+ our Staff
Rebecca Pristoop is a curator, performance artist, and collaborator committed to working with art through the lens of social justice. Her background in education along with a record of curating exhibitions that prioritize marginalized stories has influenced her desire to bring a new vision of participatory art making and community responsive curating to Art Connects. Pristoop joined Art Connects as Director of Programs in 2016 and is thrilled to inaugurate the role of Artistic Director. She has found the field of community organizing newly relevant to her work and is heartened to learn best practices from friends and colleagues that have been shaping the field for decades.
Pristoop has contributed to and curated exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, The Jewish Museum, The Tang Teaching Museum, Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs, The Jewish Theological Seminary, York College CUNY, Queens Central Library, Ronald Feldman Gallery, and others. In 2010 she co-founded the art and food salon flatbreadaffair, where she curated site-specific installations, dinners, and panels. Pristoop is the recipient of a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and a research award from the Hadassah Brandeis Institute. She received a MA in art history from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and a BA in Art History and Dance from Skidmore College.
Alexandra Wagle joined the development team in January 2018, and is excited to step into the role of Executive Director as Art Connects moves into its next phase. She has a background in art advisory, programming and special events - with a particular focus on engaging young collectors and donors. Growing up between India and the United States, providing support to nonprofits in both countries has remained a consistent life passion. Her love of the arts and desire to provide access and opportunity to those in need have found the perfect match in her role at Art Connects.
Wagle is the co-founder of The Committee (2012), a Creative Programming Agency that provided services for emerging collectors and unrepresented artists, produced salon-style gatherings, exhibitions and arts programming in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. She also served as Special Events & Projects Manager for AKArt Advisory in Brooklyn prior to transitioning into the nonprofit sector. Wagle graduated from the New School University with a BA in Art History and Sociology.
our interns + volunteers
PR + Marketing Intern
Dominic Mendez is a writer, media specialist, and stage manager dedicated to utilizing methods of community outreach to empower marginalized groups seeking to participate in the arts. He believes that accessibility to the arts is vital to creating a diverse environment and dialogue. Because of that, he has dedicated himself to seeking out both emerging and veteran artists in order to illuminate the platform Art Connects can provide. He is eager to bring new ideas to the table and honored to work alongside the many talented and dedicated people who work with Art Connects.
While studying for his bachelor degrees, Mendez spent two years as a teaching assistant, where he developed his interest in education and the arts. He also worked alongside aspiring artists on theatrical works focused on the themes of social justice, race and ethnic relations, and LGBT+ representation. Mendez graduated from Purchase College, SUNY with a double BA in Playwriting and Screenwriting; and Theatre and Performance. Mendez is the recipient of the Jay Novick Award for Outstanding Theatre and Performance Student (2018).
Laila Stevens is a photographer, writer, and active participant in her community who uses art as a tool to amplify underrepresented voices and create social equity. Enriched by her fellow residents in Jamaica, Queens, she finds importance in public engagement and is dedicated to supporting nonprofits. Stevens joined Art Connects as a documentary volunteer, and is delighted to contribute her creative practice. She has an educational background in Journalism and Media Studies at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, with a particular focus on publication and video production. Her continued belief in the power of artistic creation aligns with the values of Art Connects.
In 2016, Stevens began working with local women empowerment programs including Sadie Nash Leadership Project and Girls Write Now. She has also completed curating programs with the New Museum, Bronx Museum of Arts, and Museum Of The City of New York. Stevens is the recipient of the honorable mention award from the National YoungArts Foundation and has featured work in the Sonder Exhibit, and Teen Art Gallery.
Volunteer - Documentary