Meet the Team 

 
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Max Frieder

Co-Founder, Co-Director

Max Levi Frieder is an artist and educator from Denver, Colorado who is based out of New York City. He graduated  from the Rhode Island School of Design with honors and a degree in Painting with a focus in “Community Based Public Arts” and received his Education Masters in Community Arts in Art and Art Education from the Teachers College, Columbia University. He has worked with communities in different contexts across the globe. His work ranges from community building in refugee crisis, hospital workshops, abuse and addiction counseling through art, trauma relief, reconciliation and conflict resolution. He leads collaborative mural programs as well as creating the Foundstrument Soundstrument Project, building interactive percussive sculptures out of Trash and recycled materials.  His projects have taken him from Israel and Palestine to the Jordanian-Syrian border, Turkey, India, New Zealand, Australia,  Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Mexico, Canada and throughout the United States. His work focuses on cultivating public engagement through creative facilitation and inspired participation.

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Joel Bergner

Co-Founder, Co-Director

Joel Bergner (aka Joel Artista) is an artist, educator and organizer of community-based public art initiatives with youth and communities around the world. He works in acrylic and aerosol, creating elaborate murals that explore social topics and reflect a wide array of artistic influences. Beyond his art, Joel has a background as a youth counselor and received his BA in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He has organized and facilitated community projects in over 20 countries across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Europe and North America, along the way developing his unique combination of community work and mural art in partnership with dozens of institutions, community groups and local artists. His projects have addressed issues including the Syrian refugee crisis, mass incarceration in the US, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the plight of street youth, gaining attention from international media outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and Reuters. Joel has a passion for connecting and sharing with people through collaborative art-making. His community and personal work can be seen at joelartista.com.


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Josey Mikulyuk-Belitsky

Operations Director

Josey spent 15 years in New York City’s public school system in a leadership role in Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood. She brings expertise in operations, communication and instructional capacities and is charged with building Artolution’s homebase in her hometown, New York City. Josey earned her first masters degree in Education from Brooklyn college and her second in School Building Leadership and Organization from Columbia’s Teachers College. Josey also holds an undergraduate degree in Communication from Villanova University. Josey’s passion for helping children is further fueled by Artolution’s mission of providing a means for resilience in children all over the world who are displaced or marginalized due to their ethnicity, race, gender, or sexual-orientation - bringing color, joy, and hope where there is little. She will support the team by expanding the capacity of the non-profit organization and supporting project work and coordination and hopes her role will give every opportunity to empower children to create positive change in their communities. Josey has run New York City’s internationally renowned marathon twice, and plans to run with Team Artolution in 2019.


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Suza Uddin

Artolution Rohingya Program and PR Manager, Bangladesh

Suza Uddin is a journalist and humanitarian specialist from Dhaka, Bangladesh. His work focuses issues of refugees and vulnerable minority communities. Since 2014, Suza has worked passionately on the plight of the Rohingya, bringing the crisis to the world's attention through fearless journalism and direct humanitarian support. In 2017, Suza risked his life to enter Rakhine State in Myanmar during the height of the genocide against the Rohingya, during which he was shot. His experience was featured on SKYTG TV and the documentary "Rohingya Untold Story."  Suza speaks Rohingya, Bengali and English fluently. He has a bachelor degree in Journalism and Media Studies from Stamford University, Bangladesh, and co-founded a school for social entrepreneurship. His experience includes work with many international media companies as a fixer and freelance producer, including the BBC, AP, Denmark TV2, SKYTG, Discovery Channel and the Italian and Polish press. Suza is the Deputy News editor of bdmorning.com. He spent two years as the Country Director of IMCHF. Suza participated in the Model United Nations in India and other important conferences internationally, and has worked as a volunteer counselor with the organization Bidyanondo. Suza manages and coordinates Artolution's ongoing arts-based programming in the Rohingya refugee camps and organizes PR and communications.  


