Faculty Bios

 
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Amy Arena - Youth Acting Instructor

amy@laityarts.org
 

The talented and dedicated, Amy Arena, taught private voice lessons beginning in 2001 and followed as a school theater teacher in 2006.  Currently, Amy holds a parent-coaching certificate and is a licensed substitute, but her professionalism in musical theater boasts of many credits.  Having done it all from writing (and selling) several indie screenplays, to stage managing in professional theater. She began on stage both singing and dancing at four-years-old and studied through college. 

Most notably, Ms. Arena performed in one of the longest-running Off-Broadway productions called The Donkey Show, a disco-themed musical tale of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and the highly-acclaimed Tony and Tina’s Wedding.  She successfully produced her own album, Liquid Reality, and its supporting music videos.  She has had a long career in voiceover with recordings still heard at the Miami Zoo. Further, she has studied with UCB, Planet Ant, and performed with two professional improv groups.

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Ben I. Goins - Acrylics: Painting on Canvas

ben@laityarts.org

Ben has been around art for most of his life. From the beginning, he’s felt that art is a part of life, a way of seeing, living, and exploring one's environment. Art is like the wind and the ripples of water, the beams in the light. From a very young age, he enjoyed painting and drawing, dancing, and entertaining. His passion for art, however, stems from his love of the unknown, and his drive to explore it. Art is his way of exploring his own mind and studying his understanding of it.

Ben is a prodigy and has been painting for 10 years.

His studies have been molded by the outstanding teachers which have influenced his work and he is a direct result of the art teachers here at Laity. He is currently enrolled at Antelope Valley College where he is continuing his studies and adding to his skill sets. It is his desire to teach in the manner that he has been taught by helping each student explore their own creativity by studying some of the masters as well as encouraging students to follow their own imagination.

Ben’s styles included drawing, sketching, and a passion for oils. He’s done several kinds of oil-based works and acrylic-based paintings and is always in pursuit of increasing his skill and knowledge of his tools. Ben has always enjoyed teaching others and values the importance of art in young lives.

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Sara Williams - Sketching, Painting, Pastels & Watercolors

sara@laityarts.org

Sara is a unique individual and artist. She has always been a creative person, even as a young person she found ways to be creative and imaginative. This has led her into teaching her skills to others on several different levels throughout the years. Currently, she is sharing her remarkable art skills with Laity Arts!

To give you an idea of her level of craft-making Sara is versed in soapmaking, candlemaking, Ebru, Crochet Silk painting, Scrapbooking/papercraft, and costume design. In addition to these, she comes with foundational skills such as drawing, painting, and jewelry making. She is a welcome addition to the outstanding staff we have at Laity and provides a wealth of knowledge and experience we value. 

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David Reyes - Media Arts & Animation

davidreyes@laityarts.org

 

From a young age, David has always been intrigued by art and animation. As a kid when asked to write a single journal entry in his journal he would write pages on end accompanied by illustrations depicting the stories he would write.

 

As he got older he pursued his passion by attending the Art Institute In San Diego and studying media arts and animation. While in school he was able to quickly learn the programs and soon found himself tutoring students in the 3d software Maya, and 3d studio max. He was also fortunate to work in Sea World as a caricature artist where he gained more insight and learned from many talented artists and also learned how to draw under pressure in a live public setting.  

 

After school, he gained more experience Freelancing as a 3d artist, and drawing caricatures at company events, b-days, and other theme parks such as Universal Studios and Six Flags Magic Mountain. David has also traveled all over the United States drawing caricatures at comic conventions. Although recently he is excited to be teaching at the Laity Institute of the Arts. 

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Mandy Hong - Piano Theory

mandy@laityarts.org

 

Mandy Hong is a Contemporary Pop/Jazz singer and keyboard player. She spent her childhood in Beijing China and started to play classical piano at the age of 4. At the age of 18, she started to play Jazz piano at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music with some of the best-known Jazz educators in New York City. She collaborated alongside designers and artists and has composed music for fashion runways, theme songs for animations, and background music for independent films.

Mandy started her professional music training in one of China’s most prestigious choirs at the age of 6, touring all around the world and recording vocals for commercials, theme songs for movies, including the choir part in the theme song of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Game. Last year Mandy completed her Jazz Master Degree at the California Institute of the Arts.

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Clara Kim - Piano & Theory

clara@laityarts.org

 

Clara Kim is a classical pianist, experienced piano instructor, and instrumental ensemble coach born in Jeon-Ju, South Korea. She started playing piano at the age of 6 and had her first solo piano debut at the Jeon-Ju Civic Auditorium when she was 10 years old. While in college, Clara earned the Dean's List distinction after displaying a high level of scholarship when majoring in piano performance and music education. As a result, she was recognized as a top honors student and was allowed to play a solo piano performance on Jeon-Ju KBS Television (Korean Broadcast Station). 

 

Clara came to the United States to further her piano studies. She obtained a postgraduate diploma and Master of Music degree at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. While pursuing her Master's degree, she performed in two solo piano recitals. In addition, she participated in the Long Island University Summer Camp in NY, where she coached and performed in a piano quartet. Clara enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Maryland (College Park) and specialized in piano performance and pedagogy. Further, she taught piano in private and group settings at the Ottley Music School in Maryland. 

 

After moving to California in 2000, Clara continued to teach piano at all levels, ranging from beginner to advanced. Recently, Clara taught at the Irvine School of Music. She is currently teaching at the Grove Conservatory of Music, and she is also a church piano accompanist at New Song Church of Corona, CA. She also teaches music at Victor Valley College in Victorville, Ca

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Elise Walters - Voice & Theory

elise@laityarts.org

 

Elise is a singer, pianist, dancer, and actor based in Los Angeles. Originally from Buffalo, Elise moved to New York City in 2012 to pursue her dreams in performing and found a passion for inspiring the next generation of artists. Beginning dance and piano lessons at age 5, Elise was constantly surrounded by music and art. She recently relocated to Los Angeles in October 2020 and has been teaching online and in-person since last fall! 


Elise made her international musical theater debut as Ermengarde in Hello Dolly with the Mittelsächsisches Theater in Freiberg, Germany. During the pandemic, Elise took part in the “Socially Distanced Orchestra” as assistant choreographer and choir member. Elise was cast as a soloist and ensemble member in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass under the baton of the late Maestro Maurice Peress. She also performed with the Yonkers Philharmonic in the summer of 2018 under Tong Chen in a series of Pops and Classical Concerts.

 

Elise holds her degree in Opera Vocal Performance with a focus in classical music studies and also a minor in theatre and dance productions. She is excited to share her love of opera, musical theater, classical and jazz music with students in the greater Los Angeles area.