One of our goals at The CREO Institute is to expose you to the many ways in which you can apply your creativity towards enhancing your personal and professional life. We are fortunate to have as our colleagues and friends many creative individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds who, through their creativity, are living and making a difference on a completely different level.
A Conversation With...
Steve Hickner, Director, DreamWorks Animation, SKG
Steve Hickner has spent the past thirty years working at some of the most fabled studios in animation including DreamWorks, Disney, Amblimation, Aardman, Hanna-Barbera, and Filmation. He has worked on both the production and artistic side of the process, serving as Producer on such films as: American Tail II: Fievel Goes West; We're Back! A Dinosaur Story; and Balto. His director credits include: Bee Movie and The Prince of Egypt. In addition, he has contributed to such films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, The Great Mouse Detective, Antz, Shark Tale, Madagascar, Over the Hedge, and others.
His television credits include such favorites as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Fat Albert, and The Cosby Show. He is proud that he has been able to work alongside such illuminaries as: Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seifled, Bob Zemeckis, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Richard Williams, Peter Lord, Eric Larson, and Ward Kimball.
Al Konetzni, Disney Legend
In 1953, Al Konetzni joined Walt Disney Productions as an artist and idea man for the character merchandising division, then headquartered on Madison Avenue in New York. Over the next 28 years, he developed ideas for toys, clothing, stationery, greeting cards, jewelry and more, featuring beloved Disney characters, which were licensed for production by major U.S. corporations. Among Al's most famous creations was a popular lunch box set featuring a host of Disney characters on board a school bus. The lunch box, which sold its 9 millionth unit in 1976, is now a prized collector's item among Disney fans. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1999.
Al loved designing and developing Disney merchandise. He said, "One of the biggest thrills in my work was to see an item begin with my rough design, then develop into a prototype and become a product that reaches the sales counters and, eventually, people's homes."
Born in Brooklyn in May 19, 1915, Al showed an interest in art at an early age asking his parents "only for crayons and drawing pencils for Christmas." After high school, he attended Pratt Institute of Art, at night, while working as an artist in the advertising department of the Gertz Company on Long Island. He went on to become an art director for the Pal Personna Blade Co., where he developed the company's Pal man character featured on product packages.
After 16 years with Pal, he joined Walt Disney Productions bringing his creative skill and self-taught knowledge in sales, marketing, and copyright law. Al soon found himself named a marketing account executive, coordinating licensing with such U.S. industry giants as General Electric for the Mickey Mouse night light; Lever Brothers for the Mickey Mouse toothbrush; and Bradley Time and Elgin for the Mickey Mouse watches and clocks, among others. He was also responsible for the development and licensing of the now collectible Pez Mickey and Donald candy dispensers.
Besides being an idea man and an artist, Al considered himself a salesman with a pencil. He said, "I had creative jam sessions with people from Hallmark or Hasbro and I'd always bring my drawing pad. I'm an artist and could best explain a concept through drawing. I imagine myself a silent salesman: I use my graphics to sell the products."
After retiring in 1981, Al served as a merchandise consultant for Ringling Bros., Barnum and Bailey Circus for two years. During that time, he helped develop merchandise for the joint Disney and Ringling Bros. touring ice show, Disney on Ice. Al Konetzni, also, published a best-selling cartoon book Double Bogey, a hilarious look at the humorous foibles of golfers everywhere.
Rokardy, Hand Balancer and Cirque du Soleil Performer
Carlos Rodriguez Diaz was born in Havana, Cuba. While in school, he developed an interest in gymnastics. At the age of seventeen, Carlos attended the National Circus School of Cuba where he fell in love with hand balancing. After four short years of practice, Carlos became one of the most talented and well-known circus artists in Cuba.
During the next few years, Carlos participated in several international circus festivals, notably in Korea, France, Vietnam, and Russia where he won prestigious awards. In 2001, he was awarded the Grand Prix at the Festival de Massy in France. At one point in his career, he adopted the stage name Rokardy, which is a combination of his given birth names.
Throughout his career, Rokardy performed in famous circuses all around the world. He starred in Circus Merano (Norway), Atayde Hermano (Mexico), Gran Circo Mundial (Spain), Circus Scott (Sweden), and the Bolshoi Circus (Russia). In 2002, he joined Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba (Orlando, FL) as one of the show's main characters. Preparing himself for the environment of this large scale production, Rokardy completely transformed his solo act by changing his apparatus, costume, and make-up.
