All North Hills Art Center instructors have the required PA clearances.
Olga Brindar is a third generation artist from St Petersburg, Russia. She attained her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009. She has also studied and done an artist residency at Burren College of Art in Ireland. Olga has shown in galleries all over Pittsburgh including Panza and Christine Frechard. She has nearly 10 years of experience as a private art tutor and has taught inner-city teens in a summer work-study program, where they completed two collaborative murals on Semple St in South Oakland. You can see Olga’s drawings and paintings at www.olgabrindar.com.
George Broderick, Jr. has worked as a professional in comics since 1982. He’s written stories for DC and Marvel Comics and handled scripting and editing on the LOST IN SPACE and QUANTAM LEAP comics for Innovation Publishing.
Douglas Brown is a Pittsburgh native who attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. After pursuing a career as a package designer and free-lance artist for almost 40 years, he recently returned to the Pittsburgh area. He is a signature member and past president of the Pennsylvania En Plein Air Society. For the past 20 years he has taught watercolors and shared his love of the beauty of colors with hundreds of students.
Ruthann Farinacci has a B.S. in Art Education from Edinboro University. She has experience teaching in the public schools, a challenge program at La Roche College, and over 15 years teaching at the North Hills Art Center specializing in pottery and weaving. She is a Board Member at the NHAC and a member of the Three Rivers Fiber Focus.
Kim Freithaler has a B.F.A. in Painting from St. John’s University in New York City and has taught elementary level art in the Manhattan public schools. She participates in area art shows and does portraits by commission.
Marianne Hilke Her early art education was begun in Pittsburgh at The Ivy School of Art and then continued at the Rhode Island School of Photography. Her most valuable instruction came while in Rome, Italy, where she studied art and developed a passion for painting. She teaches all ages and passes along art skills to those who attend her classes. Marianne lives in western Pennsylvania and is affiliated with The Butler Institute of American Art, The Audubon of Pittsburgh, The Hoyt, St John's Episcopal Church and other organizations, in Pennsylvania, Ohio and California.
Laura Hilston has a B.S. in Art Education K-12 from Youngstown State University. She has over 20 years’ experience in teaching art to children and adults. Laura has been at the North Hills Art Center teaching private drawing lessons, group lessons and birthday parties and scout workshops for over seven years. In addition to teaching, Laura enjoys acrylic and watercolor painting and beading.
Yvonne Plavetsky Hutchinson has been mesmerized by art and beauty her entire life. She is primarily self-educated: reading, painting, drawing, enjoying and teaching needle arts, drinking in nature, and visiting as many museums as possible. Since retiring she has been taking classes from Douglas Brown , Kim Freithaler and Amanda Zimmerman at North Hills Art Center.
Elka (Elzbieta) Kazmierczak is a Polish-born printmaker, illustrator, designer, and educator with 35 years of professional experience in the arts. Elka is interested in the transformative power of art as a means of self-discovery, healing, and empowerment. She was trained in the crisis intervention and use of art for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Elka founded and managed an art program at a women’s shelter in Illinois (2003-08) and has helped other social services agencies to implement art making in counseling (2008-13). She has facilitated 282 hours of expressive art workshops that meet specific psycho-educational needs. Elka has an MFA in graphic design and MA in art education from the University of Illinois. She earned a PhD in Education from the University of Illinois for a research on the efficacy of her novel drawing protocol for the detection of an interpersonal abuse from drawings. In 2017, she moved to the beautiful Pittsburgh area with her husband who is living with Alzheimer’s.
Amanda Keiras is an illustrator and paper artist, who loves to creates strange stories, weird pictures, and fun pop-up cards. She has a BFA in Photographic Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and has recently relocated to Pittsburgh from Chicago.
Stacy Koehler has been making quilts and other fiber art for nearly 45 years. She’s taught these skills in shops, community centers, conferences, quilt shows, special needs schools and adult day programs. She is a firm believer in the idea that expressing oneself and influencing the nature of one’s environment through creative pursuits is a vital part if human development, regardless of skill, interest or depth of participation. In other words: for everyone. Stacy has been a certified quilt show judge since 2005 and is also qualified to judge Masterpiece quilts. She serves on the board of the national judge’s organization and is in the process of developing that organization’s blog, The Quilt Judge’s Eye.
