ArtStart Artists

The artists who are on our roster hold values similar to the organization, that is the commitment to inspiring creativity through quality arts experiences. Roster artists value both process and product in the act of creating a work. They encourage exploration and refinement of ideas, as well as careful craftsmanship. They emphasize the historical and cultural context of art work and use this knowledge as an underpinning for the art project. Finally, they understand the importance of active reflection on art.

Gustavo Boada
Julie Kastigar Boada
Jeanette Dickinson

Jeanette Dickinson has varied experience in the visual arts including sculpture, painting, illustrating, and printing. She has also been a member of the Minnesota Japan America Sumi-e Club since 2001. She received BA in art with a focus on sculpture, from the University of Minnesota. Jeanette has works in private collections, and recently illustrated the book, Nature Seeker Workbook. She has worked with children and adults of all ages making art. Her major focus in teaching has been combining art, nature and culture. “It is my belief that bringing art to a community is an expression of how we perceive, respond and record the world around us. We share in a moment of creation our thoughts, feelings and history as an individual and as a society.”

Meg Erke

Meg Erke is a painter, collage and book artist and art educator. Before working as a professional artist, Meg was a visual arts teacher in middle and high schools. Meg loves taking old discarded things like windows, old books, maps, and fabric and bringing new life to them through art. In addition to working with youth, Meg has developed and implemented art lessons in a variety of mediums for adults with developmental disabilities.

Tara Fahey

Tara Fahey is a multi-disciplinary artist,performer, and educator. Within their art, the layers of connection between the natural world, science, and spiritual relationship are interwoven. Since 2008, they created large dimensional puppets for Barebones outdoor night pageants, specializing in lanterns. In anchoring community printing workshops with Barebones for 15 years, Tara has learned and practiced silkscreen design and production. In 2019, with support from the Jerome Foundation Puppet Lab program at In the Heart of the Beast,Tara crafted a solo work,“Devotion: The Early Years of Rachel Carson” , honoring the gifted scientist and writer. Their love of teaching is rooted in the joy of intergenerational sharing. This work spanning over 20 years includes classes, curriculum creation, and residencies at schools, libraries, and community centers throughout the Midwest.

Shakun Maheshw

Shakun Maheshwari is a visual artist who specializes in photography, graphic design, henna art, painting, and textiles. Her residency work with students meshes her Indian heritage with contemporary life—a blend of folk art and graphic design, traditional styles with modern materials, impermanent with permanent. While she often teaches and demonstrates the traditional techniques of henna, rangoli, and batik, she also enjoys applying the designs and techniques in inventive ways. She has taught students from pre-k through senior high, from special needs to advanced adult artists. Her greatest satisfaction comes from passing on her cultural and artistic knowledge to the next generation.

Marie Olofsdotter

Marie Olofsdotter is a Swedish-born artist, who’s been drawing pictures as far back as she can remember. She’s never stopped being creative, and nowadays she creates books for young readers, paints, and writes poems. Her accolades include a Minnesota Book Award, a Loft Mentor Series Award in Poetry, and grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. In 2013, she created the Official Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Art. Marie has inspired young and old alike to be creative for over 25 years. She credits her work as a teaching artist to her two years in clown school in Stockholm and California because it motivated her to bring her visual and literary arts to large audiences, and she swears by the Steve Linsner quote that says, “A clown is a poet who is also an orangutang.”

Anne Sawyer

Anne Sawyer stepped into the role of Executive Director in 2023 after serving for many years as one of its anchor teaching artists. She is a puppeteer, author, and arts educator with a strong commitment and connection to ArtStart’s mission. With deep roots in the Twin Cities arts community, she has worked with organizations such as Heart of the Beast and the stilt group Hijinks Stilts (formerly Chicks on Sticks). To date, she has created three picture books: Nalah and the Pink Tiger, Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City, and Mars on Life. She has created commissioned works for the Minneapolis Institute of Art, MacPhail Center for Music, Open Eye Theater, and Gustavus Adolphus College. Prior to the pandemic, she also found great fulfillment teaching visual art to adults with disabilities at Lifeworks Day Centers in Brooklyn Park and Eagan.

