Contributor Biographies

Graven Arnold

Hello, my name is Graven Arnold. I was born and raised in a little, dinky town in the middle of nowhere: Watseka, Illinois. I moved to Arizona back in 2016, and have loved it since. I will always miss the large amount of snow Illinois has. I’m currently 20 years old and pursuing a degree in Digital Animation at Phoenix College. Phoenix College sparked my interest in poetry. It wasn’t something I thought well of growing up, but it became a way to express myself differently during a time of need. Poetry feels like a way to explore the world and myself, a way to look at things differently and precisely. I love the way one can shape their sentences in poetry, putting two words they wouldn’t normally see together to create a vivid image. Sometimes I feel that our imaginations can be more vivid and colorful than the world around us. That’s why I write and will forever continue to write.

Shant Bahjat

My colors are united in one art piece that is reflecting the tone of the people, the religion of the world, the language of the universe, the poor, the rich. On my canvas, the black, red, and the white are in harmony, just like my soul. I would love for all people to achieve that kind of unity in their lives. ‏

Amber Billenstein

I grew up in northern Illinois near Chicago and moved to Phoenix in 2014. After becoming a voracious reader at a young age, I taught myself how to write stories and poems. I decided at 10 years old I wanted to become a writer, and I am currently an English Literature student hoping to transfer to Arizona State University by Fall 2021. At ASU I plan to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English, and then afterwards go to graduate school to become an English professor. Writing is my passion, and it makes me so happy to share my words with others.

Lukas Carpenter

I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ, and I’ve lived here for 17 years. Any reasonable person would have probably moved somewhere else by now. Still, despite the scorching heat, I absolutely love it here.

I’ve been fascinated by all that flies, which naturally lead to an interest in aerospace engineering. In my pursuit of a career involved in spaceflight, I found myself distracted by my own imagination, sketching aircraft and vehicles of my own design as a way to scratch that impatient itch to be involved in the process of building machines bound for the stars.

These simple sketches quickly grew more elaborate and creative, leading to a full-blown passion for illustration and art. I now find myself struggling between what feels like diametrically opposed career paths.

A couple of years ago, I joined Tempe’s Varsity rowing team and participated in regattas all across the country. However, the pandemic swiftly put an end to that, and I found myself with no consistent motivation to exercise. A quick unassuming ride on my Dad’s old Kona quickly lead to a near obsession with both BMX and Mountain Biking; this past year, I saved up for a full-suspension rig to sharpen my skills and find success in Enduro racing.

I have been fortunate enough to have been homeschooled through all primary grades, which gave me ample time to explore side interests. I enrolled in PC to finish high-school and develop an understanding of a more formal academic environment. Barring the anxiety that comes with such a rapid change of pace, I’m excited to start truly working towards my career, whatever it may be.

Stephanie Denny

I started writing and painting in 2014, and prior to that, I had no interest in writing poetry or other creative art forms.

Parirou Djafari

My name is Parirou Djafari, and I am hard of hearing. I am a graphic/painting artist. My work combines textures within drawing and painting. Art brings me peace and offers me a place to meditate on the beauty in the world and the grace I feel while living in it. My highest goal is to convey that same peace and elegance to the viewer, offering a moment or pause and a feeling of deep belonging.

Kevin Flynn

Kevin Flynn is an adult learner at Phoenix College, where he is studying music and creative writing. He is a Phoenix native, who for most of his career has focused on creating wellness for children and families through the public healthcare system. He is an avid reader, who particularly admires mystery writers Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, James Sallis and Elmore Leonard.

Aliza Garza

Aliza Garza is a school librarian and self-proclaimed bibliophile. When she is not reading, you can find her planning her next trip to Disneyland or attempting a new vegan recipe.

Ella Gerardo

I’m a nonbinary artist working towards my Comic and Sequential Art major. I love making character designs and fitting symbolism in my art whenever I can.

Cheryl Griemsmann

Cheryl Griemsmann is an Arizona native and proud Phoenix College Bear. She loves food and is afraid of mangroves. Her favorite motto about hard things in life is “The best way out is through.”

