Faculty & Staff Bios

Summer Arts Faculty & Staff

Leadership

Tom Howe, Director of Summer Arts

Tom taught in the early years of Putney's Summer Arts and brings experience in the performing arts, teaching, and school administration to his position as director. His undergraduate studies at Hampshire College included a year at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. He subsequently worked in New York, largely in experimental theater, including a stint in Paris at Peter Brook’s center for theater research, under the direction of Yoshi Oida. Tom has taught theater at The Putney School and at Francis W. Parker School, Chicago. He’s currently most intrigued with how developing creative expression in individuals can strengthen our communities.

Phone: 802-387-6234 | thowe@putneyschool.org

 

Freya Sachs, Residential Life Coordinator

 

Phone: 802-387-6276 |

 

Igor Gorn, Activities & Transportation Coordinator

 

Phone: 802-387-6205 | igorn@putneyschool.org

 

Summer Employment Opportunities

Dan Folgar, Admissions Manager

Dan is a Venezuelan born cartoonist, painter, and video artist. He received his MFA from the Miami International School of Art & Design, and a BA in Cinema Studies from the University of Central Florida.

Phone: 802-387-7335 | dfolgar@putneyschool.org

 

Sarah Nelson, Evening Office & Activities Coordinator

Sarah just graduated from the Progressive Education lab, a two-year teacher training program in progressive education. This past year, she has been teaching and dorm parenting at the Cambridge School of Weston. She is very excited to be moving back to Vermont for her second Putney summer (and the year following!). Though she will miss teaching poetry, she is looking forward to working in the Evening Office and helping out with the Outback excursions. When Sarah's not reading or spending time in the outdoors, you can probably find her attempting to play string instruments, practicing head stands, or baking granola.

Phone: 802-387-7337 |

 

Summer Faculty and Apprentice Teachers

 
Faculty Group Photo

Ellie Black, Faculty - Ellie is a video editor, board game designer, and cartoonist based in Brooklyn. Their editing work includes short and long-form content for Delish.com, assistant work on documentaries, and the podcast for the film department of their alma mater, Wesleyan University. Their card game, Someone Has Died, is a darling of the indie tabletop community. Their cartoons and comics have appeared in The New Yorker as well as several independent publications and anthologies. This will be their fourth summer working at Putney.

 

Sam Kirk, Faculty - Sam Kirk is a multidisciplinary artist, who explores culture and identity politics through her creations. Her artwork focuses on a variety of intersections which encompass a call to celebrate differences and enact change. Her paintings include vivid powerful images of women, members of the LGBTQIA community, and those who have historically been underrepresented. Her work celebrates these people and the journeys that have made them who they are. While Kirk has maintained a successful public art career, she has also exhibited throughout the US in galleries and museums. Her artwork is in several notable collections, with a recent piece about transgender identity added to the permanent collection of the National Museum of Mexican Art. She currently has artwork on exhibit at the Chicago Art Department as part of a 8-month residency on Gender Visibility.

 

Jena Merrill, Faculty - Jena is a ceramic artist currently based in Portland, ME. She received a BA in Studio Arts & Educational Studies from Swarthmore College in 2016 and completed a post-baccalaureate program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2017. Jena is currently a Resident at Bayside Clay Center at Running With Scissors Artist Studios & Community in Portland, ME, as well as a host at a restaurant downtown and an arts and literacy educator and advocate. Through her functional pottery, Jena combines a delicate, formal sensibility with a playful and personal visual and tactile language — she is motivated by a haptic approach to materials and objects and is fascinated by the poetry of everyday things. This is Jena’s third summer spent at Putney, and will be her first as lead teacher of the ceramics workshop. You can find her work at jenamerrillceramics.com.

Charlie Bristol, Apprentice Teacher -

Grace Gittleman, Apprentice Teacher -

 

Trish Hartland, Faculty - Before earning an MFA from the University of Notre Dame's Creative Writing program this May, Trish earned an MFA at the Iowa Translation Workshop, where she served as the Outreach & Engagement Fellow and was an editor of the Exchanges Literary Journal. She enjoys teaching creative writing courses with an emphasis on collaborative and cross-media explorations. Her translations, poetry, and reviews can be found in a variety of journals, and a co-translation of Raphaël Confiant's Stephanie St. Clair, Queen of Harlem is forthcoming with Dialogos Books.

