Nina Barbuto, Director

Nina’s passion for art, new media and social learning led her to found Assemble, a community space for arts + technology, in 2011. On her own, Nina works in a variety of media including architecture, film, sound, and installation and often explores the idea of recycling noise into a system or elevating the vernacular to the spectacular. Nina co-founded I Made It! Market in 2007. An idea based on urban acupuncture, this nomadic market partners with community, arts and non-profit organizations to raise funds and awareness to assist in improving their communities while allowing local artists and crafters to sell their wares. Nina holds degrees in architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture and Carnegie Mellon University, where she is also adjunct faculty. Contact: nina (at) assemblepgh (dot) org

Adeshewa Metzger, Teacher

Adeshewa Metzger loves teaching science. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she worked at the Michigan Science Center. She is a graduate from Central Michigan University with a major in Business Management and minors in both General Science and Art. Contact: adeshewa (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Felicia Cooper, Teacher

Felicia Cooper is a teaching artist, puppeteer, choreographer, and maker. She believes strongly in collaborative curiosity and co-learning as a principle of equitable education. Her pedagogy is student-led, adaptive, and encourages creativity and curiosity as frameworks for critical thinking. This practice is grounded in active listening and equality, as practiced at Hosanna House, Action Housing’s Uptown Lofts, Propel Charter School, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and the alternative ed program at the Allegheny County Jail. She also performs puppet shows throughout the city for children and adults alike. Contact: felicia (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Paul Peng, TA

Paul Peng is a drawer, comics artist, and printmaker from Allentown, PA. As an artist, Paul is interested in how today’s internet cultures extend into the physical world and transform our beliefs on what our bodies should and shouldn’t be, specifically through the lens of cartoon stylization. As a teaching apprentice, he believes in open-ended curriculums and learning-by-doing, allowing students to feel out and achieve their own educational needs through the resources Assemble provides. Paul moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 to study art and computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and has happily called the city home ever since. He has also helped teach for the Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science at CMU. Contact: paul (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Jess Gold, Platform Program Manager

Jess Gold is a creative educator from Pittsburgh, PA. She believes deeply in the power of art, digital media, and creativity as tools of education, empowerment, and community-building, and she centers these things in her work with youth. Jess has taught, coordinated, and planned youth arts and digital media programs with Assemble, Literary Arts Boom [The LAB], the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, Digital Corps, and others. Contact: jess (at) assemblepgh (dot) org

Anna Azizzy, Teacher

Anna Azizzy is a performance artist, video artist, and experimental musician from Pittsburgh. Azizzy’s work creates a space where laughter leads to learning, and they strive to process their identity by performing absurd exaggerations of their life. In addition to teaching at Assemble, Azizzy organizes DIY art and music events, is a gymnastics/ aerial silks coach, and loves to play dress up and tell jokes. Contact: annaa(at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Heather Cowie, Teacher

Heather Cowie is a visual artist, costume-maker, and youth educator originally from West Virginia. She moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University. Her work is mostly jokes, especially as a vehicle for unpacking the trials and absurdities of our internal and external worlds. She has assistant-taught animation and digital photography at CMU’s Pre-College Program, designed online arts curriculum for high school students, and currently works for the Teen Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Her body mass is, on average, 0.5% pickled radish. Contact: heather (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Shannon Thompson, Teacher

Shannon Thompson is a practicing artist and educator. Her teaching practice is informed by a strong background in social justice and activism. She believes that fostering supportive, collaborative creative learning environments is vital to the health of all communities. Shannon has a Masters of Education in Community Engagement from Merrimack College. Contact: shannon (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Hannah Sauder, Place Operations Manager

Hannah is a maker and photographer who appreciates storytelling through art. They graduated from Goshen College with B.A. in communication with minors in graphic design and international studies. Contact: hannah (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Ariel Barlow, Assistant to Director + Teacher

Becs Epstein, Teacher

Becs Epstein is a social practice artist/florist/artist assistant/plant friend/DIY venue host/curator/teacher. Becs recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon University BFA with a focus in Contextual Practice and Sculptural Installation. She has roots in California and Philadelphia but is currently based in Pittsburgh PA.  The core of her art practice is magnifying the space between botanical life and human interaction. She believes in allowing kids to exercise creative freedom while concurrently building their technological confidence. Contact: becs (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Jayla Patton, Teacher

Jayla Patton is a Teaching Artist and Arts Educator living in the city Pittsburgh. She enjoys creating comics and illustrations using traditional mediums and digital ones such as Photoshop. She is also an animator, and wishes she had more hours in the day to sleep. While she’s not making art, she’s teaching in a different section of the city almost every day of the week. Contact: jayla (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.

Vania Arthur, TA

With her passion for children, knowledge growth, Vania Arthur is a Teachers Assistant at Assemble. Throughout the years she has found herself in positions of teaching and mentoring, whether that be as a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, at Urban Pathways in Downtown Pittsburgh or as a child care assistant at the YMCA. Besides finding joy in working with children, Vania also finds herself as a photographer, finding joy in capturing the organic moments that go unnoticed. When she’s not working with children or out photographing you can find walking through nature, painting, or channeling her inner grandmother with tea, a good book and wearing a knitted oversized sweater. Contact: vania (at) assemblepgh (dot) org.