Member Directory

Artist Members | Friends of NoMAA

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Alain Gr-Polanco
Alain Gr-Polanco believes that art opens dialogue and helps connect communities through shared emotions. They grew up in Washington Heights, eating platanos and discovering the blatant contradictions in society. Their work strives to present complex topics infused with a sense of child-like playfulness and an eye-catching color palette. Their creations infuse photo, film, and sometimes sculptural elements, to evoke the most potent emotional response possible. Their creations hold a place between reality and fantasy, giving room to expanding the ideas of what we can be. They create for the child that never felt they belonged in the world, like their reality must have been the grandest fairytale, because their existence was sparsely captured, and when it had been, it felt ethnographic and voyeuristic. Always one-dimensional and stereotypical. Alain aims to showcase the diversity and beauty of their people, while also giving them a voice and a place in history that belongs to them. They are building on those that came before them, adding to our shared artistic history, while also making way so those after can reach even further.
Bernard Winter
I have been a painter, and an art teacher with the New York City Department of Education since 1986. I retired from full time teaching in 2021, and currently am teaching my own art afterschool program at the Manhattan School for Children on the Upper West Side. I am married to Sandra Winter, a singer-songwriter and ordained minister. We live in the Washington Heights area of New York City.
Beth Crandall
Beth is a choreographer and dance educator based in NYC. Her experience ranges from Broadway, Off-Broadway and Broadway tours, to Tony Award-winning regional houses, to renowned fashion brand Gucci.
As a performer Beth was seen on Broadway in West Side Story, on national and international tours, at top regional theaters, in short films, on SNL and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Beth choreographed The Sound of Music and Matilda at The Muny. She was recently commissioned to choreograph the original work In the Pocket for Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. She also recently choreographed West Side Story for the Abilene Opera.
Additional choreographic work on Broadway/Off-Broadway: Gettin’ the Band Back Together, High Button Shoes, The New Yorkers, and 1776. Other highlights: Footloose and The Music Man at The Kennedy Center, The Drowsy Chaperone and Because of Winn Dixie at Goodspeed Opera House, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, My Fair Lady, West Side Story and Newsies at The Muny. She assisted the highly stylized Gucci Showtime campaign and Target’s 20 Years of Fashion for All for NY Fashion Week.
She earned her BFA from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. She is a year round faculty member at the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School in NYC and choreographs for The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in NYC.

Carol Diamond
Carol Diamond has focused her studio practice in New York City, as a painter and multimedia artist with an emphasis on urban themes, translated through architectural subjects and abstract sculpture. She is an tenured adjunct associate professor in the Foundation Department of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, and teaches at CUNY City College of Technology.
Chris McNiff
I an an actor, choreographer, and video editor based in New York City. Born in Manhattan, I grew up just outside the city in Westport, CT. I attended Elon University, where I received my BFA in Music Theatre. I have performed in multiple national tours and regional productions, and continue to work and live in New York City, pursuing a career in the arts.
Christopher Priore
A pioneer of skywriting as an art medium, Christopher Priore is also an established contributor to innovative painting practices. His colorful dimensional paintings extend his career-long exploration of art that comes off the wall and out into the viewer’s physical space. The artist's solo exhibitions in galleries and museums in New York and nationally have been discussed in all forms of media. He holds an MFA in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, and a BFA in Art from Carnegie Mellon University. Born in Buffalo and raised in Pittsburgh, his home and art studio are in Washington Heights, in Upper Manhattan.
Deborah Ziffer
Deborah Ziffer, the creator of Zeffa Designs, grew up in France, receiving her initial Art training in Montpellier and Paris, before continuing her studies in the United States. She lives and works in New York City.
Dunja Messer-Jourdain
I am a painter and fashion designer. I grew up designing fashion in my family's master tailor atelier in Germany. That’s when I developed my passion for art and design. Fabrics have always fascinated me – the textures, the colors and the making of fabrics. When I paint, I create my own fabrics on canvas - matte and glittery textures turn into my visual delights. It’s a very emotional process. I found myself in my art.

I attended the College for Design in Hanover, Germany and the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen, Germany where I graduated in international management with a focus on the textile industry in Fair Trade. I studied design, the making of textiles and coloring at Co-Optex International company in Chennai, India. Currently, I work from my studio in New York City.

Edi Friedlander
Foyer is a multidisciplinary research-based artist who explores wrapping cultures, the materiality of wrapping and its cross-cultural rituals to tell ancestral stories and to examine forms of social injustice. In her painting, drawing and sculptural works, Foyer exposes the process of becoming, marking time with tireless gestural motions and micro repetitive layering.