Currently, Rokardy performs in Cirque du Soleil's Viva Elvis! show in Las Vegas.
Kathy Altieri, Production Designer, DreamWorks Animation, SKG
Kathy Altieri has worked for over twenty five years as a production designer, art director, and painter in the animation industry. Her most recent position was Production Designer on DreamWorks' latest feature How to Train your Dragon. Her other DreamWorks credits include Over the Hedge (Production Designer), Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, (Production Designer), and The Prince of Egypt (Art Director). Kathy was the first artist hired at the studio.
Prior to DreamWorks, Kathy worked as a background painter and supervisor at Disney Feature Animation on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Kathy attended UCLA and Art Center College of design, where she will be teaching again this Fall. She is a fifth degree black belt and certified instructor of Aikido and Iaido (Japanese Swordsmanship).
Marie-Josée Lareau, Artistic Coach of Specific Training, Cirque du Soleil
Marie-Josée Lareau was born in Montreal, Canada. Since she was a child, Marie-Josée loved art, photography, figure skating, synchronized swimming, and dance. In 2002, Marie-Josée completed her university degree in Dance and started her own company called Création à l'ENDROIT where she worked as a choreographer and the artistic and founding Director. Through Création à l'ENDROIT, she created and produced five different shows combining dance, theater, and circus.
In 2003, she was recruited by Cirque du Soleil to be the Assistant Choreographer on the show KOOZA where she worked for four years. Currently, she is the Artistic Coach of Specific Training at Cirque du Soleil and works to transform acrobats into circus artists within a very short timeframe. Marie-Josée also teaches yoga and is completing her EMBA McGill and HEC through which she is developing artistic workshops for managers and businesspeople to improve their leadership, communication, and teamwork skills.
Kate Alexander, Associate Director, Florida Studio Theater
Ms. Alexander is the Associate Director of Florida Studio Theater. In this capacity, she ministers to the artistic needs of the theatre and its many community and state educational programs. Ms. Alexander has created a vast Education Program, the FST Theatre School. Ms. Alexander has also pioneered an acting training method for children which serves as the foundation for the FST School, serving 600 children yearly. She has co-created the award-winning WRITE A PLAY program touching the lives of over 55,000 children annually and serving as a model for theatres throughout the nation and serving schools in China, Israel, Scotland and The United Federation of Russia. Ms. Alexander has also been a resident actress with Florida Studio Theatre for the past 20 years. Some of her leading roles were seen in the plays: The Goat, Filumena, Master Class, Three Tall Women, The Play About the Baby, and Golda's Balcony. Also a director, Ms. Alexander has directed numerous productions and premieres on the FST stages including I Love You You're Perfect Now Change, Shirley Valentine, Shotgun, The Miamians, Brooklyn Boy, The Exonerated, Wit, Proof, Lobby Hero, and Ten Unknowns.
Additionally, Ms. Alexander has developed programs for many organizations including the Ringling College of Art and Design, Children's Museum of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the Carl Jung Society. Ms. Alexander has served on the Education Task Force and the Arts Advocacy Committee of the Sarasota Arts Council, the Non-Profit Resource Center and the steering committee for Celebrating our Differences, an international exhibit focused on tolerance. Ms. Alexander is the recipient of numerous acting, directing and public service awards, including FAER, She Knows Where She's Going Award (Girls, Inc.), The Woman of Light Award (Westcoast Center for Human Development), The Woman of Power Award, and the Sarasota County Arts Leadership Award. Most recently Ms. Alexander has co-authored the book The Animated Short, now in its second edition and was recently featured on a PBS special on the WRITE A PLAY program.
Wellington Lima, Acrobat and Cirque du Soleil Performer
Wellington Lima was born in Recife, Brazil. He started studying acrobatics and capoiera when he was 11 years old. Three years later, he began participating in gymnastics competitions in the Northwest of Brazil and soon discovered his passion for the trampoline and being up in the air. He went on to travel and train throughout Brazil and, after four years, won the Trampoline Nationals in Brazil.
In 1996, Wellington began teaching acrobatics to at-risk youth in a circus school in Recife. Being involved in the program gave him a sense of his roots and a belief in his ability to inspire young people to believe in themselves and to contribute to their success.
