Kathy Lee, Program Manager
Kathy Lee has worked for the Conservatory for 14 years and currently serves as the Assistant Program Manager of the Visual Arts Division. Before this career, she was a fashion designer in Los Angeles for BCBG and was in charge of the Nordstrom collection. The position allowed her to travel to many cities in the US, as well as other countries in Europe. She has been involved in both domestic and international fashion shows. She holds a fashion design and merchandising degree from Los Angeles Trade Technical College and Paris Fashion Institute.
Blanca Alvarado, Instructor
Blanca Alvarado has been working at the Conservatory of Fine Arts for 15 years as an art teacher, and it has been both an honor and a real, fun challenge for her! She currently works as an art teacher for the LAUSD Arts Education Branch, serving different elementary schools throughout the year. Before becoming an art teacher her goal was a career in Child Development. She earned both her Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and also a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Los Angeles. Her passion for the arts led her back to school to acquire a Single Subject Credential in Art. She considers her teaching practice and expertise as her primary form of art expression, because teaching art requires a lot of creativity, time, knowledge, dedication, planning, and passion. Lately, she’s been dedicating some time learning how to draw the figure form and creating different forms of three-dimensional art. Her personal philosophy is to be happy, love life, respect yourself and others, never stop learning, value creativity and knowledge, and peace!
Cuauhtemoc Arrieta, Instructor
Cuauhtémoc Arrieta has extensive experience as a creative director and art director for different agencies in Mexico City and Los Angeles over the past years, which has provided him with a full understanding and ability to execute ad conception, creation, management, production, post-production and all tasks necessary to run multiple campaigns. It’s the job of an Art Director/Creative Director to be able to decipher trends that are actionable, recognize excellent ideas and produce creative innovations that deliver results. As a respected Art Director/Creative Director, Cuauhtemoc has a solid background working for and interacting with diverse, high-profile accounts. He has learned the craft from the ground up working in roles such as copywriter, art director and creative director. He has been working at the Conservatory of Fine Arts for ten years. His personal philosophy is “Recognize excellent ideas and produce creative work that delivers results.” Cuauhtemoc's educational background includes: Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas (ENAP) and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Pamela Cohen, Substitute Instructor
Pamela Cohen is an art educator and documentary filmmaker. She has taught with LAUSD since 1995 in the areas of Visual Arts and Media Arts at both the primary and secondary level. Prior to joining LAUSD she was a documentary producer working on projects related to social justice at home (Hope Street, KCET, 1993) and abroad (Maria’s Story- El Salvador, PBS, 1990). She also has worked on community media projects with teen youth and produced educational videos for San Bernardino County and LAUSD. She received a BA in Studio Art from Wesleyan University in 1981.
Lori Ikediashi, Substitute Instructor
Lori Ikediashi has taught for a total of 35 years and has been at Fremont High School for the past 28 years. She attended FIDM in their interior design program. She received a textile designters certificate from OTIS Art Institute. Her interests are design and architecture. She has taught AP Art Historyy, AP 2-D Design, Drawing, Painting, and Introduction to Art courses.
Lynn Ishii, Instructor
Lynn Ishii is currently a teacher and the Visual and Performing Arts Chair at University High School Charter where she teaches art in both Advanced Placement and beginning art course levels. She received her BA in Art Education, MFA in Painting and now also works in digital media, being a recent certificate graduate from Otis College of Art and Design in the field of Animation. Lynn encourages her students to view art as a way to communicate messages that are not possible with words alone and she promotes the value of art as necessary for all societies to thrive.
