Overview

At the Cornell Creative Arts Center (CCAC), every person is supported, encouraged, empowered, and accepted into an environment where they are provided with rich opportunities to learn and grow their artistic talents. People who enroll in workshops offered by the CCAC will participate in a program that provides affordable and comprehensive access to the arts.

CCAC promotes exhibitions and educational programming that offer classes, workshops, gallery exhibitions and community event space for people of any age. Our facility includes a ceramic/sculpture studio, dance/movement studio, gallery exhibition space, painting /mixed media studio, rehearsal halls for music, creative writing, and a digital arts-media studio.

 

 

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Art Gallery 1
art studio 1
art studio 2
art studio classroom
coworking space 3
coworking space 4
coworking space
dance movement studio classroom
Dance studio 1
Dance studio 2
Dance Studio set up for 20-person workshop
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Studio rental B
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Art Gallery 1
art studio 1
art studio 2
art studio classroom
coworking space 3
coworking space 4
coworking space
dance movement studio classroom
Dance studio 1
Dance studio 2
Dance Studio set up for 20-person workshop
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mission
Studio rental B
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Our Mission

To provide access to education and support in the full spectrum of the arts for a diverse and underserved community in an environment that promotes equality and unity.


Our Vision

As a not for profit arts organization, we aspire to provide education, inclusivity, diversity and a deep commitment to accessibility to the visual, performing, meditative and literary arts.  We are progressive in our pursuits for discovery, inspired by that which is personal and steadfast in our faith in the aesthetic.  Art will save our world from blindness because it teaches people to see, to find commonality on the road to enlightenment.  The Arts of all cultures, seek to bring us together in the pursuit of embracing our humanity.


Accessibility

The Cornell Creative Arts Center is open to the public and made available to everyone in our community. Our presence has always sought to maintain the highest level of engagement in human kindness, compassion and service for people of all abilities and diversities.

The art center is wheelchair accessible, with a ramp at our main entrance. Our ceramics studio has an ADA pottery wheel, and tables that are wheelchair accessible. Our parking lot has handicap parking options and plenty of parking space for different types of vehicles. While we have ADA men’s & women’s bathrooms, gender diversity is also welcomed at CCAC.


 

Our Team

Our Team is one of collaboration and collective signature.  We share a kindred spirit of service and aesthetic “elan vital”  and find inspiration in the sharing of our gifts for art in exhibition, teaching, community engagement and the celebration of our humanity.

John Smith-Amato

Director

John Smith-Amato

Director

John Smith-Amato is Founder and Director of Synchronicity Space.  Established in 1988, Synchronicity Space, is an internationally recognized (501 C-3; not for profit) arts organization. Synchronicity’s mission: to produce, present and nurture theatre, both locally and internationally; promote, conceive and develop  fine art exhibitions in local and international gallery venues by providing support and services for the development and promotion of emerging visual artists. Mr. Amato has initiated and developed programs for young playwrights and poets, writers, painters, actors and children’s theatre.  He has collaborated with community organizations developing programs to benefit the fiscal needs of developing and emerging artists  as well as educational institutions and sparsely funded arts programs that are designed to commingle differing cultures. 

Mr. Amato, prior to his founding Synchronicity Space, was collaborator and developer of three other like organizations while living and teaching abroad in Japan, Germany and France.  These organizations are still actively presenting and exhibiting artists in the spirit in which they were established.  He has extensive experience producing, presenting and exhibiting in the United States and abroad while working with artists in the development of theatre companies in supporting their artistic visions.  During his 30 years as Director of Synchronicity, he has presented more than 400 theatre, dance, music and performance productions and exhibited more than 300 visual artists in New York and internationally.   

Mr. Amato, after having completed his Bachelors degree in English and arts education/ administration,  pursued his master’s degree in comparative literature at Columbia University, which included one year as an assistant to Lionel Trilling (who, in 1975 passed away ) He did his post graduate studies in painting and drawing with Norman Raeben at his Carnegie Hall Studio in New York.  Amato then received his MFA at L’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, Paris, France.  

While living and working in Paris, he became involved with the “Theatre du Soleil” first as an intern novice but eventually in development and administrative liaise in Paris. Also, while living and teaching in Paris, Amato had the privilege to study with Francoise Dolto at the Sorbonne while getting his License (2 year program ) in Behavioral Psychology; “L’Institut de Reeducation” just outside of Paris near Coulommiers. Amato returned to NYC to exhibit his work with representation by Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1982-3 after which he headed for Berlin (in the Schöneberg district) where he set up shop again to promote new and multicultural theatre. After a year and a half he headed for Japan to study and teach at Kyoto Daigaku which lead to his founding of Gaijin Performance Center ( theatre and art gallery)  Upon his return from Japan he established Synchronicity Space as a not –or-profit arts organization and has been it’s director ever since.  Amato has taught painting and drawing for 35 years on both the  undergraduate and graduate levels and at Synchronicity Space. 

