About Sasha (she/her)

Talent, intelligence, and abilities are fluid and can be developed or strengthened with practice.

Sasha Roberts-Levi

Sasha is the founder of Art Works! Studio. She is a reconstructivist-educator who has three decades of experience teaching diverse populations — infants to nonagenarians. She is a certified elementary teacher with K-12th ESL, Fine Art, and Learning Disabilities endorsements. She taught for 16 years in Detroit Public schools as a special education teacher and in the college of education department of teacher education at Wayne State University and Eastern Michigan University. She has decades of experience tutoring and teaching community art to neuro-diverse / atypical neuro individuals. She retired in June 2020 from the public schools as a part-time art teacher in an alternative high school. She teaches traditional and expressive arts classes and offers private lessons in art and remedial reading and art-infused place-based English language arts, social studies, and science. She also is trained in expressive arts facilitation. Expressive Arts is a discipline of helping and healing that uses the arts as its basis for discovery and change. While she is interested in the beautiful treasures of museums and galleries Sasha is equally interested in how the creative spirit manifests itself in the office, the classroom, the kitchen, the board room and on the bus. She has exhibited work nationally but mostly enjoys the process of transforming lives and changing the world, one student at a time.

Sasha’s Gallery of Work

Sasha is a wife, mother of five, and grandmother of two. She obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Eastern Michigan University, where she worked in watercolor, printmaking, and mixed media drawing. She earned a master’s degree in Education and an Ed Specialist degree in bi-cultural curriculum and instruction. She has taught preschool through university graduate students and supervised student teachers seeking their teaching certification.

Sasha has taught typically developing children and adults and special populations (gifted, autism, traumatic brain injury, ADHD, mild cognitive impairments, developmental delay, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurotypical individuals as well as people with physical disabilities). She has taught in the Novi Community Schools, Northville Art House, Detroit Waldorf School, Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor Recreation Department, Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp, Medicine Bear Academy, Holy Redeemer Cultural Center, Living and Learning Center, and in her private practice. She studied art therapy through the University of Chicago under Harriet Wadeson and Sandra Graves and has attended Wayne State University’s art therapy program. She has training in trauma-informed instruction. She is currently taking coursework in Expressive Arts working towards an international Registered Expressive Arts Consultant in Education (REACE) credentialing through IEATA.

Sasha sees teaching art as a political act — a quest to create a better society and worldwide democracy. She feels that if you, as a teacher, engage your students in creative and critical thinking, you are engaging in a political act. If you teach them rote memorization, you are also engaging in a political act. By being a teacher, you are influencing your students’ thinking and modifying how they process information. You are changing how they think, how they internalize words and meaning, and whether they are silently passive or actively engaged. This changes how they see the world and how they participate in society, and how they see themselves within that society.

Sasha sees teaching art as the fifth component of empowering individuals to be literate. She has learned that the components, listening, speaking, reading, writing, and visioning/viewing, are integrated parts of a whole. Literacy is key in communication, and communication is one of the essential skills in a democratic society. On a community front, in the home context, in employment, and at school – communication is fundamental to life, and colors what it means to be human. Whether one-on-one or in small groups, her teaching focuses on creative and critical thinking, connection, compassion, and community.

Sasha believes that anyone can learn. She aims to create learning environments that empower people to believe they can develop their abilities — brains and talent are just the starting point. When she teaches reading she approaches it from a multisensory perspective. She says if you know how to write your name, you can learn to draw. She feels art is not a genre or specific talent but rather sees art as the unique work of a human being – work that touches another through personal narrative. Art is not a result; it is a journey. The challenge of our time, Sasha feels, is to find a journey worth your heart and soul.

At Art Works! Studio believes that people learn best when learning is taken out of the box and knowledge is constructed based on an individual’s own learning profile: strengths and weakness, interests and talents, learning style and unique language, learning and behavioral needs. In our experience, learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum but in the context of everything that happens in life. We see consider everything through the lens of creativity, cognition, communication, and culture. It is all related.

Statement of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competence

We do not discriminate on the basis of race, age, class, sexual orientation, gender identity expression, or abilities. We are actively working on our own bias and welcome people to this community who are doing the same. Let’s connect through creativity, critical thinking, communication, and culture!

Diversity: Individual differences (e.g., personality, language, learning styles, and life experiences) and group-social differences (e.g., race, ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual identity, country of origin, and ability status, as well as cultural, political, religious or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.