Born and raised in Togo, West Africa, Foyer was first introduced to drawing and clothing design at age 8 by assisting her fashion designer and dressmaker mother in her Atelier. Foyer came to the United States in 1990 where she obtained her BS in Economics from Baruch College, CUNY and her MS in Urban Studies from The New School, Milano School of Policy, Management and Environment. Foyer maintained a studio practice in New York City since 2009 and in 2018, she went back to school to finish her M.F.A. Program at Lesley University, College of Art + Design in Cambridge, MA.

Foyer’s works have been shown internationally and nationally; and a few of her artworks are in private collections.

EMIT Theatre
At the core of Emit Theatre is a dedication to inclusive learning through the arts, placing artists and audiences side by side to provide one-of-a-kind opportunities for wonder and discovery. Emit is an interactive educational theatre company committed to sharing high-quality arts experiences with diverse young audiences in non-traditional settings and unique, ADA compliant spaces. By crafting portable productions lifted from Shakespearean texts as well as innovative new works, we invite each audience member to approach our immersive productions from their own curiosity.
Gabriel Ortiz
A photographer since my youth, born and raised in Washington Heights. I'm focused on capturing the moment and mood. using the camera to freeze time for just a moment.
Garnet Henderson
Garnet Henderson is a dancer, choreographer, and journalist. Born and raised in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, she has lived in New York City since 2009. Her choreographic work has been presented at the Flea Theater, HERE Arts Center, the 92nd Street Y, the West End Theater, Arts on Site, Triskelion Arts, and Gibney Dance. She was a Women in Motion 2017-2018 Commissioned Artist. She has also performed in works by Mark Dendy, Jordan Morley, Faye Driscoll, Ori Flomin, Kyle Abraham, David Parker, Larry Keigwin, Reggie Wilson, Colleen Thomas, and Heidi Henderson, and appears in the feature film Shirley, directed by Josephine Decker and choreographed by Faye Driscoll. Garnet is a proud member of Dance Artists’ National Collective, where she has co-organized policy campaigns for the New York Health Act, the PRO Act, and a New York WPA.
Gwendolyn Black
I am a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where I studied fashion illustration and general illustration. Over the past 25 plus years, I have been involved in presenting, promoting and producing cultural events in the Harlem community as well as other boroughs. This year marks my 33rd year of advocating for the visual side of jazz and my 19th Annual Arts and Jazzfest NYC™/Visual Arts and Jazzfest NYC™ music and arts festival. Aside from my producing, I currently work as a teaching artist and educator along with exhibiting my works of art dedicated to jazz music
Jazz Power Initiative
Jazz Power Initiative (JPI) is a non-profit, New York City, community-based organization, founded in 2003. Jazz Power serves thousands of New Yorkers and visitors annually - students, teachers, artists, seniors and general audiences, ages 8-80+, to promote youth development, and build more creative and inclusive communities through jazz music, theater and dance education and performance. Led by highly experienced teaching and performing artists who are award-winning jazz, theater, and dance professionals, JPI offers multidisciplinary training, scholarships and performance opportunities to New York City youth, ages 8-22, from every economic and social milieu at low or no cost to families, with extended outreach to students in under-served New York City public schools in Northern Manhattan. We currently engage hundreds of students and their teachers annually, providing after-school instruction mainly in Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood (where our offices are located) and the Bronx. Our programs include after-school youth workshops at the United Palace; our monthly Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem; local community senior center workshops, and our annual Jazz Power Summer Institute at Lehman College (CUNY) for artists and educators.
Jennifer Sanchez
I live and paint in NYC. During the pandemic, I’ve been making more collages out of necessity. In the beginning, supplies were limited. Plus, I needed a quick creation fix to deal with the anxiety of everything. Collaging is spontaneous, with patterns and ideas coming fast and plenty. I’m also painting even more color sketches. Playing with basic color theories to create dramatic spectrums

Both processes are easy going, playful and restorative; some much needed pandemic art therapy. But all my work is some sort of bright collage or mashup of ideas. All in the service of creating something that delights the eye.

I use colorful geometric patterns to create paintings that dazzle. Visual impact is what I’m after; the macro and the micro. They look precise from a distance, but get closer and you’ll see their looseness. Each mark reveals the rhythm and attention needed to craft the painting, and provides a sneak peak into the studio. Wobbly grids, sinuous blobs and transparent colors indicate little desire for perfection, but great care in organizing. That discord interests me.

Kirby Fields
Kirby Fields is the Artistic Director of UP Theater. UP Theater offers fully produced professional theater to its community in Northern Manhattan, and develops new plays – employing many theater artists who live here. Despite our parochial concerns, UP is no “community theater.” We eschew crowd-pleasing chestnuts in favor of daring new work that challenges its audience’s preconceived notions about what they think they think.
Laurence Elle Groux
Laurence (Elle) Groux is an introspective self-taught artist working in stoneware ceramics and oil etching. The core inspiration of her work is the human psyche. Born and raised in a small village in Switzerland, Groux moved to the US in 1996 where she was immersed in the New York art scene.