Ryan Kennedy

I am currently a student at Phoenix College pursuing a degree in Sociology. Photography is my artistic passion. For my 10th birthday, my parents gifted me a camera, and I set foot on my photographic journey. In the beginning, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My photos would come out blurry and over-exposed, but photography provided me with a happy place that enabled me to zone out from the world and express myself creatively. Although I didn’t always achieve the results I had envisioned, I gradually got better. My journey with photography represents a story of determination and believing in myself. Art is not about technicalities or doing things the right way; it’s about having the freedom to creatively express yourself. Photography gives me the ability to capture a moment in time, allowing me to fall in love with this passion. If you want to see more memories that I have captured in time, follow me on Instagram at @3amcandid.

Kathi Knox

Kathi Knox is a printmaker whose work is based on observation of shadows, patterns and line. She is most interested in capturing those images that come into view for a short time and disappear. She is also interested in portraying ordinary items that, when examined in detail, magnified or brightly lit, reveal characteristics that become a starting point for an etching, monoprint, linocut or collagraph.

Cindy Maria

I was born in Los Angeles and moved to Phoenix in my teen years. I began drawing in pencil at the age of 9 when I tried to follow along with Bob Ross episodes. I continued to doodle until I had the desire to learn more and went to GCC for art classes. I earned an Associates in General Art and Business and now use my skills as an avenue to escape work and school routines. I have fun creating and selling my work at local art shows (when they were a thing) as well as creating commissioned art pieces in my humble studio at home. I also enjoy using what I learned in graphic designing to work freelance for non-profit organizations and family-owned businesses. For the love of art, I hope to continue expanding my portfolio and sharing glimpses of my soul to this awe-inspiring world.

Brenda Mason

Brenda has been writing and editing business and technical documentation in support of others for many years. She began taking college courses through the Maricopa County Community College system about four years ago, after she decided to re-prioritize what is most important in her life. Spending less energy at work and more energy at home with her family, she has been able to focus more time on expressing herself through artwork, specifically using textiles as her medium. Recently, she became interested in adapting her writing practice to further explore her thoughts and perspectives in order to better understand herself and share these words with others. Thanks to educational opportunities at Maricopa Community Colleges, Brenda looks forward to continual growth and sharing through these learnings and new practices.

Angela May-Graham

I’m new to Phoenix College this year, but I’m a returning student after some time off when I had my son. I’ve been working as a case manager for the unsheltered community for the past 5 years and am now continuing my education to become a social worker. I also own a small business, called Real Cool Time Apparel, where I design t-shirts and various accessories with my art on it. It’s been a therapeutic avenue for me to continue to create art for the past 3 years. My pieces reflect my overall aesthetic, which focuses on human rights and feminist issues that are important to me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did creating them.

Aaliyah Thompson Mazzeo

My name is Aaliyah Thompson-Mazzeo, and I’m 18 years old. I’m originally from southern California, but I now live in Phoenix. My professional goal is to be a biomedical engineer focusing on prosthetics. I’m also a dance teacher in my free-time.

Although I am also a dancer, visual arts was my first love. My creative process is heavily influenced by inspiration from words, images, and experiences. My work can appear to be very simplistic, but every piece I make has a meaning behind the lines. Much of my art features flowers because I enjoy the language of flowers and the meaning behind them. I believe that it adds an extra layer of meaning that the viewer can interpret for themselves. I also like to do realistic sketches, even though most of the time those end up becoming simplistic line art.

My pieces mean a lot to me and represent some of my beliefs. I’m really passionate about advocacy for body positivity. My pieces have messages about inner beauty and beauty standards.

Taylor Miskowski

Taylor Miskowski is a poet and student at Phoenix College. Her work centers on womanhood and mental health. She is studying social work and hopes to help people after she graduates.

Warren Norgaard

Warren Norgaard is a multimedia artist whose focus is in kiln-formed and kiln-cast glass. Working in the glass mediums since 1990, his work has been shown and collected internationally. His passion for glass led him to focus his own work around the mandala, and the traditional way they have been crafted for centuries, creating these intricate designs in glass.