In 1997, after winning Nationals, Wellington moved from his hometown of Recife to Rio De Janeiro to continue his training with the national team. The week he arrived in Rio, Wellington was invited to audition for Cirque du Soleil. A few weeks later, he received an offer to be a part of Cirque du Soleil's new creation La Nouba, which was being developed for the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. Wellington worked in La Nouba for six years where he played the role of one of the main characters, Pierrot Rouge, in the show. In 2002, he was one of 35 Cirque performers who were chosen by the company to perform at the Oscars®.
From 2004 through 2009, Wellington joined the touring show Dralion and became a part of the Trampowall act in the show. He traveled through Europe, Japan, and Australia with the show. Currently, Wellington is working on his third Cirque du Soleil creation Viva Elvis! in Las Vegas and continues to teach acrobatics to at-risk youth through Cirque du Monde at least once a week.
Karl Gnass has been teaching drawing for over 35 years and in the early days worked for Sid and Marty Krofft in story and character development. Karl started with their landmark children’s 1969 television series H. R. Pufnstuf, followed by The Bugaloos (1970), Lidsville, (1971), and Sigmund and the Sea Monster (1973).
Karl has storyboarded for Coca Cola, Saban and Fox Entertainment's Peter Pan and the Pirates. He worked on story development at Disney Television Animation and storyboarded for Gargoyles, Aladdin, Darkwing Duck and The Little Mermaid, as well as some storyboarding freelance for Direct To Video (DTV) for Disney. He later developed character expressions with anatomical breakdowns for Stuart in the feature Stuart Little. Other Sony Imageworks projects include Hollow Man and Harry Potter, with consulting on the Sci-fi Thriller I Am Legend starring Will Smith and Watchmen with Billy Crudup.
Over the last eighteen years Karl has been teaching classical life drawing, animal drawing and storyboarding in many of the major studios in So. California: Disney Feature Animation, Disney Television Animation, Sony Imageworks, DreamWorks, Rhythm and Hues, Nickelodeon and Warner Brothers. In 2004, at the suggestion of Glen Keane, Disney animator and director of upcoming Tangled, Karl developed a 'Dynamic Figure For Maya' class to help computer animators understand and arrive at authentic movement with the new technology. He occasionally does seminar workshops and lectures outside the Los Angeles area, such as his special Drawing Dynamics and Essense of Story Seminars given at Kapi'olani Community College in Honolulu, Hawaii and lectures and classes and class consultations at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida.
Kushil Gunasekera, Founder/Trustee, Foundation of Goodness
Kushil Gunasekera established the Foundation of Goodness in 1999 in Sri Lanka. As a young boy Kushil felt compassion for the people of his ancestral village in Seenigama, who lacked the facilities to realize their potential despite innate talent and ability. Having become a successful businessman, he faithfully returned to his hometown and with true altruism donated his family property in Seenigama to the establishment of the Foundation of Goodness. The Foundation is based on providing a holistic response to a community's needs and works to uplift the lives of rural communities through learning and Empowerment. In May 2008, being the philanthropist he is, he decided to dispose of his lucrative business and dedicate his resources and time to the organization. He currently donates his time full-time to its furtherance on a purely voluntary basis.
In 2004, the aftermath of the Tsunami provided a forum for Gunasekera's integrity and managerial expertise to be fully utilized. Kushil, who witnessed the devastating event whilst giving scholarships at a ceremony in the village, barely making it to safety himself at the time, mobilized a team to reconstruct and rejuvenate Seenigama. With the tenacity that distinguishes true leaders, he galvanized a community of villagers, volunteers and donors committed to social service. Within a short span of three years Kushil's commitment took a village from near annihilation to vibrant regeneration. Medical, educational, vocational and recreational facilities were provided to over 20,000 inhabitants across 25 villages via 30 sectors, free of cost. The Foundation, whose seeds were sown long before the tsunami, is now expanding its widely extolled holistic model for rural empowerment to other parts of the country.
Kushil has demonstrated selfless service for 25 years and continues to push boundaries systematically, for enriching rural communities. He and the Foundation have received many a tribute and accolade. His success comes from his commitment to the Foundation and never losing sight of its core values—compassion, integrity and goodness. A well-known figure in Sri Lanka, he is modest in his claims to personal achievement and is ever grateful for the generosity and compassion shown by donors, volunteers, supporters, businesses and governments across the world. He is respected and trusted by his donors for consistently surpassing their expectations.
