Children's Instructors



Gail Ritzer received her B.S. in Art Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an M.F.A in Ceramics and Painting from East Carolina University.  She has been exhibiting her work nationally since 1980 at such locales in New York, The University of Missouri-St. Louis, Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Nebraska.  Her work has appeared in several publications including: FiberArts Design Book, Art/Quilt Magazine,exhibition catalogs.

Gail has been fortunate to receive a number of grants from the North Carolina Arts Council to pursue a variety of personal and community arts projects.  She has been teaching surface design techniques, mixed media methods, painting, and ceramics to students of all ages for many years at workshops, as Outreach Coordinator for the Greenville Museum of Art and as an instructor at the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge.



Allison is currently an ECU student pursuing a double Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics and Textiles. She specializes in wheel throwing and the manipulation of fabric through dyeing and embroidery. Despite discovering her love for the arts at a young age, she has been most influenced to pursue the arts from her teachers and grandmother, Amelia. She hopes to continue developing her voice as an artist and be an encouraging light for others. She hopes to not only influence others to make art, but to live it.

Liz Merritt


Liz Merritt was born in Southern Appalachia where she was heavily influenced by the prevalent arts-and-crafts culture that surrounded her childhood. She comes from a family of artists whose work spans numerous mediums, including painting, jewelry, and sculpture. Early on, she set her sights on a career in medicine, but decided to follow her passion to create, and her interest in visual art led her to the medium of ceramics. Her heavy appreciation for the colors and shapes of the natural world, and the inspiration taken from reknowned potters such as George Ohr and Jennifer Lee has culminated in her current style of pottery. Liz takes great joy in the process of creating the work, from turning the wet clay to the finished product, but ultimately she states that her art is “Meant to be used, cherished, chipped, and worn. To be a part of early mornings, family dinners, and childhood memories. My art belongs on a table, not in a china cabinet.”


Emily Benson

Emily Benson is an Art Education major with a concentration in painting and drawing at East Carolina University. She mainly works in acrylic and watercolor, but enjoys many other mediums of art as well. Emily has always loved art and enjoys teaching any age. Along with working at Emerge, she is employed at the Athletic Academic Tutoring Center, mentoring and tutoring student athletes at ECU, and volunteers at the Korean School, teaching and assisting the art classes. She is excited for the opportunities to come and to work with the kids at Emerge.



Sydney was born and raised in New Bern, NC and is a junior at ECU pursuing a major in Art Education. She mainly works with acrylic paints, carbothello pencils, and charcoal. She has been painting since she was very young and has always wanted to be an artist. In her free time she enjoys painting in different styles, running, and drinking lots of coffee.

Brett Beasly


Brett Beasley creates elegant wheel thrown and altered ceramic vessels uniquely designed to function and enrich a domestic setting. His one of a kind sculptural vessels are cloaked and enriched by experimental glazes and posses unusual textural surfaces. Brett’s work has been exhibited in various juried shows nationally. Born in San Diego, California he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Ceramics at the University of Florida graduating Magna Cum Laude. Brett was trained in production pottery and woodworking which influences his studio art and contemporary art practices.

Phillip Benz


Phillip is a cinematographer based out of Greenville, North Carolina specializing in all aspects of video production from directing, producing, editing, camera operating, and audio production. He is highly sought after for his skills in the cinematic arts and has completed work for several high profile clients including several smaller clients as well. Phillip not only tackles clientelle and promotional videos but he also has a special skillset for teaching. Weddings are a huge part of Phillip’s work. While keeping cinema fresh in your mind, Phillip also writes, directs, and films short narratives and documentaries. If you would like to learn more about Phillip and his work, visit his website for his business, Benz Productions.



Hello! My name is Haley Jackson. I am a senior East Carolina University. I am an art major with a double major in Ceramics and Art History. When I am not in the studio, I enjoy playing piano, cooking, traveling, and being outdoors. I have a love for nature and hope to incorporate that in the projects I complete with the children.

