Meet our team!
The AHA! leadership team is comprised of educators, artists and health care workers, all passionate about showing the value of engaging in the arts for both individual and community health. Some folks have been with us since we began in 2013; others have just joined us recently. Either way, we have lots of expertise and enthusiasm on the team!
Like to join us? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, letting us know what makes you passionate about arts for health.
Liz Brennan: Chair
Liz is an enthusiastic champion of the arts in learning, healing, and improving societal wellbeing. A recently retired family physician after almost 40 years of practice, Liz recognizes both the need to think upstream about health and that arts engagement fosters better health. Through her work in community sustainability, Liz became a founding member of Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) in 2013. With this team, she has helped to develop and support many arts-based health programs, engaged in research and producing several films.
Denise Davies: IT support
Denise Davies is a writer, photographer and videographer. She moved back to Antigonish in 2010 after living and working internationally for 45 years as an educator, librarian and internet developer and consultant. She now works with non-profits and small business to develop internet strategies and implementation. Web projects include the Arts Health Antigonish website, Spellbound by Nature, and HARP Publications.
In 2021 she published “Out and About Antigonish” a travel book exploring Antigonish and destinations within a 2 hr drive.
Anne Marie MacKenzie: treasurer
Ann Fox: research coordinator
Noella Murphy (she/her) is a printmaker and painter, focusing on botanical work, and she holds a BFA from NSCAD. Trained in botanical drawing and painting, Noella has moved away from scientifically accurate botanical work and instead combines what she sees and perceives with what the piece demands.
Raised by artists, Noella’s mother focuses on realism and taught her to appreciate the beauty in one’s surroundings. Watching her mother fight for realism and her father making a documentary about it, Noella felt loyal to realism, but she also felt stuck: for years, she felt restricted by only producing what she saw in the world, and was dissatisfied with what her eye and hand created. Recently she has come to the conclusion that it doesn’t have to be one or the other; by playing with size, colours, moods, and mediums, she strives to find the balance between realism and conceptual art.
Noella started printmaking as a teenager, and started at NSCAD after highschool. From there, she moved and took theatre in Ireland, took an Art Therapy extended studies course which led her to study psychology at St.F.X.U. While there, Noella took a botanical drawing and painting course which she has since carried through into her own practice. Continuing her own practice, Noella has run workshops and classes for both children and adults for different organizations. After discovering the holistic principles of art, Noella helped found Arts Health Antigonish and was involved in many of their community projects. She has also designed posters for Festival Antigonish, taken on many commissions, and is the recent first-pace recipient of the Polish-Canadian Society of N.S. Heritage Art prize. Her visual art can currently be seen at Red Sky Gallery.
NANCY TURNIAWAN is a community artist interested in creating collaborative opportunities for young artists and adults to explore art making in public spaces. Her personal art ranges from using natural materials such as clay, wood, and pebbles, to photography of her surroundings. Her pebble mosaic bench, “Greeting Grandfather Sun” is located outside The People’s Place library in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
Nancy enjoys the challenge of artmaking with natural materials, and making art that is accessible to everyone. Facebook page, Nancy Turniawan Art has examples of her art.
My early working years were in horticulture, followed by 10 + years in healthcare. Halfway through my work in healthcare I discovered Horticulture Therapy and was excited to be able to work with plants and nature-based materials while utilizing what I’ve learned in healthcare. I work at the RK MacDonald Nursing Home as a Registered Horticulture Therapist where we have concentrated on both the outdoor garden spaces and interior green zones, helping the people living there maintain their connection to the natural world. I became involved in AHA! in 2013, coordinated the Arts Canopy Project from 2016 – 2020 and currently serve on the AHA! board of directors.
Much of my childhood was spent drawing, painting and orchestrating backyard theatre productions with my sister and kids in our neighbourhood. I still dabble in art making when I can. I gravitate towards mid-century inspired mixed media, as well working with pastels, watercolours and acrylics. Lately, the focus of my artwork is on the natural world.
I have been on the AHA! board since 2019. Some of the hats I have worn for AHA! include Artist in Residence at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, art facilitator for Arts Canopy and project coordinator for Musical Pathways, Art Larks! and Art Larks Encore!. Other past artistic endeavors include local summer festival and community theatre set designer, Theatre Antigonish board member, the Creative Director at The Arts House and the Arts Coordinator for Antigonish Culture Alive. I have been the Visual Arts in Education instructor for St. FX since 2013. In 2015, I received a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Visual Arts/Inquiry-Based Learning from St. FX University, and in 2019, I graduated from The University of Victoria with a Fine Arts Professional Specialization Certificate in Collections Management.
Laura Teasdale is a trained professional actor, musician, playwright and teacher. She teaches comedy improv, play writing, song creation and drama workshops. Laura loves creating theatre events based on local history with a focus on intergenerational art and laughter therapy.