The neurodiversity or neuro-diverse movement advocates the idea that our brains are different and that everyone (whether neurotypical or neurodivergent) should be treated equally by individuals, the workplace, and external environments. The self-identifying label of “neurodivergent” originally focused on those who are autistic. However, in more recent years, it has been used to describe those who think, behave, and learn differently from what is typical in society. Being neurodivergent should not be considered an inherent deficit but simply a difference in processing the world around us.

Neurodiversity: A Concept Whose Time Has Come
The idea of neurodiversity is really a paradigm shift in how we think about kids in special education. Instead of regarding these students as suffering from deficit, disease, or dysfunction, neurodiversity suggests that we speak about their strengths. Neurodiversity urges us to discuss brain diversity using the same kind of discourse that we employ when we talk about biodiversity and cultural diversity. We don’t pathologize a calla lily by saying that it has a “petal deficit disorder.” We simply appreciate its unique beauty. We don’t diagnose individuals who have skin color that is different from our own as suffering from “pigmentation dysfunction.” That would be racist. Similarly, we ought not to pathologize children who have different kinds of brains and different ways of thinking and learning. ~Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong

Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect—in ways that increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within (and change) systems and institutions.

Equity: The creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations to have equal access to and participation in educational programs that are capable of closing the achievement gaps in student success and completion.

Cultural Competence: The state of having and applying knowledge and skill in awareness, knowledge, and skills across self, other, and interpersonal and structural interactions. Over extended periods of time, individuals and organizations develop the wisdom and capability to work with interpersonal sensitivity and the skills to maximize community engagement and productivity through effectively inviting diverse perspectives to be freely shared. To be successful, culturally responsive teaching strategies must be incorporated at every stage of the learning process, from curriculum development to assessment. Culturally responsive teaching is not a secondary or supplemental approach to education.

We at Art Works! Studio is committed to being better allies to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and those with disabilities. We stand in solidarity with victims of systemic brutality and injustice and recognize the systemic roots of this racist, xenophobic, and too often misogynistic violence as not just a historical narrative but a call to change. We are committed to examining and dismantling our unconscious and/or unchecked white privilege. And to practices and so not to reflect or perpetuate ableism or exclusionary perspectives that may directly or indirectly promote, sustain, or entrench differential treatment affecting individuals.

We uphold a commitment to educating ourselves, a willingness to have difficult conversations, and take informed actions, as we continue to build a healing organization that actively promotes diversity, equity, justice, and compassion.

Land Acknowledgment Statement

Sasha lives and works on the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabe – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples, also known as Metro Detroit. She recognizes Michigan’s 12 federally recognized Native Nations, historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and those who were forcibly removed from their homelands. In offering this land acknowledgment, she affirms Indigenous sovereignty, history, and experiences and is grateful to have the opportunity to live work and present in this territory.

IEATA Ethical Guidelines

To keep the highest standards of professional practice, Art Works! Studio teachers must abide by the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) Ethical Guidelines, an expression of values and goals that help us define our behavior as a professional community. You can read more about them here.

We are excited to make art with you and build a community around the exploratory nature of art. Our classes and workshops are not therapeutic sessions but rather artmaking sessions centered around wellness, stress reduction, and skill acquisition. While the art information and tutorials found here may be relaxing or healing, as many art activities can be, they are not therapy. Expressive art is not art therapy, and any information discussed in class is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Art Works! Studio is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment if the need arises.

Art Works! Studio for Creative and Cognitive Studies Mission Statement

Art Works! Studio for Expressive and Cognitive Studies will educate, inspire and empower individuals through joyful engagement and discovery through inquiry. We believe that ultimately the process of creating individually or together, to express one’s self or to shape an artistic work helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, build relationships, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and to achieve insight on one’s own unique life journey so that they can be the change they want to see in the world. In other words, art works to build skills and develop creative and critical thinking.

We offer group classes, teacher training, and private and small group art classes and educational therapy sessions using the creative process as a means of facilitating the emotional, cognitive, and physical development and wellbeing of children, adults, and seniors. Our programs include traditional art, expressive arts, fun art, English language arts and English as a Second Language classes, place-based education curriculum design, and IEP support and advocacy.

Our approach: depth-orientated, person-centered, and arts-based. Our philosophy on teaching is to focus primarily on the enjoyment aspects while gently introducing the technical and academic. Hence, in creating a passion for the subject matter, the quest for knowledge also becomes enjoyable.

“Sasha is dedicated to helping people to learn how they learn and practice simple ways to improve their lives by spending more time enjoying their creative projects, passions, and pursuits.”

Dr. C. Lopez, former Director of Bilingual Education, Detroit Public Schools, Assistant Superintendent, Ypsilanti Community Schools