Acknowledgment of Place

ARTogether is based in the Bay Area, the occupied, ancestral lands of the Ohlone people, who have stewarded and honored this land throughout generations and are still here.  We acknowledge the ongoing legacies of violence against indigenous communities and people of color in this country that provide a context for our work.

About ARTogether

Our Mission

ARTogether’s mission is to provide art programs that foster compassionate communities where refugees and immigrants can flourish.

Our Vision

We envision a world where there are no barriers—or borders—to art and creative expression, where everyone is welcomed and their stories have impact.

Art plays a special role in the refugee community. For refugees and immigrants moving to the United States, the journey has just begun. ARTogether offers programs that reach out to refugees and immigrants, providing welcoming, creative spaces for local refugees and immigrants to connect with their community. Our goal is to build communities and promote long-term prosperity for refugees and immigrants, even after assistance from initial government and NGO resettlement programs has ceased. For these programs, art is our social glue, its universality binding us all together. It invites conversation, laughter, storytelling and a sense of belonging. At the community level, it has a unique ability to bring people together, to draw together people from different backgrounds and forge connections through creativity and self-expression. Finally, art transcends the spoken word, allowing people to communicate and express themselves without the burden of language barriers.

What We Offer

ARTogether’s programs are designed to:

  • Harness the power of creative expression and promote mental health and overall well-being among refugees and immigrants by offering a range of therapeutic art experiences and workshops to build resilience and foster community connections.
  • Support the professional development and growth of first and second generation refugee and immigrant artists by offering mentorship, networking opportunities, career resources, and funding, empowering them to thrive in their artistic careers and contribute to the broader creative community.
  • Provide innovative art education and engagement experiences, integrating creative learning into the academic environment for refugee and immigrant students, empowering them to express themselves and enhancing their cultural understanding.
  • Engage and uplift the community by creating inclusive and accessible art experiences in public spaces, showcasing the talents and stories of refugee and immigrant artists, and fostering a sense of belonging and cultural appreciation.

ARTogether Team

Miles Markstein
Development Director
Polina Marso
Arts and Wellness Program Manager
Michelle Lin
Artist Growth Program Director
Sarah Dawson McClean
Photographer / Marketing and Communications Manager
Goli Hashemi
Arts and Wellness Program Director
Sabina Kariat
Public Arts Program Manager
Nick Kanozik
Arts in Schools Program Director

Board of Directors

Celeste Tretto
Board Member
Kellianne Craig
Board Secretary
Jennifer Brown
Board Treasurer
Goli Hashemi
Board Member
Tal Ariel
Board Member
Anita Fong
Board Chair

Our Community Partners

To better serve our community and reach out to new refugee and immigrant communities, we partner with a number of organizations that already offer a spectrum of vital services to these communities. Below are some of our strongest partners, both past and present.

More About ARTogether

For more in-depth information about ARTogether and its programs, please see our annual reports and our monthly newsletter below.

Leva Zand is a dedicated advocate with over 17 years of experience in the field of refugees, human rights, and social justice. Her educational background includes a BA in Sociology and a MA in Feminist and Religious Studies. She studied law in her home country of Iran. Leva’s nonprofit career started in 2005 in Sacramento serving refugees from SouthEast Asia. Later she managed a team of reporters for The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), directed a publication for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), led a gender awareness program for the Eurasia Foundation and before founding ARTogether in 2017, she directed an online school for the Nonviolence Initiative for Democracy (NID). She is currently a board member of Oakland Art Murmur and a regular advisor to cultural organizations.

Miles is a long-time web designer who has spent most of the last decade living in Oakland, Cairo and New Orleans. He has a BA in Religious Studies and Music from UC Santa Barbara, and recently moved back to Oakland where he works on ARTogether’s new art programs. Miles believes deeply in making art accessible to every community, and is looking forward to ARTogether’s new music programs.

