Meet Our Instructors
Mixed Media and Portrait Painting/Illustration Artist
Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT200)
Dance Yoga, Dancing While Painting, and Yoga While Painting Instructor
Tenesha Abernethy earned her M.Ed. in Special Education from Grand Canyon University. She studied Art at Sampson Community College in Clinton, NC, and concentrated in Visual Arts at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She studied Kunga Yoga at the Wilmington Yoga Center in Wilmington, NC.
As a young child (age 5!), Tenesha learned to draw, and discovered she enjoyed drawing people and doing crafts. She became interested in music and dance in the early 90's and fell in love with hip-hop. Ultimately, in order to share her love of movement, dance, and Yoga, she became a Registered Yoga Teacher and Zumba instructor, all while enjoying 13 years as a special education teacher for students from kindergarten through high school. Her lifelong passion for art, teaching, and movement have fused together into two exciting classes; Yoga While Painting and Dancing While Painting.
Tenesha wants her students to feel free to move and create!
For more about Tenesha and to view samples of her art, click here.
Mixed Media Textile Artist and Spiritual Director
Chris Butterworth is a mixed media textile artist and spiritual director whose passion is to bring the divine into her creations. A seamstress, smocker, knitter, quilter, and more, Chris is drawn toward the spiritual side of creating and creation. Trained from a young age alongside her mother, she creates almost anything, from yarn to thread to fabric.
Chris received her Spiritual Director certification from Richmond Hill in Richmond, Va. Chris was a Navy wife for 20 years. She has two grown children, Justin and Emma, and is married to Gary, an Episcopal priest. She currently resides in Gastonia, N.C.
Among the possible classes Chris will teach are sewing, quilting, art quilting, smocking, and embroidery. She also facilitates vision board sessions and spiritual retreats and is interested in combining art practices and spirituality.
Quote that inspires Chris’s creative practice:
"Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature."
—Thich Nhất Hanh
Oil Painting, Pastels
Mary Crow has a B.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking from West Virginia University and foundation year studies at Columbus College of Art and Design.
After moving to the Charlotte area from Wilmington, NC with her family, she discovered the PAPNC and Plein Air Buds groups. Working in oil and pastel onsite has been the inspiration for her colorful and energetic landscape paintings. She has studied portraiture with leading portrait artists such as Wendy Corporale, Tom Edgerton, and Lisa Ober. Mary has also learned from pastel landscape painters such as Stan Sperlak and Marsha Savage. She is a member of Piedmont Pastel Society.
For examples of Mary's paintings and commissions, visit her website.
RANDY LEIBOWITZ DEAN
Award-winning artist Randy Leibowitz Dean studied fine art at the Community College in Bucks County, PA, Philadelphia College of Art, and Broward County Community College in Fort Lauderdale. In addition, she gives credit to many inspirational and talented private teachers. Randy has traveled extensively from her home in North Carolina to exhibit in indoor and outdoor shows in Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
A one-woman show in Fort Lauderdale in 1993 began Randy’s work in Florida. Being recruited to help a house painter give depth to his basic wall design gave way to years of perfecting finishing techniques, color mixing, and mural and trompe l'oeil work. Randy was commissioned to create works on walls at a nursing home/rehab business in Fort Lauderdale. She then developed the Art on Walls project, dedicated to involving people living in institutions in the creative process, allowing for art and communication to heal and nurture. For example, Art on Walls projects included murals on the Alzheimer’s floor painted to give the illusion of shelving with items familiar to the residents.
Since 2007, Randy has concentrated on gallery work, spending more time in the studio and teaching. She also partners with UMAR Arts center in Charlotte, N.C., teaching adults with developmental disabilities.
For more of Randy's story and life work, visit her website.
Quote by Japanese artist Hokusai Katsushika that inspires Randy’s creativity:
"From the age of six, I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was 50, I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75, I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80, you will see real progress. At 90, I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create—a dot, a line—will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign m self 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing."
Social and Ballroom Dance
John started his professional dance career studying social ballroom dance with Kem Overby at the Asheville Ballroom and Foster & Judy Lampert of DanceLovers USA. He completed advanced ballroom studies with Paulette Cole and Rob Rizutto of Studio Rizutto, Bob Mitchell of Mitchell Dance Systems, and intensive Shag workshops with Don Bunn, Sam West, and Ellen Taylor.