Influenced by artistic practices and design motifs found in Pre-Colombian, Mesopotamian, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Modernism and Outsider's arts, Groux’s ceramic works are tactile, curvilinear abstract sculptures accentuated by organic shapes and patterns. Her oil etchings further explore the possibilities of line and shape in intricate and delicate patterns of embellishment. Groux’s work inspires visual curiosity through the generous movement of material and coalesces as tangible objects of energy and beauty.

Elle’s work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions in New York, Switzerland, and Philadelphia and are housed in collections in Pennsylvania, New York, California, Switzerland, Canada and Mexico. Additionally, she is the recent recipient of Best in Show for Sculpture 2021 at the Ellarslie Museum in Trenton, NJ, juried by Dr. William R. Valerio, Director of the Woodmere Museum of Philadelphia, PA.

Lola Koundakjian
Lola Koundakjian, a longtime resident of Washington Heights, is a poet who writes in Armenian and English, and a visual artist devoted to ceramics, watercolor and photography.
Lola has exhibited throughout New York City, and was invited to international poetry festivals in Quebec, South America and the Middle East. Since 2006 she has curated the Armenian Poetry Project.
A NOMAA double grantee for Literary Arts, Lola’s work has appeared in journals and anthologies. For more information visit

Lora Danley
Lora Danley is a photographer, a writer, and an educator. Her visual art explores the abstract qualities found in the environment around her whether that be graffiti, paint drippings, crumbling walls, or even the knots on a tree. She has exhibited her photographs in New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. She has written four full length plays, numerous short plays, and a memoir and is currently working on a science fiction novel. Her short plays have been produced throughout the New York City area and her full-length plays have won several awards.
Lyndell Brookhouse-Gil
Representational narrative painter and performance artist. I am dedicated to often overlooked imagery that takes intimate views of environments, people and cultures around me. I am interested in storytelling and invoking atmospheric imagery that inspires the viewer to feel a moment. As a young artist I was nurtured by the explorative downtown NY art scene in the 80s, creating performance art, graffiti, experimental music, paintings, and Cuban Folkloric music. I use painting as a tool to inspire, communicate, investigate, and critique.
MaryBeth Rodgers
MaryBeth Rodgers is a graduate of the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program, where she double majored in Dance and Economics with a minor in Classical Civilization. She has worked with Matthew Westerby Company, Buglisi Dance Theater, Michael Mao Dance Company, People’s Theatre Project, Pied Piper Children’s Theater, and JUNTOSCollective, and has worked on Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She has studied at the Ailey School, the Graham School, Hubbard Street Chicago, and Movement Invention Project. She has received artistic grants from Fordham University’s Deans and the Martha Hill She is the co-founder of Artist After Hours, and currently teaches and choreographs for theatre and concert dance.
Melissa Riker
Melissa Riker is Artistic Director and Choreographer of Kinesis Project dance theatre.
Kinesis Project is a non-profit organization that creates site specific dance performances and facilitates educational programs. The company produces large-scale, space-changing and unexpectedly intimate dances. Kinesis Project is at the forefront of the international discussion of placemaking, art engagement with diverse communities and the cultural imperative of art in public spaces.

Michael Blake
In a career spanning three decades, New York City saxophonist Michael Blake has created an impressive body of work in the field of contemporary music. As a leader he has over a dozen albums to his name, featuring the saxophonists riveting compositions and imaginative arrangements. His original music embraces sonic dimensions beyond the traditional structures that define the art form of jazz. A constant force on the New York music scene, Blake’s music has brought him widespread critical acclaim. On both the tenor and soprano saxophones, Michael continues to refine and develop a personal style that is immediately identifiable. His most recent projects include Blake & Brass XL, a modern brass quintet featuring tuba virtuosos Bob Stewart and Marcus Rojas and Chroma Nova, a group with Brazilian percussion and strings.
Noëlle King
Noëlle King is an artist practicing in Manhattan. Her work has been shown at numerous venues in the USA and abroad. She has an MFA from School of Visual Arts NYC in Art Practice and a Certificate in Painting and Drawing from RISD. Her works range from paintings, drawings, sculpture, and textiles to collaborative public projects, often created with her students. She believes art is healing for the artist, the viewer, and the community.
People's Theatre Project
People's Theatre Project (PTP) creates ensemble-based theatre with Latinx, Black, and immigrant communities of color to build an antiracist world and strengthen the movement for social justice.

