2020 - 2021 Board Members

Michelle Lastrina

President

Board Member since 2017

Michelle Lastrina (she/her) is originally from Wethersfield, CT.  In 2006, she earned a BA with a major in Mathematics and minor in Studio Art from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA.  She then went on to earn a PhD in Mathematics from Iowa State University in 2012.  After one year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, she moved to Ada, OK where she now lives and works as an Associate Professor of Mathematics at East Central University.  While most of her career in higher education has focused on mathematics, Lastrina also has a background in art and particularly enjoys the beauty and interdisciplinary nature of mathematical art.  As a student she was thrilled to have the opportunity to take a Math Sculpture course at Smith College in Northampton, MA and as a professor she enjoys incorporating artistic visualizations into the various mathematics courses that she teaches to university students.  As a board member and current President of the Ada Arts Council, Lastrina hopes to spread her passion for art throughout the Ada community and she is very excited to be involved with the Council's developing Art Box project for area schools.

Jamie Pittman

Board Member since 2017

Jamie Pittman (she/her) earned a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication with a Minor in Art from East Central University. Pittman has served on many creative teams in the role of project manager for both print and digital delivery in a corporate setting since earning her degree. She graduated from the local university and attained a career in her field of study in her home town. She feels very fortunate. She is a working artist in her spare time working in acrylics and multi-media collage. As a board member of Ada Arts Council Pittman serves on the scholarship committee and the events planning committee. I think art affects our lives every day, from the billboards we pass on the way to work, the clothes we wear and to the magazines, we flip through in our downtime. All must be created by an artist. Working in the corporate setting provides an opportunity to work with talented artists share in the innovations and direction of the projects.

Erin Canada

Vice President

Board Member since 2017

Erin Canada-West (she/they) has been a massage therapist for 14+ years and a lifelong lover and collector of the art. She spends time doing art projects with her daughter and learning new art and craft techniques on her own. Although she has no formal art training beyond public school she has a deep appreciation for the power and beauty of art in all it’s forms. She has been on the Ada Arts Council Board for 5+ years and is the current Vice President.

Kellie Cooper Turner

Secretary

Board Member since 2019

Kellie Cooper-Turner (she/her) is originally from southern Arkansas, moved to Oklahoma in 2002. She and her husband, Nate, a local blacksmith, came to Ada in 2010 for Kellie to pursue a degree in Graphic Arts at East Central University. In 2014 she became a Graphic Designer for the Chickasaw Nation and decided to make Ada her permanent home. Since coming to Ada, she has witnessed first-hand the growing involvement of the community in local art, music, and theater which, in turn, has moved her to become more involved, herself. She soon started participating in local music shows and even acted for the first time with the Chickasaw Nation Theater Company in 2016. “With the local passion for the arts continuing to grow, it’s a great time to be an Adan Artist.

Sarah Engel

Board Member since 2018

Sarah Engel (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist from Norman, Oklahoma. She received her BFA in Media Art with a minor in Art History, and an MFA with an emphasis in Photography from the University of Oklahoma. She has taught as an Assistant Professor at ECU from Fall 2018 to the present, teaching primarily photography courses. She taught art, photography, new media, and humanities courses as adjunct at Rose State College and the University of Oklahoma from 2015-2018. She was faculty in photography at Firehouse Art Center, a community arts center in Norman, from 2014-2018, as well.

Summer Zah

Board Member since 2020

Summer Zah (she/her) relocated from northern New Mexico to southeastern Oklahoma in the early 2000’s where she continues to reside today. A multi-disciplinary artist, Ms. Zah is best known for her work on social commentary about Native Americans, which, in turn, is highly influenced by her Navajo, Jicarilla Apache, and Choctaw backgrounds. Her art is characterized by earthy tones and vibrant colors, indigenous iconography, and text. As a conceptual artist, Ms. Zah identifies misgivings towards Native Americans by indigenous peoples as well as non-natives, including her own thought process inside and out of native communities, to create pieces in a pursuit to share cultural significances and similarities.

