2021 Keynote Speakers

James H. Rolling Jr.

Friday 1 PM Super Session Keynote Speaker
James Haywood Rolling, Jr. is Dual Professor of Arts Education and Teaching & Leadership in the Syracuse University’s College of Visual & Performing Arts (VPA) and School of Education, and he has served as Chair of the university’s Arts Education programs since 2007. Rolling is also an affiliated faculty member in African American Studies. From 2018 to 2020, Rolling was appointed to serve as the inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for VPA. Dr. Rolling began his elected term of office as the 37th President of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) in March 2021. At the start of 2021, Dr. Rolling also added two other new roles to the gauntlet of creative leadership responsibilities he is honored to wear—as the new Co-Director of The Lender Center for Social Justice at Syracuse University, and as a new member of the Board of Trustees at the Everson Museum of Art.

Over the past two years, Dr. Rolling has championed the cause of achieving greater diversity throughout the visual arts fields as the inaugural Chair of the NAEA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Commission, overseeing the dedicated work of 11 commissioners from around the nation representing various arts and museum education related fields. Dr. Rolling’s initial service on the Board of Directors of NAEA was as the association’s Higher Education Division Director from 2011-2013. Rolling’s record of professional contributions is highlighted by his recognition as the 2014 recipient of the National Higher Education Art Educator Award for outstanding service and achievement of national significance; his work from 2015-2017 as Senior Editor of Art Education, a bi-monthly research journal for arts education practitioners; and his induction as part of the 2017 class of NAEA Distinguished Fellows in recognition of a career of exemplary accomplishment in research, scholarship, teaching, and leadership in the field.

In his earlier education, Rolling earned an MFA in studio arts research from the Experimental Studios department that once existed at Syracuse University, having earned a fully funded Graduate Fellowship in the Department of African American Studies. Rolling completed his doctoral studies in art education in 2003 under the mentorship of Drs. Graeme Sullivan and Judith Burton at Teachers College, Columbia University. As the coordinator for K-12 New York State art teacher education programs at Syracuse University, Rolling has actively worked to reconceptualize of the arts education discipline as a natural nexus of interdisciplinary scholarship where visual art, design, STEAM, and other media arts practices emerge as an avenue for social responsibility. As a visual artist, Rolling focuses on mixed-media explorations and portraiture of the human condition, viewing studio arts practices as an essential form of social research. As a researcher, Rolling is devoted to telling the story of how human beings creatively constitute, shape, and reinterpret personal and collective identity.

Rolling is the author of several books and more than 35 peer-reviewed articles and commentaries, fourteen book chapters, and five encyclopedia entries on the subjects of the arts, education, creativity, and human identity. In 2020, Rolling published Growing Up Ugly: Memoirs of a Black Boy Daydreaming (Simple Word Publications), an inspirational coming-of-age narrative tracing his emergence as a painfully shy child raised in a struggling inner-city New York neighborhood who learned to rewrite the trajectory of his life story through the development of his own creative superpowers.


No matter who or what first made you feel ugly, here is storytelling that elevates its readers beyond their own scars, social anxiety, or low self-esteem. This is a book for anyone who has ever been underestimated, bullied, abused, or simply overlooked. It's time to re-imagine your way from daydreams to destiny.


Growing Up Ugly


Darryl "DMC" McDaniels


Saturday 9 AM Super Session Keynote Speaker
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is co-founder of the legendary group RUN-DMC: selling over 40 million albums and changing music history. From the first rap group to grace the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine to the first to appear on MTV, Grammy nominated RUN-DMC changed music, culture, fashion, language and made American history. It would be hard to overstate his influence on popular culture.

In 2009 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2016 he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy given to “performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.”

He has co-authored 2 top selling autobiographies, King of Rock; Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with RUN-DMC (St. Martin’s Press) and Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide (Harper Collins). In 2014 DMC started his comic book company, Darryl Makes Comics, releasing graphic novels annually.

As co-founder of the nonprofit Felix Organization he has worked to enrich the lives of children in the foster care system. The award-winning nonprofit is celebrating their 15th Anniversary this year.