International Partner Artists & Collaborators:

 
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The Artolution Rohingya Artist Team

Refugee Artist Team in the Rohingya Camps of Bangladesh

These passionate and talented artists are survivors of a genocide in Myanmar. Despite their trauma and challenges living in the world’s largest refugee camp, they are committed to leading Artolution programs to children in the camp, directly affecting the lives of thousands of youth each year. They facilitate pubic murals, dance workshops a variety of educational and creative programs, bringing joy to children who have experienced conflict and displacement. Through this work, the Artolution Rohingya Artist Team has partnered with UNICEF, UNHCR, the International Federation of the Red Cross/ Red Crescent, Save the Children, the World Food Program and many other organizations. Follow their work on their Rohingya Artolution Instagram page.


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Karla-Jayne Thomas

Dancer, performer, facilitator of youth performance projects: London/ NYC

Karla-Jayne Thomas, also known as CJ and Karlinha do Tamborim, is a Jamaican-English artist and educator in the areas of dance, improv comedy, theatre, percussion, singing and creative writing. She has a talent for combining the arts with her passion for teaching young people. Karla specializes in samba dancing and is a prominent member of the London School of Samba and Samba New York, both of which crowned her Queen of the Drums, the highest honor for a samba dancer. In 2014, she paraded at Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval as a passista in one of the world’s premier samba schools, Vila Isabel. Karla has performed in Hong Kong, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Finland, New York and her hometown of London, where she had the honor of performing for the Royal Family and at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony. She also has a passion for comedy and has studied improv, acting and writing comedy at the prominent UCB and The PIT, both in New York City, where she has also performed. As an official Lead Artist in Artolution, Karla co-facilitated a series of community-based public art projects in under-resourced communities across India in 2016, leading youth and adults in the creation of theatrical, musical and dance performances that addressed important social issues in their lives. She earned a BA in English Literature and Language from the University of Manchester, England and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York.


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The Artolution Syrian Artists

Syrian artist teams in the Azraq refugee camp and other refugee communities in Jordan

In the Azraq Syrian refugee camp of Jordan, Artolution has led capacity-building workshops with Syrian artists living in the camps, who have now led dozens of community-based public art programs with children and adolescents. Our Syrian artists are inspiring, resilient community leaders who have survived armed conflict, loss and displacement, but continue to work tirelessly to provide a platform for young Syrians to tell their stories through the arts. Their dozens of murals with local youth now shine brightly across the camp, bringing life and creativity to one of the most challenging environments on earth. Our teams in Jordan have worked with the International Refugee Committee, Care International, the German Development Agency, the Norwegian Refugee Council and others. Artolution is supporting the process of setting up ongoing, sustainable arts-based programming in Syrian refugee camps and host communities across the region led by these talented individuals.


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Sharon Virtue

Visual Artist, Dancer and Community Facilitator: US/ UK

Sharon Virtue is a ceramicist, mosaic artist, painter and dancer, with a BA in Fine Art from Sheffied Halam University, and Masters in Community Arts, from Goldsmiths University, UK. She has a strong social practice, which includes a background in sustainable architecture and community gardening projects that include art in environmental learning, allowing her to collaborate and contribute from a rich, varied, multi-skilled perspective.

Sharon started working in the field of community development in 2001 in Mozambique, where she worked with a group of homeless youth on a ceramic project. The project grew when the youth decided they wanted to build their own creative space to gather and make art in the town of Quelimane. Since then she has worked internationally on projects in various countries in Africa, Brazil, Haiti, USA and UK, with organizations such as Save the Children, Spectaculu, SWOPA, In Movement: Art for Social Change, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Trust for Public Land, Ruby’s Clay Studio and The De Young Museum.  She has worked both independently and with arts organisations as a professional artist and project manager for the past 22 years.

She believes artists are agents of transformation. Her mission is to inspire, encourage and provide access to the greater community in the creation of art. For more details on her community development and creative projects visit http://www.virtuevision.org

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Emma Altman

Fashion Designer/ Costume Design Workshops with Youth

Emma Altman is a fashion designer born and raised in New York, NY. She has been working in the fashion industry for the past eight years for major brands including Betsey Johnson, Victoria’s Secret and her brand Emma Altman Apparel. Her work includes clothing design, pre-production, print development, and CAD design, and she has worked on numerous NYC Fashion Week runway shows. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Apparel Design. Emma’s mission as a designer is to help bring out the inner confidence of others through self-image and self-expression. All her designs are vegan and cruelty free. She has fascilitated fashion & costume making workshops in New York & Lebanon with girls ranging from 10-16 years old. She has also given private lessons in fashion illustration and sewing to middle school students and has helped advise high school and college students on how to build their portfolio of work. Her apparel designs and styling have been featured in both national and international magazines, such as Vanity Hype (London), Gisele Magazine (Tokyo), Inked Magazine (New York), and Surreal Beauty (Germany). She has had NYFW runway shows for FW18 and SS19 at the Cipriani and the Manhattan Center for Style Fashion Week. 


