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Cultural Center Staff and Instructors

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About the Cultural Center

Staff

Christopher McDoniel - Arts Coordinator III

Christopher McDoniel has been a dedicated Cobb County PARKS professional since 2017! He began his journey at the Mable House Arts Center where he started as an Arts Recreation Leader and subsequently promoted and taking on the roles of Arts Recreation Specialist, Arts Coordinator I, Interim Arts Coordinator III, Ceramics Studio Manager, and PARKS Mascot (Parker). Christopher holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Ceramics from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Business Administration from Louisiana State University. In his free time, you can find Christopher sculpting in clay, hiking Kennesaw Mountain or shopping for more additions to his vinyl collection. 

Contact Christopher for Rentals, Facility Information, Classroom Programming and General Inquiries. Christopher can be contacted at: Christopher.McDoniel@cobbcounty.org

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Headshot of Christopher McDoniel

Lexi Brendel - Arts Coordinator I

Lexi Brendel has her Master of Arts in Museum Studies and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing, both from Kennesaw State University. Coming from a long line of quilters, Lexi’s graduate dissertation focused on quilting and community building in Southern Appalachia. While she loves folk and fiber arts, her own artistic specialty is oil painting. She enjoys introducing children and adults alike to new avenues of art making. When she isn’t in the center or creating art, you can find Lexi listening to horror novels while playing Animal Crossing. Lexi’s excited to work with Cobb County again!

Contact Lexi for Teaching Opportunity, Gallery Exhibits, Classroom Programming and General Inquiries. Lexi can be contacted at: Lexi.Brendel@cobbcounty.org

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Photo of LBrendel

Adilene Padilla - Arts Recreation Specialist

Adilene Padilla has her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation from Kennesaw State University and is working towards her Masters in Library and Information Science. She is also a freelance artist who enjoys creating anything from oil paintings to comics. In her free time she can be found reading horror books, thrifting, or drawing. As an Arts Recreation Specialist Adilene works to promote the services and classes offered by Sewell Mill and she hopes to share the love of art to others. 💖

Contact Adilene for General Inquires, Class Registration, Class Information and Payments. Adilene can be contacted at: adilene.padilla@cobbcounty.org

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Adilene Padilla Photo

Charles Thomas - Arts Recreation Specialist

My name is Charles Thomas and I'm a Rec. Specialist here at Sewell Mill. My entire life I was told that I'm a very different and unique individual so I don't really consider myself from planet earth. But let's just say I was "raised" in Columbus, Georgia but I'm REALLY from the planet Neptune. I graduated with a Business Management degree with a concentration in sports management from Allen University c/o 2020. Also, I'm the VERY first Vice President of the Sports Management Society at Allen University. While attending Allen University, I found out that I have a passion for music and poetry. I placed top 3 in several open mics, pageants and musical contests performed in North Carolina, South Carolina, and of course Georgia. As I evolve and grow older, I love to learn about new things and I look at life as a big masterpiece of art work.

Contact Charles for General Inquires, Class Registration, Class Information and Payments. Charles can be contacted at: Charles.Thomas@cobbcounty.org

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Photo of Charles Thomas for SMCC Bio

Donyeer White - Arts Recreation Specialist

Contact Donyeer for General Inquires, Class Registration, Class Information and Payments. Donyeer can be contacted at: Donyeer.White@cobbcounty.org

 

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Woman wearing red shirt smiling at camera

Instructors

Bill Ensign

After watching my wife Renee produce beautiful functional pots for several years, I finally decided to sit down at the wheel about fifteen years ago. Although my involvement was initially intended as a “stress reduction” mechanism from my full-time job as a biology professor at Kennesaw State, I found myself being drawn deeper and deeper into the world of ceramics.  The art and science of glaze formulation and firing appeals to my technical side, while the physical products provide a type of immediate gratification that was often absent in my work as an educator.  I’m drawn to strong functional pieces with surfaces that capitalize on the directional effects created in wood and soda atmospheric firings and I look forward to being able to explore this line of work more fully now that I have retired from my academic position.

I’m also excited to be able share my love of clay through teaching. As I’ve developed my own skills in clay, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from a multitude of talented ceramic artists.  As I work with aspiring potters on the wheel, I strive to “channel” whichever mentor’s voice seems most appropriate to the challenge facing the student I’m working with.

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Man with blue hat

Colleen Dixon

Colleen is a classically trained pianist who began piano at the age of 6. Her love of music began early and led her to develop her talent and rise the love of competitive performance. She has competed on behalf of her former music studio, as well as state wide competitions in her home state Missouri. 
Colleen has her Bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Human Resource Management. She has been performing for over 20 years and has 15 years of private lesson instruction experience. She believes that commitment and discipline are necessary to learn the fundamentals. After that, your soul gets to dance! 

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Colleen Dixon Headshot

Gloria Chan

Gloria Chan is a fine art instructor with 7 years of experience in facilitating learning in the fine art focusing on realism and traditional mediums. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art from Kennesaw State University (2021). She is specialist in watercolor, oil paint, and graphite as a medium for creating art.

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Woman looking forward with classes

Inna Beker

Inna Beker is a contemporary fused glass artist based in Marietta, GA. She works with fusible glass by manipulating colors and shapes, creating unique decorative art. Most of her work is medium-to-large hanging wall art although she also enjoys creating 3-D fused glass pieces.
 
Inna has always loved art and creating things by hand. Her passion for glass art truly began in 2018 when she got the chance to try working with glass for the first time. Since then, she has not been able to put it down. She has exhibited in several juried and non- juried shows in Georgia, Florida, Virginia and New Mexico.
 
