2017 Young Artists Institute students will study Creative Writing, PoetryTheatre, Visual Arts  and Digital Arts with world-class instructors.

Creative Writing

ingridIngrid Ricks is an author, ghostwriter, narrative writing instructor, and founder of Write it Out Loud, a program that fosters healing and empowerment through personal narrative. Her memoirs include the New York Times bestseller Hippie Boy and Focus, a memoir about her journey with the blinding eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is currently teaming with African Children's Choir founder Ray Barnett on his inspiring memoir. 

Along with writing, Ingrid is passionate about social justice issues and about leveraging narrative writing and the new world of publishing to give both teens and adults a voice. Along with offering her Healing Through Personal Narrative workshops through Summer Institutes, Schools Out Washington, Hugo House and other organizations, she has helped more than a thousand students of every age find healing and empowerment by writing the deeply personal stories they need to tell.

Ingrid's essays and stories have been featured on Salon and NPR. 



dahlak3747Dahlak Braithwaite
 is a multi-faceted hip-hop artist that maximizes his abilities as musician, actor, poet, and educator within the transformational space of the theater. Since launching into the national spoken word scene by winning the Brave New Voices international poetry slam (as now seen on HBO), Dahlak has appeared on the Tavis Smiley Radio show, various NPR member stations, and the last two seasons of Russell Simmons’ present Def Poetry Jam

Dahlak has worked with Broadway veteran and Rockefeller fellow, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, by writing and performing in his critically acclaimed plays Scourgeand Word Becomes Flesh, pioneering the emerging genre of “hip-hop theater”.  As a member of the organization iLL-Literacy, Dahlak has showcased his seamless blend of hip-hop, theatre, and spoken word throughout the world at over 200 colleges and universities.

From 2007 to 2012, Dahlak has released five musical projects, which include, most notably, his full-length albums Dual Consciousness and Spiritrials.     Dahlak now performs Spiritrials as a one-man play.  The play was commissioned by several theaters around the U.S. and was given support through the Columbia and Zellerbach Foundations. Spiritrials was performed at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and is now continuing a national tour.

In 2014, Dahlak was selected as a musician for a U.S. State Department International Exchange Fellowship called 1Beat.  Through this fellowship, Dahlak was invited to the White House for the SXSL event in 2016 - a meeting of innovators in the arts, sciences and technology – championed and hosted by President Barack Obama.

Dahlak earned his B.A. degree from the University of California, Davis, where he studied English and Dramatic Studies.



judyJudy Rosenzweig has made a career of breaking rules and doing the unthinkable. Born and raised in southern Oregon, she completed her BFA at Southern Oregon University with an emphasis on painting and photography. Immensely adventurous and curious, Judy has traveled extensively. She studied art and Ancient Egyptian Art History at the American University in Cairo, lived and worked abroad, and has created a large body of work. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally. She is a practicing artist and an art instructor. She teaches foundational courses, painting, drawing, alternative processes and advanced studio art.


James Donlon webJames Donlon has been a celebrated master teacher and international performer since 1970. He has been on the faculties of acting schools such as The American Conservatory Theater, The North Carolina School of the Arts, The National Theatre Conservatory-Denver Center, The Yale School of Drama, UCSB, and UCSD. He has presented residencies with special institutions like El Teatro Campesino, Mexico City's Bellas Artes, Prague's national Academy of Performing Arts (AMU), Dublin's Gaiety School of Acting, and Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College where he taught Tony Award-winner Bill Irwin.

Donlon has been a film movement coach for Oscar-winners Javier Bardem, Kathy Bates, and Frances McDormand, as well as Benjamin Bratt and David Strathairn. James is the only physical theater artist ever invited to perform with legendary San Francisco street mime Robert Shields of CBS' The Shields & Yarnell Show. He is the first American clown to perform in the famed Teatro Dimitri of Switzerland. James has performed his original work throughout North America, Europe, and Latin America to critical acclaim. 


Jeremy Johnson

Jeremy Peter Johnson has been in the Acting Company at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 2007, appearing in Guys and Dolls, Richard II, The Yeomen of the Guard, Tracy's Tiger, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrewand many others. He began directing student theatre at a summer camp in Maine seven years ago and has taught hundreds of students through OSF's Education Department. Johnson has directed several productions for the Ashland High School Theatre Department, including Cabaret, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, and most recently, this year's Sweeney Todd.




Digital Arts

Bobby001 copy

Robert Arellano 
is a professor at Southern Oregon University, where, in 2010, he directed a group of faculty in creating the Center for Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He is the author of six novels, including the recent Edgar Award finalist Havana Lunar and the Internet's first hypertext novel, Sunshine 69. His essays have been published in Tin House, the Village Voice, and Oregon Humanities. He is a member of the Oregon Humanities Board of Directors.







Jay Schroder 235Jay Schroder (YAI Program Director) has taught poetry and creative writing for over 15 years, and now teaches at Central Medford High School. Along with his practice of poetry, he trains in karate, makes his own vests and shirts, and is learning how to play the guitar. He's a Fishtrap Fellow, an Emerging Voices Finalist, he's won several poetry awards and contests and has had his work published in a variety of literary journals including Whistling Fire Review, Jefferson Monthly, West Wind Review, and Watershed.



Betsy 2Betsy Bishop has graced the stage in dramas and musicals, but lately she's been immersed in her work as a producer, director and Thespian sponsor. She earned her B.A. in theatre from Catholic University in Washington, DC and her M.A. in teaching from Southern Oregon University. Since she began teaching at Ashland High School in 1988 she has maintained a rich connection with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which blossomed into a 22-year partnership. She is also a 19-year partner with Manhattan Theatre Club's Theatre link Program, working with playwrights and artists from schools in the US and beyond. AHS Theatre won the 2013 ETA national award as OUTSTANDING SCHOOL THEATRE. Her husband, Wesley, an equity actor and screenwriter, and their three children, Kelly, Travis and Micaela (along with her two grandsons) continue to be the joy of her life!



Kathi Bowen Jones 200

Kathi Bowen-Jones is a writer, curious traveler and longtime teacher of Creative Writing at Ashland High School. She has a B.S. in Education with an emphasis in Language Arts, Social Studies, and Geography from Southern Oregon University, and an M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a thesis focus in poetry from Southern Oregon University. She is a former co-director of the Oregon Writing Project (1986 and 1987), a long serving board member of the Oregon Council of Teachers of English (1992-2007) and currently an active board member of The Chautauqua Poets and Writers (since 2006). Over the course of her teaching career, she taught AP Literature for twenty years, World Religion, and Classics and Modern World Literature.



Sam Headshot 200wSam Scharf has spent his entire life in beautiful places where creativity and craftsmanship were held in high regard. Sam found art at a young age at his father's jewelry bench and behind his mother's easel. While at Southern Oregon University Sam's love of form and materials took hold. He is fascinated by all art materials and the artists' desire to turn something like dirt into something precious like a ceramic bowl. While the draw to get lost in the artistic process was strong, the desire to help spread that love to others was stronger. Sam continued his education at SOU, receiving an MAT and pursuing the field of teaching. Sam now teaches fine art and jewelry at Ashland High School, remains an active jeweler, and plays with dirt when he has free time.