Andrew Wells


Originally from Wisconsin, Joanne Lang moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University and has lived in Greenville for over 20 Years. She studied and worked in the sciences and medicine until becoming a stay-at-home mom and started taking art classes in the community. She has always had a love of arts and crafts and in the course of time, it developed into a passion. For seven years, she shared that passion of art with elementary students. She experimented in ceramics, weaving, stained glass and mixed media but what really kindled her creative fire has been metalsmithing. For the last four years, she has attended numerous workshops in the USA and Italy.



My name is Lupita Nava and I graduated from East Carolina University this past spring semester. I graduated as a double major with a BFA in painting and drawing along with a BFA in art education with a concentration in metal design. I enjoy teaching children of all ages and I will be pursuing my passion even further as the new art teacher at Bethel K-8 school in Pitt county. I am super excited for Emerge's summer camps and the events coming my way!



Sarah Lazure is a photo-based artist currently living in Greenville, North Carolina and working towards her MFA in Photography at East Carolina University. As an artist who likes to get her hands dirty, Sarah uses a variety of processes to make her work. She uses everything – to include alternative photographic processes, printmaking, and mixed media. Her self-portraits are intricately layered images that are just as much about the process as the final image itself.



Dayon Royster is an artist from Goldsboro, NC by way of Richmond, VA. He received his BFA in Printmaking from East Carolina University. While at ECU he took his first printmaking class with no idea that it would become his passion. Printmaking captivates him because of the creative problem solving that is involved with the process. He also enjoys the versatility of the printmaking medium. It keeps him coming back, day after day to try his hand at pulling a successful print! Now that he has graduated from ECU he will be pursuing an MFA degree in Printmaking at the University of Iowa. Once he obtains his MFA in printmaking he would like to obtain a collegiate teaching position and one day open a community print shop. During his free time he enjoys drawing, attending exhibitions, creative writing, catching a movie, and watching boxing.


Brooke Van Onselder

Brooke Van Onselder was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, but spent most of her life in central North Carolina. She is currently studying ceramics at East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design and pursuing a minor in business administration in ECU’s College of Business, where she discovered her passion for the ceramic arts. Influenced by the music of her childhood, Brooke always knew she would be an artist. She comes from a family of artists including musicians and painters, whose work have instilled in her a divine appreciation for all fine arts and inspired her to share that passion with others.



Hi! I'm Nancy Pantoja. I teach art at Northwest Elementary School. I am from Wayne county, and moved to Grenville in order to obtain my Bachelor of Arts in art education from East Carolina University. I graduated from ECU in 2014 and I have been teaching art for the past two years. My favorite media is ceramics, especially working with the pottery wheel. My favorite part about my job is being able to do one of the things I love, art, while working and having fun with children. During my free time, I enjoy traveling with my husband both in and out of the country. I also love reading, and spending time with my dog Dixie and with my friends and family.

Andrew Wells


Cathy has lived in eastern North Carolina her entire life. She received her BFA in Painting and Drawing from East Carolina University in 2010. She works full time here at Emerge as the Programs & Finance Director, teaches at Vidant and the Hope Lodge, freelance balloon artist, and  instructor for private lessons and PCAC at Emerge’s Outreach Program, the Youth Public Arts Project.  Proficient in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, she specializes in mixed media and painting portraits.

Ronnie Harrison


Ronnie Harrison worked in the garment industry for 20 years as a designer and pattern maker. When economic changes sent his job south of the border and overseas, he returned to school and obtained his BA in Painting from ECU in 2002. He started his education career and is currently employed as an art educator at DH Conley High School in Greenville. He lives in Greenville, N.C. with his wife. He is an active painter and potter. He continues to develop his potter skills at Emerge Art Center and at Dan Finch’s Pottery Studio producing functional and nonfunctional pottery.

Andrew Wells


Megan is a graduate of East Carolina University with a BFA in Textiles.  She currently lives in Greenville, North Carolina. She teaches art classes for adults and children at the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge, facilitates grant funded art programs at Vidant Medical Center, and is the Operations and Programs Director at the Greenville Museum of Art. Megan is most inspired by nature and color. She hopes to continue growing as an artist while connecting with the local art community.