Testimonials


Our numerous awards and accolades, including the 2013 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award, is visible recognition of this collective impact and success. But our students and artists themselves best illustrate what can be accomplished when a passionate and committed organization and an energized, supportive community join together.


Featured CEPA Photography Works Student: Jose Lagares

Jose came to Buffalo from Puerto Rico about four years ago. He became interested in photography while looking at an architectural photography book in school at Lafayette where he is now a junior. He found CEPA and has been coming consistently for over two years to learn the art of photography. Because of his dedication, his talent and creativity, he was chosen to go to the White House to receive the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from Michelle Obama on behalf of CEPA.

“In the program I learn about photography and how to use a professional camera. It has helped me discover that I have a passion for photography. It is important to me because it has opened many doors to the world of photography. I would tell other kids, friends and neighbors to participate in a program like this one because it’s good for today, tomorrow and your future and it will make a big difference in your life. There are great people in the program that are willing to do everything to help your dreams come true.”

Photography Works: CEPA’s Mentoring Program

Featured CEPA Buffalo Charter School Student: Danni Jo Bechtold

15-year-old Danni Jo Bechtold was born and raised in rural Montana. Upon moving to Buffalo with her father and two ridiculous dogs in November 2012, she spent a year attending Tapestry Charter High School before returning to Montana in August 2013. After finishing high school, she plans on attending a university in Europe where she will double major in English and World Religion. After college, she hopes to join the Teachers Without Borders Program and work on her first novel. She hopes to write and take pictures for the rest of her life—that’s what she was built to do.

“CEPA was a place for me to breathe and be myself. I found a community of people that I connected with who provided a space for me to learn and create. I loved meeting new people and sharing with other artists. CEPA provided me a place to learn about the photography world and help me realize that this is a passion that could last a lifetime. And I’m so grateful.”

Visit Danni’s Website at portraitofayounggirl.tumblr.com »

CEPA in Buffalo Charter Schools

Featured CEPA Summer Art Program Student: Aaron Connor

Aaron Connor loves Buffalo for the food and the people that live here. Aaron’s favorite subject in school is art, because it is the only subject where the teacher doesn’t “flip out.” When he’s not in school, Aaron likes to make war movies with his friends, chasing his admiration for George Lucas. Aaron has two cats (Lucien and Tony), and if he could go anywhere in the world it would be Rome, because he loves mythology. Aaron would like to be an architect in the future because he loves building things.

“During my years of going to CEPA camps, I’ve had many fun experiences. This summer I learned to make paper cut-out animation, and in the past we’ve even made our own pinhole cameras out of a can! I would not have had the opportunity to work in a darkroom if I hadn’t come to CEPA. The staff is always friendly, and I plan to come back in the future.”

CEPA’s Summer Art Programs
CEPA Gallery Arts Programs in Schools - Featured Summer Art Programs Student Aaron Connor

Featured CEPA Buffalo Charter School Student: Christian Coronado

A student at Buffalo United Charter School, Christian Coronado’s favorite subject in school is math because he is good at it—that and rollerblading. He has two brothers, and he loves the diversity that Buffalo has to offer. In the future, Christian wants to be a photographer.

“I learned how photos were way back when, and how to properly use the darkroom. The students and teachers were all really nice. Even though we all just met we felt like we already knew each other. It made me interested in becoming a photographer.”

CEPA in Buffalo Charter Schools

Featured CEPA Teaching Artist: Aitina Fareed Cooke

“CEPA Gallery was part of my transformation as a teen. I was introduced to photography and graphic design when I was 15 through a community center program. During this time I was dealing with low self-esteem. I felt worthless and my heart yearned for a purpose in life. When I participated in a CEPA after-school program I learned how to develop photos in the darkroom and fell in love with the art form.”

