Our Teaching Artists

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 - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

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 - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Christian Coronado

Christian is a freelance photographer and is currently attending school for computer engineering. He has been involved with CEPA since 2012 now teaching youth and adult workshops.

Christian has always had an interest in photography since he was 9 and has taken his passion and turned it into a business that he loves. His depth of knowledge of the technical aspect of photography makes him invaluable when it comes to helping others in the field of photography. Christian currently works with CEPA managing social media while going to school full time.

Victoria Everett - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Victoria Everett

Victoria Everett is a freelance photographer specializing in portraiture, wall art and commercial photography. She has an Art Degree with a concentration in Photography from Buffalo State College.

Her work has been featured at shows such as the Czurles-Nelson Gallery and Project 308 Gallery. Victoria enjoys teaching technical and creative photography to students of all ages!

Aitina Fareed-Cooke - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Aitina Fareed-Cooke

Aitina Fareed-Cooke’s beginnings may not have started off ideal. Losing her biological mother to drug abuse, dealing with low self-esteem and depression, left her feeling worthless as a child. However through the support of her adoptive mother, a few mentors, and youth programs during her teens, she was given the opportunity to strive.

She learned about the “magic” of photography and film and since has started her own photo and film business, Get Fokus’d Productions, specializing in children & family portrait photography and commercial video. “My camera is my weapon of mass creativity and as the artist behind the lens I am able to capture reality’s truth with the hope to influence thought in those around me.”

Aitina has served as a Say Yes Community Schools’ Navigator, Young Audiences WNY Education Coordinator and Teaching Artist, Youth Services Site Coordinator with the CAO N.U.R.T.U.R.E. Academy, Boys & Girls Club Youth Development Professional, Youth Skill Builder and Mentor with The Heart Foundation and Gateway Longview, and CEPA Gallery Photography Teaching Artist. She currently dedicates her time to her photo and film business, serving as a teaching artists for Young Audiences WNY and CEPA Gallery, and managing a youth program/movement, Young & Fokus’d, that she created in order to promote youth who display dedication, perseverance, and “fokus” in their academics, arts, and/or their community. She teaches youth how to use art as their weapon and voice through life’s challenges. Her desire is not only to compose compelling images and film that allow viewers to reflect on life, evoke ideas, and to construct their own stories, but also to teach and inspire the next generation with this tool of expression.

Read Aitina’s testimonial about CEPA and photography, “She says that photography saved her life: From “troubled teen” to award winning photographer,” on WKBW Buffalo.

Karen Lee Lewis - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Karen Lee 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.

Sabrina Marrazzo - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Sabrina Marrazzo

Sabrina Marrazzo was introduced to CEPA Gallery at age 8 with a Summer Photography Camp. The program inspired her to venture off on an independent pursuit of digital photography. She rejoined CEPA in 2012 mentoring with Lauren Tent, Education Director. Not long after, she launched her own photography business specializing in portraits.

Sabrina became an assistant teaching artist with CEPA in 2013. She has been awarded Photographer’s Forum Magazine, Best High School and College Photographers 2015, WNY, and Best High School Sports Photographer, 2015. She is now a teaching artist at CEPA for the summer camps. In the Fall she will be attending her second year at The Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan for an AAS in Communication Design and a BFA in Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design with a minor in Art history.

Peter Meszynski - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Peter Meszynski

Peter Meszynski has made photography his calling and his passion for the last 35 years—and it’s the thing that will undoubtedly drive him insane someday. He doesn’t photograph subjects: he photographs the way they make him feel. He admits, it’s a bit of a strange concept. But it’s honest–and it’s the best way to describe his approach to the craft. He wrestles with every image he shoots, assuming perfection is possible and wanting to wring it out of every picture.

Peter is fortunate to be able to spend a good amount of time on personal projects, traveling and collaborating with a team of great people. If that’s all you ever know about him, it’s enough to say you know him very, very well. To learn more, visit his website at lensandview.com.

Megan Metté - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

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.

Visit meganmette.com to view her personal portfolio.

Danielle Perla - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Danielle Perla

Danielle Perla began teaching as a part of CEPA Gallery’s summer art programs in 2003, and she’s been hooked every since. “Seeing kids from all walks of life that are really interested in photography . . . it draws me back in every summer.”

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.

Joseph Poloncarz - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Joseph Poloncarz

Joseph Poloncarz is an autistic film photographer from City Honors who started on photography at the age of 12 at the 4-week program for Autism Services at CEPA Gallery.

In 2014, he became interested in film photography, and that spring he shot his first black-and-white film with Kodak TMax 100. Though it took him almost 2 years to learn how to develop black-and-white film himself without any problems, he continued to shoot and develop black-and-white film as well as color film in the right chemistry.

He began as a CEPA teacher assistant (with Sabrina Marrazzo) at the 2018 Summer Camp for Darkroom to teach the basic elements of photography and learn how to print using the darkroom and other darkroom basics to start their interest in the darkroom. He graduated from City Honors in 2019 with a Regents diploma.

Saffi Rigberg - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Saffi Rigberg

Saffi Rigberg is a photographer and photography instructor with a focus on children, families, and the special needs community.

She approaches both her personal work and work as an instructor with an element of inquisitiveness, self-exploration, and play. Using mindfulness in her workshops, she aims to teach the individual how to observe as a means of capturing the subject in a uniquely thoughtful way.

Her work has been displayed at Museu Cerdà in Puigcerdà, Spain.

Kim Sholly - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Kim Sholly

Kim has been teaching and sharing her love of the black and white darkroom since 1990, first in Madison, WI as a mini-course instructor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and then at the Center for Photography at Madison (which she co-founded).

She moved to Greenville, SC in 2002 and founded, directed and taught at the WestEnd Darkoom Photo School and worked full-time at the Metropolitan Arts Council, a non-profit arts organization advocating and supporting the thriving arts community in Greenville. She has exhibited her work widely around the Midwest and in Upstate South Carolina. She moved to Buffalo in late summer 2017 and looks forward to being part of CEPA and Buffalo’s vibrant photography community. And until she gets a darkroom set up in her Elmwood Village home, CEPA’s darkroom will become her beloved creative space.

She shoots primarily with homemade pinhole and 1960’s plastic toy cameras and says that the fun of shooting low-tech is the unpredictability of the resulting images, images that cannot be choreographed or reproduced and are only discovered later in the darkroom.

Jeannine Swallow - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Jeannine Swallow

Jeannine Swallow is a Buffalo native and Photographic Artist. She is passionate about analogue photography and alternative processes.

She received her Associates degree from Villa Maria College and later a BFA in Visual Studies, at the University of Buffalo. Owner and operator of FilmXposed, a local photography business specializing in creating contemporary and often surreal images; with a strong focus on multiple exposures.

Swallow possess an avid love for travel and has exhibited both internationally and through out the Buffalo area.

Megan Switala - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Megan Switala

Megan Switala was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and received her Bachelors of Fine Art Photography at Rochester Institute of Technology in May of 2019.

Megan has learned how to create different bodies of work that have personal meanings to her. She incorporates different stills on top of portraits to her line of work, if that involves different models and landscapes. She has now gone away from her work of models and fashion and is creating more work about herself. Megan has started taking different life situations and is creating them in a body of work, something that creates more of a personal meaning to herself.

Michelle Tomaino - Teaching Artist - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

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.