Brandon Sadler


Brandon is the 2019 recipient of the Inkpot Focus Fellowship, awarded to an artist working in sequential narrative: comics, graphic novels, animation,


Brandon Sadler (b.1986) aka Rising Red Lotus, a name which also serves as a mantra telling the story of the lotus whose roots were sown deep in the mud of good and evil, who gathered nutrients from both sides, and rose to the surface to become whole. He is a native ATLien, earned a BFA in Painting and Illustration from SCAD Atlanta and is a multi-disciplinary artist, calligrapher, film director, and writer.

Sadler is renowned for his public mural works and his solo and group exhibitions have brought him accolades as one of Atlanta's most prolific artists collected by individuals as well as the High Museum of Art. In addition to activating the fine art and public art worlds, he has also worked with several major brands to successfully bring his unique vision into the commercial space.

Sadler's style and art making philosophy is a collection of influences from his experience in American graffiti, and his studies in traditional Korean, Chinese, and Japanese calligraphy and painting, Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, comic books, graphic design, and indigenous symbolism and lore.

One notable characteristic of his work is the text that he incorporates; it is all written using the English alphabet, but designed to emulate the Chinese character system. While living in Seoul, South Korea, Brandon saw a structural connection between English and Hangul through a shared use of vowels and consonants to form words.

Merging his awareness of these similarities with his experience as a graffiti writer, Sadler began to develop an intricate writing system that begins in brush calligraphy and can be adapted to typography and design. Cultural connectivity is a huge component in his work, which mirrors the social progression of our contemporary environment. Conceptually, his imagery speaks to a universal human condition within concepts surrounding change, connectivity, perception, and self-actualization.

Alexander Acosta



Alexander Acosta is a Community Leader, Arts Advocate, and the Executive Director of Soul Food Cypher. In 2011, he had a vision of creating the cypher while mentoring at-risk teenagers at the Whitefoord Intel computer clubhouse in in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally, he aimed to teachstudents media production at the clubhouse, but quickly found he could reach them directly through their shared passion of hip-hop. Experiencing their brilliance and spontaneous ingenuity, he became a believer in their ability improve themselves and their communities through their words. From this Soul Food Cypher was born in 2012. Since then, he has lead Soul Food Cypher from the basement of Wonderroot community arts center to stages at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, A3C Music Festival, and Coca-Cola Headquarters and to classrooms on Emory University and Georgia State University's campuses.

Alexander also serves on the National Advisory Council for AIR Serenbe.

Mahogany L. Browne



Mahogany L. Browne was born in Oakland, California but has been based in Brooklyn, NY for over 15 years. A strong, black woman, Browne is unapologetic in her work as a spoken word poet, author, and activist. She uses her personal experience with addiction, racism, sexism, and oppression to inspire her own brand of shameless, authentic work. Browne’s spoken word performances create a platform through poetry for women and girls to feel empowered and heard.

In the beginning, encouragement was elusive for Browne. During a high school honors English class, she was told not to write poetry, and dropped out the next semester. Finding the strength to persevere, the poet went on to graduate from the MFA Writing and Activism program at Pratt Institute. Browne’s talent and personal struggles have proved to make her success today proof of her undeniable persistence.

Featured in the PBS NewsHour segment, Brief But Spectacular, Browne read her poem “Black Girl Magic” about the struggles facing African-American women and girls in modern society. She has been featured in HBO’s Brave New Voices as the artistic director at Urban Word NYC. Browne is the publisher of Penmanship Books, curator of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Friday Night Slam, founder of the Women Writers of Color Reading Room, and the director of Black Lives Matter at Pratt Institute.

A Cave Canem fellow and Agnes Gund Fund Recipient Browne has published several poetry collections and books, including Black Girl Magic, Kissing Caskets, Redbone, and Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out Online. She has also released five LPs, including a live album, Sheroshima. Her work has appeared in Pluck, The Manhattanville Review, Muzzle, and others.

Browne has toured internationally as a member of Global Poetics, an international arts exchange.

Mahogany’s newest release, Woke Baby, is available now on Amazon and at Target retail stores.