Jeanine Murch is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer specializing in art and hand lettering for children’s books, greeting cards, magazines, and advertising campaigns. With over a decade of past experience as an Art Director at Penguin Books and Simon & Schuster in New York City, she brings a unique integration of type and image to her work. She's thrilled to now be living back in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two small children.
Elise Neill graduated from the Ohio State University with an engineering degree. She is also certified to teach pre-Kindergarten to sixth grade. Elise has been a member of the North Hills Art Center for over 10 years. She enjoys Girl Scouts with her daughters, playing in the North Pittsburgh Symphonic Band, and crafting with whatever materials are on hand.
Miranda Pavelle is a recent graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, majoring in Animation. She has a love for movement, expression, and color, and believes that without art, the world around us would be very different and lifeless. Art is a core instinct of humanity, whether it be music, dance, sculpture, or painting. It is what defines our culture, lives, and expression.
Jeanne Perrier has focused on botanical illustration in colored pencil for the past 15 years. She earned a Second Level Certificate in Botanical Illustration from Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and has Participated in numerous exhibitions, most recently winning Best of Show at the Washington County Arts Council Gallery in Hagerstown, Maryland. She is Currently on faculty at the Oil Valley Center for the Arts, and at Phipps Conservatory in the Botanical Art and Illustration program. She is a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists, Allegheny Highlands Botanical Art Society, Colored Pencil Society of America, and Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.
Carolyn Pierotti is a practicing and exhibiting artist and curator, where she also resides and has a studio space in the Manchester, North Side section of Pittsburgh. Her work has a primary focus on the internal turmoil that women face with physicality, career, and motherhood; and how this manifests externally. A graduate of Carlow University, she received her BA with a specialization in painting. Carolyn is the former Vice President and exhibitions chair of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists, as well as the founder of Purple Room Fine Art LLC, and former gallery director at Percolate Gallery. She also sits on the Advisory Council for the Humanities and Innovative Learning at Carlow University. She has exhibited at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Seton Hill University, Stifel Fine Art Center/Oglebay Institute, and Boxheart Gallery. Her work continues to be exhibited locally, regionally, and can be found in various collections in the area. Carolyn’s mission, above all, is to support artists and women who may not have a voice otherwise.
Diane Pontoriero has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s of Art Education from Carlow University. She is certified to teach art K-12 and science 7-12. Diane has taught art to children from ages 4-14 in the school setting, and from preschool to adult at the North Hills Art Center. She enjoys creating with and teaching a wide range of art: fused glass, drawing, painting, fiber arts and pottery. Diane is currently the President of the NHAC Board of Directors and the Pottery Studio Supervisor. She has won awards at the Erie Festival of the Arts, NHAC Art Shows, Society for Contemporary Crafts and has her work featured at the Firebox Gallery in Carnegie.
Eva Pontoriero has a psychology degree from the University of Pittsburgh with a minor in studio arts. She works with autistic children and teaching art to children. She enjoys painting and ceramics.
Rachael Schweiger graduated from Carlow University with an Art Education Degree and a Minor in Art Therapy. She taught middle school & elementary art for 4 years. Her favorite medium is to paint but she loves to share her knowledge and expertise in all forms of art!
Melissa Tai has studied under many accomplished Pittsburgh artists. A life-long creative, she has chosen watercolor for her professional endeavors. She loves to take advantage of the flow and freedom of wet into wet. Melissa can be found teaching at a number of venues in and around Pittsburgh. She recognizes that there are many ‘right’ ways to do things. She likes to introduce creativity to those who either think they can’t or just haven’t experienced the joy yet.
Cynthia Young has studied in the US, England, and Japan. She has an MFA from the University of Florida, an MA from IUP, and has studied ceramic engineering at Alfred University. Her residencies include the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, PA; Mendocino Art Center in California; Watershed Center for Ceramic Art in Maine; International Workshop of Ceramic Art in Tokoname, Japan; and PCA artist in residence. She has assisted many times at the Penland School of Craft and has taught at Westminster College, Point Park University, University of Florida, The Ellis School, Mendocino Art Center, PCA and various other city art centers. She exhibits nationally and locally. Cynthia has Art certification for grades K-12 and Math certification for grades 7-12.