John’s life as a dance instructor began when he joined Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Charlotte, NC, one of the largest and most respected studios in the region. While there, he received teacher certification training from Corky Ballas, Jack Davy, Jean-Marc Casanave, and Chantal Leclerc, among others. While there, John was a top performer, embodying Fred Astaire Studio’s highest standards of knowledge, ability, and professionalism.
John is known for his fun, entertaining teaching style, and comprehensive knowledge of dance. He is a DVIDA International Certified dance instructor.
To learn more about John or Social and Ballroom Dancing, visit his website, where it’s always A Great Day for Dancing!
Creative Writing, Multi-Media Events
Originally from Greenville, S.C., and now residing in Nashville, Tenn., Dana Malone has been making a living at writing for 30 years. She had a full-time career as a publications editor, public relations director, and speechwriter. After that, she taught writing at Tennessee State University and at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. Dana has presented her poetry and fiction at conferences in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Dana is a member of the Line Breaks Poetry Collective and Women Who Write-Nashville. She co-hosts Writings on the Wall, a monthly poetry event in Nashville, and is a regular reader and performer at poetry open mics and arts events. Along with an M.A. in English literature/creative writing, Dana has studied with such poets and writers as Liselle Mueller, Gwendolyn Brooks, Al Young, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Leatha Kendrick, Tiana Clark, Sonia Sanchez, Dana Wildsmith, Bill Brown, and Gary McDowell.
Dana currently is a participating poet in Versify, a poetry on-demand podcast collaboration of The Porch Writers Collective, WPLN, and PRX. Along with a collection, Front Porch Embraces (Post Oak Press), her poems have appeared in Number One, Native, and anthologies, on the East Side Storytelling podcast, and on the Line Breaks Collective CD, Domestic Disguises; a portion of her novel, The Ghost Hour, was published in Nashville Digital Magazine. Her opinion pieces have been published in The Tennessean and Atlanta Journal and she has told stories for Tenx9 Nashville and True Stories Let Loose-Nashville series. Dana continues to work as a writing coach and communications consultant, and she is a contributor to StyleBlueprint, Dish Magazine, Celebrate Nashville, and Sports & Entertainment Nashville. Dana also adds her talents to ArtLab as a marketing and media relations consultant and workshops and events curator.
Quotes that inspire Dana’s creativity:
"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." —Franz Kafka
"Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard." —Anne Sexton
Desire Map and Daring Way workshops, retreats and individual sessions
Lillie Marshall spent 30 years in corporate leadership, climbing the ladder, earning great money—and not being nearly as fulfilled as possible. At 55 years old, she gathered up all her courage and left her corporate job. She now seeks to work with other women to help them break through fear and other challenges to live creative and fulfilling lives, to “have a purpose they can be proud of.”
Inspired by Danielle LaPorte’s books, The Fire Starter Sessions and The Desire Map, Lillie became a licensed facilitator of Desire Map workshops. Later, after exploring the work of Brené Brown, she became a Certified Daring Way Facilitator (CDWF), enabling others to Show Up - Be Seen - Live Brave™.
Lillie enjoys spending time with family (especially her grandchildren!), cooking, gardening, and traveling. For more of her story and life work, visit Lillie's website.
Quote that inspires Lillie’s creative practice:
"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are." —Brené Brown
Yoga, Mixed Media Workshops
Dawn Nantz, Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 500), is seeking to live her best life and express her truth through art and yoga.
While living in Charlotte, NC working as a Real Estate Paralegal, she has had to find ways to combat stress. Finding yoga was transformative. When the market tanked and slowed to a trickle, she found herself unemployed and terrified about what that insecurity meant. She also found herself in a position she had only dreamed of before . . . free and with time to complete yoga teacher training. Learning more about yoga philosophy, and how to take that off the mat and into the world, really changed the way she approaches everything in her life. And while returning to the world of real estate became a necessity, the love of teaching yoga remains.
Dawn is an artist at heart. Never feeling confident in her abilities and talent as a young person in school, she shied away from expressing herself in the area of artistic expression. Until the day in her twenties when she used a 50% off coupon to by a Bob Ross kit, the most painting or drawing Dawn had done was in a middle school art class. However, as awesome as Bob Ross is, using oils and the wet on wet method didn’t really work for her. (The paint smelled horrible, and it was an awful mess to clean up.) But the desire to paint and create continued to grow stronger. After painting with acrylics for a couple of years, she started taking classes in different mediums at a local community college and never looked back. Today, art and creativity is such a huge part of Dawn’s life, it’s hard to imagine that she was ever so discouraged and felt “completely talentless.” Most recently, she has been enjoying painting with watercolors and creating pieces in stained glass.
