Staff and Board



Jessica Vellenga [Executive Director]

Jessica Vellenga is an artist, curator and cultural worker, with over 15 years of experience in commercial and non-profit galleries and artist run centres.  She possesses a diverse record in arts administration, financial management, development, art installation, curation, community engagement creation, event and rental management, as well as collection and archives management. She is responsible for the successful leadership, development and management of the Hamilton Artists Inc. according to the strategic direction set in partnership with the Board of Directors. She has her BFA from McMaster University.  Her artistic practice is grounded in community collaboration. Performing and facilitating community collaborative textile arts, mending, embroidery, knitting, crochet, yarn bombing, and other interactive textile workshops. She has exhibited her artwork and clothing design in Canada (Calgary, Dawson, Hamilton, Inuvik, Pointe Claire, Montreal,Ottawa, Toronto, Whitehorse), the United States (Brockton, MA) and the United Kingdom (Leeds).  Visit:

Abedar Kamgari [Programming Director]

Abedar Kamgari is an artist, independent curator, and arts administrator based in Hamilton and Toronto. Her research is rooted in exploring displacement and diaspora in relation to the ongoing legacy of colonialism in the West. She often works site-responsively with video and performance, using embodied and relational methodologies to unpack the complexities of immigrant experience. Visit:





Sonali Menezes [Communications & Outreach Coordinator]

Sonali is an artist, jewelry maker and zinester currently based in Hamilton, ON. Her work reflects her resistance to the histories of colonialism and racialization within which she is interwoven and always considers gender, and capitalism.  Visit:

Julia Prudhomme [Gallery Assistant]

Julia Prudhomme is a curator and artist living and working in Hamilton, ON. Julia researches, writes about, and curates exhibitions focusing on artistic process, extra-institutional forms and feminist critical theories, in addition to having completed a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at UBC. Her artistic practice is often collaborative, working in video and installation, zines and mixtapes, and has presented this work across Canada, United States and Europe. Julia has contributed to small town art galleries and artist-run centres in numerous capacities for over ten years and will continue this work as a PhD candidate at McMaster University.

Sarah Sproule [Gallery Assistant]

Sarah Sproule is an artist and arts worker based in Hamilton. Sarah is a sculptor, mould maker, and functional ceramicist. She received her BFA from McMaster University. Visit:


Mary Porter [Co-Chair]

Mary Porter is an artist and arts educator preoccupied with looking at the built environment and landscape as a way to glean some sense of the culture that created it. Her work is rooted in painting and drawing, but in recent years has expanded to include more digital animation. Her projects have been exhibited and screened across Canada and the United States, and have been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. She holds a BFA from NSCAD, an MFA from York University, and a BEd from the University of Toronto. Having a strong interest in contemporary arts education, she has worked as an instructor at OCAD University, Sheridan College, and McMaster University, as well as in a variety of community arts settings.  Visit:

Sally McKay [Co-Chair, New Committee]

Sally McKay is an artist, art writer and art educator with a background in interdisciplinary practice.

Heather Kanabe [Treasurer, Development & Fundraising Committee]

Heather Kanabe is an arts manager with over 15 years of experience working with cultural and corporate partners. Heather is the new General Manager for Hamilton Fringe Festival and serves as treasurer on the Hamilton Artists Inc. Board of Director. She was the Festival Director of The Word On The Street Toronto, Canada’s largest book and magazine festival, for over four years. She was a Project Manager with SALT & PEPPER Events in Dubai, producing large-scale marketing activations for clients including Lexus, Ford, and Nokia. Prior to her MBA, she was the Programming and Business Affairs Manager at Women in Film and Television – Toronto (WIFT-T) where she developed an annual program schedule of over 600 hours of professional development training. Heather is a graduate of the University of Toronto Honours BA, Specialist Designation in Arts Management, Major in Art History and an MBA from the HULT International Business School in Dubai.

