ArtsToGo Workshop Leaders

Aglika Ivantcheva graduated from the Department for Puppet Art in the Bulgarian National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts. Since her graduation she has brought puppetry to children and educators all over the world. Her specialization in Puppet Therapy, and the training in Psychodrama opened the magic door to approach adults and children, and inspired her to find the creative nature of every human being. She was invited to come to Canada to work for children with special needs. Later she became an Early Childhood Educator where she now works, leading a Strong Start Centre in the Francophone school district. She has worldwide experience offering puppet workshops, presenting performances, and providing professional training to educators and support workers to use puppets in education. Over the years she has offered many workshops in schools and in communities in BC and Quebec.

Clarissa Banos is a graphic designer and visual artist from El Salvador, whose artwork focuses on traditional Latin American culture and folklore. Her ancestral heritage is what inspires her colourful acrylic paintings: She is passionate about the relevance of indigenous civilizations of the Ancient Americas and particularly intrigued by the Pre-Hispanic iconography found in the textiles of Mexico, Central America and South America. In addition, Argueta showcases indigenous women as the axis of a magical, colourful universe in celebration of Latin America’s idiosyncrasies, popular culture and folklore. Her academic credentials include a BFA (Graphic Design) from Universidad Dr. Jose Matias Delgado, El Salvador, and a MFA (Graphic Design) from University of Illinois at Chicago, where she graduated as a Fulbright LASPAU Scholarship grantee. Her professional background includes over 15 years of experience as a graphic designer, visual artist and visual arts instructor. Clarissa Argueta’s work can be found in private art collections in Central America, United States and Canada. She moved to New Westminster, BC, in 2001, where she now lives and works as a visual artist and visual arts instructor.

Local visual artist and storyteller Tatiana A. Bobko primarily works in mixed media collage, painting and photography. Inspired by textures, light and patterns found in nature she sees beauty and purpose in everything. Reusing, repurposing and upcycling are favorite topics. Magazines, found objects and scrap paper are always treasures. Her experience includes completing art school with native population’s art techniques of Siberia, teaching pre-school to adult all over the lower mainland area and exhibiting in New Westminster. She is part of New West Artists and Artists in the Boro, as well as Federation of Canadian Artists and Craft Council of BC. Tatiana is also a writer and loves to combine words with images, creating a visual story.

Sherida Charles is a Jamaican-born Canadian who has resided in New Westminster for most of the past 45 years. She has degrees in Fine Arts and Art Education, both from UBC, and worked as a teacher in Coquitlam for 28 years. After retiring in 2020, she turned her attention to working on her Art full time, maintaining a home studio and taking part in local Cultural Crawls. She is currently part of a collaborative studio in Vancouver run by Malaspina Printmakers, where she works on her own original prints, mixed media silkscreens, paintings and drawings. Sherida has worked with ArtstoGo since June 2021 and looks forward to more creative connections in the New Westminster community.

Local artist, Merril Hall has had an exciting career as a visual presentation trimmer and display manager. Merril’s experiences range from prop design to fashion show coordinator. Traveling with a store opening team allowed her to create the wow factor called for in such events. She is formally trained in art-in-merchandising and commercial arts.

With a life long passion for visual arts, Merril has staged many events and it is her joy to get involved with creative project. As coordinator of the art group, Garden Gals, Merril has worked on community art installations including yarn bombing and Eco art in Moody Park as well as murals, fence art, and cultural crawls.

Lead artist with artstogo, Merril specializes in painting workshops. Children and families with any age and ability feel welcome with Merril as she has a warm and positive manner and has great communication skills well-suited to teaching.

Alyx Essers-Silverman

Art has been part of my life since childhood. I have fond memories of after school crafts with my grandmother, painting classes, photography class, and sculpting. In high school art became an integral part of my identity, so I continued to pursue it in post-secondary education, studying visual arts at Langara College from 2008 – 2010. After spending the next two years working at various jobs to pay the bills, I enrolled at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where I received my BFA in 2015.

During my time at Kwantlen, I took a course in Developmental Psychology out of interest. Around the same time, I attended a presentation about Art Therapy, which bridged the gap between my passion for art and my fascination with psychology. It did not take me long to realize that this would be my career path. Art has always been therapy for me and sharing that skill with others is the most fulfilling work I can imagine.

I went on to graduate from Vancouver Art Therapy institute in 2017. For the last 5 years I have been working as an art Instructor and facilitator for children and families as well as practicing art therapy privately and in public schools.