Ally Young, Faculty - Ally has an MFA in poetry from Syracuse University, where she taught undergraduate writing and worked as Editor in Chief at Salt Hill. Her work has appeared or will appear in The Columbia Poetry Review, The Bennington Review, Birdfeast, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Texas Poetry Review, Peach Magazine, and elsewhere. Her chapbook The West and Other Mistakes was released in 2016 via Dancing Girl Press. She holds a BA in English Literature from Kenyon College, once rode her bicycle across Iowa, and can be found online at allyhyoung.com.

Sam Bellamy, Apprentice Teacher - Sam is an MFA student at the City College of New York. Their fiction and poetry have been published in Corvus Review, Seafoam Mag, and Tenderness Lit. They received their BA in English at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where they also learned to love camping and road trips. When they return to City College in the fall, they will be teaching undergraduate level composition.

Rory Sharp, Apprentice Teacher - Rory is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where he studied English. His interests include poetry, nature writing, and theatre. He is excited to spend the summer at Putney.

 

Natalie Varrallo, Faculty - Natalie grew up in Woodstock, New York, where she was exposed early on to alternative forms of food, medicine, community, and lifestyle. From 2008 through 2014, she spent her summers in Taiwan, immersing herself in the traditions of Humanistic Buddhism through the Fo Guang Shan movement. After completing her degree in Botany and Sustainable Agriculture from the Evergreen State College in Washington, she went on to receive her certificate in permaculture design and permaculture education, and has since been working to combine the ritualistic and communal values of gardening and cooking that she learned in Asian monasteries with her formal background in botany and agriculture to arrive at the conception of a plant-based lifestyle that is wholly nourishing and ecologically sustainable. She strongly believes that the creation of food from a place of love can result in a distinct blend of science and nutrition that is thoroughly fulfilling, as well as delicious. She has been teaching seed to table culinary education for the past five years to illuminate a new way of approaching the culinary world.

Alex Gistis, Apprentice Teacher - Alex Gistis is a current student at Laguna College of Art + Design with an emphasis in Concept Art for video games and film, specializing in creature, animal, and character design. He also greatly enjoys writing and storyboarding. He is originally from Boston and continues to adore New England as a whole. He learned to cook at Putney just before college, and while at LCAD, pushed his culinary skills forward, exploring new types of cuisine, learning all types of new techniques, and experimenting with nose-to-tail cooking. He thinks he's a pretty decent home cook and could maybe survive one or two rounds on Chopped.

 

Emily Wexler, Faculty - Emily is a choreographer, dance, and teacher. Her work has been seen in a variety of settings from dance venues to the cafeterias of Senior Citizen Centers. As a performer she has worked primarily with Kim Brandt, Rebecca Brooks, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Yvonne Meir, Ryan McNamara, and Jen McGinn. She is on faculty teaching Dance History/Theory/Criticism at the University of The Arts in Philadelphia and Long Island University in Brooklyn. She spends her summers teaching teenagers how to make work and dance at the Putney School Summer Programs in Vermont. In 2012 she was honored with a Bessie Nomination in performance for her work with Yvonne Meier. She has a B.A. and M.F.A in dance from Hollins University. Her work is dedicated to making people feel wild and free.

 

Chris Love, Faculty -

Daniel Smelansky, Apprentice Teacher - Daniel was born in Belarus and immigrated to the United States when he was two. He grew up in Boston and received his BFA in Industrial Design from Massachusetts College of Art and Design this past May. He's worked as a Teacher Assistant for undergraduate design classes and the high school Summer Intensive program at MassArt. He draws impulsively, works in Adobe programs, uses his camera, and builds with whatever materials happen to be around him to bring joy, to solve problems, to work through anxieties, and to feel human. He also has a grey cat and a well-used bicycle. You can see some of his work here.