 2005-2015, John had been Art Therapist or as he likes to refer to the practice, “art as therapy” at St. Christopher’s Inn/ GraymoorHis process is designed to connect perception to behavior ( with a clear focus on CBT and DBT, for issues related to OCD, ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety disorder, Bipolar disorder, as well as other neuro and bio-chemical predispositions ) and help the men develop, reinvent and reestablish innocence in their lives and understanding. Amato believes that  by connecting perception to behavior,  he can help clients/patients develop coping skills making it possible to move forward with a healthier connectivity to their world. Recently, he has been teaching this methodology throughout the tri-state area at universities and colleges in a seminar formats throughout New York State. In 2017 Amato became the Executive Director of Paramount Hudson Valley Arts bringing theatre, dance, classical music, fine art exhibitions and film to the community of upper Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Rockland and Dutchess counties.  He currently presides over a private practice in NYC /Times Sq.  for Broadway Professionals where he maintains a therapeutic presence for theatre professionals and works with veterans returning from the middle east and struggling with substance and alcohol dependency.  

Mr. Amato continues his career as a visual artist exhibiting his paintings internationally in galleries and museums.  His work has become a part of institutional, Corp. Private and museum collections worldwide.  Notable exhibitions and collections are the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, the Kyoto National Museum, Okazaki National Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, Pierre Matisse Gallery ( NYC and Paris) a permanent collection at L’Institut de Reeducation Brookhaven Museum, Borar Gallery, Istanbul,  to mention a few. 

Elena Lo-McEnaney

Assistant Director

Elena Lo-McEnaney

Assistant Director

Elena Lo-McEnaney is the Assistant Director for the Cornell Creative Art Center. Having grown up in Kingston, she spent her summers during her high school years working for The Arc Mid-Hudson, assisting with any creative projects she could get her hands on. Since then, she has graduated from SUNY Purchase with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies. Aside from her time spent at CCAC making arts accessible to the community, she enjoys her work as an apprentice at a tattoo shop, hanging out with her dog Sokka, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends.

Emily Rayow

Ceramics Studio Manager

Emily Rayow

Ceramics Studio Manager

Emily Rayow began her career in the arts as a painter, at 19 years old. Eventually, she switched her focus to jewelry-making and created her own business – garnering a large social media following. Her creations are inspired by the natural world, combining crystals, copper, and naturally dyed textiles. Her book, “Crystal Pairings”, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2023. She has recently fallen in love with clay and the world of ceramics. Emily lives in Elizaville, NY with her family and can be found at @sea_ox_designs

Susie Amato

Sculpture Instructor

Susie Amato

Sculpture Instructor

Susie Amato attended The National Academy School of Fine Arts and studied with Ron Sherr, Harvey Dinnerstein and Marybeth McKenzie 

She sought out Robert Beverly Hale, Nelson Shanks and sculptor Antonio Antonius at The Art Students League and studied with Tony Ryder and Ted Seth Jacobs In France. Later she pursued individual artist/teachers Odd Nerdrum  in Norway and Alex Kavensky in Spain for further study. 

She is the founder of ArtistsInConflict, an umbrella organization for Africa Extreme Plein Air Workshops, and Paint Zanzibar. She also founded Paint Adventure series which includes painting workshops in Italy, Zanzibar, and Abiquiu, NM. 

Susie participated in The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Peace and Poverty Eradication 2008, in association with the Tanzanian Government and the United Nations. 

She has been an assistant to sculptor Paul Lucchesi for 11 years at Parsons/New School for Social Research. Resulting with a teaching position  in Pietra Santa, Italy at Circolo Culturale il Bosso.  

She is the recipient of a grant from the Alice Neel Foundation . The Philip Isenberg Award for Sculpture,  The Edward G. McDowell Foundation, Xavier Gonzalez Award for painting,  Kuniyoshi Award and other supporting and educational grants. 