Inna was born in Ukraine, and grew up frequently traveling between Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, where she spent many hours in the forest hiking, collecting berries and mushrooms, and soaking up the quiet peace of the forest where her love of nature began.

“I am constantly fascinated by how glass changes its shapes, colors.and sizes. Very often, I am quite surprised by what I find when I open my kiln.”

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Inna Beker Photo

Jeff Pergl

Jeff Pergl has been teaching yoga as a certified instructor for 14 years. His inviting approach make learning both understandable and achievable. He specializes in teaching those with little or no prior experience, providing modifications to poses when needed. Come have fun and learn what a mind/body yoga experience can be!

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Marise Fransolino

Marise Fransolino, born in Brazil, received her Masters Degree in Product Design from North Carolina State University. She found her passion in ceramics over 22 years ago, and since then, as a Studio Potter, she continues to broaden her knowledge, researching new techniques and exploring the media. Her work has been featured in small galleries, gift shops, outdoors juried arts festivals and invitational art shows.

She has taught ceramics classes and workshops in many art centers in the Atlanta metropolitan area and in Brazil. As an Instructor, she hopes to inspire others to love ceramics as much as she does, by sharing her knowledge in a friendly, relaxed and fun environment. In each class, she provides step-by-step demonstrations and aids the students according with individual skill levels, encouraging   independence and personal expression.​

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Marise Fransolino

Maya Gadson

My name is Maya Gadson, owner of Zane’ Candle Company. I learn how to make candle during Covid 2020. I was curious how you make candles. Never crossed my mind before. During Covid I experimented with different types of wax, including soy, paraffin, and coconut, and found that each one offered its own unique characteristics and benefits.

For the past three years, I've been hosting candle-making classes for beginners and intermediate learners. My classes cater to those who want to learn the basics and create their own custom candles with unique decorations. There's something special about watching students and guests faces light up when they see their finished creations come to life. It's a truly rewarding experience that I cherish.

 

Favorite Scent:

My favorite scent is anything fresh, earthy, and sweet. Fresh linen scent is my go to scent. The clean atmosphere smell is so hard to resist. 

 

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Maya Gadson

Prodigy Performing Arts

   PRODIGY PERFORMING ARTS LLC is a dance and performing arts studio that prides itself on offering quality arts instruction while sharing the joy of artistic expression with every student. We strive to aid the development of young performers so that they will not only excel on the stage but will confidently express themselves in all areas of life. Dance lessons become life lessons such as putting forth one's best effort, advocating for oneself by asking questions, trying new things, practicing teamwork, and being bold, brave, confident, and prepared.

Our teaching staff has dedicated much of their lives to the performing arts, and it all began with our teachers making it fun. We were enthralled and inspired, loved and challenged. Passing on that legacy to our students is very important to us. Founded in 2006, Prodigy Performing Arts has been dedicated to enriching the lives of children in the Metro Atlanta area, sharing the art of dance, drama, music, and movement for 15 years. 

Visit Prodigy Performing Arts Website

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Ballerina posed head down arms stretched out

Reid Stevens

 

Reid Stevens is an American record producer, singer-songwriter & multi-instrumentalist, based out of Atlanta, GA. With degrees in Media Arts and Business from the University of South Carolina, Stevens founded the music production & promotion label, 33 1/3 Records, in 1999, to serve as a platform for releasing his work as a producer and songwriter. Since its inception, 33 1/3 Records has evolved into an agency that not only produces music, but also operates as a platform for exposure for artists and bands. 

Stevens recently produced Step Inside for 33 1/3 Records as well as singles, EPs, compilations & albums for artists & bands. Stevens has also been featured in the "At Home for Christmas" series, a global charity relief project assisting St. Jude's and Project Half Way based out of Myrtle Beach, SC featuring top national acts and recording artists for iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, wrote a jingle for an iPhone/Android app, had original songs "Dream" chosen as Dave FM's new music seminar, "Welcome To The Universe" chosen for UPN/WB television series & created music for AllTwang TV Music Web Series, performed original Songs, "Sunrise" & "Going Back To Old Days" for Comcast Artist On Demand Music Series, participated in CBS Competition series "Rockstar" (INXS & Supernova) judged by creators/ producers of hit television series Survivor and has performed alongside #1 multi-hit songwriters. 

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Tom Egan

Tom Egan has been a potter, avid naturalist, and whitewater kayaker for over 30 years.  His pottery focuses on the Japanese aesthetic of shabui which is often described as the perfection of imperfection.  This presents itself in his work in forms that are organic and pleasing to the touch.  His current work focus on bringing all of these influences together to foster the creation of moments of pure beauty in the chaos of the modern world.  This is accomplished through his approach to handmade objects, ikebana inspired flower arrangements, and exploration of diverse cooking traditions coupled with artistic and inviting table presentations.  All of these elements combine to make art part of life’s daily rituals.  As a teacher, Tom strives to provide a strong foundation to beginners while at the same time helping advanced students explore and expand their own personal aesthetic in clay.

 

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Man sitting looking out at river

Vanessa Sebastian

For 15 years, Vanessa has been a freelance graphic designer, web designer, and illustrator. She obtained an associates degree for 3D animation from the Art Institute of Atlanta after initially receiving her bachelor degree in chemical engineering. She has also been teaching character drawing classes and camps aimed at young students for about 8 years and recently started a traditional drawing class as well.

Vanessa hopes her students learn valuable art techniques while being entertained by the drawing process. She often jokingly tells her students "Failure is the path to success!" which reinforces the idea that constant practice, including all the mistakes made along the way, are what ultimately makes a successful artist. In her spare time you can find Vanessa watching Japanese anime, reading comics, playing video games, or teaching a martial arts class.

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Sebastian, Vanessa