Led by immigrant artists, PTP was founded in 2009 and is the largest performing arts organization in Washington Heights and Inwood.

People's Theatre Project’s programmatic cycle includes: PTP Partnerships, an in-school theatre residency focused on celebrating culture and identity, while fostering listening and communication skills; the PTP Academy, a multi-year theatre and social justice program dedicated to the holistic development of immigrant youth leaders; and the PTP Company, a touring company comprised entirely of Latinx, Black, and immigrant artists of color. PTP artists and audiences deepen their sense of power and strengthen their connection to community, reimagining and building a more equitable world.

Risa Hirsch Ehrlich
In a bow of gratitude to the American Abstract Expressionists and certain Japanese traditions, I have made works in various clay bodies (porcelain, earthenware, stoneware etc.), for three decades and been privileged to finish my pieces in electric, gas and wood-- and rarely -- raku firings. I am honored to do this work!
Roberta Berman
Roberta Berman (playwright, director, multi-media artist) Plays: (Inner Dialogue, Talking While Thinking About Writing, Dialogue at 3am, Love Child-A Family Saga); Art films: (Midnight to Midnight and Prehistoric Blues) with scores composed by Frank Ponzio; Co-founder, director, writer of Co-Motion Mime Company (Boston, 1978-79); Percussive Sculptures, inter-active art: (exhibits include Lincoln Center Gallery, Studio Gallery 88, NYC, Jazz clubs with guest artists, Marie Christine @Vivien Beaumont Theatre, Crowns @Arena Stage, Wash. DC; Haifa Univ., Israel, Fulbright-sponsored. Sculpture textbook (The Art of Shop) published by Bank Street College.
Tami Tyree
Tami Tyree is a singer/actress/ playwright/ writer/historian of African American history and culture and graduate of Howard University's Theater and Communications department(s). Ms. Tyree is the recipient of numerous artistic and cultural awards and citations for her concerts, workshops, literature, and theatrical endeavors. Known as 'the echo of our ancestors.' the mission of her productions is to educate, enlighten, and entertain.
Tiffany Dugan
Tiffany Dugan is a collage and book artist and writes creative non-fiction and poetry. Much of her visual art incorporates personal writing that she works into her collages, artist books, and paintings. Layering words and images, she explores the interplay of form and color until the original context is abstracted into new meaning, sometimes abandoning language altogether. She is currently working on a memoir about growing up as the daughter of an artist and, after her father's death, the struggles of preserving its legacy while embracing her own creative practice. Tiffany was the recipient of the 2019 Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship for creative non-fiction and a 2020 Denis Diderot Grant recipient for the Artist-in-Residence at Chateau d’Orquevaux. Tiffany lives in upper Manhattan.
Tom Sanford
The American artist, Tom Sanford, was born in New York in 1975 and spent his formative years in the United Kingdom. He has lived in West Harlem since 1994. Sanford's work, primarily paintings and drawings, have been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums and art fairs over a career that spans the 21st century.
Uniqua ( Robin) Simmons
Uniqua Simmons
Uniqua Simmons born and raised in Harlem is a Certified Fitness Practitioner, Performance Artist, Self -Taught Jewelry Artist, Multidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary Artist. She writes and creates Art about her Culture, Muses, Wellness, Liberation, Community, Diversity, Healing & Peace, and empowerment work. Using Arts and Education for all abilities.
Creating personal and community quilts, fiber Art and decorative books are some of her favorite Arts to create and share.
She is an active Teaching Artist in diverse communities using Art, Fitness and Wellness to educate, heal, and create platforms to collaborate and exprees Arts and Culture.
She is the Creative Artistic Director of My Art M.A.D.N.E.S.S ( My Art, Making Art, Diverse, Necessary, Educational, Sustainable, Selfless) Unique Differences, DanceSense Wellness, Afya Afro Jazz, and Eclectic Butterfly Dance Theatre
Her Jewelry designs, Arts, Performance and Wellness have been shared, seen and exhibited in Essence Magazine, Essence Catalog, Brooklyn Museum Shop, Eileen Fisher, Gallery Vercon, The Brownstone Woman, Arsenal Gallery - Central Park, Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, Buunni Coffee West Harlem Arts, Children’s Art Carnival, Emblem Health, Natural Awakenings , Daily News, The African Burial Ground National Monument, Dance Parade
Contact Information:,,,, IG- myartmadness, afyaafrojazz, FB Uniqua Simmons

Vicky Stein
I am a mixed media collage artist living and working in Northern Manhattan.

I draw inspiration from the dense woods and majestic waters I see on my walks and from my windows. Manhattan is not all skyscrapers and subways!

In this city I love – a city that is never still – I create work that draws you close. It is work without noise and distractions. This is my refuge. My meditation.