The Arts at George Mason
The George Mason University Arts Research Center (MasonARC), home to a National Endowment for the Arts-funded Research Lab, investigates “the role and effects of arts engagement, across all art forms, on social and emotional development in educational, out of school, and other contexts.” Its three principal investigators draw upon interdisciplinary backgrounds in child development, arts engagement and education. The College of Visual and Performing Arts is a “community of artists in art, dance, music, theater, arts management, film and video studies, and computer game design” which offers a wide range of undergraduate majors and minors as well as graduate certificates, masters and doctoral degrees. The LIVE Center (The Center for Live Interactive Virtual Education) is a home for innovative virtual education solutions for the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The Hylton Performing Arts Center hosts a multidisciplinary series of live performance events and community programs, including its Veterans and the Arts Initiative.
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Dr. Sutters was a K-12 art educator in an urban school district and also taught at an international school in São Paulo, Brazil. He attained his doctorate degree from the Ohio State University receiving national recognition for his dissertation. He currently serves as the Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program in Art Education at George Mason University and is an Associate Professor in the School of Art as well as an Affiliate Faculty in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). He recently completed a two-year term as the Faculty Fellow for the SACSCOC Reaffirmation Committee and also another two-year term as the Stearns Center Faculty Fellow for Faculty Writing Support.
Dr. Sutters is published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at the state, national and international level in Brazil, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. He served as the Chair of the Professional Learning through Research (PLR) working group of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Research Commission and in other capacities within NAEA. He served on the review board of Art Education and Visual Arts Research and has been a contributing member of the Data Visualization Working Group. His research focuses on pre-service practices, teacher licensure, national demography data, comparative studies/Brazilian studies, and theories pertaining to space and place. In 2019, he received a competitive grant from the National Art Education Foundation pertaining to his academic genealogy project and data visualization. In the summer of 2022, Dr. Sutters was selected to participate in the School for Art Leaders at Crystal Bridges, AK, and also was appointed to a two-year term with the NAEA Research Commission and he also attended the annual meeting in Park City, UT. He also was awarded an Emerging Administrator Fellowship from the National Council of Arts Administrators (NCAA) and will attend the annual conference in October,
He teaches numerous courses in the MAT program, is the Advisor for the NAEA Student Chapter, and mentors students on their research capstone. His studio practice and background currently centers around printmaking and he co-teaches a summer graduate course called Print/Paper/Books. He is the School of Art Liaison and an Advisory Board Member for the Mason Community Arts Academy, where he also teaches Portfolio Preparation courses in the summer for high school students.
Kristin Johnsen-Neshati is Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and International Programs and Professor of Theater at George Mason University, where she has taught theater history, dramatic literature, dramaturgy and dramatic criticism since 1993. For 18 years, she also served as Resident Dramaturg/Artistic Associate for Theater of the First Amendment, focusing on new play development and launching a professionally-mentored staged reading program for high school and college playwrights.
Kristin has translated four of Chekhov’s plays, which have received several productions. She also founded 1,001 Plays (co-directed with Nicholas Kfoury Horner), a 10-minute new play exchange for students around the world. Recent Mason projects include Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good (co-directed with Maderi), Gogol’s Nose and Other Strange Tales from the City, an original devised piece drawn from The Petersburg Tales, co-conceived for Mason students and co-directed with David Gaines, in collaboration with guest artist Vladimir Shpitalnik. She has a MFA and DFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from Yale School of Drama and a BA in Russian and Theatre from Swarthmore College.
Rebekah Hersch serves as Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation and also leads the Research Development Services team. As Interim Associate Vice President, Dr. Hersch provides leadership for the Research and Innovation Initiatives (RII) team which includes Mason’s three University Research Institutes (IBI, ISE and IDIA) and its five Transdisciplinary Centers for Advanced Study as well as the Research Development Services office. Together, these units focus on supporting, connecting, communicating about, and convening researchers internally and with external partners. She works closely with other administrative units across Mason to develop and implement the strategic plan to foster and grow the research ecosystem.
Dr. Hersch also serves as a member of the leadership team for the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN) Coordinating and Translation Center, part of the NIH HEAL Initiative. Prior to joining Mason in 2017, Dr. Hersch was Senior Research Scientist and Senior Vice President at ISA Associates, a behavioral science research organization in Alexandria, Virginia. For over 25 years, while at ISA Associates, Dr. Hersch conducted workplace-based health promotion and substance abuse prevention research and development. The primary focus of her research was on the application of multimedia technology and health behavior change theory and science to address behavioral health problems and improve the wellness. The programs developed and field-tested as part of that research address a myriad of health issues including substance abuse, HIV prevention, stress, mental illness, and medication adherence.
Dr. Hersch received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Clark University in Worcester, MA and her Ph.D. in Applied Social Psychology (with a concentration on health) at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Rick Davis is Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Executive Director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center, and Professor of Theater. From 1991 until the company’s closure in 2012, he was artistic director of Mason’s professional theater company, Theater of the First Amendment (TFA). Under his leadership, TFA became one of the Washington area’s most respected theaters, winning twelve Helen Hayes Awards and producing more than twenty world premieres.
Before coming to Mason, Rick was Associate Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage, and has directed both theater and opera across the country. His books include Calderon de la Barca: Four Great Plays of the Golden Age, as well as two volumes co-authored with Brian Johnston (Ibsen: Four Major Plays and Ibsen In an Hour), and Writing About Theatre with Christopher Thaiss. His translations have been produced in regional theaters and universities from coast to coast. He is the librettist for Stations of Mychal, a song cycle premiering in New York City on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, with music by Kevin Salfen, and Love’s Comedy, an opera with music by Kim D. Sherman, with whom he also wrote a critically acclaimed oratorio, The Songbird and the Eagle, premiered by the San José Chamber Orchestra. He has contributed entries to the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World and the Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama, as well as writing essays and reviews for a variety of journals and magazines. He has received the Mason Teaching Excellence Award and was named Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year. He holds a B.A. from Lawrence University and an M.F.A. and D.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.