Executive Director, Boston

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Vanessa, better known as Nessie Ruiz, received a BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, including global and liberal arts studies through Semester at Sea, and a MFA in Visual Arts from the University of Chicago. Nessie's photographic work revolves around social issues affecting marginalized populations, both locally and abroad. Since 2010 she has been an adjunct faculty member at several colleges including Montserrat College of Art and Community College of Rhode Island, where she teaches photography and visual arts courses. She has also taught continuing education classes at RISD and the University of Miami.

 Nessie is uniquely suited to lead Artistic Noise because of her own background. She herself grew up in a low-income Latin family with a history of incarceration. As a teen she created a leadership project for girls in her community, and successfully secured a grant to fund it. Since then, she has been passionately involved with youth-focused non-profits in the US, Sri Lanka, and South Africa where she has helped to create and implement positive youth development programs for young children and teens. She believes wholeheartedly that art has the power to transform lives. She has two ongoing missions in life: to bring art to underprivileged youth, and to meet Dolly Parton (now for the fourth time). If you ever have the chance, ask her to explain how the two missions are related.  www.vanessaruiz.com