FirstWorks Artist Educators

Each year, our organization seeks out talented, Rhode Island based artists with experience working with youth who are interested in collaborating with teachers and students in public schools around the state. For our residency programs, FirstWorks Artist Educators collaborate with teachers to develop plans that highlight creative skill sharing, center student expression, and meet curricular goals. The best part about our residency programs emerge from the strong relationships Artist Educators form with groups of students through reoccurring visits to their classrooms over several months.

Meet our 2024 Artist Educators

Whitney Sanchez

Whitney Sanchez

Residency at Central Falls High School

Based in Pawtucket, RI, Whitney Sanchez (she/her) is a soulful force in the world of music. Her vocal odyssey began at the age of eleven, a passion that has been her steadfast companion ever since.

As an artist, Whitney’s voice is a conduit for emotion; a vessel that carries the essence of her introspective songwriting. Her compositions delve into the human experience, weaving tales of love, resilience, and self-discovery. Rooted in diverse musical traditions, her style transcends genres, creating a unique and captivating sound that resonates with audiences worldwide.

Anticipation builds as Whitney prepares to release her debut single this year, offering a taste of the enchanting world she creates. Simultaneously, she is crafting an EP set to be released in 2025, promising a soul-stirring experience that transcends musical boundaries.

Beyond the stage and recording studio, Whitney channels her passion for music into holistic vocal coaching. With a nurturing approach, she guides aspiring vocalists on a journey of self-discovery, emphasizing the connection of mind, body, and voice. Her teaching philosophy goes beyond technical proficiency, focusing on the healing and transformative aspects of singing.

Taking her holistic approach a step further, Whitney is deeply engaged in yoga philosophy and will be undertaking a yoga teacher training at Gayatri Yoga in February 2024. By weaving the benefits of yoga into a vocal practice, she believes the union of breathwork, postures, and mindfulness from yoga creates a foundation for anyone to cultivate a strong and loving connection with their voice.

Eli Nixon

Eli Nixon

Residency at William D'Abate Elementary School (Providence)

Eli Nixon (they/them) builds portals and gives guided tours to places that don’t yet exist, or exist but call for creative intervention. They are a settler-descended transqueer clown, a cardboard constructionist, and a maker of plays, puppets, pageants, parades, suitcase theaters & low-tech public spectaculah. Eli collaborates with artists, activists, schools, mental health and recovery centers, libraries and the more-than-human world to expand imaginative capacity and build muscles for collective liberation. They are an enthusiast and practitioner of naturedrag, amateur flag dancing, and DIY festoonery. Eli is proposing a new holiday in homage to horseshoe crabs. Their illustrated manual for celebrating the holiday, “BLOODTIDE,” is available through The 3rd Thing Press and at local libraries and bookstores. Relatedly, everyone is invited to bask in 450 million years of flora and fauna, built from recyclables, by Eli and over 200 modern humans, currently installed in the stairwell of the Providence Public Library downtown. Eli is a Rhode Islander living on Narragansett land.

Oliver Arias

Oliver Arias

Residency at Narragansett High School

Oliver Arias (he/him) is a Dominican-American filmmaker from Providence, RI. He aims to use the power of film to highlight the lives of artists, activists, community members/organizers, and social/political movements. He prides himself in being able to film amazing storytellers that brings life to the screen as he helps facilitate that process by creating a vulnerable and safe space that allows for the best stories to be told.

Previous FirstWorks Artist Educators

2022-2023 School Year

  • Steven “Sen” ChoummalaithongResidency at Gilbert Stuart Middle School (Providence)
  • Aisha JandosovaResidency at Charles E. Shea High School (Pawtucket)
  • Savonarra SokResidency at Central Falls High School
  • Jeffrey Yoo WarrenResidency at Charles E. Shea High School (Pawtucket)
Are you interested in becoming an Artist Educator with FirstWorks or, in having an Artist Educator work with your students for the 2024-25 school year? Contact our Education Director Sam Zimmer