Ray Christian



Dr. Ray Christian is a storyteller whose storytelling began with his role as reader for his illiterate parents at age 10. He escaped the urban slums of Richmond, VA by joining the United States Army at 17. Here he served in a number of capacities and assignments at home, abroad during peacetime, and in combat, primarily as an Infantryman and Paratrooper, where he retired after 20 years of service. Following retirement, the combat-decorated veteran went back to school and earned a BS in History, MA in Public History, an EdS in Education Leadership, and a PhD in Education. Ray also teaches part time at Appalachian State University, the courses “The Souls of Black Folks,” an examination of African American social culture, and “Life in the Narrative,” a course that explores the historic and contemporary use of storytelling and oral history in America. Ray has shared his stories on The Moth Main Stage in the US and Canada. His stories have appeared in Readers Digest and have been featured on the Moth Radio Hour and Snap Judgment. In addition, as a competitive storyteller, Ray is a seven-time Moth Story Slam Champion and the winner of the 2016 National Storytelling Festival Story Slam. Ray also has his own podcast, What’s Ray Saying. Ray hopes to continue crafting stories that can serve the cause of cultural enlightenment and social justice by using oral expression to present the human experience in a compelling and memorable way. Ray currently resides in Boone, North Carolina with his wife, children, dogs, and chickens. Ray is AIR Serenbe’s 2017 Frances Focus Fellowship recipient.

Sarah Kay

IN RESIDENCE MAY 13 - MAY 19, 2019


Sarah Kay is a New Yorker. a poetry writer and reader. an educator. the founder and co-director of Project VOICE. a witty banter enthusiast. a postcard lover. a foodie. a playwright. a singer. a songwriter. a photographer. a best-selling author of four books of poetry including BNo Matter the WreckageThe Type, and All Our Wild Wonder. a celebrated performer in over 25 countries. an editor for Write Bloody Publishing. a Gemini. a mediocre driver at best. a musical theater geek. a smoothie expert. the daughter of a Taoist mother and a Brooklynese father. a hapa. less cool than her little brother. an alum of the United Nations International School and a graduate of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. an alum of Brown University. an alum of Brown University Graduate School’s Masters Program in the Art of Teaching Secondary English. a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Grinnell College. 

Ali Fadlallah



Ali Imad Fadlallah is an LA-based rapper/singer, mix engineer, actor, writer, and consultant signed to Avant Artists as well as his own imprint, RISE Entertainment. Ali is a first generation, Lebanese-American Muslim from Dearborn, MI. At 18, Ali completed his B.A. in English Literature from the University of Minnesota before joining the 2009 Teach for America Corps and teaching 11th graders in Clarksdale, MS. In 2011, he completed his M.Ed at the University of MS and relocated to Michigan to pursue his music, releasing 2 self-produced projects. He moved to Atlanta, GA in 2013 to earn his MBA from Emory University, before transitioning into the Doctor of Education Leadership (EdLD) Program at Harvard University on a full-ride scholarship. After spending the last year of his doctorate in LA as a full-time resident with Live Nation's "Music Forward," Ali remained in LA to build his career as a musician and actor. In 2019, he became a Voqal Fellow and received funding to launch CleffNotes, a visual media company that provides in-depth analyses of key social justice books in the form of songs and music videos that will be available for streaming in early 2020. You can find his music anywhere under Ali Imad, or follow him @aliimadmusic.

Ali is a member of AIR Serenbe’s National Advisory Council.

Chris Tuff



Chris is the national bestselling author of The Millennial Whisperer, which was released in February 2019 and quickly became the #2 bestselling book at Barnes & Noble. His dynamic approach to attracting and motivating the next generation in the workplace has had him featured in Forbes, Fast Company,  Fox TV, Cheddar News, and more.

Chris is also a partner at 22squared, a full-service advertising agency based out of Atlanta, GA where he oversees content marketing and partnerships as well as the employee engagement consulting division. Chris has held many different roles over the 10 yrs he's been there and now focused his time building new offerings and motivating the Millennial generation in the workplace.

Chris was one of the first marketers to work directly with Facebook in 2005, and is now one of the foremost thought leaders in the digital space. Always on top of emerging trends, he oversees all content marketing and helps push to get our existing clients access to first-to-market ad products and offerings. He's responsible for partnership development with technology and media companies like Twitter, Google, Facebook, and beyond.

B. A. Van Sise


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A frequent contributor to the Village Voice and Buzzfeed, B.A. Van Sise is also one of the world's busiest travel and features photographers. In addition to being a Nikon/AFAR travel photography ambassador, Van Sise has been a staffer for Newsday and AOL CityGuide, and his work has been a featured subject on the cover of the New York Times, on PBS NewsHour, and on NPR. A number of his portraits of notable American poets are in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian.