Charles Taylor, Apprentice Teacher - Charles is an animator, illustrator, and educator originally from Greenville, Mississippi. While an undergrad at Delta State University, he produced digital designs and illustrations for the school’s marketing department that won several regional advertising awards. Charles was awarded Best in Show in the 2014 Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition and received his BFA in Painting from DSU that same year. After returning to his hometown to teach high school art classes for two years, he now attends Memphis College of Art. He is an MFA candidate in their Studio Art: Animation program. He feeds his character-focused shorts from his roots in figure illustration and painting. In addition to teaching at a local elementary school, Charles produces web-comics based on his classroom experiences and advertising materials for local businesses. Charles is excited to serve as the Dormitory Co-Head and Apprentice Drawing teacher at Putney this summer. You can view some of his work at theartofchuck.com.

 

Natalie Varrallo, Faculty - Natalie grew up in Woodstock, New York, where she was exposed early on to alternative forms of food, medicine, community, and lifestyle. From 2008 through 2014, she spent her summers in Taiwan, immersing herself in the traditions of Humanistic Buddhism through the Fo Guang Shan movement. After completing her degree in Botany and Sustainable Agriculture from the Evergreen State College in Washington, she went on to receive her certificate in permaculture design and permaculture education, and has since been working to combine the ritualistic and communal values of gardening and cooking that she learned in Asian monasteries with her formal background in botany and agriculture to arrive at the conception of a plant-based lifestyle that is wholly nourishing and ecologically sustainable. She strongly believes that the creation of food from a place of love can result in a distinct blend of science and nutrition that is thoroughly fulfilling, as well as delicious. She has been teaching seed to table culinary education for the past five years to illuminate a new way of approaching the culinary world.

Olivia McConnell, Apprentice Teacher - Olivia is from Morgantown, West Virginia, and proud to be a native Appalachian. She attended West Virginia University where she earned a Bachelor's of Geography and studied food systems. Committed to bridging the gap between producers and consumers to improve food access within her community, she has worked with her local farmers' market, and serves on the Board of Directors for Conscious Harvest Cooperative. Before coming to the Putney School this summer she will be participating a fellowship program with the Appalachian Food Justice Institute. In addition to her experience with food and farming, she has worked with students in a variety of settings including tutoring at the Boys and Girls Club, teaching with National Student Leadership Conference, and assisting in general education classrooms. Olivia is looking forward to an exciting and enriching summer as an apprentice teacher at Putney.

 

Lily Shell, Faculty - Lily is a freelance costume designer currently living and working in her hometown of New York City. She has spent the past year as an Assistant Costume Designer at the Juilliard School through participation in Juilliard's Professional Apprentice Program. She holds a BA in American Studies from Vassar College, where she designed and constructed garments as an employee of the drama department’s costume shop for 4 years. Following this summer at Putney, Lily will be relocating to Madison, Wisconsin to pursue her MA in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies at The University of Wisconsin. An alumna of The Putney School Summer Arts herself, she is thrilled to return to Putney for her fourth summer as employee, and second as lead teacher of the fashion design workshop. You can find her work at lilyzshell.carbonmade.com.

Theo Anastasato, Apprentice Teacher - Theo Anastasato is a freelance fashion designer and consultant currently based in Greece and Austria. He interned with Alexander McQueen and Duckie Brown in New York. After graduating from Central St. Martins college in London with a BA in menswear fashion design he spent a year on the Master’s Programme and started working for Vivienne Westwood in London and Tokyo, Japan. He then moved to Spain to work for the Zara Group. Theo is planning to move back to Spain to create his own company working with suppliers in the far east as a designer and sales agent.

 

Tim Velsor, Faculty -

Margaret Gill, Apprentice Teacher - Margaret Gill is rising senior at Scripps College in Southern California, where she is majoring in Cultural Studies with a concentration in film and literature criticism. Originally from Massachusetts, her career as a filmmaker peaked when she won first prize at The Boston International Kids Film Festival, but since then she has made films about subjects as diverse as the self-commodification of college students, and whether ride-share bikes might be sentient. Margaret has fond memories of attending Putney as a student and is very excited to return as staff. She loves storytelling in all forms, chocolate with salt on it, conspiracy theories, and dogs.

