2016-2017 Instructors

In alphabetical order...

Elara Coleman


Elara Coleman is a local artist who lives in Traverse City with her husband and two kids. She graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy as a Visual Arts major. With a strong passion for metals, she went on to study at the Cleveland Institute of Art where she got her BFA. Now she is a studio jeweler who uses copper, silver and enamel to create simple, nature inspired jewelry.


Royce Deans

Royce Deans was born and raised in Chicago and graduated from the American Academy of Art there. He has lived in Traverse City for the last 28 years with his family. Northern Michigan has a keen interest in taking inspiration and working from nature. While he continues to paint landscapes his focus over the last several years has refocused on the figure. Currently he maintains his studio in the Leelanau Studios where he creates his work and teaches painting and figure drawing.



Joshua Davis

For over 15 years Joshua has made his living sharing his songs, stories and knowledge across the US and Canada at festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses and dives - as a solo act, front man for roots ensemble "Steppin' In It", classic swing band "Shout Sister Shout", songwriter showcase band "The Starlight Six" and frequently as a workshop facilitator, presenter or instructor. His music is steeped in ragtime blues, sweet jazz and real country but Davis's broad schooling in the cultural, political and musical roots of American tradition has resulted in more than a simple retelling of universal themes. Dubbed, "the Michigan version of the Great American Songscape" (Chris Reitz, Elderly Instruments), his catalog is a seamless snapshot of American past and present. 

Davis has gained recognition as an enthusiastic and successful songwriting and guitar instructor and folk historian. He held a private studio at Michigan State University's acclaimed Community Music School for a number of years until his family's recent move to Traverse City. He teaches guitar, songwriting, clawhammer banjo, mandolin, ukulele, recording and production at all ages and skill levels and is excited to be a part of the Blackbird Arts community!




Conor Fagan


Born in Baltimore Maryland, Conor Fagan currently presides in Traverse City Michigan. He obtained his Master’s Degree at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and shows in such places as: Studio 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and The Pier Wright Gallery in North Port, Michigan. Recently he was one of 12 international artists selected to participate in The International Symposium of Contemporary Art, in Baie – Saint Paul, Quebecthis past August.  When he is not painting, Conor spends time with his wife Kelsey and newborn son Oscar. 


Lauren Panian

Lauren was born in Ann Arbor michigan. She found her passion for ceramics during her freshman year of high school. Working closely with her teacher, Monica Miller, she decided to follow in her foot steps. Lauren graduated with her Bachelors in Fine Art from Albion college. There she focused on ceramics, but also dabbled in sculpture, figure drawing, and photography. After Lauren graduated from Albion, she went to Johnson and Wales of Denver and received her culinary degree. She now uses ceramics as a medium in her installation performance food pieces. Lauren and her wife moved to the Traverse City area just one year ago. The are living off grid, with the goal of becoming self sufficient. Lauren is very passionate about knowing where her food comes from, and living in harmony with the land. These are her two main focuses in her work.



Carol Parker

Carol started her keeping a diary when she was 10 years old, and has kept a book with pages to fill ever since. Whether she's writing, drawing, painting, experimenting, musing, problem-solving, or making lists, she carries a book as a constant companion. Carol created her first handmade book in 1995 when she ran out of space in a store-bought journal one night and stitched together an emergency journal out of note paper and a brown paper bag so she could keep writing.

While many people find a blank page to be daunting, Carol believes it can be a place for contemplation, expression, or exploration. It is her desire for art to impact individuals so they can find their own true direction through self-discovery. The book is one way for artists at any level to begin or continue their personal journey. Attack Cat Studio is Carol's home base, where she not only creates handmade books, but also does watercolor, print making, and drawing. Carol writes and creates content for her blog, Art is Not for Sissies, and runs an Etsy store for her personal work.  Additionally, Carol costumes for local musical productions, and volunteers as a docent at the Dennos Museum of Art.  Carol and her husband live in Traverse City with their three ridiculously sassy cats.

Carol completed her MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds a BS in Art Education from Western Michigan University. She has taught secondary art in public and private schools by planning and implementing courses in Drawing, Painting, Advanced Placement Studio, Photography, Sculpture, and Digital Cinematic Arts. She has also designed curriculum and conducted studio courses for undergraduate Elementary Education majors in basic art skills, child development, national and state standards for art education, and the integration of art into the Pre-K through 9th grade classroom.


Chad Pastotnik



Hannah Safford


Hannah moved to Traverse City this last summer to be part of the vibrant art community. She studied at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, where she received her Studio Art and Art Education degrees.  Before moving to Traverse City, she worked at a studio member at Sunset Clay Studio in Lansing, MI. While in Lansing, Hannah was able to work on her hand building skills with clay. If she's not in the studio, you're likely to find Hannah off exploring in the dunes. She spends as much time as she can enjoying the outdoors through hiking and camping. Her favorite thing about drawing is that you can do it anywhere. She can't wait to share her joy of making art with the students at Blackbird in the After School Studio Arts Program.







Daniel Schneider

Daniel is an industrial archaeologist and letterpress printer. He approaches letterpress printing instruction from a historical and anthropological perspective, focusing on how technological and social factors structured work in the print shops of the past. He has taught numerous classes and workshops in letterpress printing and zine making at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock, Michigan. He is currently an apprentice to Chad Pastotnik at Deep Wood Press outside Bellaire.


Jessica Jaramillo Vitale

Jessica Jaramillo Vitale is a Filipino-American artist who was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. In 2005, she and her husband and son moved to Marquette, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. Jessica graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Spanish education. Her concentration focused on ceramic sculpture, but her creativity flows throughout many mediums including drawing, painting, pottery, graphic design, credit card mosaics, and ceramic jewelry. Her work has been displayed in galleries, art sales, and music festivals throughout Michigan. After teaching Spanish for four years in Manistique, Michigan, she found her calling below the bridge in Traverse City and is thrilled to be a part of the Blackbird Arts community. She now resides in Benzonia, Michigan and continues creating her own personal work for her small online business, Jessica Vitale Art & Design.

Jessica also enjoys singing karaoke, dancing, and playing piano, guitar, violin and clarinet. On very special occasions she relives her days of break-dancing by performing “the worm” both forwards and backwards.


Dylan Evans-Weiler

Dylan is a figure painter, illustrator, printmaker and installation artist. His work revolves around the exploration of science fiction and horror stories as contemporary mythology; creating a space where through painting, handmade electronics and sound installation, viewers enter into the environment of the stories.  From his experience working in galleries and museums, Dylan was motivated to create art that would be interesting to a wider range of individuals and would bridge arts and entertainment, while a creating dynamic exercise in a gallery setting.

Dylan sought out the opportunity to study painting with some of his favorite artists Kent Williams and John Brosio at Laguna College of Art and Design, where he received his MFA. Over the past few years, Dylan has taught painting and illustration in the summer at Interlochen Center For the Arts. 


Phil Wilson

For 30 years PHil Wilson has worked with porcelain as a studio potter, developing functional and decorative pottery with an emphasis on contemporary design and elegant utility. His work has been featured in galleries and art fairs around the country.

He has pursued a parallel career teaching with clay in his stuido, school classrooms and art centers, special event and other situations. Much of his work has been with special education and impaired popluations from nursing homes to classroom groups and as an artist in residence with Very Special Arts (VSA) organization in Michigan. 

He currently lives in northern Michigan with his wife and dogs and woods and fields and water.

Blackbird Arts   |   1485 Barlow Street Traverse City, MI   |   (231)421-8085    |    Drop us a note at info@blackbirdartstc.com.