Smith Center maintains a dynamic and culturally diverse team–approximately 15 artists–representing the visual arts, creative writing, storytelling, music, creative movement, and guided imagery. Many of our artists use an inter-disciplinary approach as they work alongside patients. Smith Center Artists-in-Residence bring personal skills, creativity, and most of all, compassion to their work–whether with outpatients in the infusion center or patients on medical and surgical floors; with family and friends in waiting areas; or with clinical staff for monthly mid-day creativity sessions. Following is a list of our Smith Center Artists-in-Residence.
Vicki Berman is a dance instructor and certified movement analyst. She is the creator and teacher of the Helping to Heal through Movement program for cancer patients and survivors. Vicki is a breast cancer survivor and shares with others the tools that helped her in her own personal healing journey. Guided imagery, meditation, writing, movement explorations with props, stretching and strengthening exercises and nature photographs are the tools she uses to empower people to heal emotionally and physically.
Alpine Bird earned her BA in Italian Literature at Brown University with a minor in Art. She apprenticed for a year at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA while earning her Massachusetts teaching credentials as an Art Specialist. She taught art full-time at the Maret School in Washington, DC for four years and later taught classes for neighborhood children in her home and as a volunteer in public and private schools. Her interest in integrating the arts for patients in healthcare settings began with her experience as a candy striper at Children’s Hospital in Boston. She studied with Joan Kellogg at the Mandala Assessment and Research Institute, Mona Brooks at the National Learning Center, and took mini-courses in Art Therapy at GW. She is certified as a yoga teacher and also in the first level of Reiki and Cranial Sacral work. She is on the Board of Directors for the Art Connection in the Capital Region. Alpine’s greatest challenge as a teacher was to find ways to reengage children who had given up on their “artistic ability” and to motivate them to trust their ability to learn to visually communicate their unique, ever-changing viewpoints and feelings. It is this same challenge with diverse adults in a hospital setting that fascinates her most in her work as a Smith Center Artist-in-Residence.
Letitia Brooks, has been creating art from a very young age. She is a gifted artist and uses acrylic, water color and a variety of mediums to create unique art pieces that she hopes will inspire others to go beyond the limitations of this world. Letitia's colorful art incorporates the beauty, strength and spirituality of the family. She views art as a healing force and does not limit herself to one form of expression. She currently has created unique art pieces by applying mixed media to a carved black board base. Letitia also works with young children and adults to use the creative arts as an avenue for self-improvement. She has provided sessions at Howard University, Muhammad University School and various support groups. Letitia has displayed her artwork at a variety of venues including the Montpelier "All Hung Show," and Howard University's Blackburn Center Art Gallery.
Nazeeha Howard earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Howard University and is a certified music therapist who has worked with children and adults in a variety of settings in Washington, DC since 1997. As a self-employed consultant and therapist, she is committed to a "multi-modality" in which motivated individuals participate in music and related creative activities as part of a comprehensive and integrative healing process. She has provided creative healing sessions, including the use of harps and other instruments, with patients and caregivers at the Washington Cancer Institute, Howard University Cancer Center, and Washington Army-Navy Medical Center. She speaks French.
Ananda Kiamsha Madelyn Leeke earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law and Master of Laws degree from Georgetown University Law Center. She owns Kiamsha.com, LLC, a company that allows her to share her healing gifts as an artist, writer, registered yoga teacher, and certified reiki practitioner. As a self-taught artist, Ananda has exhibited her mixed media collages, acrylic paintings, and wire sculptures in the Washington Metropolitan area, North Carolina, and Kentucky. She weaves poetry, stories, prayers, affirmations, and sacred wisdom teachings into her artwork. She has also provided arts and writing workshops for children and adults with a particular focus on the integration of creativity and healing for women with health problems. In her commitment to programs like Smith Center, Ananda honors the memory of her grandmother, who died of breast cancer. Her first novel, Love's Troubadours - Karma: Book One was published in August 2007 by iUniverse and is available on Amazon.com. She is currently working on a poetry collection and second novel to be published in 2008.