His work has previously appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Mirror of London, Travel + Leisure, Arthur Frommer's Travel Guides, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, and approximately 250 other publications, in addition to exhibitions at the Peabody Essex Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Center for Creative Photography and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His wedding work has earned him Editors' Choice Award three years in a row from Two Bright Lights, as well as The Knot's Photographer of the Year. He is a graduate of the prestigious Eddie Adams Workshop and a National Press Photographers’ Association award-winner.

He holds one degree from Fordham University for Visual Arts and another for Modern Languages: a polyglot, he is fluent or conversational in English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Russian, and some basic Hebrew.

Florence Williams



Florence Williams is a journalist, author and podcaster whose work focuses on the environment, health and science. She is a fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University. Accolades include six magazine awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the John Hersey Prize at Yale. She serves on the board of High Country News, and lives with her family in Washington, D.C.

Edgar L. Page


Edgar is the Denver recipient of the Creativity Connects grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through AIR Serenbe partner organizations Capita and WolfTrap. As part of the grant, recipients receive residencies from AIR Serenbe.

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Denver based choreographer, Edgar L. Page is originally from Detroit, MI where he began his dance training through the Detroit Public Schools system. A graduate of Cass Technical High School, he furthered his studies at the Alvin Ailey School, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and other institutions before earning his BA in Dance from Western Michigan University as both a Wade H. McCree, Jr. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar.

Upon graduation Mr. Page spent a season with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Second Company before joining the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. For nearly a decade he was a featured artist with the company, touring domestically and internationally performing the works by prolific choreographers including Gary Abbott, Baba Chuck Davis, Katherine Dunham, Rennie Harris, Nejla Yatkin, Ray Mercer, Milton Myers and Eleo Pomare. During his tenure with the company he also performed Principal and Soloist roles created by the likes of Alvin Ailey, Christopher Huggins, Donald McKayle, Jeffrey Page, Roger Jeffrey, Cleo Parker Robinson and others.

With a graceful prowess, Mr. Page has since shifted his focus to curating his own work while enriching young creatives. Establishing Edgar L. Page: Feel the Movement in June of 2018, he utilizes this unique platform to explore the universal pursuits of love and happiness in an era marked by the continual morphing of intimacy due to technology. Under his guidance, the company is working towards autonomy as he continues to cultivate a body of work with palpable energy that crosses borders or effaces them completely. Engaging audiences by inviting them to explore #thefeelingofanemotion, this allows his work to live in larger social conversation long after the dancers final bow. The company is shifting the landscape of dance locally, utilizing a diverse collective of vessels currently ranging in age from 16-55 while interrogating notions related to mental health, intersectionality, inclusion, representation and the colliding truths held therein. Page is honored to have been named a Creativity Connects Fellow, a Cultural Partner with the City of Denver, and Artist in Residence for the 2020 Presenting Denver Dance Festival.

April Thomas


April is the Los Angeles recipient of the Creativity Connects grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through AIR Serenbe partner organizations Capita and WolfTrap. As part of the grant, recipients receive residencies from AIR Serenbe.

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Ms. April is a native of Spartanburg, SC and began her training at Howard University where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Arts / Dance. She studied with Walter Nicks, Joan Myers Brown, Sandra Fortune-Green, Dr. Sherrill Berryman-Johnson, Kevin Iega Jeff, Harold Pierson, Assane Konte, Pat Thomas, Luther Fontaine and many others. April received a scholarship to study at the American Dance Festival and interned with prominent dance companies including David Rousseve/ Reality, Ronald K. Brown/ EVIDENCE, and Garth Fagan Dance Company. She joined the Lula Washington Dance Theatre in 2001where she still performs as a guest artist and serves as a Dance Instructor. She has since landed roles on BET’s Comic View, “That’s So Raven,” “Something New,” “Avatar,” “Bolden,” “Walk Hard,” “Raiding the Rock Vault,” “The NFL Show on FOX” and “Revival.” She has performed with Mary J. Blige, Usher, Beyonce, Shakira, Missy Elliott, Destiny’s Child, Snoop Dogg and Internationally with A.I. April is also an assistant to acclaimed choreographer Hi Hat in which she has assisted with various artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Sza, Pink, Shakira, Rihanna, Willow Smith, Selena Gomez, Starshell and for television shows “Victorious” and “Big Time Rush.” She also assists well-known choreographer, Cassie Crump, on various projects including the newly released film, “Revival.” Her choreographic credits include the film “Watermelon Heist” and “Testing,” an excerpt from the production of “You Don’t Know Me—An Urban Musical,” produced by Cedric the Entertainer and Bruce Willis. April also has video choreographic and Creative Director credits for artist Alfred Jackson’s “Control,” featuring Wendy Raquel Robinson and “Closer.” She is also a former member of One Body Dance Company where she shares testimonies through dance. April began working for Celerity Educational Group in 2011 as a Dance Instructor and now holds the position of Performing Arts Coordinator for ISANA Academies. She enjoys the opportunity to share her God given talent and knowledge with her students and to watch them grown in the arts and excel in their personal growth and accomplishments. April’s greatest achievements are the blessings that come from her two children, Tyler Wilkins and Kerrick Wilkins II. She believes that she “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” her. To God be the glory for all of her blessings.