Together with friends, volunteers and the villagers themselves the Foundation has grown and just celebrated a decade of successful partnerships and ventures. Through a sequence of extraordinary events and Kushil's foresight, he has expanded the Foundation's mission beyond the boundaries of the Seenigama model. In February 2010 Kushil launched an initiative for a Learning and Empowerment Institute in the war ravaged north of Sri Lanka in a compassionate response to reconcile the differences between the prevalent ethnic groups (details of which can be ascertained at www.unconditionalcompassion.org).
Shawn Seipler, Executive Director / Co-Founder, Clean the World
As a social entrepreneur, Shawn is committed to focusing his business, management and leadership skills on advancing humanitarian causes through philanthropic efforts. His passion for excellence and embrace of corporate social responsibility led to the creation of Clean the World.
Clean the World, an Orlando, Fla.-based non-profit organization, recycles hotel soaps and bottled amenities (shampoos, conditioners and lotions) for people in need. In less than two years Clean the World has enlisted more than 550 hotel partners in North America in its ambitious and environmentally friendly soap recycling program. More than six million soap bars (390 tons) have been collected, recycled and distributed throughout the United States and more than 40 countries.
Before co-founding Clean the World with his business partner Paul Till, Shawn served as vice president of sales and marketing for a global ecommerce technology company. It was while conducting an enormous amount of business travel for that company that he began to think about the concept of recycling hotel soap, shampoo and other bottled amenities. The result is Clean the World.
In January 2009, Shawn and Paul investigated how to recycle bar soap and use it for social good. Their research led to the discovery that two very deadly diseases - acute respiratory illness (pneumonia) and diarrheal diseases (cholera, dysentery) - are the top two causes of death among children under 5 worldwide. Studies show that more than 60 percent of the deaths may be avoided through proper hand washing with bar soap. By putting soap in the hands of these children, Shawn thought, he could help save millions of lives.
Shawn was educated at the University of Houston and currently resides in Orlando, Fla. with his wife and four children.
Bill Pullen, Founder / Director, Joseph T. Neary Memorial Charity
Born in England, Bill Pullen came to the United States in 1961 following his graduation from Hotel School in London and various training positions at 5-star hotels in London and Paris. He has spent his 50-year career in management positions at premium hotels and resorts in the U.S. and South America and was Director of Operations for two privately owned award-winning Holiday Inn properties in Florida for 15 years prior to his recent retirement.
Bill first joined SKAL, the International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals, 42 years ago in Phoenix, Arizona and served as the club's president before relocating to Florida in 1976, where he was a founding member of the Palm Beach club and served as the club's second president. He was a member of the United States National SKAL Committee for 11 years and served as National President in 1989/90 prior to representing the U.S. as International Councillor for two terms.
He has served on numerous tourism committees and various CVB boards of directors and made his first visit to Sri Lanka in 1990 when he attended the International SKAL Congress as the International Councillor for the United States. While in Colombo, and through some unrelated events, Bill Pullen had reason to contact a small group of Apostolic Carmelite Sisters and, through this contact, he became aware of the work these dedicated nuns were doing to relieve the suffering of some of the poor inner-city children in the slum area of Wanathamulla in Colombo 8. It was not unusual for these Sisters to go begging for food at local markets to sustain about 70 youngsters from 4 months to 5 years old for whom they cared on a daily basis. A $5 bill could be a solution to the problem of giving these children their daily two cups of milk and a small meal for their lunch.
Moved by the needs of these Sisters and by Joe's recent passing, Bill encouraged Liam Sexton (Boston) and Gene Leonard (Chicago) to visit the Sisters and learn of the work they were doing. It seemed that even with only modest support, a little help would go a long way to relieving some of the difficulties these Sisters were encountering. With Joe's history of helping others, his love of children and his work in helping the homeless in his area, it seemed natural to dedicate any support for these children to him and his memory. Thus, the Joseph T. Neary Memorial Charity was founded. SKAL became an instrument of Peace and would become the catalyst in the relief of suffering for some of Colombo's poor.
In 1990, at the time of the Congress, a small convent and a building, which would become the Handicraft and Education Centre, were under construction, thanks to a grant from NORAD, a Norwegian agency giving assistance to projects in Third World countries. The Bethlehem Creche, which housed the nursery and day care facility, was, and still is, part of the same small campus, which is located in an area especially prone to severe flooding during the monsoon seasons. This contributed largely to the difficulties the Sisters had to endure. For several years efforts were made to resolve these flooding and drainage issues but they were not successful and some of the buildings began to deteriorate. Finally, in 2008, two of the buildings had to be demolished and the elevation of the land was raised sufficiently to prevent a reoccurrence of this problem.
