Meet the Judges 2021

Julie May

Julie May is a Special Education Teacher, working with children from birth to three in the home through the Jackson County Intermediate School District. She is also a fiber artist and sells her work at the Art on the Town Gallery, in Pentwater, Michigan, the K Gallery in Jackson, Michigan and has exhibited at Art634. She is a member of the Jackson Civic Art Association.

Mari Pruks

I have always been an image maker. Drawing and painting were activities that furnish some of my earliest childhood memories. I attended art school in Estonia since I was six years old, where I studied painting and drawing. After graduating from high school in Estonia, I studied art and photography in Finland and America. 

My choice of subject comes from a place of intuition and is fuelled by a desire to stop the moment of time or create a new moment. I use modern technology and traditional techniques or a mix of old and new in my work. I am always exploring ideas, materials and processes. My work doesn’t follow a set style; rather a freedom to change and to create new tonalities of color, space and feeling.  My work includes the creation of fine art prints in alternative processes such as hand-colored images.

Also I am passionate about psychology. I have a Masters Degree from the University of Michigan. I am currently working as a psychotherapist and I am also a part time artist. Since, I have spent a lifetime pursuing all things creative, I bring this collective experience to my work as a psychotherapist specializing in addiction and trauma counseling. I believe that both areas of my work compliment each other.

I have exhibits at: East End Gallery , Pence State Gallery in California, Estonia, Rapla First floor of Praxis, Manitou Beach Boat Art Gallery  and the Ann Arbor Art Fair

Irene Mokra

I navigated my path into art after many years of searching. Originally from L’viv, Ukraine, I came to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in business, economics, and anthropology at Wayne State University in Detroit. As an artist, I received training from the Ann Arbor Art Center,  Washtenaw Community College (WCC), and privately from local master pastelists and renowned artists.  My artwork received multiple awards from WCC, was commissioned by WCC Foundation, and is in its permanent collection.  

As a graduate student in cultural anthropology at Wayne State University, I explored the processes of identity transformation that took place among women artists in Ann Arbor area. As an atelierista at Ann Arbor preschool, I strive to instill my love of art into young children through Reggio Emilia philosophy.

I derive inspiration from the depth and contrast of colors and by fantastic and experimental subjects. In my drawings, I always start with a curvy line and let the search for an interesting fit between shapes, colors, and thoughts take hold of my movements on the paper. I am fascinated by human emotions and states of being and enjoy portraiture. I also incorporate some of my artwork into upcycled fabric design.

Cassandra Spicer

Cassandra Spicer has lived in the Jackson area her whole life, but LOVES to travel too! She attended college in Spring Arbor, where she received a minor in Fine Arts and a major in Business Administration. Her love for teaching and helping other people create beautiful things, along with 18+ years of experience in the industry, has made owning her own store (Beads to Live By) her DREAM job! She is the owner of

Chérie Ann McMullen

I first became an artist when my mother put white construction paper and a box of Crayola crayons in front of me.  She loved my drawings.  My first of many art showings was on the refrigerator in our kitchen as well as various walls in the house.  Sometimes what you love and love to do shows up very early in life.  🙂 Chérie.

Kate Manville-Schwartz

Kate Manville-Schwartz, an Irish Hills Native, has a BA in Visual Arts Education from Spring Arbor University.  She’s exhibited extensively, mostly locally, but also nationally. In 2009, Kate moved to Beijing to teach art in an International School where her students were featured in many Beijing Magazines, such as “City Weekend,” “Beijing Kids,” and “Star Magazine.”  Since moving back to the US, Kate was awarded the 2014, 30 and Under Award from Jackson Magazine and was the Board Chair for the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Jackson County for three years.  Besides teaching in Beijing at 3e International School, Kate has also taught at Creative Arts of Tecumseh, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and Jackson School of the Arts.  Kate is well respected in the arts community of Jackson County, having juried art for Jackson Civic Art Association, Spring Arbor University, and even the Jackson County Fair.

Julie Cordier

Julie taught Ceramics, Sculpture and Art and Design in a public school for 20 years and before that she volunteered teaching art at an elementary that didn’t have art as an elective. She enjoys teaching, but she also loves learning. She continues to teach classes occasionally at Art Works in Big Rapids.  She enjoys welding dog sculptures from scrap metal and pottery and painting. Her personal philosophy is that we need more art in this world, especially right now…. we need more beauty in this world and art provides that. Art can take us away from the here and now. Her former students have described her as “chill”, and “laid back” and enjoyed her classroom because it was “therapeutic”. 

In addition to art, Julie also enjoys travel, reading and she also has a passion for hosting and facilitating the hosting of foreign exchange students and plans to host two students again in the fall. She also enjoys her dogs, (one is a therapy dog, which she volunteers with when called upon).

There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.