Melissa Bonin

Melissa Bonin is an accomplished, award winning, French speaking Louisiana artist, trained in the U.S. and France. She brings life to Louisiana’s bayous, cypress swamps, native plants and wildlife and tells her interpretation of the story of the Acadian people. Originally from New Iberia, her landscape paintings go beyond the boundaries of the regional artist tradition and depict a universal peace and tranquility like no other.

Unlike other versions of the Acadian story, Bonin approaches the subject of her ancestry from a feminine perspective, as a sacred quest for her own identity, via self-portraits and the depiction of well known myths and icons of the culture, such as Evangeline. She has strong ties to Canada and France having traveled to the lands of her ancestors and retraced their journeys on several occasions.

Melissa Bonin’s works have been exhibited in France and the United States and are in the collections of Roger Ogden, former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, Emeril Lagasse, Blake Lively (actress), Christian Leblanc (Young and the Restless) and many more. Through her art and the story line that supports it, she portrays a beautiful account of a vibrant, resourceful people and the lush lands they settled so long ago. Despite the history of the tragic expulsion from Canada, Acadians continue their guardianship of Louisiana’s resources today with a love and “joie de vivre” not found anywhere else in the world. While music and food are valuable assets to Louisiana’s cultural identity, Bonin’s contribution is a fresh new visual and poetic layer to the fabric that is Louisiana culture.

Melissa has recently changed her Magazine Street Gallery’s location from New Orleans to Lafayette, Louisiana, where she lives and paints near the Vermillion River and exhibits her work in her new gallery at 100 East Vermillion Street.  She was a recipient of the Bunk Johnson award for her cultural and artistic contributions and chosen “Business Woman of the Year in 2014”. Ms. Bonin attended the National Coalition Builder’s Institute for Prejudice Reduction and has been awarded many scholarships and grants for her work in the arts and advocacy of French language and culture in Louisiana. She has also worked as a teacher and mentor in the Talent Program in Louisiana.



James Etheridge

James Etheridge is a visual artist and a Georgia native. James loves art and has been drawing and painting his entire life. He works in a number of mediums including watercolor, acrylic, oil, digital painting and pen and ink drawing.

He attended DeKalb Technical College and graduated in 1977 with a diploma in Commercial Art and worked in Graphic Design as well as the printing and electronic prepress field since 1978, winning several Printing Industry Association of Georgia Awards of Excellence.

James is a member of Arts Clayton Gallery in Jonesboro, GA and exhibits art there regularly. His work has also been featured at The Windsor Gallery in McDonough, GA, The Allan Vigil Gallery in Morrow, GA, High Country Art in Blue Ridge, GA and Faison O’Neal Gallery in Black Mountain, NC. He has also exhibited at numerous art festivals in the Atlanta Area including The Atlanta Art Festival, The Virginia Highlands Art Festival, The Smyrna Jonquil Festival, Art In The Park at Blue Ridge, GA, The Brookhaven Arts Festival and The Grant Park Arts Festival.

Elite Shaier

Elite Shaier is a self-taught artist. She is Sculpture in clay and other found materials (paper, rocks, pinecones etc.). Author of short stories (two of which were published in Hebrew and one in English) and a poet (one of which is being published). A teacher of social studies (MA) and Hebrew. She has taught in the USA, Central – Yeshiva university high school, Weber – High school, AJA – middle school. Israel, Alon high school, Blich high school and researched the Native American’s Sun Dance.

A mother of two artists and married to a wonderful, supportive man and have two Great Pyrenees (from shelters, of course). Loves desserts, art, animals and good people. Not necessarily in this order.

Ife Williams 

Ife Williams is the Executive Director of the Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts, Ife is responsible for the leadership and vision of the Hudgens Center and serves as the face of the organization.  Her professional experience includes the roles of museum curator at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (Miami); development consultant at the Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator (Miami); assistant collections registrar for the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington (Seattle); and most recently Program Development Specialist at Fulton County Arts and Culture (Atlanta).

Ife holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture/Metalsmithing from the University of Michigan.  She also pursued a Master’s degree in Museum Studies at Syracuse University, and received a certificate of nonprofit organizational management from the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

Outside of work she enjoys pursuing creative endeavors in clay, stone and paper; baking, hiking and rock climbing with her children; and exploring the rich array of arts and cultural activities available in our community.

Ife loves working at the Hudgens because she believes everyone should have art in their day-to-day life and being a part of this team allows her to have a hand in making that happen within her own community.  She was a student at the Hudgens Center before she became a member of the staff and she continues to believe that the learning experiences available here are among the best in our region.

Joanne M Hernandez

Joanne M Hernandez, an Atlanta native, is a professional jeweler/metalsmith, artist and instructor. She currently teaches weekly jewelry/metalsmithing classes and specialized workshops, as well as serves as the Jewelry Department Coordinator at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody, GA since 2009. From 1997 to 2013, she worked for celebrated Master Enamelist Ricky Frank as his primary fabricator and in many other capacities in his jewelry business. She received her BFA in Jewelry Design and Metalsmithing from GSU in 1997. She is a maker of both fine art and craft in many mediums, including metal and gemstones, fiber, ceramics, and drawing/2-D for sale, specific commissions, and joyful compulsion.