Ashlee Ray

Board Member since 2020

Ashlee Solice (she/her) a current Exhibits and Gallery Coordinator earned a BA in Art History with a minor in Anthropology from the University of North Texas in 2017 and a MA in Museum Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2019. During this time she interned at various Dallas museums including the Nasher Sculpture Center and Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. She also took part in multiple summer archeology fieldwork courses in Mississippi. While studying her focus remained on Southeastern indigenous art, as a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, and artist this has heavily influenced her own style as well. She has been creating and designing for over 10 years through various methods but her preferred media are digital illustration and ceramics.  

Brooke Jackson-Holman

Board Member since 2020

A native of the Ada area, Brooke Jackson-Holman, is a working inter-disciplinary studio artist and private art instructor at Classic Arts Academy. Jackson-Holman draws from personal experience and the individual experiences of others in her studio work.  The rich cultural history of the land, and its people, have influenced her through those that have committed themselves to this environment and who have found successful ways to give back to the community. Jackson-Holman is a graduate of East Central University receiving a concentration in History and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Dividing time between family and work, she is also committed to sharing the arts and art education with all who want to be engaged and became a member of the AAC board in May of 2020.

Open Position

Board Member

Anne Yoncha

Treasurer

Board Member since 2020

Anne Yoncha (US) (she/her) is Assistant Professor of Art at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, she earned her MFA at the University of Montana and recently completed a Fulbright fellowship at the Natural Resources Institute Finland, working with restorationists to make collaborative art-science work about former peat extraction sites outside Oulu. Her practice combines digital sensing technology, such as bio-data sonification, and analog, traditional processes including painting with ink she makes from locally-sourced plant matter. Her ongoing research with the HAB (High Altitude Bioprospecting) working group began in fall 2019 at Field_Notes, a residency of Finland’s Bio Art Society at Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in subarctic Lapland, where she worked with artists, biologists, and programmers to attempt to detect high-altitutde microbes using a heli-kite. Tree Talk, her temporary site-specific installation sonifying invisible processes within a stand of Ponderosa pines, was selected as the 2018 Emerging Artist project at Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture in the Wild in Lincoln, Montana. She has also been awarded residencies at Cedar Point Biological Station in Ogallala, Nebraska, and Flathead Lake Biological Station in Polson, Montana. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, notably at the CICA Museum in South Korea, Finland’s Art Ii Biennial, the Budapest Environmental Project, and Codex Foundation’s international artistic exploration “Extraction: Art on the Edge of Abyss”. Outside the studio she can often be found doing another kind of environmental “research” via bicycle.

Maria Ruiz-Blanco

Board Member since 2018

Maria Ruiz-Blanco (she/her) is a 3rd-grade teacher at Washington Grade Center. She has lived in Ada for 10 years with her husband Steve Benton and their three children. Maria was born in Colombia, grew up in Argentina, and graduated from high school in Spain.  She then entered Pontificia Comillas University in Madrid, where she earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Education. She met her husband in Madrid, and after getting married, they moved to China, where they taught English for four years.  In 1998, they moved to Chicago where Maria taught in three different elementary schools and completed her National Board Certification. She was nominated for the Drive Award and the Golden Apple award and was also a featured teacher in an Annenberg Media documentary about using Book Club pedagogy in the classroom. Growing up, Maria was surrounded by art and music and was encouraged to take art and music lessons, but she never felt that she was herself an artist. She doesn’t want her students to feel that way, though, so she always tells them “everyone is an artist,” and she strives to create lessons that integrate science and art in her reading classes.  

Cynthia Mellon-Parsons

Board Member since 2020

Cynthia Mellon-Parsons (she/they) graduated from East Central University with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. She has worked as a graphic designer for the Chickasaw Nation Arts & Humanities Division for almost 10 years. She assists with classes on gorget carving and antiquity-era Mississippian iconography. Cynthia's Taurusean passion for the visual arts, music, and dancing started at a young age. She began painting with acrylics -- on either found objects or canvas -- at the age of 13, entering art shows and contests throughout high school. She has taken lessons in both belly dancing (American cabaret and American tribal style) and ballet in her adult years. Above all, Cynthia is an avid consumer of the arts in all forms, particularly styles that lean on the dark and surreal side. She enjoys alternative dance music, long neighborhood walks, playing tennis and golf, traveling, architecture, Gilded Age history, and all things strange and unusual.