Georgina grew up in a Portuguese-Italian-American home filled with cardboard boxes, steak knives, bungee cords, and siblings. Her mom's head was always busy with ideas, and her Dad's hands were always busy building. In the Melone home, playing with food, dirt or any other found object was never discouraged.
As Georgina grew up, she could not abandon play. So, she attended the Rhode Island School of Design and became a puppeteer and, later, a toy designer. She is currently the VP of Innovation for Hasbro, where her quest to create has permitted her, over the past 25 years, to play with many innovative ideas, throughout many lands, with very interesting peoples.
Larry Littlebird, Founding Director, Hamaatsa
Larry Littlebird, founding director of Hamaatsa, is a Pueblo Indian from Laguna/Santo Domingo Pueblos in New Mexico. Larry Littlebird celebrates an indigenous holistic way of life. Over the past 35 years, Larry has worked extensively as a corporate trainer and executive coach, education specialist and national speaker perpetuating the living oral tradition of his Pueblo Indian culture. Larry personally trains and equips people in the areas of generative leadership development, teambuilding, communications, holistic health and community building. His inspired programs have had a profound impact on many lives working with individuals, business organizations, management teams, foundations, schools and community groups.
As a filmmaker, writer and performing artist, Larry is one of the first American Indians to produce, write and direct films for and about Native people in the United States. He played the lead role in the feature motion picture, House Made of Dawn, based on N. Scott Momaday's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel which was recently archived by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and declared a watershed moment in the history of Native filmmaking.
Larry is also the founder of White Dawn House, the spiritual house to be built at Hamaatsa. Larry and a cadre of traditional elders are re-establishing this original house given to the ancient Pueblo people by the Creator. Larry believes that tribal traditions, spiritual values and Native leadership are key and vital for healing this land. His long range vision for Hamaatsa, indigenous learning center and land stewardship projects, is to empower Native people to regain stewardship of original indigenous lands beyond present reservation borders in which to revitalize cultural identity and to rebuild healthy vibrant sustainable communities.
Larry is the author of Hunting Sacred—Everything Listens: A Pueblo Indian Man's Oral Tradition Legacy, which introduces readers to a timeless story of living in correct relationship with all life and is Littlebird's personal legacy of story, song and art from his rich oral tradition.
As a child, Susan was a student performer in the Sailor Circus for 10 years. She went on to study at Florida State University and received a BS in Family, Child and Consumer Science. During her college years, Susan participated in the FSU Flying High Circus. After College, she directed many summer camp programs and then become a Preschool Director. She began to volunteer as a coach at Sailor Circus and after a year became the circus Director. She has been working with PAL Sailor Circus for 11 years.
Sailor Circus, now in its sixth decade of operation, has grown from a small high school gymnastics class in 1949 to the present spectacular 4 ring youth circus production known world wide as the Greatest "Little" Show on Earth. Students from the 4th through 12th grades in Sarasota and surrounding counties have an opportunity to experience the performing arts in a circus atmosphere. Their dedicated students practice 20 - 30 hours a week and are trained by volunteer coaches who are retired circus performers, sailor circus alumni and enthusiastic parents. The more than 200 volunteers donating over 25,000 hours of their time each season to PAL Sailor Circus demonstrate strong community involvement.
Kyu Yamamoto, Gifted Sculptor and Painter
Kyu Yamamoto began studying sculpture in a fine arts high school in Nagoya, Japan, under the tutelage of Kozo Shibata. After attending Aichi Fine Arts University, he worked for several years with the commercial Rui Kobo Studios. In 1985, Yamamoto moved to Nashville, TN, serving as Assistant Sculptor for completion of the 42'Athena Parthenos, the world's tallest indoor sculpture outside Japan, located in Nashville's century-old replica of the Greek Parthenon. Kyu moved his studio to St. Petersburg. FL in 1992. Known for his contributions to public art, Kyu has been faculty/instructor for the Morean Arts Center, the Dunedin Fine Arts Center and the Penland School of Craft.