Dave Moktoi is an award-winning actor, director, comedian, and Founder of "The Other Africa Festival" - dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding between Africa and the USA. He holds an MA in Modern Languages, Theater Arts, and Civilizations from Yaounde University and is currently a Lecturer at Montgomery College. A native of Cameroon, Dave draws upon his unique experiences and skills to create cultural awareness and sensitivity through performances, films, workshops, and one-on-one encounters. As a consultant and creator of cross-cultural programming for the education community, hes produced plays, comedies, and films aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention for WHO, UNAIDS, UNESCO, the British Council and other international organizations. Based upon his experience in Africa with persons living with HIV, Dave provides oncology patients and staff with an opportunity to experience warm humor and enlightenment not usually accessible in the hospital setting.
Ade Moreau is a native of Brooklyn, New York and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. Ade is an essayist and former editor and owner of Peace of Paper Productions. Her first collection of essays, The Lotus Approach...piece of mind essays on living, loving and letting go, was published in 2002. She moved to DC in 1998 and began work with the American Cancer Society, where she worked as both an employee and volunteer with patients and caregivers. Additionally, she has worked as a mentor with The Capitol Hill Group Ministry and the Speaker's Education Bureau, and as a volunteer with My Sister's Place support center for abused women and their children.
Roza Oblak earned a degree in special education from her native country of Slovenia and a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Therapy from the City University of New York. Her training also includes certification in Reiki (in the USUI System for Natural Healing) and as a flower essence practitioner. Roza serves as the program coordinator for the Josephine Butler Park Center (located in the most dense and culturally diverse community of Washington, DC). She also teaches arts classes for at-risk children and established a low-cost healing arts clinic offering wellness services to local residents.
Linda O'Neil earned a Bachelor of Art Education at American University and taught in the Montgomery County Public Schools for 25 years. She taught hearing-impaired, multiple handicapped and special education students. She has written extensive arts curriculums - including a multicultural curriculum. She was a mentor teacher and acting elementary art coordinator. As field supervisor for the University of Maryland, she supervised art student teachers in Montgomery and Prince George's County schools. Linda paints murals and furniture and is currently exploring mono-printing. She believes that "the creative process is an empowering one, beneficial to most patients regardless of their background or experience."
Vera Oyé Yaa-Anna, affectionately known as Auntie Oye', is a versatile Culinary Grio who incorporates dance, theater and storytelling to engage audiences in the experience of African culture and diversity within our own community. She is the executive producer of a West African Dinner Theatre, "Palaver Hut," Inc. A native of Liberia, Vera is a cultural educator who transports her audience to Africa through interactive storytelling, dance and musical activities. Auntie Oye' shares her skills with patients and caregivers "to uplift the soul and empower the individual to deal with the challenges of illness."
John Paradiso earned a BFA from the State University of New York at Purchase and an MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo. John has exhibited mixed media collages, found object sculptures, and installations, at galleries nationally. His work represents a layered and complex dialogue on aspects of risk, loss, growth, strength and the joy associated with gay male sexuality woven with his own personal experience. John has seven photographs in the Prints and Photographs Division, Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress. John served as a health educator for the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York and for the Whitman-Walker Clinic where he developed educational programs and provided counseling.
Laura Sperling, a flutist with certification in a Music for Healing and Transitions Program, joined the artist-in-residence team, September 25, 2007. Ms. Sperling works at Washington Cancer Institute and at Holy Cross. She also works at the Lombardi Cancer Center (Georgetown University), Community Hospice of Maryland and Virginia, and Culpepper Gardens Assisted Living Center. In addition, she teaches flute and recorder lessons in her home studio.
In Memoriam: Linda B. Karlin (aka KARLINDA) earned her Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University. The degree was a double major in Honors English and International Relations, with a minor in Philosophy. Linda also completed coursework for a Master of Fine Arts at Temple University. As an associate producer on multimedia projects, she worked on exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution. PBS bought one of her video documentaries. She developed scripts for an interactive CD-ROM about prostate cancer. Linda was a three-type cancer survivor who coped with her illness by writing and performing poetry about her experiences. One of her poems has been at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum since 1995. She worked with patients to catalyze creativity through word games and writing exercises that produce poetry. In addition, she created mixed media experiences that combined her own poetry, photography and live music (including improvisation on the zither harp, ocean drum and other instruments). Linda contributed to a Living Well with Cancer packet through the Washington Cancer Institute at The Washington Hospital Center. She was certified in Reiki. She built labyrinths and facilitated events for them on site: indoors and outdoors. She had been a member of the board of directors of the non-profit Living Labyrinths for Peace, since 2006. Linda conducted workshops in hospitals, at seminars and on retreats. She was fluent in French. Linda Karlin passed away on August 8, 2009.