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Camilo Echeverri

Photographer, Educator & Community Organizer, NYC / Colombia

Driven by the communicative capabilities of the still image, Camilo Echeverri has developed his professional portfolio in documentary photography and arts education. Using the camera as a research tool, Camilo discovered essential cultural elements of underserved communities in Colombia, South America. He continued his professional career at a Human Rights Institution in Cali, Colombia as the Creative Director where he lead grassroots campaigns, community programming and public art projects. From there on, Camilo headed to New York City to pursue a M.P.S in Arts and Cultural Management at Pratt Institute where he found new creative outlets in public art and arts education. Currently, Camilo is a Program Director at Brooklyn College Community Partnership for an after-school arts enrichment.

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Richard Gomez

Artist and Professor, Central Valley, California

Bio: Richard Gomez is a Chicano artist and professor who follows in the tradition of the Great Masters, specifically those of the 19th century Realists. His philosophy on art reflects his many influences; he teaches that painting is very much a science whose precepts must be understood to make it an art.  Gomez is deeply indebted to those who came before him, and feels a special connection to the European and American masters of the mid- to late 19th century, whose loose strokes and sound drawing are prevalent in his own work. His academic training is balanced by his roots in Mexican and Chicano art, which allow his own work a certain freedom in its conception and a radical purpose at its core.  

Gomez received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his M.F.A. from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He spent the summer of 2006 studying at the Ateliers du Carrousel les Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Gomez has been teaching a wide range of art classes through the Global Arts Studies Program (GASP) at UC Merced since 2010.

Artist Statement: My current work explores the many dynamics of Public Art and how community engagement dictates the experience and models the outcome.  It is my intent for the subject matter to promote cultural traditions reflective of the community, resulting in a sense of ownership and unified identity.  My work aims to address and change rooted stereotypes and visual clichés of culture and identity of the traditionally marginalized and challenge the canon of American Art


Ivan Asin

Artist And Educator, Chile/ NYC

Iván Asin is an NYC-based art educator from Santiago, Chile. His work focuses on organic art processes and community engagement through art. He studied Visual Arts at Montclair State University, earned a Masters Degree in Art & Design Education from Pratt Institute and is currently a Doctoral Candidate in the Art Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Since 2010, he has taught visual arts in the New York City public school system and community-based art programs in Amsterdam and New York. In 2015 he founded the Center for Art Education and Sustainability (CAES), an itinerant project that has carried out community-based organic art processes workshops in United States, Peru and Argentina, as well as professional development for art educators at conferences and higher education institutions. He has collaborated with Artolution on youth projects in Queens, New York and Lima, Peru. caes-eco-art.net


Zeba Rizvi

Art Therapist and Multi-Media Artist, Delhi, India

Zeba is a self taught artist, story teller, educator and community mobilizer, based in New Delhi, India. She specializes in using exercises from various art-forms such as art, craft, theatre, story telling, poetry and creative writing, to design group and individual interventions. Her work is aimed at providing therapy and using art for healing, empowerment, communication and training children in other essential Life Skills. Zeba has worked extensively with under-served communities, schools, children with special needs as well as survivors of abuse and conflict. She is passionate about making art with children in which they get to tell their stories in ways that are fun and creative, and at the same time give room to introspective dialogue and collective action. Her formal education has taken place all over India, with her finally settling for a Masters in Social Work from Delhi University. As a professional, Zeba doesn’t follow a strict schedule, instead trusts the structure to unfold itself in a way best suited for the children she works with; her belief is that though some of us may have lost this gift, children know how to be guided by pure, raw energy, which can never lead us wrong! Day to day, Zeba can be found swimming, procrastinating, failing miserably at cooking but still trying it the next time, looking at turtle and sharks on Instagram etc etc ad infinitum.