Matt Loreti, Apprentice Teacher -

 

Joseph Tracy, Faculty -

 

Caleb Colpitts, Faculty - Caleb is a New England based artist and teacher. His work spans a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, jewelry and tattoo. Caleb’s childhood on a farm in northern New Hampshire has played a large role in shaping his art making practice. Caleb’s work focuses on close observation of the world around him and the value of maintaining a healthy curiosity towards the mundane. A large part of his work is comprised of sketchbooks which serve to document observations and as visual memory logs of travels both within the country and abroad. Since leaving the family farm Caleb has lived in New York City where he studied painting at the Art Student’s League, Providence Rhode Island where he received his BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing with a minor in Printmaking, and Massachusetts where he currently works out of a studio in the Waltham Mills. He now balances his time between work in his studio, tattooing out of a shop in Brooklyn and teaching at the Commonwealth School in Boston.

 

Genevieve Cohn, Faculty - Genevieve is a native Vermonter, painter and educator. She received her MFA in Painting from Indiana University and her BA in Art and Culture & Communications from Ithaca College. Her work has been exhibited nationally, with works in exhibitions at Pace University and The Painting Center in NYC, ARC Gallery and Studio Oh! in Chicago and the Grunwald Gallery in Bloomington, IN. She has been featured in New American Paintings, Art Maze Magazine, A Women’s Thing Magazine and Friend of the Artist Magazine. A lover of travel and new experiences, Genevieve has taught drawing in Italy and has been awarded artist residencies at AiRGentum in Seville, Spain, The Vermont Studio Center, The Ragdale Foundation outside of Chicago and the Fiore Art Center in Maine. She was awarded the Future Faculty Teaching Fellowship at Indiana University Northwest where she taught undergraduate painting and drawing courses. This will be her third summer with the Putney School Summer Arts program and she couldn’t be more excited!

Annie Duncan, Apprentice Teacher - Annie recently graduated from Vassar College, where she majored in Urban Studies and Studio Art. In her time at Vassar, she worked in a variety of mediums and completed two senior theses, one in architecture and another in printmaking. Last summer she worked as a graphic design intern at an architecture firm in San Francisco, her hometown. She studied graphic and textile design in Copenhagen for a semester, and the intersection of fine arts and design is central to her work. Annie spent two summers at Putney as a student and felt a strong affinity for the landscape and spirit of the place. She is excited to return as an apprentice teacher.

Autumn Staggers, Apprentice Teacher -

 

Francesco Mazzotta, Faculty - Francesco attended Western Connecticut State University where he earned his Bachelors of Art in Photography. After which he attended Maryland Institute College of Art where he received a Masters of Fine Art in Photographic and Electronic Media and a Teaching Certificate in May of 2017. Mazzotta’s work is not only in the fine art realm where he explores gender identity through the public lens working in installation, still image, video and sculpture. He also works commercially in portraiture and teaches digital media full time to high schoolers.

Alana Zack, Apprentice Teacher - Alana is from San Francisco, California, and a recent graduate from Kenyon College with a BA in Studio Art. She also studied Fine Art Photography at the Glasgow School of Art for a semester, where she focused on documentary film photography and created playful posters she placed around the city. Her work combines a range of mediums, including drawing, painting, film photography, and sometimes takes the form of zines, posters, and social action. Alana is very grateful and excited to get to know the Putney community this summer.

 

Caleb Colpitts, Faculty - Caleb is a New England based artist and teacher. His work spans a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, jewelry and tattoo. Caleb’s childhood on a farm in northern New Hampshire has played a large role in shaping his art making practice. Caleb’s work focuses on close observation of the world around him and the value of maintaining a healthy curiosity towards the mundane. A large part of his work is comprised of sketchbooks which serve to document observations and as visual memory logs of travels both within the country and abroad. Since leaving the family farm Caleb has lived in New York City where he studied painting at the Art Student’s League, Providence Rhode Island where he received his BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing with a minor in Printmaking, and Massachusetts where he currently works out of a studio in the Waltham Mills. He now balances his time between work in his studio, tattooing out of a shop in Brooklyn and teaching at the Commonwealth School in Boston.

