Holly Ewald‘s sense of community grew from living on a Native American Mic Mac reserve in New Brunswick, Canada, for two summers in high school. She received a BA in Art from University of Oregon in 1977 and a MFA in Painting from Brooklyn College in 1986. Visiting the Reggio Emilia schools in Italy in 1992 confirmed her artist approach to teaching and inspired an element of play and discovery in her studio work, which serves as both an inspiration for and a response to the arts-based programing she initiates with communities. Since moving to Rhode Island in 1998 with her young family, her work has been driven by collaborating with others to research histories of less recognized places near where she lives. Her handwork often provides a setting or platform for communities to come together to celebrate and share stories and reflections about these places. (See www.hollyewald.com.)
Founding what is now UPP Arts in 2008, she encourages other artists to use the history and environmental challenges of Mashapaug Pond, in Providence, to engage the public in creative responses to this neglected site. The environmental plight of Mashapaug moved her work in a more activist direction bringing businesses, government agencies, environmentalists, students (from elementary school to college), and residents together to raise awareness about Providence’s urban ponds.
She has received numerous awards for her work including the 2014 Tom Roberts Prize for Creative Achievement in the Humanities from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the 2013 Environmental Achievement Award from Save the Bay, and a Sandra Olsen Award in Recognition of Extraordinary Commitment to New Urban Arts in 2013. In addition to being Artistic Director of UPP Arts, she is a Community Fellow at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.
Tamara Kaplan President
Tamara Kaplan, maker of art and creative space, likes using and learning about different media. Currently she is working in encaustics, collage, printmaking and letterpress. She loves color although has a hard time incorporating it into her wardrobe. She started off making things out of clay but currently does not have room in her house or brain for a clay studio. During the day, Tamara works at New Urban Arts, a free nationally recognized art studio for teenagers in Providence, Rhode Island. She looks forward to going to “work” daily. In the grand scheme of life, Tamara already has her dream job(s) as a youth worker, artist, and mom to twin daughters. She sees her life as one big art process and loves being an artist in the world. Tamara has some higher ed degrees but would rather have conversations about how we, as human beings, move about the world and create relationships with each other.
Julia Lazarus Vice President
Julia Lazarus is an experienced designer and project manager interested in creative audience engagement, public humanities content development, and cultural planning. She is the Project Manager for Online Programs at the Brown University School of Professional Studies, where her team develops and delivers online courses for high school students, undergraduates, and executive master's students. Her previous work has included projects for Scholastic, NOOK Kids, StoryCorps, Microsoft Network, and The Museum of Modern Art, among others. Julia holds an MA in Public Humanities from Brown's Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, as well as degrees from Duke University and Wesleyan University. She is passionate about making art and ideas accessible and relevant to audiences, and the ways in which culture contributes to vibrant civic life and public spaces.
Genise Choy Treasurer
Genise Choy has been involved with UPP Arts since 2010. She has also contributed to the Rhode Island nonprofit community through work with Providence CityArts for Youth, the Friends of Knight Memorial Library, The I WAS THERE Project, and Barbara Sokoloff Associates. She received a Master of City Planning degree from UC Berkeley, focusing on the relationships between sustainability, art, real estate and community. She now develops affordable housing in San Francisco.
Lucia O'Reilly Secretary
Lucia O’Reilly is an artist (paint, burning, steel, 3-D collage) who has lived in Pawtuxet Village in the Lower Pawtuxet River Watershed for over 25 years. Lucia has been involved with UPP Arts since its beginning, peripherally at first and actively in the past few years. She also volunteers at Planned Parenthood Southern New England and at the Miriam Hospital with her therapy dog Copper.
Jennifer Geller Director
Jennifer Geller currently teaches history and social sciences at Central High School in Providence. Her courses focus on addressing and solving real world problems in the immediate community, including environmental issues around industrialization and deindustrialization. She is interested in how contaminated spaces are perceived and used by the public and how to honor the legacy of these places while insuring their safety for the community. She holds a BA in social history from Carnegie Mellon University, an MAT from the University of Pittsburgh, and an MRes in environmental history from the University of Stirling.