Barushka

Bellydance Instructor

Barushka

Bellydance Instructor

Barushka fuses folkloric, tribal style belly dance with swing and vintage jazz. She started studying traditional belly dance in 1996, tribal belly dance in 2001 and swing in 2017. She has studied the following styles of belly dance: ATS, tribal fusion, folkloric, Egyptian, Turkish, sword and floor work. Previous trainings include bollywood, bhangrah, odissa, flamenco, Tunisian African, salsa, butoh, hip hop, breakdance, swing and vintage jazz. Her instructors included Carolena Nericcio of Fat Chance Belly Dance, Paulette Rees-Denis of Gypsy Caravan, Suhaila Salimpour, Heather Stants of Urban Tribal, Jill Parker of Ultra Gypsy, Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes and Mardi Love of the Indigo to name but a few. Plus swing/jazz teachers such as Emily Vail and Linda and Chester Freeman. Barushka primarily combines classical Indian, cabaret, modern, swing & vintage jazz dance forms to create her specific style of fusion belly dance.
Barushka has performed restaurants, theater stages, salons, gala events and festivals. She has taught and performed internationally and nationwide. She includes working with props such as veil, finger cymbals, and sword. Barushka was a member of the Alchemy Tribal Collective in NYC, and was also a former, first tear member of PURE in NYC. She was the co-founder of the tribal fusion troupe The Bleeding Hearts Belly Dance Co. She is also a member of the Kingston vintage jazz chorus-girl troupe The Uptown Lowdown. Her desire is to help raise the public’s frequency through the art of dance and help bring belly dance to a higher art form.

Kalsang Chomphel

Ceramics Instructor

Kalsang Chomphel

Ceramics Instructor

Shana Circe

Arts Instructor

Shana Circe

Arts Instructor

Shana is a multi media artist with a current passion for watercolor. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Visual Arts Education with concentrations in Photography from SUNY New Paltz. After a long career in higher education she has turned her focus to bringing art instruction to her community in the Hudson Valley. She enjoys all the variation watercolor offers and loves to paint in a loose and vibrant style. She also appreciates the delicacy of controlled realism, and simplicity and power of illustration that can be achieved through the medium. She believes everyone has a creative self and loves to help students find joy and pride in their creative work.

Jeanette Farrow

Sculpture Instructor

Jeanette Farrow

Sculpture Instructor

Jeanette Farrow started her career in 3D animation.Computer animation was a new visual medium at the time and she wasintrigued by its potential to communicate visually to a vast audience.She was always interested in character development and the movementcomplexities of her creations.When she moved to New York, she enrolled at the Art Students League tostudy the human form more closely and in depth. She soon realized thatvirtual modeling on a computer screen was much less engaging thanmodeling the figure with her own hands in clay.Jeanette became a teacher’s assistant at the Art Students League andfurthered her studies by taking advanced artistic anatomy courses atDrexel University.She has taught privately in person and online for the last four years.Her work has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and theNational Academy of Art in London.

Priscilla DeConti

Zentangle Drawing Instructor

Priscilla DeConti

Zentangle Drawing Instructor

Priscilla DeConti is an artist and a certified Zentangle teacher. Her love of art began long ago and was put on hold while taking care of her 2 sons and working as a R.N. Nearing retirement she achieved her goal of obtaining a degree in graphic design which led to exploration of other art forms and mediums such as oil and acrylic painting. While engaged in a group for the artist way, she came upon Zentangle and began taking classes which ultimately led to her going for training in Providence, R.I. in 2017. From there she has grown not only in her Zentangle process, but in expanding her willingness to learn other mediums such as watercolor and mixed media. Besides her regular Zentangle inspired art, she also works with procreate on an iPad to develop and make digital collages.

Jackie Fischer

Sculpture Instructor

Jackie Fischer

Sculpture Instructor

Jackie Fischer is a sculptor specializing in ceramics, metal casting, and rug making. She received her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at Alfred University with a concentration in Ceramics & Metal with a minor in human psychology. She has received scholarships from craft schools such as Peters Valley School of Craft, Anderson Ranch Art Center, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Shet attended artist residencies at Salem Art Works, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Chesterwood & Berkshire Art Center. Much of Jackies work challenges the ideology of the American dream. Jackie is a patient instructor & lives for the moments when her student’s faces light up after executing a difficult part of the process. 

Stephen Marcus

Music

Stephen Marcus

Music

David Shepard

Writing Instructor, Playwriting

David Shepard

Writing Instructor, Playwriting

Studying playwriting under tutorage of William Packard (HB Studios) and Mylan Stitt (Circles Repertory) Mr. Shepard learned from the latter “keep your dialogue short and meaningful” and from the former “Think out of the box. Work from the premise that everything that was previously written is untrue.” These principles have guided Mr. Shepard through his writing process.

Mr. Shepard is a writer and theater creator. He has worked on projects that have been presented in an array of venues from classrooms (Stone Soup; PS 282, Moses: The Life of Harriet Tubman, Bay Academy), Children’s Theater (Little Golden Hood; The Brooklyn Children’s Theater), Gorilla Theater (Whatever Happened to Billy Smith?; Inversion Theater), Regional Theater (Keats; American premiere, Willamstown Theater Festival, featuring Austin Pendleton. New York premiere, Synchronicity Space)

Co-founder of the Act Three Project, a showcase theater to develop and present original and revival plays, he devoted and presented Chat’s Place, Lilly, The O’Mally’s and two one acts Oedipal Agonies and A Change of Plans. In addition, Mr. Shepard has been supported by Synchronicity Space, PlayLab, The Producers Club, and Asylum Theater.

