Staff and Recent Participating Artists of the Center

Gigi Alvaré is a visual artist, performer and writer. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Abrons Art Center, Deep Listening Space, Tivoli Artist’s Co-op and the Arnof Art Museum. She has done extensive work with The Touchstone Center – and is at present Senior Museum Educator at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, New York.

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Noah Baen is a painter, muralist, installation artist and landscaper, who studied art at Cooper Union, University of Pennsylvania and Brooklyn College. His work, which has been widely exhibited, is primarily concerned with nature and human interaction with the environment. As a community artist and educator he has focused on collaborative public and site-specific projects, such as indoor and outdoor murals, school gardens and a restored wetland and coal mine, which integrate environmental education, natural and social history with the visual arts.

Having taught for over twenty years in a variety of school and community settings from preschool to university, he has been, since 1990, the Leader of the Family Art Project at Wave Hill, a public garden in the Bronx. His artwork, which is included, among others, in the Smith College Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, can also be seen in the 59th Street subway concourse. In addition his mixed media work, Suspended Orchard, was part of the Bessie award winning installation, Inhabited ’98: Afterlives at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Awarded the Mayor’s Very Special Arts Award and the Hero Award for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, he has been on the staff of The Touchstone Center since 1993.

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Margie Barab is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and L’ecole Normale de la Musique in Paris. An accomplished singer, she currently teaches the Orff approach to music and movement at the Trevor Day School in Manhattan.

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Helen Buttfield began her work at the Touchstone Center as a designer for the fold-out poster booklets Before There was Thunder and The First Dot was the Dinosaurs.  In addition to her extensive design work, she has collaborated as a photographer with Richard Lewis in his book Of This World: The Life and Poetry of Issa and The Way of Silence: The Prose and Poetry of Basho. Her most recent book was The Secret Life of Fishes, published by Abrams in 2000.

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Elizabeth Crawford is an artist and educator, who worked as teaching-artist with the Touchstone Center from 1994 to 2000.  At that time, she also illustrated, in collaboration with George Hirose, Cave: An Evocation of the Beginnings of Art, published by the Touchstone Center. As an artist, her work incorporates sculpture, drawing, photography and printmaking and has been exhibited nationally. At present, she is living Minneapolis, where she is the Publications Director of Origins. A graduate of Colorado College, she received her MFA from Pratt Institute in 1998.

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Kathy Creutzburg is a sculptor and a teacher who has taught at Innovative Community Enterprises, City Arts, Inc., Henry Street Settlement – and at present, is an artist in residence, with Studio In A School –as well as a teaching-artist with the Touchstone Center. Her own work has been exhibited at the Cork Gallery in Lincoln Center, Times Square Lobby Gallery, Bus Stop Gallery, and Abrons Arts Center. Her most recent projects with The Touchstone Center have been a steel sculpture of The Bird of Imagining, The Tree of Knowing and The Basho Chair, as well the collaborative mural The Play of Playing and mosaic, The Rivers of our Thoughts, with Noah Baen.  She recently illustrated We Are Rivers based on a poem by Richard Lewis – and published by Touchstone Center Publications in 2012.

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Michelle de la Cruz is a graduate of Baruch College from the Philosophy department and currently works on the archives and publicity at the Touchstone Center. Previously, she has worked at the Center for Fiction and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, assisting in managing the library databases and permissions respectively. Currently, she is working towards her Master’s degree in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latin@ studies while obtaining her ATA translator’s certificate in the Spanish and Portuguese languages.

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Karen Fitzgerald’s work has been widely exhibited in the United States.  The Queens Museum of Art, Islip Art Museum, Rahr-West Museum, Madison Art Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, the University of Arizona – Tucson and the United Nations in NY have featured her work in their active exhibition schedules.  A recipient of two grants from the Queens Community Arts Fund, she has also received funds from the Greenwall Foundation and the Women’s Studio Workshop.  Her work is in the Spencer Collection of the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Union Gas collection, the Rienhart Collection of Germany, the Museum of New Art in Detroit and many other public and private collections. She has completed several large commissions, including 28 round panels at PS 239 in Queens and a 28’ x 56’ exterior mural for PS 193 in Whitestone, Queens.   For 25 years she has been a teaching artist and continues to provide consultations for a wide range of institutions on a variety of educational issues.  She has taught at St. John’s University, Iona College and worked as education director for the Queens Symphony Orchestra.  In 1985 she earned an MFA from Hunter College, and a M.Ed. from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1990.  Karen’s work can be seen at: http://www.Fitzgeraldart.com.  She lives with her husband and three sons in Woodside, New York; her studio is in Northern Long Island City.

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Geoffrey Jones is a multimedia director, video artist and composer/musician. He directs a continuing series of educational videos about art for the Abrons Arts Center Gallery Education program and also directs their cable TV show, Henry Street Presents. His videos for Touchstone Center Publications include, In The Spirit of Play, Cave: An Evocation of the Beginnings of Art; The Thread at Play; The Bird of Imagining, Each Sky Has Its Words, A Tree Lives, and I Catch My Moment.

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Claudia Keel a teaching artist with the Touchstone Center from 1994 to 2006, is an artist who has worked extensively in developing creative arts and environmental projects with public schools, community gardens and community-based organizations. She has designed and painted numerous community garden murals, as well as creating the outdoor murals for the Touchstone Center arts and education projects at PS 20 – and The Tree of Knowing Garden at the East Village Community School. In addition her own paintings have been exhibited in group and solo shows in New York City, Boston and Urbino, Italy.