“Being involved in this program gave me confidence, courage to be creative, and introduced me to my career field. Today I am a photography business owner, a CEPA Gallery teaching artist, and I’m pursuing a Master’s in Educational Technology at Buffalo State College. I appreciate CEPA Gallery and its staff for being consistent, encouraging, and committed to my success!”

Meet CEPA’s Teaching Artists »

Featured CEPA Mentoring Student: Sabrina Marrazzo

Sabrina Marrazzo was introduced to CEPA Gallery’s Summer Photography Art Camp at age 8, sparking her talent and encouraging her to venture off in an independent pursuit of digital photography. She later rejoined in one-on-one mentoring sessions with Education Director Lauren Tent—and Sabrina is now an assistant teaching artist with CEPA Gallery.

Her multiple talents have helped her to win “Best in Show” for charcoal drawings submitted to Pulse magazine, a national award-winning high school magazine; and Orchard Park’s Art Splash, an annual display of student art work. She is currently the photo editor for The Voice, the Orchard Park High School newspaper; photo editor for Orchard Park’s yearbook (which earned her the Herff Jones Award); and freelance photo journalist for Buffalo NewsneXt magazine.

Sabrina has also launched her own photography business, Hello August Photography, producing unique portraits and fine art at a reasonable price.

“Being a student of photography and art opens your eyes to a reality of the world. Sharing a perspective of the world with others helps me to be a better artist, and helps others to find their own perception.”

Photography Works: CEPA’s Mentoring Program

Featured CEPA Summer Camp Student: Rachel Norvilitis

11-year-old Rachel has been taking photographs since she was five and has twice attended summer camp at CEPA. She enjoys taking pictures of flowers, buildings, and her cat Max. Her work has been exhibited at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, and won awards from the Erie County Fair, the Buffalo Zoo, and Doors Open Niagara.

“When I was at camp at CEPA I had a lot of fun. I loved to walk around the city because it is cool to photograph different buildings. Also, I was glad to use the darkroom. That personally is my favorite because it is fun to see the pictures develop. CEPA gallery is a cool place to hang out. I like to look at the exhibits and talk to the staff. I was glad that the teachers would let us take photos more than just talking about them. I am eager to go next year!”

CEPA’s Summer Art Programs

CEPA Gallery Arts Education Program - Featured Graduate Darron Whitsett

Featured CEPA Graduate: Darron Whitsett

A former student of one of CEPA’s many art programs in schools, Darron Whitsett participated in a photojournalism program where students created a newspaper from the ground up. He later joined ArtWorks!, one of CEPA’s after school programs. During the year-long advanced photography course, students worked with all of CEPA’s artists in residence—learning and working in their style, exhibiting their work throughout Buffalo, and producing a personal catalogue at the end of the program.

CEPA’s Art Programs in Schools

Darron is now a professional photographer, designer, and artist. Learn more about him at his website: www.darronlw.daportfolio.com »

“CEPA’s art programs helped shape my life in so many positive ways. The things I learned then are the foundation of what I do today. They have afforded me the chance to travel and be creative, a dream I have had since I was a child . . . a dream that CEPA’s program gave me a framework for. For that I will be forever grateful.”


Featured CEPA Intern: Christian Ruhl

Christian Ruhl was born in 1995 in Regensburg, Germany, and moved to Buffalo in 2007. His parents’ photography was his main inspiration when he bought his first used Nikon FM2 in 2008. Christian graduated from Williamsville North High School in 2013 and is currently attending Williams College, where he joined the sailing team and is the photo editor of the Williams Record, the school newspaper.

“I volunteered at CEPA during my Junior and Senior years of high school. It was probably the best and most valuable intern experience that I have had so far. It was my first introduction to how art galleries work on the inside, and it has made me decide to take Art and Art History classes at college. Now that I’m in college, I realize just how much I learned at the gallery. As a photo editor of the Record, I can use Photoshop and InDesign to work with the photographers and writers to help make the paper look as good as possible. It was a privilege to work there and also a lot of fun!”

CEPA’s Art Internship Program

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