2025 Featured Faculty Artists

Danielle Trussoni

FICTION • MEMOIR, USA
Featured faculty • fall 2025

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Danielle Trussoni is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Angelology, Angelopolis, The Ancestor, and The Puzzle Master, chosen by The Washington Post as one of the Best Thrillers of 2023. She is also the author of the memoirs The Fortress and Falling Through the Earth, which was named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review.  

 She has been the chair jurist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and a book columnist for the The New York Times for five years. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and winner of the Michener- Copernicus Society of America Fellowship, her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.
Bill Braden

PAINTING • SCULPTURE, USA
featured faculty • fall 2025

Respected Hawaii artist, Bill Braden was born in Tokyo, Japan. He studied at the Royal Academy of Art in London, and received a BFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he spent his final year at the Palazzo Cenci in Rome, Italy.

Since his first solo exhibition in 1978, Braden’s commissioned work has ranged from the largest stretched canvas painting (15′ by 22′) in the state of Hawaii to 5″ X 7″ notecards depicting classic island scenes.

Bill has done 50’ long paintings for Waikiki high-rise lobbies, crucifix designs for the Catholic Church, and public scale works such as a 3 1/2 ton marble sculpture for the town of Harwich, MA and a 100 ton natural stone sculpture for the entrance of Waimea Valley.

In 1990, he was selected to paint “The Best Beaches of Hawaii” for The City and County of Honolulu. His work is in numerous galleries, shops like T J Maxx & Marshalls, and has been privately commissioned/ purchased by clients around the world.

Bill and his wife Jinny’s latest teaching project was a 100’ long x 10’ high mural at Hawaii’s only women’s prison. Painted mostly by 4 inmates under Bill and Jinny’s tutelage, the instruction included techniques such as sfumato (shading and blending), sgrafitto (scratching), and chiaroscuro (light and shadow contrasting.) The most meaningful to this group was pentimento, which describes the showing through of an earlier, now changed part that depending on one’s attitude, one regrets or adds depth to a work.

Fizza Saleem

painting, Pakistan
featured faculty • Spring 2025

A visual artist and educator based in Karachi, Pakistan, Fizza loves to draw, wander, write and hug trees. Her journey has taken her across local and international platforms, where she explores consciousness through various mediums. She has exhibited her work in India, Pakistan, Italy, UAE, UK, and Sweden.

 She currently runs Fizza Saleem Studio, a platform for students to pursue painting on a large scale. With a background in teaching at institutions such as The Karachi Grammar School, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and Szabist, she brings a diversity of experience to her practice.

Fizza has been an artist in residency at The Lemon Tree House and GCAS Jehan, as well as the Hic Rosa Residency “Anti Maps,” where she actively collaborated within the South Asian artist community. 

She is currently pursuing her MPhil in Art and Design from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Her research is rooted in a profound connection to trees, finding solace in their tranquil embrace. Her work reflects an appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life forms, finding inspiration in the quiet murmurs of the earth and the wisdom embedded in nature. She takes note of the still in the moving; listening, wandering, and mapping moments. 

Nicky Pellegrino

fiction • nonfiction, New Zealand
featured faculty • Spring 2025

Nicky Pellegrino is the author of 14 bestselling novels, including PS Come to Italy, Tiny Pieces Of Us and To Italy, With Love. Her stories have readers around the world and have been translated into over 12 languages. Additionally, she wrote the bestselling, non-fiction book about menopause, Don’t Sweat It: How to Make ‘The Change’ a Good One.

Nicky is also an award-winning journalist, writing about health, science and lifestyle topics for numerous publications.

Her first published book was a memoir, written about a leading broadcaster.

Raised in the UK, Nicky now lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, an adopted greyhound and a lot of books.

Jennie Lee

Nonfiction, USA
FOUNDER • DIRECTOR
Spring & Fall 2025

Jennie Lee, Founder and Director of the Essere Residency, is a Nautilus Book Award winning author of three nonfiction books: SPARK CHANGE: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution, TRUE YOGA: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment, and BREATHING LOVE: Meditation in Action.

A recognized expert in the fields of meditation, yoga therapy and spiritual self-development, Jennie has coached private clients for over 25 years. She is also a frequent guest on podcasts in the wellness sector and has just completed her fourth nonfiction book.

Her writing has appeared in numerous national magazines and blogs, and she has contributed chapters to the books: Yoga Therapy Across the Cancer Care Continuum; Yoga Therapy Foundations, Tools and Practice; and Love- The Ultimate Answer to the Meaning of Life. 

Exploring other forms, Jennie has written feature length screenplays, poetry, and even greeting cards.

Jennie has written themed curriculum and facilitated 15 international retreats, leading groups in daily practices for personal development and wellbeing. 

At Essere, she manages the program on-site, guides meditation sessions, mentors nonfiction writers, and is available to participants for personal and professional coaching around their artistic pursuits.

For more, visit www.JennieLeeYogaTherapy.