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Carol Grocki Lewis was the director of the Touchstone Center Archival Project from 1994 to 2007. She is presently on the art faculty of the 92nd Street YM-YWHA, where she teaches pottery to children and adults – as well as being a teaching artist at the River East School in East Harlem. Her original work is part of the Yorkville Holiday Exhibit and Sale, which she began and has directed since 2011. She is a consultant and teacher in many of the Touchstone Center’s major projects, including her most recent site-specific project, Enchantments of the Earth, at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in 2015. She is a graduate of the State University of NY College at Buffalo and earned her Masters Degree from New York University/Gallatin Division in Museum Studies and Art History.

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Richard Lewis founded The Touchstone Center in 1969. He has been the director of the Center since then, initiating and implementing its various programs. He has edited and written a number of books highlighting the poetic and mythic traditions from diverse cultures, among them Miracles: Poems by Children of the English-speaking World; All of You Was Singing: A Retelling of An Aztec Myth, and The Way of Silence: Prose and Poetry of Basho.

His essays on the imaginative and poetic life of childhood have appeared in journals such as Young Children, Elementary English, Childhood Education, Parabola and Orion, and were collected in his book Living By Wonder: The Imaginative Life of Childhood. His recent books include: Sea Tale, illustrated by Gigi Alvaré, Shaking the Grass for Dew: Poems by Richard Lewis; Each Sky Has Its Words, illustrated by Gigi Alvaré; The Bird of Imagining, illustrated by children from New York City public schools; CAVE: An Evocation of the Beginnings of Art, illustrated by Elizabeth Crawford; A Tree Lives, illustrated by Noah Baen – and In the Space of the Sky, illustrated by Debra Frasier. Forthcoming is From the Sleep of Waters, illustrated by Susan Joy Share – and Taking Flight, Standing Still: Teaching Toward Imaginative and Poetic Understanding – a gathering of essays and reflections which have appeared in Encounter, Teaching Artist Journal and Paths of Learning. A complete listing of his books can be found at Books by Richard Lewis (as PDF).

He has given workshops throughout the United States and Canada, and has taught at the New School for Social Research, Fordham University, Bank Street College of Education, Rutgers University, Western Washington University, Queens College and the Lesley College Graduate School.

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Harry Mann is a musician, actor, dancer and performance artist who has collaborated with Cecil Taylor, Ray Charles, Joseph Chaiken, Ann Bogart, Ralph Lee and Anne Hammel. He has composed music for many modern dance and off-Broadway productions and has been a recipient of grants from Meet the Composer and Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. He recently composed the music for the Touchstone Center’s videos, Each Sky Has Its Words and A Tree Lives, and has a been a long time member of The Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble.

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Jaclyn Majewski is a graduate from Smith College, and presently works on the archives and publicity of The Touchstone Center.  She has worked before at Poets House and the Scottish Poetry Library, focusing on their children’s programming and administration.  She has also worked at a branch the New York Public Library, offering programming and reference services.  Now, in addition to her work at the Touchstone Center, Jaclyn is completing a Masters degree in Library and Information Science.

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Heidi Neilson is an artist and graphic designer based in New York City. She is the designer of the Touchstone Center publications, A Tree Lives, I Catch My Moment and Sea Tale –in addition to being the Center’s consultant for web design and development. Her artwork can be seen through her website www.heidineilson.com – as well as through her design company, www.squarewater.com.

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Betsy Newman was a member of the Touchstone Center’s Arts and Education Staff from 1990-1995.  She filmed and edited the video “To Make a World” based on a poem by Richard Lewis.  She is now a documentary producer for the South Carolina ETV series titled “Carolina Stories.”  Her most recent documentary is “Roots in the Rivers: The Story of Congeree National Park.”

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Clea Rivera is an actress and teacher who received her training from SUNY Purchase and the Acting Conservancy as well as studying with, among others, Barbara Knowles, David Wells and Eulalie Noble. She has performed extensively with the Mettawee Theatre under the direction of Ralph Lee, in addition to performing with the One Dream Theatre, La Mama E.T.C. Judith Anderson Theatre, Rattlestick Productions, Missouri Repertory Theatre and the Denver Center Theatre. She has been a member of The Touchstone Center Theatre Ensemble since 2004.

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Kris Santos is a graduate from Hunter College and presently works on the archives and publicity of The Touchstone Center.  He volunteered at the Seoul American Elementary School as a children’s library circulation assistant, providing readers’ advisory to students and teachers. He currently works at the Center for Fiction as a library assistant, as well as events coordination and reading group and writing workshop outreach and programming. Kris is working on a Masters degree in Library and Information Science and a Certificate program in Archives and Records Management.

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Susan Joy Share is an artist, bookbinder and performer whose work is in collections at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. She has taught at the Center for Book Arts, Anderson Ranch Arts Center the Penland School of Crafts.

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Lindsey Wyckoff is a graduate of Gettysburg College and holds a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. She did extensive archival work with the Portsmouth Athenaeum – and is at present, in addition to her work as Archivist for The Touchstone Center, Archivist/Special Collections Librarian at the Bank Street College of Education.

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Jeanie Yeo is a graduate of Bucknell University – and recently received her Masters Degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Early Childhood Development. She has worked in a variety of organizations including Little Years Daycare, Community Adventure Play, More Art and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. She has been part of the Archival Project of The Touchstone Center since 2014.