Alex Terry, Advertising Designer
Alex began his college experience in the heart of school pride at Texas A&M, a school enriched with tradition and largely into football. However, after just two and a half semesters at Texas A&M, he moved to a sleepy town on the west coast of Florida and transferred to the prestigious Ringling College of Art and Design. Upon arrival, he found that the aforementioned characteristics of Texas A&M were lacking, so, out of necessity, he looked for a sport that could rally the same camaraderie that college football in the south could. Through Facebook, he heard about the endeavors of the Howarth sisters at Texas A&M, who were starting a crazy sport called Quidditch. His problem had been solved. What greater impact could the magical sport of Quidditch have on an artistic college where imaginations fly around on a regular basis? Alex is proud to be at the forefront of this great sport and working with the Ringling administration in exploring the possibility of building the first official Quidditch pitch.
Alex is an Advertising Designer by trade and an avid web developer, particularly with innovative mobile applications. Upon his first semester at Ringling, he started winning industry awards for the work he created in his classes. He enjoys cycling and hopes to change the world one step at a time. Through Ringling, he recently connected with Kushil Gunasekera, the man responsible for creating the Foundation of Goodness and for inspiring change in Sri Lanka after a tsunami ravaged the countryside. Alex plans to utilize the International Quidditch Association to help spread Goodness throughout the world via competitive gameplay and the collective, global camaraderie that sports engender. In August 2010, he started a blog that chronicles his efforts to lower his carbon footprint. Lastly, he has just recently filed his first U.S. patent that includes some of the revolutionary web design elements he created in partnership with the company 2Cimple, who is also the interactive video sponsor of the IQA.
After a long trek in pursuit of his dream, Alex Terry is now on the Board of Directors for the International Quidditch Association. After having founded the club sport version of Quidditch on Ringling's campus, he began to speak with the creator of the sport, Alex Benepe, on a regular basis. Alex Terry was soon thereafter appointed the Southeast Team Coordinator and proposed distinguishing the league from its college sector and turning it into a non-profit. In the summer of 2010, Alex Benepe selected Alex Terry to be the final board member and flew him up to NYC to join in the first ever Board Of Directors meeting held in Central Park.
Dominic Avant, Painter / Animation Faculty, Ringling College of Art and Design
Dominic Avant received a Bachelor's of Fine Arts at Rhode Island School of Design in 1991. Upon completion at RISD he worked as a free-lance illustrator and teacher. In 1996, he was recruited by Walt Disney Feature Animation and worked on films such as Mulan, Tarzan, The Emperor's New Groove, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear and numerous shorts. This creative community introduced him to plein air painting. Shortly after, he began showing in galleries. His passion for painting plein air has grown to include studio works and remarkable portraiture that catches a person as they are in their real world.
Dominic's work is a fusion of realism and impressionism. Each painting shows a strong sense of light, vivid color, fluid brushwork and deep emotional content. He strives to evoke in his viewers the same emotions that compel him to paint from the first brushstroke.
Dominic has won numerous national awards in The Artist's Magazine, Arts for the Parks, the Portrait Society of America and the Best of Show at Eastern Regional Oil Painter's of America. Today, Dominic both teaches at Ringling College of Art and Design and is a painter.
James Corwin Johnson, Director of Photography, Yosemite National Park
James Corwin Johnson's career has spanned the gamut of photographic specialties and taken him to Canada, Mexico and Europe. His work has appeared in Eastman Kodak, Paramount Pictures, Textbook and other consumer and industrial publications. In addition to owning his own photography firm where he concentrated on commercial, industrial and portrait photography. James worked as the Director of Photography for Yosemite National Park for more than 12 years. During that time he specialized in teaching students how to appreciate and photograph the natural wonders and wildlife of Yosemite. This led to his establishment of the now famous "Camera Walks". He ran the photography studio and lab at the park, lectured at Workshops held in conjunction with the Ansel Adams Gallery and published the Yosemite Photographer's Guide; Official Camera Walk Handbook.
James Corwin Johnson has specialized in professional photography for over 35 years. He is a graduate of the Glen Fishback School of Photography. Glen was a contemporary of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston and is best known for simplifying the Ansel Adams Zone System.
James also worked as the Director of Photography for the Disney Cruise Lines and was responsible for the inauguration and development of the guidelines for their photographic endeavors. He was on the Board of Directors for Disney's Celebration unit. Among his other accomplishments are: Director of Photographic Services, for Harrah's Lake Tahoe; Chief Photographer for Club Med Mexico; and he produced photographic output for the Walt Disney Company, Eastman Kodak, and Paramount.
