Through respect, close observation, and expertise with materials and methods, our Teaching Artists assist ASI artists in discovering and pursuing their own personal forms of expression.

Dan Carey acrylic painting on canvas, 24×30.

Veronica Federiconi, CEO, Autism Services

Dana Ranke, Director of Arts

Dana started working for Autism Services as a volunteer for Arts Enrichment in 2006. After several years as a Teaching Artist and other roles at ASI , she began assisting Veronica with arts programming and outreach, and became director in 2013.

Dana received her MFA in Painting with a Minor in Textiles from Rochester Institute of Technology, and her BFA in Painting from SUNY Buffalo. Dana’s professional background includes museum and gallery positions in New York and Southern Ontario, and painting commissions, especially portraiture. Her work has been exhibited at the Varley Art Gallery of Markham, Everson Museum of Art, Erie Art Museum, Memorial Art Gallery, Arnot Art Gallery, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Todd Lesmeister, Teaching Artist, Hertel Studio

Todd has been a Teaching Artist with Autism Services since the art program began in 2002 and he has curated over 100 exhibits of our artists’ work throughout Western New York.

After study abroad at University of Manchester, United Kingdom, Todd changed his focus from literature to art and received an MA in Studio Arts from New York University in 2000. The focus of his personal work changed to representational pencil drawing in 2014, after many years of abstract painting. His artwork has been exhibited at Hi Temp Exhibit Space and Revolution Gallery. Todd’s musical background includes writing and recording a full-length album of original music titled, “Here Come the Comets,” which won best album of the year by Buffalo Spree. He has performed live at Hallwalls, the Burchfield Penny Art Center, Music is Art, and he has composed original sound designs for a number of Torn Space Theater productions.

Amanda Heywood-Hoover, Teaching Artist, South Long Studio

Amanda is a Buffalo State College graduate. Art is her passion, and her specific interest in arts access for everyone led to her role as Teaching Artist at Autism Services. Amanda’s educational background includes experience in ceramics, design, fibers, figure drawing, and art history.

In Amanda’s personal artwork she uses mainly graphite pencil and paint media. She is inspired to create memorial portraits and body positive portraits of women, specifically mothers, informed by her study of figure drawing and art history. Amanda also accepts many portrait commissions. She has exhibited her work in solo shows for a number of First Friday venues, and has participated in Buffalo’s Infringement Festival.

Elizabeth Switzer, Art Teacher for Education

Elizabeth Switzer is an artist, educator and independent curator originally from Sodus, NY. She received her MFA from the University at Buffalo, certification in Art Education from Buffalo State College, and is a graduate of the New York Foundation for the Arts MARK program.

Beginning her career working in photography and painting, she now embraces drawing and fiber work, which includes methods traditionally considered to be craft: embroidery, hand and machine sewing, knitting, and bookbinding. Her work has been exhibited at The Burchfield Penney Art Center, Studio Hart, Indigo Art Gallery, Olean Public Library, Community Arts Partnership Ithaca, The Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center Auburn NY, and Charles Bank Gallery in NYC, among others.

Allison Swatsworth, Arts Enrichment Facilitator

Allison Swatsworth attended Buffalo State College and holds an Undergraduate Certification for Exceptional Education and a Master’s Degree in Multi-disciplinary Studies and Earth Science.

Allison’s art practice draws on her experience with a wide range of methods and materials. Since childhood she has made jewelry, sculpted with clay, sewed to create fiber arts, and looked to experiment with many different media, taking classes and workshops throughout. Her background in Earth Science led into a hobby of rock hunting and studying gems and minerals. She uses this knowledge to create handmade jewelry pieces with natural and cut stones. Allison’s work has been sold at local artisan markets including the Horsefeathers Market at Perks, the Jack Craft Fair, and the Step Out Buffalo artisan market.

Maureen Callanan, Movement and Yoga

Maureen’s background includes ten years of dance training in Tap and Ballet, Voice training, as well as Choir, and Choreography. She studied with Carol Lee Mackay in Accelerated Healing/Intuitive Movement, and Reike, and she is a trained Facilitator for Dance on the Wild Side and Autism Movement Therapy. Maureen has been yoga practitioner for 15 years and completed Rainbow Kids and Kidding Around yoga teacher training.