Matt Perez

Magdaleno Perez lives in Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating high school in Buckeye, Arizona, I served in the 82nd Airborne division as an infantryman for three years. After my military service, I worked many different jobs, from driving semis coast to coast as a CDL driver, to my ten years with the Arizona department of corrections as a correctional officer.

One of my main goals was to return to school and get a degree to set a good example for my daughter. This December I will receive my degree in General Arts from Phoenix College. PC writing teachers Amy Silverman and Cody Wilson have encouraged and guided me in my writing endeavors. I was recently one of the Space X Inspiration contest winners sponsored by Space2create. I plan to continue my education and writing, and I hope to inspire people to strive for and reach their goals.

Gertrude Perlin

I am a student in the AAFA (Associates of Fine Arts) program at Phoenix College and hope to graduate after this semester. I went to the University of Arizona for my Nursing degree and worked in health care for 45 years. I have a Masters degree from Arizona State University in Justice Studies. I live in Phoenix and enjoy spending time with my children and grandchildren. I missed them terribly during the last year of quarantine for COVID-19. After being vaccinated, I look forward to the future with them and doing activities I love. I love making hands-on art and studying Art History.

Francisco Ramirez Rivera

My name is Francisco but I would love for people to call me Frankie. I was born in Reno, Nevada but moved to Phoenix when I was 4 and have lived in the valley to this day. My mother was my main inspiration to become an artist as she is one herself. Watching her create was fun and interesting because she could really make something from nothing. I’d say my art style is psychedelic mixed with flora/fauna and a hint of death. I embrace duality when it comes to my work and life. Maybe it’s just the Gemini in me. I’ve been practicing witchcraft for a couple years and have found a lot of peace in it. The earth is beautiful, art is amazing, and life is magical.

Hannah Butler Robbins

Hannah Butler Robbins is a senior at ASU studying microbiology.

Haylee Rolnick

I have been doing professional photography since 2015. It was one thing I found that I was good at in high school. I am completely in love with it and passionate about it, along with flying airplanes. I am also in trade school to be a pilot. I can’t wait for a future where I can do both together. I am so lucky.

Maple Solstice

Maple Solstice began her writing career beneath a rosebush, while she waited for the Goblin King to kidnap her. She won a CCA (Conference Choice Award) from San Diego State University for her first novel, How Ramòn Died, in 2018. She is currently writing her second, a love letter to family curses and the people who break them.

Nathan Stewart

I am attending Phoenix College and working towards a Creative Writing degree. I love to write and have kept a personal journal since I was 12. I’m a fan of all creative works, whether it be television, poetry, music, or art. Writing helps me focus and collect all the miscellaneous thoughts living in my head. I hope to transfer to ASU and earn my BA in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I plan to teach creative writing or English after I get an MFA. I have been working closely with Dan McDermott at PC to prepare for the publishing world and hone my writing skills.

Samantha Sullivan

My name is Sam. I am a mother to three children, ages 11, 6, and 3. I have returned to school after a 20 year hiatus to become a Medical Assistant. My husband and I have both endured a great number of medical issues. I am anxious to work in the medical field to help others who may be experiencing their own difficulties.

Corrina Tape

Corrina Tape is a new writer. She has loved writing for many years but always kept her work to herself. Since starting a writing class, she has found the confidence to share her work with others.

Luis Zamora

I am 19 years old, and I am diagnosed with autism. My family originates from Mexico, but I was born in the United States. I am currently a second-year student at Phoenix College majoring in Fine Arts. I loved to draw from a young age and was inspired by one of my high school art teachers, a muralist who showcases his works to the whole city. The process is cross-cultural, enjoyable, and it has motivated me to choose this as my primary way of telling stories. I began exhibiting in competitions during my junior and senior years in high school. Since then, I strive to find new ways to connect and communicate through graphite, colored pencils, and acrylic paint. I often employ mixed media in my works, including oil pastels and charcoal, but my dream passion is to try oil painting. My goal is to be a dynamic and versatile artist who can fluidly move between materials as I see fit. Instagram: @luis.zam.art