 

Donald Saaf, Faculty - Donald is an artist, children's book illustrator and arts educator living in Marlboro, VT. He has published over a dozen picture books and is currently developing projects with Henry Holt and Enchanted Lion Press in Brooklyn. His most recent illustration project is a songbook; Dan Zanes House Party!, published by Quarto Books.

Maguire Peters, Apprentice Teacher - Maguire is a graduate of New College of Florida, where she studied sculpture and printmaking. She enjoys working in wood and metal, and wrote and illustrated a picture book for her undergraduate thesis project. Since graduating, Maguire has chosen a new path, and will begin her midwifery education in the fall. This will be Maguire’s third summer as Sculpture Apprentice, and she is thrilled to be able to return to Putney once again.

 

Katherine Bodor, Faculty - Minneapolis native Katherine Bodor currently lives in Bloomington, Indiana, where she just completed her MM in Composition at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She takes interest in music as a vessel to highlight psychological processes, concepts of cause versus effect, and internal versus external experience. Her music has been described as “stark and declamatory,” “evocative,” and filled with “a quiet passion,” and she has premiered works internationally and throughout the US with ensembles including PHACE Contemporary Ensemble, Chamber Project St. Louis, NOTUS Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Third Wheel Trio, and Six Degree Singers. She is a finalist in the Young Artist division of the 2019 MTNA Composition Competition, and she will be featured on an upcoming CD of music by women composers through PARMA Recordings (NAXOS). When she’s not composing, Katherine arranges for scholastic and professional vocal ensembles throughout the US. Her acappella arrangements are featured on compilations such as Voices Only, and her work has helped clients make it to the 2018 ICCA Open finals as well as advance in ICCA/ICHSA.

 

Taiga Christie, Faculty - Taiga Christie is a director, playwright and lighting designer creating work at the intersection of theater and community health. She is a founding director of Faultline Ensemble, and recently received her MPH from Yale University, where her most recent work, Counting Pebbles, premiered in March. Taiga has studied with Cornerstone Theater Company, Seka Theatre, Dell'Arte International and Double Edge Theatre, and holds a BA in Theatre/Anthropology from Reed College. She is excited about collaborative, interdisciplinary and ensemble-based work, centering underrepresented voices, and prioritizing accessibility in the creative process.

 

Joshua Harper, Faculty - Joshua Harper maintains an active career as a conductor, tenor, and educator. He has conducted at prestigious festivals such as Yale’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Emerging Conductor’s Symposium. He has completed the coursework for the Doctor of Music in Choral Conducting at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University where he was the Associate Conductor for the premier contemporary vocal ensemble, NOTUS, as was the associate chorus master for many productions with IU Opera Theater. Joshua is Associate Professor of Choral Music at Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona. He holds an M.M. in Choral Conducting from UMass - Amherst and a B.A. in Vocal Performance and Music Composition and Theory from Lipscomb University. Joshua loves a good cup of black coffee and the music of Caroline Shaw. This will be Joshua’s sixth summer at Putney.

 

Melissa Johnson, Faculty - Melissa moved to southern Vermont from Istanbul in 1973 and graduated from The Putney School in 1977. She attended the University of Vermont, Goddard College and apprenticed to Trudy Walker, a production weaver, before beginning her career as a weaver and knitwear designer. She teaches workshops on weaving, knitting, and natural and synthetic dyeing. Melissa is a designer, dyer, and color consultant for The Green Mountain Spinnery, and creates custom textiles on commission. During the summer of 2013, she and a group from Putney School brought looms and yarn to Kigali, Rwanda. They set up a weaving studio and taught 12 disadvantaged Rwandans to weave. The Rwandan weavers have now formed a co-operative and are producing scarves for sale to support themselves and their families.

The Putney School Summer Programs
Elm Lea Farm, 418 Houghton Brook Road,
Putney, Vermont 05346 USA
802-387-6297 (main), (802) 387-6216 (fax)
summer@putneyschool.org

Summer Employment Opportunities