Alex Hartstone [Director, Secretary]
[Photo to come]

Alex Hartstone is an emerging cultural administrator, curator, and community engagement coordinator at the Art Gallery of Guelph. Her academic background is in studio art and museum studies, where she received her BA at the University of Guelph and her post-graduate diploma at Georgian College. Alex has worked in various galleries and museums including The Powerplant Contemporary Art Gallery and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Currently, Alex is pursuing her MA at the University of Guelph in art history and visual culture with a focus on social practice and the politics of Latin American artists. Her recent curatorial project as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Ateliers Studios: Creative Spaces, was presented at the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in Toronto. When not busy with work or school, Alex spends her time translating short fictional stories from Spanish to English for an emerging novelist.

Kelly Drennan [Director, Communications & Special Events Committee]

Kelly Drennan is a graphic designer and emerging visual artist, who has curatorial and sales experience in commercial galleries. She received a BA (Hons) in Studio Art from the University of Toronto Scarborough and a Diploma in Graphic Design from George Brown College. She is a past member of the James North Art Collective, and has exhibited her work in and around Hamilton and Toronto. Kelly works and resides in Hamilton, Ontario. Visit

Mark Prier [Director, Special Events & Merchandising]

Mark Prier’s multimedia art examines the interaction between culture and ecology. Working from diverse sources, such as botany, folklore, geology, and history, he rearticulates this examination into various media, including installation, new media, performance, sound, and video.  His exhibitions include shows in Canada, Mexico, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  Visit

Kaylyn Roloson [Director, Special Events & Merchandising]

Kaylyn Roloson is an emerging visual artist and metal fabricator apprentice in Hamilton. Her work explores her physical and emotional reaction to the environment she is surrounded by and is mainly composed of cut and welded metal. She received her BA in Studio Art and Art History at McMaster University and a diploma in Welding and Fabrication from Mohawk College. Visit:

Boyana Videkanic [Director, Programming Committee]
[Photo and Bio to come]

David Perrett [Director, Facilities Committee]
[Photo and Bio to come]


We welcome interest in getting involved with the Inc.  The Hamilton Artists Inc. is seeking engaged, committed and enthusiastic volunteers to submit applications to the Board of Directors. The Board consists of members who possess a variety of skills, knowledge, perspectives and talents. The Board wishes to reflect the diverse community of Hamilton and be a welcoming, inclusive environment and encourages applications from individuals from diverse backgrounds.  Please see the full description here.  You can download the application in PDF here and email it back to us.

We are always interested in hearing from you and encourage our members to join the Board.  For more information email


Committees comprise of at least one board member and members of the public

Executive Committee
Executive is responsible for taking the recommendations of the personnel committee involving the hiring and appointment of staff, their training, promotion.  The Executive Committee consists of the Chair (or Co-Chairs), Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary.

Programming Committee is responsible for facilitating and supporting schedule in the James Gallery & Resource Centre, and develop an auxiliary program of events to complement and respond to the Cannon Gallery schedule of exhibitions.

The New Committee
The New Committee is an Inc. initiative that operates through the lens of decolonization and inter-sectionality, to advocate for equity and inclusivity within our creative communities. Their task is to question and challenge the current institutional structures and hierarchies while proposing and envisioning alternative possibilities. They will work actively to increase the representation of marginalized groups in the arts through community engagement, greater exhibition and performance opportunities, and mentorship. The New Committee consists of artists, curators, and educators living and working in Hamilton.

The Development Committee is responsible for development and sponsorship and, creating the annual giving campaign, identifying and facilitating further development of a brand or visual identity for the Hamilton Artists Inc.

Special Events & Fundraising
Special Events & Fundraising Committee plans and facilitate special event initiatives for the Inc. membership and community at large. They also develop fundraising initiatives, which will allow the Inc. to realize operational, project and other building capital projects.

Communications & Membership Outreach
In conjunction with staff, the committee’s role is to communicate with Inc. members, other organizations and the community at large, about the programs and initiatives being undertaken at the Inc.  The Communication and Membership Outreach Committee is responsible for membership and volunteer recruitment, managing and updating the website, and facilitating the design and implementation of information packages and communications tools for the Inc.

Facilities Committee is  responsible for overseeing to the well-being of the physical space. Staff and committee monitor, identify and facilitate repairs and general up-keep and maintenance of the building and grounds.

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