Polina Marso is a visual artist, female rights advocate, and a champion for refugee and immigrants’ rights. Born in Moscow, Russia, she immigrated to the United States where she earned her BFA in illustration from the California College of the Arts. She has worked with ARTogether since 2020 as an Art Teacher, Graphic Designer and Program Manager. Polina uses art as an indispensable tool for enhancing mental well-being and promoting positive change. As a Program Manager for a Community Arts and Wellness program, Polina brings her artistic prowess and her innate desire to help people into full synergy. She champions the cause of inclusivity, empowerment, and the transformative power of art with programs such as ARTogether Summer Art Camp and Creative Youth Program. Outside of ARTogether Polina writes and illustrates for an online feminist publication based in Russia.

Michelle Lin is an artist and cultural worker passionate about building loving spaces for LGBTQ+ artists and artists of color. Michelle was a 2021-23 Emerging Arts Professionals Fellow advocating for EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) and wellness support for arts professionals of color, a 2022 In Surreal Life Fellow encouraging community for contemporary poets, and a Northern California Co-Chair for Kundiman. Michelle is the author of “A House Made of Water” (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017) and co-hosts “We Won’t Move: A Living Archive,” a Kearny Street Workshop podcast about Asian Pacific American arts and activism. They received their MFA from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 and has since then coordinated numerous art programs and festivals for Bay Area artists of color.
Sarah Dawson McClean has specialized in fine art portraiture and photojournalism for nearly 20 years. She sees photography as a way to celebrate people’s journeys and tell their stories and has done so through worldwide travels. She has worked with nonprofit organizations like the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Vision Project, and taught photography to youth in Kolkata, India under the project Focus of a Child. Sarah graduated from UC Berkeley in 2023, where she researched how art can be a social support system for immigrant and refugee communities. Sarah is a California native, currently residing in Oakland with her husband Chris and their two dogs, Edith and Judy.
Goli Hashemi is an occupational therapist (OT) and a public health advocate, who believes in the act of doing and participation in activities that support health and wellbeing including the arts. She has worked with people of all abilities in Canada, US, Cameroon and Cambodia as an OT practitioner and as a researcher in Canada, Malawi, Vietnam, Cameroon and Guatemala. In addition to her role at ARTogether, Goli is a faculty member at the Department of Occupational Therapy at Samuel Merritt University and working on her PhD in Public Health. She started volunteering with various refugee agencies in the Bay Area after the Syrian refugee crisis and joined the board of ARTogether in Spring of 2020.

Sabina Shanti Kariat is an Indian-American animator, artist, and filmmaker based in San Francisco. She has created animations for documentary films about the 1960’s American civil rights movement, the history of Japanese-American incarceration camps in California, the impact of the criminal justice system on refugees, and loss of native languages among immigrants. She is also a story artist on short animated films that bring BIPOC characters into surreal worlds. Sabina has been a teaching artist throughout San Francisco, and has led co-creation workshops in the Bay, in rural Jharkhand India, and in Istanbul and Reyhanli, Turkey. She is a nerd about traditional shadow puppets, reads poems about horses, and is interested in the relationship between diaspora and memory.

Nick Kanozik is a multi-instrumentalist, visual artist, conductor, and composer. He directs ARTogether’s “Arts in Schools” program. Born in Munich, Germany, Nick has conducted Gustavo Dudamel’s Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, he has collaborated with Grammy award-winning composer Mason Bates for works premiered on his own re-invented light organ. In addition to his work at ARTogether, he is the “50 for the Future” Education Coordinator for the Kronos String Quartet. Previously Nick Chaired the Music Department at Oakland School for the Arts. Nick is an active member of the Board of Directors for both the California Symphony and the Purple Silk Education Foundation.

Celeste Tretto is an economist and a data scientist with a passion for women’s empowerment. She has a MS in Finance from the University of Lugano in Switzerland and a MS in Mathematics and Applied Statistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. After moving to the Bay Area she became involved in working with grassroots organizations focused on services that foster healthy and inclusive communities. Before ARTogether, she volunteered for organizations that offer business education programs for low income women. Celeste is currently the Chair of ARTogether’s Board of Directors. 

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