Now, Dawn’s primary goal is to encourage finding the quietude needed to listen to one’s heart and soul for guidance. She wants to help others let go of negativity and limiting self-limiting conceptions through teaching yoga and art workshops. Sometimes all it takes is someone to remind you that you are enough.
Quote that inspires Dawn's creative practice:
“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” --Swami Sivananda
Mixed Media, Drawing, and Fiber Artist
Joy is a multi-dimensional artist, always curious about new techniques, tools, and materials. Her creative work and inspiration for teaching extend from a love of people, shape, color, and ideas. She received her B.A. in Art from Brevard College and went on to study classical drawing at The Fine Arts League of Asheville and The Art Atelier.
After her artistic studies, Joy became a massage therapist, deepening her knowledge of the shape of the human form. She can often be found teaching drawing, painting, and mixed media collage techniques throughout the Brevard community. She has a part-time business, Heartfelt Flowers, in which makes and sells felt flowers for special occasions.
Look for her classes in mixed media techniques, figure drawing, post card art, and felt flower making!
Quotes that inspire Joy’s creative practice:
“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.” --Rainer Maria Rilke
“Joy is not meant to be a crumb.” --Mary Oliver
“Just Flow.” --Anonymous
“Create your own sunshine.” --Anonymous
Paper Arts, Bookbinding
Jackie Radford is a paper artist and bookbinder from Charlotte, N.C. Her work explores the tactile nature of paper, eliminating any tools between the artist’s hand and the medium. Educated at Penland School of Craft, Jackie is an artist who is comfortable with innovation and outside-of-the-box thinking. Her work reflects the influences of her studies at Penland.
Jackie’s work has been exhibited throughout the Southeast and Washington state. Highlights of her career include a show with the American Craft Council and a residency at Penland School of Craft. Additionally, private collectors in the United States and Ireland have acquired Jackie’s work.
ArtLab’s philosophy of fearlessly pursuing art practices resonates with Jackie’s approach: A friend said to her, “You ain’t afraid of nothin’.”
Quotes that inspire Jackie’s creative practice:
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." —Maya Angelou
"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way—things I had no words for." —Georgia O'Keeffe
"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." —Georgia O’Keeffe
Photography, Mixed Media, Visual Journaling, Art Camps, SoulCollage®
Photography has long been Cindi’s primary art form. She has studied with renowned documentary photographers (including Mary Ellen Mark, Bruce Davidson, Sam Abel, and Antonin Kratochvil), photojournalist Peter Turnley, and National Geographic editor Leah Bendavid-Val and is working on publishing her first book of photographic images, D is for Dog.
She'll tell you that ArtLab has three rules:
1. Tell your inner critic to take a hike.
2. Try it—even if someone once told you that you weren’t good at it.
3. Have fun!
For more information about Cindi and her work, click here.
Quotes that inspire Cindi’s creative practice:
"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." —Confucius
"The fun for me in collaboration is . . . that working with other people just makes you smarter; that’s proven." —Lin-Manuel Miranda
Silk Painting, Abstract Art
Tina Alberni has been practicing as an artist, administrator, and teacher in the visual arts field since the early 1990s. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education, with a concentration in printmaking, and subsequently has received awards, exhibited, and sold to collectors on five continents.
Tina's bilingual and bicultural upbringing weaves into the fabric of her art. She is of Cuban heritage, lived in Bogota, Columbia as a child, and returned to the United States in her late teens. Tina tends to work in series and often spends a few years exploring a theme or a style. The bulk of her work is abstract and two dimensional, but she does create three-dimensional works for public art and installation projects. She makes a conscious effort to work in a variety of mediums and exhibit in alternative spaces.
“My thoughts and ideas attempt to speak deeply and imaginatively about the relationships between our microcosm with its laws of polarity, the systemic impact of urbanism on our planet, and our significance in the macrocosm.”
Tina’s hope is to contribute to a dialectic which moves her—as well as the viewers of her work—from passive or detached contemplation to internal discourse and active engagement.
Tina moved to North Carolina in 2007. A full-time working artist, she remains vigorously involved in the local art scene. Tina also created the ArtLab logos and designed the ArtLab website, among other creative and necessary tasks for the ArtLab launch.
For more info, Alberni may be contacted through her website, Color By Design Studio.
Quote that inspires Tina’s creative practice:
"An artist must never be a prisoner of himself, a prisoner of a style, a prisoner of a reputation, or a prisoner of success." —Henri Matisse