Kate Lewis, Substitute Instructor
Growing up in a household filled with the vibrant hum of creativity, I was destined to become an artist. Raised in Hartsdale, NY, the artistic spirit of my parents (an illustrator & writer) nurtured my early fascination with the world of colors, shapes, and endless possibilities. An early highlight in my artistic journey came when I was recognized as one of the top young artists in New York state, an achievement that affirmed my dedication and talent. This recognition propelled them to pursue art, a path that took me through several esteemed institutions, including Pratt Institute. It was at the San Francisco Art Institute where I honed my skills and passion, ultimately earning a BFA. After school, I studied in Paris deepening my understanding of painting, then landing in Hollywood, I embarked on an exciting career as a scenic painter, contributing to renowned films including those helmed by visionaries like Tim Burton, Robert Altman, and Roger Corman. The cinematic world became a canvas for creativity to flourish. My curiosity led me to explore diverse artistic avenues, including working in art stores, (where they eagerly experimented with a plethora of material(s), and translating historical novels on the History of Byzantine culture. In 1997, I welcomed a new (and best) chapter of my life with the birth of twins. This pivotal moment shifted my focus, channeling my passion for creativity into the realm of education. I embarked on a fulfilling journey as an educator, teaching both English and Art in LAUSD. Across the sprawling and diverse city of Los Angeles, I shared my knowledge and artistic insights with a new generation of aspiring artists and learners. Today, I continue to inspire and shape young minds, fostering creativity and encouraging self-expression in the classroom. My remarkable journey--from an artist in an artists' household to an accomplished scenic painter and dedicated educator- embodies a life devoted to the pursuit of artistic excellence and the cultivation of creativity in others. I continue to make my own art, mostly through collage and assemblage works.
Karen Lukesh, Instructor
Karen Lukesh is a high school visual art teacher teaching Introduction to Art, Painting and AP Art History. Before becoming an art teacher, she was a graphic designer/art director where she created mailers and signage for 46 Kelly Paper stores. As the paper industry changed, she began volunteering at her sons’ school through the Adventures in Art program. This is when she discovered she enjoyed teaching art and went back to college to get her secondary teaching credential in visual art. She has been teaching ever since. She enjoys going to museums and various teacher workshops in her free time. She loves creating lessons that engage students to learn about native species past to present with the focus on urban wildlife conservation efforts.
Carol Machamer, Instructor and Substitute
Carol Machamer has worked with LAUSD Gifted/Talented Programs in a variety of capacities since 1990. This has included school-site Gifted Coordinator, Conservatory of Fine Arts Instructor and Gifted/Advanced Placement Conferencing Presenter. Her education has focused on art, education, and administration with an M.A. and M.F.A. Studio Art, Mixed Media Painting. Carol continues to find her greatest joy and challenge through the ever-changing dynamic of teaching in the art classroom and feels honored to participate again with the LAUSD Gifted/Talented Programs Conservatory of Fine Arts.
Nicole Marquez-Johnston, Instructor
This year marks the start of Nicole Marquez-Johnston’s thirteenth year working for the Conservatory of Fine Arts. She has been teaching for LAUSD since 2008 as a substitute teacher and a fine arts teacher, and is currently teaching at Walnut Park Middle School STEM Academy. She received her expertise in art by taking courses from Pasadena City College where she received her Associate of Arts degree before transferring over to Cal State LA earning not only her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Art Education, but also her Master’s degree and teaching credential in art. She has the privilege of collaborating with other educators to enhance her teaching practice in addition to making art a fun and enjoyable experience for teachers and students alike. Some of her personal interests and hobbies include reading, drawing, watching movies, listening to different varieties of music, and she is a big fan of Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Disney.
Delaney Mendoza, Substitute Instructor
Delaney is an artist born and raised in Los Angeles. Her main mediums consist of traditional painting and illustration but has experience with multi media including but not limited to; animation, graphic design and sculpture. Having taught with the Sony media Arts program at the Watts towers to Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA ) she focuses on teaching fine art and strengthening the skills of the youth she teaches. She studied at Cal State la and Penland school of crafts honing her skills.
Jacqueline Monroe, Instructor
Jacqueline Monroe is a traditional artist with a background in illustration. She earned her BFA from CSULB in 2010. This is her second year teaching with the Conservatory and fifth year with LAUSD.
Tomas Parra, Instructor
Tomas Parra has worked for the Conservatory of Fine Arts for a total of eleven years (1998-2003, 2016-present). His teaching experience spans 30 years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Woodbury University, and a Master’s Degree in Education from The University of Phoenix. As an artist, Tomas appreciates stimulating shapes, vibrant colors and functional design. He likes to sketch, draw, paint, and build. His artwork reflects all that moves him. He sees beauty in a human form, an inspirational space or location, a colorful sunset, an interesting animal or plant. He also enjoys the aesthetics in a building interior, the feel and look of classic architectural forms. Over the years, he has painted portraits, landscapes and created cultural displays. He has built small-scale models and sculptures. Tomas's favorite artworks are large-scale paintings and street murals.
