Island Center for the Arts Faculty

Island Center Directors

Tom Dempsey is the Founder and Codirector of the Island Center for the Arts and a Visiting Professor of Painting and Foundation Studies at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, since 1984. Tom’s  work is exhibited widely in Greece and the U.S., and he has been the recipient of many grants and awards for public art projects. Tom is committed to building a positive, open, creative environment for artists and he brings to the Island Center 26 years experience as Program Director and faculty, as well as his encouraging and challenging teaching style.

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Isabel Dempsey is Co-Director of the Island Center for the Arts and leads Greek Cultural Workshops. She earned her BFA from the University of Northern Iowa and completed extensive studies in Modern Greek as an Independent Scholar at Harvard University. Isabel was awarded a Maliotis Foundation Research Grant for documenting changes in the women’s role in rural Greek society. She is the author of Breath of Madness – on the Isle of Skopelos an Ancient Rite Endures, published by the Municipality of Skopelos, which documents the Carnival customs of the island. In addition to her research, Isabel is a painter, assemblage artist and illustrator who’s work has appeared in major publications and exhibitions in Greece and the U.S.

About Isabel’s Book     View Isabel’s Artwork 


Adria Arch is a painter and art instructor whose work is represented in private and corporate collections including the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Fidelity Corporation, the Boston Public Library and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Adria specializes in helping students unlock their creative potential and leading them toward fullfilling art making experiences. She has taught painting, drawing and printmaking at Montserrat College of Art, Endicott College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the DeCordova Museum and the Dansforth Museum of Art.  Adria’s wall work is currently on view at Dansforth Museum of Art in Framingham and at Lesley College in Cambridge, MA.

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Jodi Colella works with a broad range of materials to create provocative, tactile works that often include public participation. She has exhibited at Danforth Art Museum; Fruitlands Museum; Wheaton College; Helen Day Art Center; World of Threads Toronto and Textile Museum Washington D.C., among others. She is a member of Boston Sculptors Gallery and has received numerous awards including the 2016 Fay Chandler Emerging Artist, 2016 Fellowship ComPeung Thailand, Pollack-Krasner Fellowship Vermont Studio Center, and Somerville Arts Council Fellowships 2015, 2012. Jodi has taught nationally at Society for Craft in Pittsburgh, SDA’s Confluence in Minneapolis and is the founder of FiberLAB, a community workshop and laboratory for inquisitive makers. She lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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Nan Hass Feldman  received her BFA from SUNY at Buffalo, her MA at Goddard College and an MFA in Painting at Vermont College. Since 1981 she has had more than forty one-person shows, numerous museum exhibits and received many awards on the national, state, and local levels. She continues to teach at the Worcester Art Museum, the DeCordova Museum, the Dansforth Museum of Art and Worcester State College. Her work is represented in numerous corporate and private collections throughout the United States, Japan and Europe.

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Melanie Mathews was born in Montreal. She studied Painting and Drawing at Dawson College and earned her B.F.A. with honors in Studio Art from Concordia University. Melanie splits her time between her prolific personal art practice and extensive teaching schedule as a Working Artist for Golden Paints for the Province of Quebec. She teaches workshops and classes at the Visual Arts Centre, Dawson College, Concordia University, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Canadian Society of Artists on a wide spectrum of topics including; Methods and Materials of Acrylic Painting, Acrylic Encaustic Techniques, Monoprinting, Large scale image making, Painting on Plexi, Essential Acrylics, Mixed Media,  Digital Mixed Media,  Contemporary Watermedia, Creative Colour Mixing and Image Transfer and more. Melanie maintains a studio art practice and has had annual solo shows at the Belgo Contemporary Art Building in Montreal and has exhibited in many group shows in Quebec, Ontario and abroad.

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Kat O’Connor earned a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing with highest honors from Montana State University and a Master of Arts in Painting from the University of Texas. Her work is exhibited nationwide and she has won numerous awards, including the Worcester Cultural Commission’s 2002 Creative and Performing Fellowship, the Jacob Knight memorial Award and a Kinnicut Award.  Kat has taught painting at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Southwest Texas State University, Worcester State College, Fitchburg State College, the Worcester Art Museum and the DeCordova Museum. Her work is represented by Joyce Paulson Associates of Cambridge, MA.

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Emily Passman is a painter of oils and acrylics, known for her expressive, loose style. She works from observation both in the studio and en plein air, and describes her work as “a reaction to” the subject as opposed to “rendering”. In addition to teaching oil and acrylic techniques, she encourages students to sketch. She says daily sketching is a great way to heighten one’s ability to see, and important to incorporate into one’s painting process. Emiliy’s work is in galleries in New England and in private collections internationally. After earning both a fine arts degree and Master’s in Education she had a successful career as an educator and graphic designer. She teachers privately in ther barn-studio and at various educational venues near Boston.

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Alexandra Sheldon is a collage artist and painter who has lead numerous workshops and has taught at the Concord Art Association, Massachusetts College of Art & Design and the Maud Morgan Art Center in Cambridge MA. She has exibited in numerous solo and group exibitions and her work is included in the collections of the Gillette Corporation, the Fidelity Corporation and private collectors.

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Sue Swinand is a painter and instructor who has taught at Clark University and the Worcester Art Museum and continues to teach at the Green Houses at Wellesly College. She received her BFA from Moore College of Art, attended the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and is the recipient of a Sartain Fellowship. Sue has exhibited widely in the USA including one person shows at Woodmere Art Museum, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, Vorpal Galleries NYC, Arden Gallery Boston, the Berman Museum and Danforth Museum. Her work has been selected for The Boston Drawing Show, the Cambridge Art Associations National Prize Show and the Fitchberg Art Museum 1998 Biennial, New England/ New Talent. She is signature member of the American Watercolor Society and her work is featured in many publications, including Contemporary American Watercolor Masters. 

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See Sue’s cable TV show:  Arts & Ideas with Sue Swinand

Steve Tourlentes is Photography Program Director at the Island Center and Visiting Professor at Massachusetts College of Art. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and three time recipient of the MacDowell Residency Fellowship. Steve’s photographs are exhibited nationally, widely published, and are included in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

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