Andrea Jurjević


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Andrea Jurjević is a poet and translator from Rijeka, Croatia. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Believer, EPOCH, TriQuarterly, Best New Poets, The Missouri Review, The Florida Review, Gulf Coast, The Southern Humanities Review, and many other literary journals. She is the author of Small Crimes, winner of the 2015 Philip Levine Prize, and translator of Mamasafari (Diálogos Press / Lavender Ink, 2018), a collection of prose poems in Croatian by Olja Savičević. She is a recipient of a Robinson Jeffers Tor Prize, a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a Hambidge Fellowship, and 2018 Georgia Author of the Year. She teaches at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jessica Ingram

IN RESIDENCE December 14, 2019 - January 12, 2020

Jessica is the 2019 recipient of the Mulberry Street Focus Fellowship, awarded to an artist whose work explores the experience of childhood and growing up.


Jessica Ingram works with multi-media and the archive to explore the ethos of communities, and notions of progress and resistance in American culture. Raised in Nashville, Tennessee, she received her BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and her MFA from California College of Arts & Crafts in San Francisco. Her work has been featured in California Sunday Magazine, The New York Times, Oxford American, Vice and Wired Magazine.  Ingram received the Santa Fe Prize for her work Road Through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorial, and the solo traveling exhibition Road Through Midnight was recently exhibited at the National Civil Rights Museum, Tennessee State Museum, and Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies.  She was included in Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum, traveling to the Speed Museum. Her collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and installed permanently at Oakland International Airport, Birmingham International Airport, and Oakland Museum of California. Ingram’s book Road Through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorial will be released by UNC Press in 2019. She is a professor in the College of Fine Arts at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Mark Schoon



Mark Schoon is an artist and educator living in Atlanta, GA. He holds a BA in television production from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and an MFA in Photography from Ohio University. His photographs are included in the permanent collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, CA, the University of North Dakota, and the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at The University of West Georgia.

Teralyn Reiter


Teralyn is the Charleston recipient of the Creativity Connects grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through AIR Serenbe partner organizations Capita and WolfTrap. As part of the grant, recipients receive residencies from AIR Serenbe.

Teralyn is the Founder and Executive Director or Storytree Children's Theatre located in Charleston, SC. She earned her MFA­-Acting from the University of Montana and has worked as a Teaching Artist and actor throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Her teaching artist work started with Missoula Children's Theatre and continued with various theatres that ultimately brought her to Daegu, South Korea where she developed and implemented a theatre program that teaches English in a fun, unconventional way. She continues growing as an educator and performer while working in various theatres in Charleston. Learn more about Storytree's in-school residencies and touring productions by visiting

Kantara Souffrant


Kantara is the Milwaukee recipient of the Creativity Connects grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through AIR Serenbe partner organizations Capita and WolfTrap. As part of the grant, recipients receive residencies from AIR Serenbe.

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Kantara Souffrant is an artist-scholar, museum educator, and independent curator. She uses her scholarly, performance and community-based work to encourage dialogue, personal and communal transformation.  Souffrant combines movement, song, folk stories, interviews, and personal narratives to create, what she terms, “embodied storytelling.” She has presented her scholarly-artistic work on Yoruba, Haitian and KiKongo aesthetics and African cosmologies at numerous venues including the Whitney Biennale under the Dance Diaspora Collective, the American Studies Association, The Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Northwestern University, New York University, Oberlin College, The Caribbean Cultural Center and African Diasporic Institute,  and the Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Souffrant holds a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University with certificates in Critical Theory, African and Diaspora studies, and Teaching. Her written work is featured in the anthology Vodou in the Haitian Experience; the art project Correspondence between NYC & PaP; Prospect.3: Notes for Now; and Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory.

