Youth Program Faculty

PNCA’s Youth Program Faculty is a dedicated cohort of artists, committed to the practice of educating children in the arts and art history. Our experienced and supportive Faculty is comprised of practicing artists and educators, many of whom have worked with the program for three years or more. Our Staff and Faculty participate in CPR and First Aid training as well as internal and curriculum-based trainings to ensure the program’s high standards are being met. Our Faculty work closely with one another to craft quality art making experiences for our students, and are deeply invested in maintaining the tenets of the Youth Program and serving the college’s mission of fostering the next generation of artists.

Visit our Staff and Faculty Collection on Flickr to view artwork by the amazing people that work with our program!

“The teachers are really nice & cool.” Emma, Age 8

Learn more about our Youth Program Faculty members!

Mary Dixon
Week 4: Ocean + Island Life

Mary Dixon graduated from PNCA with a BFA in Sculpture. She has been a long-time instructor with PNCA’s smARTworks Programs. She has completed an artist-in-residency at Lane Middle School. Mary works with the non-profit organization, Vibe of Portland. Mary maintains her studio practice in Mt. Tabor as well as participates in the Mt. Tabor Art Walk.

MaryEllen Hartman
Drawing Studio

MaryEllen Hartman holds a BFA from PNCA. She has been a member of the PNCA Youth Program since 1978 and has taught students of all ages and artistic abilities in numerous programs.

Alice Hill
Young Painter's Workshop

Alice Hill holds a BFA in Painting from Marylhurst University. She is an instructor in the PNCA Youth Program and teaches children’s classes at the Portland Art Museum and Oregon College of Arts and Crafts. Alice is the program coordinator and instructor for the Rise Above Art Program for homeless youth in Hillsboro. She also teaches at the Walters Cultural Art Center.

Sara Kaltwasser
Pre-College 2011

Sara Kaltwasser received her BFA from PNCA in 2006 with a concentration in painting and drawing. She has taught in several youth art programs including Metropolitan Family Service’s SUN School at Clear Creek Middle School, SUN programs at James John and Woodlawn Elementary, and ATHS’s Internship program. In addition to working as PNCA’s Youth Program Coordinator, Sara documents program activities and occasionally acts as a substitute for classes.

Ruth Lantz
Week 1: Forest + Jungles

Ruth Lantz received her BFA in fine arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2004. She graduated from the MFA Visual Studies Program at PNCA in 2010. She is currently the Painting Technician at PNCA. She has taught for three summers in an art program in Parry Sound, Ontario Canada. See more of Ruth’s work on

Kendra Larson
Visual Elements

Kendra Larson received her BFA from PNCA and her MFA in Painting at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has exhibited her work all over the country including Lewis and Clark College , the University of Minnesota’s Nash Gallery and the Overture Center for the Arts. She currently teaches at Willamette University. Kendra has worked for the Youth Program as a staff member and instructor for over 3 years.

Todd Mandelkern
smARTworks week 1- Science Fiction

Todd Mandelkern is a graduate of PNCA. An accomplished skateboarder, Todd can regularly be found at one many skate parks around Portland. Todd is a long-time art educator and Site Director with Art4Life. Todd joined the Youth Program as a faculty member in the summer of 2013.

Heather McLaughlin
Week 3: Desert Worlds

Heather McLaughlin received her BFA in printmaking from Pacific Northwest college of Art in 2005. During the academic year she teaches for Metropolitan Family Service’s SUN program. She acts as the main coordinator for an educational internship associated with SUNs after school program. Heather has also instructed at the collegiate level, working with BFA students in the area printmaking. She also serves as the Executive Director of Flight 64, a local non-profit printmaking studio.

Shelley Short
Ancient Civilizations

Shelley received a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a focus on Sculpture and Printmaking. She has taught art through the Youth Program at PNCA for the past ten years, as well as classes through Regional Arts and Culture Council and The SUN Program.

Amy Steel
Art Explorers

Amy Steel received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a concentration in Fiber, Sculpture and Printmaking. She holds an MFA from Portland State University. She has been teaching youth at PNCA for several years and concurrently teaches at PSU.

Gary Sweet
Week 3: Desert Worlds

Gary Sweet holds a BFA in Painting from PNCA. In Portland, he is represented by Mark Wooley Gallery. Gary has taught with PNCA’s Youth Program for several years in both the smARTworks summer workshops and in ABC Classes.

Abigail Tjaden
Week 1: Science Fiction

Abigail Tjaden received her BFA from Bemidji State University in Minnesota and her MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Idaho. She taught for two years at Fred Moore Center for the Arts Middle School, three years at U of I teaching foundation courses and beginning printmaking, and even a workshop at Espressioni Galerie d’Art in Tunisia, North Africa. Abigail has her own small printing business, where her work focuses on illustrations and installations. She spent last summer active in the smARTworks program.

John Vance
Week 1: Science Fiction

John Vance is a painter/illustrator. A current Portland, Oregon Resident, John graduated with a BFA from Parsons School of Design in 2014. John currently works as an educator at the Portland Children’s Art Studio and joined the Youth Program via smARTworks in 2013.


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by Lyndsey Denyer

Book Coversby Lyndsey DenyerPNCA Certificate '11 Graphic Design
From CE’s Pre-College Studios 2011
smARTworks 2011 "Dawn of Humans"

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