Amber Talyor

Amber Talyor began her career in education over 12 years ago as a classroom science teacher. After receiving a masters in environmental education, however, she found a new path as an educator and worked as a naturalist with organizations like MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge and The Raptor Center. Currently, when not teaching with ArtStart, she works for MN Trout Unlimited coordinating their statewide education program called Trout in the Classroom.

Fode Bangoura

Fode Bangoura born in Conakry, Guinea,Fode Bangoura has been recognized internationally for his work as the lead drummer with the acclaimed ensembles “Les Merveilles de Guinea” and the national ballet of Guinea, “Les Ballets Africains.” Fode was the resident drummer for the Alvin Ailey School in New York in addition to being the principal drummer for the most respected and talented dancers in the African Dance World, including Youssouf Koumbassa, Mamady Sano, and Djoniba Mouflet.

Whitney McClusky

Originally from New York Whitney McClusky began studying African Dance at the Djoniba Dance and Drum Center NYC with Master Dancers Djoniba Mouflet and Youssouf Koumbassa. Since moving to the Twin Cities in 2001 Whitney has performed with “Les Gitanes” under the Direction of William Atchouellou, choreographed for Dance in the Dark, Black Choreographers Evening, B-Girl Be, Choreographers Evening at The Walker and Rhythmically Speaking Presents. Currently Whitney serves as Director of Duniya as well as teaching at Saint Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Carleton College, and FAIR Arts Middle School.

Douglas Ewart

Born in Jamaica, is a professional musician, composer, and instrument builder. He is an adjunct music professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago. His appearances in the Twin Cities and Chicago are met with rave reviews by the contemporary music community in which Ewart showcases his musical and instrument construction skill performing/ improvising on instruments he builds using a variety of recycled and salvaged materials. Ewart is much sought after artist-in-residence in the schools and has taught in ArtStart’s summer interdisciplinary arts program since its inception in 1992.

Linda Hashimoto

Linda Hashimoto is the founder and instructor of Sansei Yonsei Kai Japanese children and adult dance group. She is very active in the community serving as vice-president of Saint Paul Nagasaki Sister City Committee and she serves on the advisory board of the Pan Asian Dance Festival and the St. Paul Foundation Asian Pacific Endowment. She is the cultural performance chair of the Dragon Festival and performs each year with Sansei Yonsei Kai at ArtStart’s EcoArts Fest.

Ghana Mbaye

Ghana was born in Senegal, West Africa. His music is inspired by the spiritual songs and rhythms of the Baye Fall, a unique group within the Muslim religion, characterized spiritually by their dedication to hard work, education and tranquility. Ghana performs with various world music groups around the Twin Cities. Since moving to the United States in 2000, he has committed his life to teaching African drumming, dance, and customs to children in and around the Twin Cities. Learning to play the drum takes a great deal of energy and concentration, both qualities that help students become better learners. Ghana is a dynamic teacher who raises the energy level of the classroom to new heights.

Tim O’Keefe

Tim O’Keefe has been active performing and teaching around the Twin Cities, nationally and internationally for over forty years. His long career has included performances with many highly renowned world music artists including Simon Shaheen, Jovino Santos Neto, Siwan Perwar, Nirmala Rajesker, Sakhar Hatter and many more. He is a founder of many world music ensembles locally and composes for theater and dance productions. Tim is also a longtime teacher specializing in instruments and styles not usually taught in many institutions. From lecture demos to hands on, he tailors these for all ages and has worked extensively in public and private school systems and universities. Tim holds a Smithsonian World Music Instructor certificate

Christopher Yaeger

Christopher Yaeger has played a variety of roles in dance and theater since his early school days. As an independent teaching artist, he works in schools and performs on stages across the globe including the Twin Cities, Budapest, Prague, Las Vegas, and Seoul. He is an ACE dance specialist with the Perpich Center for Arts Education. The ACE Dance Program trains teachers to use dance as a distinct area of study, as well as integrate it with other subject areas. He is also the Director of Dance Hall Days Dance Company and is a featured artist on the Young Audiences and Minnesota State Arts Board rosters, as well as ArtStart.


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