemistry.

Currently involved in the professional restoration of film cameras, his knowledge base looks back through centuries of imaging.

More about Charlie Stiffler

Michelle Tomaino

Michelle Tomaino is an artist, a photographer and enjoys mixed media, creative writing and Photoshop. She currently attends Arts Experience at People Inc. Michelle started an internship at CEPA in September 2014 through the Western New York Employment Training Program and is now an official teaching artist for our youth program.

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