Nedra Roberts

IN RESIDENCE MAY 24 - MAY 27, 2019

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Nedra Pezold Roberts is an Atlanta playwright. After several decades at Atlanta’s Westminster Schools, she took early retirement so she could write her own plays rather than teaching those of others. Over the past several years, her plays have had production runs or staged readings coast to coast and in Canada Several of the plays have been published and have won competitions, including both the 2013 and 2018 Southern Playwrights Competition, both the 2013 and 2015 AACT NewPlayFest, and the 2016-17 Texas Nonprofit Theatres TNT POPS. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Working Title Playwrights, and the Atlanta Writers Club. Check out her website at

Josh Byrd

IN RESIDENCE MAY 13 - MAY 20, 2019


Josh Byrd serves as Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at the University of West Georgia. His primary responsibilities include conducting the Wind Ensemble, teaching music education classes, supervising student teachers, and administrating all aspects of the UWG band program. Prior to his appointment he served as Director of Bands for Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wisconsin and Assistant Director of Bands at Lanier Middle School and Norcross High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Dr. Byrd received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from the University of Georgia where he studied with John Lynch and minored in Music Theory. He received his Master of Music degree in Conducting while studying with Tom Dvorak at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Georgia where he studied saxophone with Kenneth Fischer and conducting with Dwight Satterwhite and John Culvahouse.

Dr. Byrd is an active clinician, most recently having presented at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, GMEA In-service, and CBDNA National Conference. Dr. Byrd is a strong advocate of new music, having been a part of numerous commissioning consortiums during his tenure at the University of West Georgia, including Joseph Schwantner’s Luminosity and David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 10.

His professional affiliations include Georgia Music Educators Association, National Association for Music Education, College Band Directors National Association, the National Band Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Beta Mu, and Kappa Kappa Psi. Dr. Byrd lives in Carrollton with his wife, Katie, and their two children, Tripp and Haley.

Jeffrey Zamostny



Jeffrey Zamostny joined the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures in the Spring of 2012. He is currently Spanish Section Coordinator as well as Chair of the Faculty Senate Undergraduate Programs Committee. His research focuses on the culture and literature of Silver Age Spain (1898-1936), placing special emphasis on questions of gender, sexuality, celebrity, and fandom. Zamostny is interested in how understudied forms such as kiosk novels, illustrated magazines, silent film, and modern dance open new windows onto the study of early twentieth-century Spanish culture. His volume Kiosk Literature of Silver Age Spain: Modernity and Mass Culture (co-edited with Susan Larson) appeared with Intellect in 2017 and was presented at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. His publications on early twentieth-century Spain appear in the edited volumes Dinamitar los límites: Denuncia y compromiso en la literatura de la Otra Edad de Plata (2017) and Miradas de progreso: Reflejos de la modernidad en la Otra Edad de Plata (2016), as well as in journals such as MLN(2018), Revista de Estudios sobre Blasco Ibáñez (2016-2017), Hispanófila (2015), L'Erudit Franco-Espagnol (2015), and Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (2013). Zamostny teaches Spanish language, literature, and culture courses across the undergraduate curriculum as well as courses for the Minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. He has also enjoyed teaching courses for study abroad in Costa Rica, the Honors College, and first-year student programs. Zamostny was UWG's nominee for the USG Regents' Teaching Award for Individual Faculty Excellence (2016) and winner of the Foreign Language Association of Georgia Teacher of Promise Award (2014).

Julia Wertz


Julia is the 2019 recipient of the Inkpot Focus Fellowship, awarded to an artist working in sequential narrative: comics, graphic novels, animation,

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Julia Wertz is a professional cartoonist, amateur historian and part time urban explorer/photographer. She made the comic books The Fart Party vol 1 and vol 2 (collected in Museum of Mistakes) and the graphic novels Drinking at the Movies, and The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, both of which were nominated for Eisner Awards. Her latest book, Tenements, Towers, & Trash: An Unconventional, Illustrated History of New York City, was published by Black Dog & Leventhal/Hachette in Oct 2017, for which she won the 2018 Brendan Gill Prize. She currently does monthly comics and illustration for the New Yorker. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Harper's Magazine, the Believer, the Best American Comics, and Medium. Her photography of abandoned places has appeared in The New York Post, the Daily Mail and some local rags. She is a repeated MacDowell Colony fellow. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she spent a decade in New York City, in this studio. As of 2017, she lives in Northern California where she's working on a graphic novel to be published by Hachette in 2020.