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 in Education and an Ed Specialist degree in bi-cultural curriculum and instruction. She taught preschool through university graduate students and supervised teachers seeking their teaching certification. Sheltered-at-Home during the COVID-19 global pandemic, Sasha worked on earning her certificate as an expressive arts educator/consultant and SoulCollage(R) facilitator. Now she is finding and giving voice to the rich tapestry of who she is through these remarkable processes. Facilitating others as they heal, replenish, and play brings her great delight!
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, Detroit Public 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 certified in Expressive Arts and working towards an international Registered Expressive Arts Consultant in Education (REACE) credentialing through IEATA.
Teaching art is a political act — a quest to create a better society and worldwide democracy because 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 also engage in a political act. As a teacher, you influence your students’ thinking and modify 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, participate in society, and see themselves within that society. ~ Sasha
Sasha sees teaching art as the fifth component of empowering individuals to be literate. She has learned that 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. Her teaching focuses on creative and critical thinking, connection, compassion, and community, one-on-one or small group.
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 you can learn to draw if you know how to write your name. 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, and 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 and 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 we employ when discussing 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 with different brains and 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 can close 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, individuals and organizations develop the wisdom and capability to work with interpersonal sensitivity and the skills to maximize community engagement and productivity by 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, 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 practice and so not 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, being willing to have difficult conversations, and taking informed actions as we continue to build a healing organization that actively promotes diversity, equity, justice, and compassion.
Art Works! Studio 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 living here now, and those 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 be present in this territory. Art Works! Studio is committed to renewing our relationship with the first nation people on whose lands we are a guest.
International Expressive Arts Therapy Association 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 but 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; 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.