His full length plays include Bio-dramas: Poe and Mrs. Whitman – Edgar Allen Poe’s romance of Sarah Helen Whitman. Mileva – Albert Einstein’s first marriage to Mileva Maric. Tom on Dauphin Street – Tennessee Williams psychological struggle and search for a safe haven. And he took his play Moses: The Life of Harriet Tubman, and further developed and expanded it into a musical Moses: a Gospel Musical. 

His plays Kitty a May/December love story between two females, about loves lost and lost love; won honorable mention in the Mixing it up Production Playwriting Contest, as well as his play Liberal Arts, a play about family, siblings and misbegotten love, was a finalist in the Brevard Playwriting Contest. In addition, he is currently a member of the Writers Corp and is developing a full length play that is untitled.

In his spare time, Mr. Shepard spends time painting with watercolors and is a vigorous exerciser and walker. He is married and has two children adopted from China and resides in Brooklyn.

Beth Shoenfeld

Ceramics Instructor

Beth Shoenfeld

Ceramics Instructor

Beth Shoenfeld is a mixed media painter and potter, who has lived in the Hudson Valley since 1989. She was born in the Bronx and grew up in metropolitan New York and New Jersey.

Beth holds an MSW from Adelphi School of Social Work at the Hudson Valley Campus and a BA from The University of Findlay, Ohio where she studied ceramics, sculpture, and painting. While completing her undergraduate studies, Beth’s work was represented by The Miller Gallery in Cincinnati, OH. She received numerous awards including purchase awards from The Toledo Museum of Art and The University of Findlay private collections. She has exhibited art in galleries in NY and Ohio.

Beth lived and worked in Greece where she had a solo exhibition in Athens and worked in a pottery on the Island of Crete. Greek art, culture, colors, and architecture are reflected in her ceramic jewelry and two-dimensional art.

While deconstructing her works on paper from her Athens exhibit and reconstructing new art from the scraps of her past work, she started a lifelong process of creating new works with pigments, paper, and glue. Materials and found papers connect one piece to another. This process continues to this day.

Working with clay opened Beth’s eyes to the possibility of being a professional craftsperson and artist at a young age. Ceramics have always been an important element in her work.

Mixing up materials, tearing down and connecting one piece to the next, is a hands-on approach that suits her. Beth’s approach to clay is collage-like, ripping and reattaching form and color. Connection seems to always be the subject matter.

Upon returning to New York, Beth met and married John Shoenfeld, a Potter in New York. They worked together at his studio, Beautiful Fields Pottery and soon after, they were owners of Mug Paw Pottery in South Danbury, New Hampshire. Together they produced functional stoneware pots. After the birth of her son, Beth began designing and producing colored porcelain jewelry. The pieces are fired once, then highly burnished in a rock tumbler. The incredibly soft satin finish and muted colors are the essence of this work.

Beth is excited to join the Cornell Creative Arts team. She was inspired by amazing art teachers throughout her life who instilled in her a lifelong passion to create. She hopes to inspire students in much the same way! Beth believes in making connections through art. Her work as a mixed media artist, which involves manipulating materials, such as pushing and pulling clay, paper, paint, and glue, and layering, ripping, and rebuilding elements from one piece to the next, represents the continuous flow of life.

Colton Thorn

Music Instructor, After School Program, Cornell Kids Productions

Colton Thorn

Music Instructor, After School Program, Cornell Kids Productions

Colton Thorn (they/he) is a board certified music therapist and singer-songwriter with a Bachelors of Music in music therapy from Temple University. Trained classically in voice, they also play guitar, ukulele, piano, violin, and dabble with the banjo, bass, and percussion. As a music therapist and educator, they have experience working with children to adults in various settings- schools, hospitals, and in homes. Colton believes that music can empower and encourage growth and change in everyone. They believe music provides an “in the moment” connection, and loves to help foster independent and group growth. When not making music, Colton likes running, spending time with family and friends, reading, and being in nature.

Laura Victoria Ward

Contemporary Dance Choreographer

Laura Victoria Ward

Contemporary Dance Choreographer

Laura Victoria Ward is a Kingston-based choreographer, Laban Movement Analyst, and Somatic Movement Educator. She is the artistic director of Kingston Contemporary Dance Theatre, formerly Octavia Cup Dance Theatre, a maximalist contemporary ballet company.  Her work has been seen internationally, in NYC, and in the Hudson Valley.
She has taught in conservatories, universities, gyms, and both corporate and elementary school settings.
For more info go to https://www.lauravward.com/