DMC has several new music projects releasing this year including standalone hip singles “Color Fool” and “You All Know,” an all-star rock royalty EP entitled America featuring songs with artists such as Joan Jett, Sammy Hagar, Sebastian Bach, Mick Mars, Travis Barker and more, and a new EP entitled Raw Cane Sugar with his hard rock band DMC and The Hellraisers.

He has worked with former First Lady Michelle Obama on part of her “Get Fit” Campaign, was a featured speaker at the 2016 Kennedy Forum #Young Minds Matter event on Mental Health and the featured speaker at the 2017 SXSW Music Festival, to name a few. He is an Advisory Board Member for Hip Hop Public Health, an organization whose mission “is to foster positive health behavior changes through the transformative power of hip-hop music.” Their recent focus has been on creating awareness of the importance of being vaccinated against COVID-19. (WATCH) https://hhph.org/communityimmunity.

Along with the Felix Organization and Hip-Hop Public Health, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Garden of Dreams Foundation, a non-profit charity that works closely with all areas of The Madison Square Garden Company, including the Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, MSG Entertainment and MSG Media, to make dreams come true for children facing obstacles.

Darryl Makes Comics


Nan Park


Saturday 1 PM Super Session Keynote Speaker
Nan Park is a teacher, artist, mother, wanderer, and collector. Over the past 13 years, with son Jonah, she has engaged in a meandering journey of discovery through his eyes, using art and nature as grounding forces for slowing down, noticing with intention, finding resilience, and contemplating new pathways forward. Together, they collect ephemeral moments and indelible memories. She continues to embed structures for encouraging students to embrace these mindful habits in their own artmaking and teaching practice.

In almost 30 years as an art educator, Nan has taught in a variety of K-12 art classroom settings, and since 2004, she has been faculty in the MA in Teaching program at MICA. From 2018-2020, she also served as Interim Director of the MA in Art Education (MAAE) program at MICA. In MAT, she teaches both undergraduate and graduate art education courses and mentors students in their practicum experiences. In MAAE, she mentored art educators as they conducted qualitative research in their classrooms.

Nan holds an MA in Art Education from the Maryland Institute College of Art, an MS in Art Education from Syracuse University, and a BA in Fine Arts from Haverford College in Pennsylvania. She is the recipient of the 2020 NAEA Eastern Region Higher Education Art Educator Award, the 2017 NAEA Art Educator of the Year Award for Maryland, and the 2014 MICA Trustee Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching. She regularly presents at state and national conferences and has been an active member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Art Education Association.

Nan’s research interests include contemplative practices in the higher education classroom, including contemplative artmaking practice as a means for art educators to cultivate mindfulness in their lives and explore their artist-teacher identities. Her studio practice revolves around capturing moments of everyday living, using ritual and contemplation as frameworks for making.

Nan is also the featured speaker and facilitator of the 2021 Thursday Pre-Conference session. CLICK HERE for Pre-Conference information.

Nan Park Artwork

Nan Park Artwork

Nan Park Artwork

I loved learning about Nan's rituals in nature and the ways she pushes herself to make time for art despite a busy work schedule and family life. I enjoyed hearing about the way she engages students to create art in nature. I thought the collaboration between students was fantastic!

NYSATA professional development participant, August 2021 



Nicolas Bruno

Sunday 9 AM Super Session Keynote Speaker
Nicolas Bruno studied at Purchase College of New York, where he received his BFA in Photography in 2015. His studio practice is based in Northport, New York, where he photographs and fabricates props for his compositions. Bruno weaves together his terrifying experiences of Sleep Paralysis with surreal self-portraiture in a therapeutic translation of night terror to image. His constructed worlds of uncertainty exist on a plane between waking and sleeping, where he is tormented by a physical embrace of the subconscious and its perils, all while being paralyzed in bed. Influences of 19th century Romanticists, historical texts, occultism and dream symbolism lace each composition with various visual dialogues of the macabre. Bruno is also the creator of "The Somnia Tarot," a 78 image series that tells the tale of the classic tarot through conceptual photography.

Bruno Malfermo


Bruno Reciso

Bruno Attesa

Bruno Self-Portrait


Bruno Inviato

Bruno Major Arcana

All images courtesy of Nicolas Bruno, ©Nicolas Bruno Photography,  https://www.nicolasbrunophotography.com/