Fall 2024 Faculty and Artists

Lily King

fiction, USA
Featured Faculty

Lily King is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels, most recently Euphoria and Writers & Lovers, and the collection of short stories, Five Tuesdays in Winter.

Her work has been awarded the Kirkus Prize, Barnes & Noble Discover Award, New England Book Award, New England Society Book Award, Maine Book Award, and a Whiting Award.

She has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Story Award, and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. She has two daughters, is obsessed with pickleball (so embarrassing) and pottery, and lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two dogs. 
Naomi Shihab Nye

Poetry, Usa
Featured Faculty

Palestinian-American writer, editor and educator Naomi Shihab Nye grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she continues to live. 

She has been the Young People’s Poet Laureate for the U.S. (Poetry Foundation), poetry editor for the New York Times magazine, and The Texas Observer, and a visiting writer in hundreds of schools and communities all over the world.

 

Her books include Everything Comes Next, The Tiny Journalist, Voices in the Air, Sitti’s Secrets, Habibi, This Same Sky, & The Tree is Older than You Are: Poems & Paintings from Mexico.

Her volume 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, was a finalist for the National Book Award. The Turtle of Oman and The Turtle of Michigan have both been part of the Little Read program, North Carolina.

Naomi received Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Texas Institute of Letters and the National Book Critics Circle. 

Her ever-hopeful approach to human connection and her deep presence of being will be so valued at Essere.

For more, visit

https://www.barclayagency.com/speakers/naomi-shihab-nye

Robin Wellner

Painting, USa
Featured Faculty

A highly diversified painter of people, landscapes, animals and still life, Robin Wellner has won numerous national awards and inclusion in shows with American Women Artists, Oil Painters of America, and Richeson 75 Figure and Portrait International Show.

 

She is an avid plein air painter who explores texture and richness through use of the palette knife in addition to the brush. Her current exploration is in bridging the gap between abstract and realism.

Robin’s fascination with people and using a limited palette, led her to develop the workshop ‘Alla Prima Portraits, Using the Zorn Palette.’ She also teaches Palette Knife painting, and says she loves seeing the lights go on for students when they “get it” in a workshop.

Known for capturing the essence or soul of the person whose portrait she is painting, Robin is genuinely connected with her subject matter. This is evident in her work with Artists for Justice, visible in portraits of people such as Kentanji Brown Jackson, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Ahmaud Arbery.

Her training began in Fine Arts at the University of Southwest Louisiana and she has since studied with renowned artists such as Dawn Whitelaw, Robert Liberace, Rich Nelson, and Chris Saper. 

In addition to painting, Robin has worked in stained glass, graphic design, murals, and faux finishing. We are fortunate to have her at Essere to share her wealth of experience, her advocacy for diverse human expression and her contagious joie-di-vivre!

For more, visit www.robinwellner.com

Tracy Wright Corvo

Photography, USa
Featured Faculty

Tracy Wright Corvo is a portrait photographer with a passion for capturing the soul essence of individuals through her lens. With over 20 years of experience in fine art and portrait photography, Tracy is also well known for her branding photography for a wide range or private and commercial clients.

Tracy has a unique ability to reveal the true inner radiance of her subjects. She has won numerous contemporary photography awards and has exhibited her work in both the United States and Europe.

Driven by a lifelong thirst for knowledge and a deep love for art, Tracy is a teacher, a visionary, and an explorer as well as an artist. Her studies in quantum physics and metaphysics, have led her on a profound quest to understand more about herself and the universe. This spiritual journey has deepened her understanding of the power of photography as a sacred tool.

Now focused on Soul Light Portrait photography, Tracy creates multidimensional, soul-opening experiences which inspire free thinkers to embrace their power and unleash their full potential.

Using her intuitive gifts and skills as a portrait artist, she guides individuals on a journey of self-discovery, unveiling their unique gifts and genius. Tracy believes that by embracing one’s true self, individuals can lead joyous and abundant lives while making a positive impact on the world around them.

Tracy’s artistic talent and commitment to empowering others to radiate their unique light, make her a beacon of inspiration in both the realms of photography and soul exploration.

For more, visit www.soullightportraits.com

Princess Mhoon

nonfiction, USA
Special Fellowship for BIPOC Cultural Explorations

Holiday Dmitri

Fiction, USA
Special Fellowship for Emerging Voices

Cynthia Manick

Poetry, USA
Special fellowship for Reflections on Identity

West My Friend

Music, Canada
Special Fellowship for
Creative Fusions

Suzanne Dubus

nonfiction, usa

Fe Maria Vasquez

painting, Venezuela

Sandrine Jeanne Ferron

Fiction, France

Melissa Young

Painting, USa

Melana Bontrager

painting, USa

Lynne Budny

Painting, Canada

Raven Miller

Photography, USa

Linda Sattel

mixed media, USa

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Kala Kaspar

nonfiction, Switzerland

Ellen Caldwell

nonfiction, USa

Maria Deely

drawing, USa

Rebecca Henriquez

Poetry, USA

Samantha Melvin

painting, USa

Hathaway Barry

Poetry, USa

Hope Houston

Nonfiction, USA

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