Meet the Praxis Staff and Instructors!

Jessica Pinsky, Executive Director
Jessica grew up in Akron, Ohio and moved to Cleveland in 2011 after receiving a BFA in Studio Art from New York University in 2006 and an MFA in painting from Boston University in 2009. She began teaching at Cleveland Institute of Art in 2011 and is currently serving as faculty in the Sculpture and Expanded Media department. Together with Cleveland Institute of Art, Jessica founded Praxis Fiber Workshop in June, 2105.

“It has been a great priviledge and honor to bring a new life to the fiber department at CIA and to open Praxis in a city with such welcoming community, kindness, talent and creativity. Thank you to every single person I have met along this journey and to every person who has created art using this precious equipment over the years and so are woven into the rich history of textiles in our region.”

Cathryn Amidei, Digital Weaving Director

Cathryn holds a B.A. in Anthropology/Russian from University of Illinois Chicago and an M.F.A. from Eastern Michigan University and was Associate Professor there for 13 years.

She has been the studio Director at the Jacquard Center in Hendersonville North Carolina since 2018.

Cathryn has been engaged with Jacquard weaving for 15+ years.  She has travelled extensively, studying and teaching on the TC2. She spent a year living in Norway working and walking at Tronrud Engineering Headquarters: the Digital Weaving Norway production facility. She owns a TC2 and provides technical support to Artists and Universities in North America when they purchase the loom and after. She lives in Ann Arbor Michigan and is a member of the WSG Gallery.

Lu Little and David Wells, Garden Managers

Dave and Lu have been in the nursery/landscape industry for decades. Currently owners of Little & Wells, inc. they are proud gardeners for the Praxis Fiber Workshops natural dye gardens, Hospice of the Western Reserve and a small group of private clients. Do you have landscaping needs of your own? Feel free to reach out to them at

Xuena Pu, 2020 – 21 Emerging Artist Fellow

Xuena was born and grew up in a traditional craftsman family in Kaifeng, China. She learned and practiced ancient weaving techniques in her early childhood from her grandma. She also  inherited macramé crochet and Chinese knotting from her mom. She applied most of these  techniques into her first collection – Memories, which had the debut live show in Columbus Fashion Week 2020 (one of the only 4 designers with a live show) in September. She will have a Seams fashion exhibit by Wild Goose Creative in October, and an exhibition in  November at the 2020 ITAA (International Textile and Apparel Association) Annual Conference.  Xuena holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from Central South University of China.  She received her BFA in Fashion Design from Columbus College of Art and Design in May 2020, graduating with Outstanding Senior recognition and the Easton Award.  

Katie Mongoven, Studio Intern

Katie Mongoven (Chinese-American, b. 1995) is a fiber artist based in Cleveland, OH. Born in Shanggao, China during the One Child Policy, Mongoven grew up in Washington, DC and received her BFA from the University of Michigan’s Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

Leah Trznadel, Studio Intern

Leah Trznadel is an artist, grants writer and arts educator from Buffalo, New York. She holds a BFA in Photography from the Cleveland Institute of Art. She currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Her practice consists of photography, performance, multimedia installation and handmade books. Her work has been exhibited at the Cleveland Institute of Art, H Space Gallery and the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio and Roy G Biv Gallery in Columbus, Ohio. She received a creative book project grant from the Rowfant Club in Cleveland in 2018 and two awards from the Cleveland Institute of Art for excellence in photography in 2018 and 2019. She has taught for the Cleveland Institute of Art and Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers Association.

Kayli Salzano, Gallery Intern

Kayli Salzano is a performance artist and sculptor currently residing in Cleveland, OH. Their work prods the tenderness that—sometimes literally— sugarcoats both involuntary and self-induced threats towards one’s bodily integrity. Often co-opting the aesthetics of celebrations, birthdays, rituals, and feasts, Salzano emphasizes the potential for radical hospitality to foster crucial and mutual intimacy. Salzano holds a BFA in Sculpture + Expanded Media from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Their work has been exhibited in Cleveland and Philadelphia, at venues including H Space, FORUM Artspace, Rooms to Let: CLE, Maelstrom Collaborative Arts, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Mathilda Savocchia, Research Intern

Mathilda is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a current graduate student in the Master of Fashion Industry Studies at Kent State University, with a research focus on natural dyeing techniques and sustainability. Mathilda is passionate about promoting sustainability throughout the fashion supply chain, from fiber to consumer.

Denise Williams, Research Intern

Denise Williams, a former school teacher, decided to live her dream and become a writer and an artist. Her passion is processing and spinning fibers to knit, crochet and weave. Denise sheep herds with her German Shepherds and chronicles her fiber adventures on her YouTube channel Something Beautiful Handcrafts.

Eleanor Anderson, Instructor

Eleanor Anderson is a Cleveland based artist who works across a broad range of media including ceramics, textiles, prints and collage. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY, The Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY, Studio Kura, Japan, and Praxis Fiber Studio. She was the 9th Semester Fellow in Design at Colorado College in 2014. In 2018, she finished a two year Core Fellowship at Penland School of Crafts in Penland, North Carolina. She Has taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Penland School of Craft and Pocosin School of Craft.

Deb Berkebile, Instructor

Deb is an artist with an extensive background in textiles and quilt making. Recently, she has been exploring surface design and multi-media in her artwork.

She is a naturalist and environmentalist at heart. Her current body of work explores satellite imagery and creating ‘false-color’ artistic depictions of remote sensed satellite images or Geographical Information Systems. She has eight quilts in her “Earth in Three Bands: R, G, B” Series: The Painted Desert, Eye of Sahara, The Great Salt Desert, Susitna Glacier, The Grand Canyon, Galileo Inspiration, The Great Lakes and my latest Rocky Mountain Trench. The vivid colors and their outstanding variations are what first drew her to these representations. She is also interested in activism and has been juried into the “OurStory” traveling exhibit about civil rights. Her pieces feature quilts celebrating the contributions of Martin Luther King/Rosa Parks and Sitting Bull “Lakota Warrior”.