Atilio Pernisco, Instructor
Atilio Pernisco is a Los Angeles painter, who makes contemporary impressions of suburbia Los Angeles. Existential at its core, his work interrogates the human condition in the quotidian moments that are marked by absence and anxiety. This absence turns Atilio into the observer and chronicler of the repetitiousness of life, observing this process in itself as some sort of spectacle. As a result, the actual process of painting is done with a liquid fluidity – with his marks striving for a glimpse of something more authentic in the now. Atilio's works have appeared in many group exhibitions in Los Angeles.
Ewa Pietraszak, Instructor
We all love fairytales. They scare us, they teach us life lessons and they make us happy. Ewa Pietraszak’s goal is to tell adult stories through lyrical, expressionist and surrealist visual imagery and some found object or reclaimed art to keep a memory; because memories are quintessential to art. We are all connected and art connects us the most. Ewa currently has six series: 1) Abstract Expressionism and Found Object Art: Acrylic on Canvas with Resin. 2). Feminist Series: Gender Roles and what it’s like to be a Woman. 3) Christianity: Religion vs. Faith, Iconography vs. Hypocrisy. 4) Endangered Species Series. 5) Trees: Spiritual Beings- A Metaphor. 6) Political Series: Abstract Acrylic and Resin. Ewa holds a B.A. from U.C. Irvine and teaches art, history/fine art, and English at Ramona High School. She has been with the Conservatory for 16 years.
Anna Pool, Instructor
Anna Pool is a dynamic educator who is passionate about art and teaching. She has dedicated her career to shaping young minds through the transformative power of art. She pursued her passion for art by obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts and Art Teaching Credential from Loyola Marymount University in 2008. During her academic journey, she learned various art-making skills, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and graphic design. She has been teaching Studio Arts courses in diverse educational settings since. Eager to provide holistic support for students' emotional and psychological well-being, she obtained her Master of Science in Counseling. Committed to empowering students through creative exploration, she earned her National Board Certification in 2019. She believes that every student possesses a unique artistic voice waiting to be discovered. Her teaching philosophy revolves around creating a nurturing and inclusive environment where students feel encouraged to take risks, experiment with different techniques, and express themselves authentically.
Sergio Raygoza, Instructor
Sergio Raygoza is an LAUSD high school visual arts teacher currently working at LIBRA Academy. He has been working as an instructor for the Conservatory of Fine Arts, Visual Arts division, for over ten years. Sergio has a Bachelor of Art in Art Education and a Masters’ degree in Curriculum and Instruction. The reason why he has committed himself to this great profession is that he really enjoys working with students who he feels have the potential to become great young artists and productive citizens. What Sergio has learned along the way is that every single student has a voice, and in many instances, art is the best way for them to express their thoughts and concerns.
Rachelle Scarpin, Instructor
Ms. Rachelle Scarpin has been with the Conservatory of Fine Arts for eight years as a visual arts instructor. She also works as a specialist for Apple, freelance cosmetologist and designer of jewelry and hair accessories. She also works on her own art and enjoys costuming design. She studied Fine Art with a minor in Art History. She is a licensed cosmetologist and certified floral designer. Rachelle has had her artwork in the "Picture This" gallery for a Frida Kahlo art exhibit. Her jewelry has been sold in "A Pin-Ups Closet" and "Moss & Rock." She has done hair for Blizzard for "BlizzCon" and worked with airbrush artist Mark Frazier. Rachelle is a lover of all things creative and enjoys everything from photography to mixed media.
Lisa Seid, Instructor
Lisa Seid is an artist/maker from Orange County. She has a BFA from CSUF and currently teaches high school graphic design. If she isn't teaching art in some capacity, you will find her at Disneyland, kayaking, or gaming.
Alejandro Zendejas, Substitute Instructor
Alejandro Zendejas has worked for the Conservatory for the past eleven years as a substitute teacher and visual arts instructor. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from the University of Southern California in 2008. He has professional experience in the field of painting. Alejandro wrote the article “Collection Illuminates Spirituality: Rico Lebrun,” published in the Daily Trojan on April 24, 2001.