FY17 Artist Residencies in Middle Schools Program

The Arts Council of Fairfax County is pleased to announce the selection of three talented Fairfax County artists with extensive arts education experience for the FY17 Artist Residencies in Middle Schools program. Curtis Mailloux, Michela Mansuino, and Helen Murray Pafumi will be conducting cross curricular artist residencies in the 2016-2017 school year.

Curtis Mailloux - Multi-instrumentalist, roots musician, and arts integration educator

CurtisCurtis “Mr. Blues” Mailloux, a talented multi-instrumentalist, roots musician, and educator has trained in arts integration techniques with the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap Education Center and the Teaching Artist Institute. He has developed and taught numerous exemplary programs in collaboration with classroom teachers that address cross-curricular connections through interactive music programs - incorporating music with the Virginia Standards of Learning, the Common Core, and STEM curricula. He has also presented staff development programs for teachers.  

Proficient in guitar, banjo, harmonica, drums and other international instruments, Curtis is also an education preservationist and expert in the history of American acoustic roots music tracing the path from the African gourd banjo through the modern guitar. He is recognized for bringing history and social studies alive through music. 

Curtis has recorded two critically-acclaimed CDs and has performed his educational programs for thousands of student and adult audiences in blues festivals from the National Theater in Washington D.C. to Florence, Italy. He was awarded the Artist of the Year Award in 2010 by the D.C. Blues Society for his work in keeping the blues alive through his performances and educational programs.

His cross-curricular artist residency, You Can Write a Blues Song!, uses songwriting in the American blues style to integrate music, social studies and creative writing.

“Introducing blues style songwriting as a communication tool to young people gives them an opportunity to express themselves in an honest and creative way. It leads to development of personal insights into their favorite musical forms and it helps them understand the role musicians past and present play in influencing societal change. As a teaching artist, I find that facilitating this process of discovery and creative expression very fulfilling.”

Michela Mansuino - Award winning visual artist and teacher with international roots

Michela Mansuino with easelMichela Mansuino is an award winning landscape, portrait and en plein air artist and teacher experienced in painting, drawing and ceramics. She is a lifelong learner pursuing mastery in her field through intensive studies in museums throughout Europe and understudies with national and international master artists, including Studio Incamminati, recognized as one of the foremost humanist realism schools in the country. Born in Brazil to Italian parents, she draws on experience living and working in diverse cultures to inform instruction of young people in classical drawing and painting.

Michela received a BFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia. After which, she received museum permission to study and copy masterworks throughout Europe, including in the Louvre, the Prado, the Uffizi, and the National Gallery, London. Subsequently, she established residence in Florence, Italy to pursue landscape painting and to study under the master fresco painter Otello Chiti. This culminated in her one person show at Gallery K, Washington D.C, and a show in Siena, Italy.

Following her tenure in Italy, Michela relocated to Recife, Brazil, where she started her career as an instructor in the art department of The American School of Recife. Working with middle and high school students, she created the ceramics department and invited local artists to support and assist in building this program.

Currently, Michela is the youth program instructor at The Great Falls School of Art. At the same time, she is enrolled in the human realist program at Studio Incamminati, in Philadelphia and in 2017 will complete her fourth year to receive a certificate of achievement, signifying mastery. A recipient of prestigious scholarships, awards, and honors, she exhibits and sells her paintings through galleries in the greater Washington Metropolitan area.

Her residency, Cultural Landscape: Past Present and Future, challenges students to consider the cultural landscape of the United States, from an historical and personal perspective. Students will create an original landscape painting representative of a particular time and place.

“I look forward to sharing my knowledge in the creation of American landscape paintings with the students in my residency. I want to explore the possibilities of creating a sense of place that is distinctly American and unites us as a culture.”

Helen Murray Pafumi - Playwright, director, actress and educator

helen headshotHelen Murray Pafumi is a playwright, director, actress and educator with experience in directing, producing, play development, and acting. As a successful teaching artist, she has the ability to establish safe spaces for students in which they can voice their ideas through performance; to foster creative thinking in guiding students to develop ideas through training in theatre fundamentals and techniques, and to promote self-esteem in the production of a theatrical work of quality.

The Artistic Director and co-founder of The Hub Theatre in Virginia, Helen has produced and directed multiple world, national and local premiers, free staged reading series, and new play festivals. In addition, she has commissioned and developed original work from area artists.

Her original plays have been produced by The Hub, Theatre Alliance, ArtsWest, Malibu Playhouse, and the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. Her work has been seen at Theatre on 14th Street in NYC and the Kennedy Center's Page to Stage Festival.

In addition to her writing and role at The Hub, Helen has worked as an actor in DC area theatres, including Folger Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Theatre J, Forum Theatre, Theatre Alliance, Rorschach Theatre, Keegan Theatre, Didactic Theatre, The Inkwell, the Source Festival, and the Beckett Centenary Festival. She has appeared in numerous independent films and area commercials.

Helen holds a BA in Theatre from Virginia Tech. She has been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, Steinberg New Play Award and won the 2016 Jewish Playwriting Contest from Jewish Plays Project. She is the recipient of the Puffin Foundation Award and the Washington Canadian Partnership Award.

Her theatre arts residency, Urban Storytelling: What I Wish I’d Said, offers students an opportunity to define and explore the act of bullying through dramatic storytelling, improvisation, and scene writing.

“Our humanity is more than the sum of its parts, and that boundlessness can only be touched through art. Guiding young artists to find their own artistic voice is the most exciting aspect of teaching theatre.”

FY16 Sponsors

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Jean Schiro-Zavela and Vance Zavela

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Robin Carroll, Program Coordinator
(703) 642-0862


Artist Seminar Handbook