James has spent most of his photographic career teaching students how to improve their skills. As Director of Education at Johnson Photo Imaging for over six years, he instituted The Safari Club and Safari Education. James still conducts classes and tours for his own company Adventures in Imaging. James Corwin Johnson conducts workshops that include Field Trips to various locations including: Yosemite, Kenya, New Mexico, Busch Gardens, Florida Wildlife and Bird and Boat Birding Adventures and Eco Tours, St Augustine, and Maine Fall Colors.
David has spent the last 17 years working in many different capacities within the television and film industries. After graduating from Florida State University with Bachelor's degrees in Theatre and Communications, he has developed dynamic creative and business skills working on both sides of the camera.
He has made a living as an actor and writer in television programming and promotion, written two feature length screenplays, and has been actively involved in low budget filmmaking, documentary production, and commercial art direction. He has also worked as a cameraman, editor, photographer, creator and producer for multiple formats from linear TV to web creation.
In his sixth year as a Senior Producer for On Air Promotion at MTV, he has helped create and develop an award winning body of Branding and Program Promotion for several of the company's networks.
His teams have been nominated for several prestigious Imagen Awards, winning for the acclaimed twenty-four spot Tu Pride Campaign. They have also won Gracie, Namic and Creativity awards, and been nominated for two Daytime Emmy® Awards, GLAAD and ANA Multicultural Excellence Awards.
David is currently working towards a Master's Degree in Strategic Communications and Branding at Columbia University and is the Senior Producer for Strategy and Production of Public Affairs and Pro-Social Campaigns for MTV.
Jade Kindar and Karine Mauffrey, Former Cirque du Soleil Performers
High wire walker Jade Kindar, and gymnast/stunt woman Karine Mauffrey welcome us this summer to their artist retreat in the South of France.
Jade started performing on the wire at the age of 14 with the acclaimed Circus Smirkus Youth Circus. He went on to study under renowned high-wire walker Rudy Omankowsky Jr. in France and has since performed in countless shows and festivals around the world. He has done skywalks throughout Europe, the U.S., Russia, and Oman. For four years, he also starred in the high wire act in Cirque du Soleil's show, La Nouba.
After a 17-year gymnastics career in her native France, Karine joined the world famous troupe Cirque du Soleil and, for four years, starred in the power track/trampoline team of La Nouba, where she met Jade. Since then, she has worked as a stunt woman making motion pictures in Hollywood with directors such as Zemeckis, Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan, and others.
Karine and her husband Jade dreamt of returning to France and living a healthy, organic, eco-friendly life, so they bought an ancient provincial stone house in the South of France and named it Mas Pinet. They have converted the Mas and the surrounding terraced river valley into an artist retreat. They also continue to travel around the world performing individually and as a couple.
Marcos de Jesus, Flatland BMX champion and Cirque du Soleil Performer
Marcos Paulo de Jesus was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil and started riding when he was 15 years old. His love of Flatland BMX led him to perfect his sport and travel around Europe, South America, Brazil, and the U.S. appearing in and winning many BMX competitions including the X Games in 2002. Marcos's exciting and successful career continued to evolve when he was recruited by Cirque du Soleil in 2004 to star in La Nouba in Orlando, FL. Marcos continues to train, learn new tricks, and ride both on stage and off. Recently, Marcos has started his own company and designed, and will soon manufacture and sell, his own personalized BMX bike called Sampa.
Richard Stone, StoryAnalytics Master, i·d·e·a·s
Richard has developed several successful programs for teaching patients, their families and medical professionals how to bring the practical applications of storytelling into their therapeutic work. In addition, he has developed training programs for team building, leadership development, and diversity for a variety of healthcare institutions, as well as assisted organizations such as the Red Cross and the YMCA more clearly articulate their stories to enhance fundraising effectiveness. He has been a key member of the i·d·e·a·s Innovation team since 2003, and is now their StoryAnalytics Master. He is the author of The Healing Art of Storytelling, Stories: The Family Legacy, and The Kingdom of Nowt, and created the award winning board game, Pitch-A-Story. He has also authored several collections of stories for healthcare clients as diverse as hospitals and pediatric practices. In addition, he has written a number of entertainment products including On the Spot, a feature romantic comedy, and Sprinkles, a sitcom.