She has started a new series of work combining natural dyes and Shibori techniques. She uses rusted hand dyed fabric dipped into indigo; manipulating the fabric with an assortment of Shibori techniques has led to this series with Sashiko hand stitching for finishing numerous pieces.

She creates most of the fabrics she use in her design process. she use surface design techniques, hand-dyeing and painted fabric, plus digital manipulation of images printed on fabric. She enjoy the challenges of creating original artwork that combines her passions and interests.

Greg Hatch, Instructor

With background in art history and a passion for personal narrative ritual, Gregory Hatch is a fiber and performance artist who explores how pattern, texture, and material sit within our memory (individual and collective). Born and raised in Akron, Ohio and currently living in Cleveland, his work currently work explores the nature of desire, obsession, voyeurism, and longing. Recently his practiced returned to using narrative and storytelling as a way of sharing a personal history.

“I draw on past experiences and use the lens of my own fantasy world to present these constructed narratives. The compositions and costumes from my performances are created from handmade felt, a material that exist in-between processed textiles and their animal source.”

Jasmine Kornel, Instructor

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Jasmine is a visual artist, designer and educator currently residing in Northeast Ohio. She received her MFA in Textiles from Kent State University School of Art in 2018. Her work generally employs the textiles medium in a sculptural capacity. The relationship between cloth, the body and the mind is a continual conversation. Exploration and process are important elements in her work as well as incorporating sustainable techniques into her making practice such as low impact dyeing, material choice, recycling and craft practices. She works as a part-time instructor at Kent’s Fashion School and as an assistant designer for uni-sex clothing company GODDESS. Her work has been accepted into both local and national exhibitions and she is always working on a production line of wearable textiles that are shown locally.


Jenniffer Omaitz, Instructor

Jenniffer Omaitz lives in Kent, OH. She holds an M.F.A. in painting from Kent State University and a B.F.A. in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art; showing her professional artwork under the name Jenniffer Omaitz. In 2016, Omaitz started JC Marbling after 14 months of independent research and experimentation with marbling. JC Marbling & Book Arts was founded to pursue the practice of marbling, book arts, and as a teaching out reach for the craft of marbling. Omaitz currently works with Praxis Fiber Workshop and the Morgan Paper Conservatory teaching a variety of marbling techniques and she sells her handmade books and cards at BayArts in Bay Village, Ohio; Morgan Paper Conservatory and McKay Bricker in Kent, Ohio.

Kat Simmons, Instructor

Kat Simmons is the Associate Director of the TechStyle LAB and Instructor at Kent State University. Her personal work focuses on gender identity using hand spun yarn, the floor loom, and a double bed knitting machine. The pieces she creates can be worn by anyone in a format that is desirable to the wearer. She has her MA in Clothing, Textiles, and Interiors, and is finishing her MFA in Textiles. Her interest in spinning stemmed from graduate school where she taught textiles students about yarn structure and subsequently interned at an alpaca yarn company in Peru. For the past 6 years she has travelled to Haliburton, Canada to take a Master Spinner Certification that commences in April.

Sandy Shelenberger, Instructor

Sandy Shelenberger is an artist from Conneaut, OH whose textile art has been widely exhibited.   She hand-dyes much of her fabric and uses surface design techniques such as batik or experimental screenprinting to create her own marks and patterns. In addition to quilting, Sandy has become enamored with working in encaustic and cold wax.

Her work has been in several publications and juried art exhibits.  Sandy has had work juried into Quilts=Art=Quilts in Auburn, NY in 2019. Sandy’s quilt A Touch of Envy was juried into Visions 2018: Connections and was on exhibit at Visions Art Museum in San Diego, CA. Sandy had work on display in Quilts + Resist: Art, Politic, Storytelling at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL. Sandy has been in several “Best of Ohio” exhibitions at Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus, OH. She received the Award for Excellence at the “Best of Ohio” in 2014.  She has participated in the Invitational Exhibition “from Woman” yearly at Lakeland Community College. Sandy has had two recent solo exhibitions: Solon Center for the Arts in 2018, and Ashtabula Arts Center in 2017. Sandy’s artwork was juried in to Focus: Fiber 2016 at Kent State University Museum, Kent, OH; and Transgressing Traditions: International Juried Exhibit by Surface Design Association at Schweinfurth Arts Center in Auburn, NY. She also had work exhibited in the prestigious Fiberarts International in Pittsburgh, PA in 2013. Sandy’s quilt received a Juror’s Award of Merit in Quilt National 2005 in Athens, OH.

Sandy teaches dyeing, shibori and surface design techniques on fabric. She is a member of Textile Art Alliance, Cleveland Museum of Art, Surface Design Association, Art Quilt Network and the Northeast Pennsylvania Artist Association.  She enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for the creative process.

Tony Williams, Instructor

Tony Williams is a Cleveland based artist who’s approach to works of art is like the Ashanti proverb. “You must you must act as if it’s impossible to fail.” Whether working in paper or a fabric quilt, or a pen and ink illustrations, his sense of design and line quality are always present in his work. A former student of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and a graduate of the Art of the Institute of Pittsburgh. Tony uses his life experience as a catalyst for his work. A self-taught Indigo artist, costume designer and Accessory designer in New York’s garment industry have molded and shaped his view and eye for design. Tony uses his willingness to experiment and try new techniques and methods to expresses Art. Tony’s work has been shown in numerous local and national juried exhibits, international exhibitions and publications have featured his work. Tony is currently working with Indigo on paper.