Staff & 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, art installation, curation, community engagement creation, family and public art classes and tours, event and rental management, as well as collection and archives management. She has her BFA from McMaster University. 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.  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 worker based in Hamilton and Toronto.  Visit


Mary Porter [Board 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:

Heather Kanabe [Treasurer, Chair of 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

Karen Schulman Dupuis [Director, Chair of Communications Committee, Fundraising Committee]

Named one of BetaKit’s 40 Women in Canadian Tech Worth Following, Karen Schulman Dupuis (better known as KarenSD) is routinely called a ‘force of nature’. She is a speaker, writer, mentor, teacher, college instructor, and a passionate advocate for changing the perception, and ratio of diversity and inclusion for technology companies and startups in Canada.

Professionally, Karen is a Business Designer who works with clients and organizations to help them integrate their marketing, operations and strategy goals. She is an intrapreneur, and an award-winning communicator who has worked in technology since the early 1990s, and with startups and entrepreneurs for almost 20 years. She has a specialty in digital and social media, and brings extensive experience in sales, business development, marketing and communications, product design and management, education, operations, process design, business analysis, and project management. Karen has held roles with startups and large enterprises from Director to COO. She is currently a mentor at TechStars in Toronto, and studying towards her Masters in Leadership at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC.

Mark Prier [Director, Co-Chair 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, Co-Chair 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, Chair of Programming Committee]
[Photo and Bio to come]

David Perrett [Director]
[Photo and Bio to come]

Sally McKay [Director, Chair of New 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

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