LONG ISLAND'S BEST LI Best Alumni

Long Island's Best Alumni Network

What is Long Island’s Best?

The Heckscher Museum’s annual juried exhibition for high school students, Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum, has featured young artists from across Long Island since 1996. This longstanding arts-in-education initiative provides students with engaging and authentic art experiences, challenging them to develop their own unique creative voices and share their artwork with a larger community. Learn more about Long Island’s Best

How the Alumni Network began

As a community Museum, The Heckscher strives to help artists to connect and network with one another. And as an institution with education at the heart of our mission, we are always looking for ways to provide young artists with the resources they need to achieve success in the arts and beyond. With these two ideas in mind, the Long Island’s Best Alumni Network was born in 2021, with the 25th anniversary of the exhibition.

The network directory serves to connect alumni with one another and also with current Long Island’s Best high school students. The Museum asks alumni to tell us where they are now and to give advice to today’s high school artists. The information below will continue to grow over time as more alumni share their stories and advice.

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Are you, or someone you know, an LI Best alumn? Join and have your information featured as part of this directory.



Alumni Directory

Artists are listed alphabetically by last name and are updated on a rolling basis.


STEFANI AKNER
Long Island’s Best 2011
@im_straightedge

Stefani is currently working in freelance illustration. She also draws and creates costumes for cosplaying.

Stefani’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Don’t let anyone try and steer you away from art as they believe it’s not lucrative enough. Don’t necessarily think you need to attend expensive, private art schools either. You can create art at any age, any time, there’s no ticking clock that you need to be successful and published by a specific age or you’re doomed. Don’t let people take the fun out of something you’re passionate about with their capitalistic lens.”


EMMA ANNUNZIATO
Long Island’s Best 2013
@snailspiration
ea-design.co


Emma currently works as a Graphic Designer at Mondo where she designs all internal/external needs of the business, including training presentations, social assets, print materials, website design, and more. She also owns a small greeting card business. In addition to cards, she designs shirts, pins, and stickers!

Emma’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Explore what you’re interested in and don’t give up! It may be challenging at first, and it’s easy to throw in the towel when you’re not immediately great at something. I promise if you keep at it, and practice every day, you will be so proud.”


ELISSA BARDHI
Long Island’s Best 2015
@monelissart


Elissa is currently a transplant researcher and future medical student who creates realistic oil paintings.

Elissa’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“It is very important to continue to pursue art even if you have other career directions or goals!”


SISAM BHANDARI
Long Island’s Best 2014
arttensionblog.wordpress.com

Sisam continues to pursue her artwork in a diverse set of mediums. She is currently a student at MIT studying Computer Science.

Sisam’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Try and be creative outside of the medium of your choice!!”


NICOLAS BRUNO
Long Island’s Best 2011
@nicolasbruno
nicolasbrunophotography.com

Nicolas is pursuing photography professionally – he began his tarot card photography by referring to his portfolio of surreal imagery. His previous work dealt with his experience with sleep paralysis as well as dream journals that have ultimately cultivated a visual language detailing his complicated relationship with a good night’s rest. This conceptual approach to his photographs allowed for an easy transition into recreating the classic Rider Waite tarot deck. His latest series, The Somnia Tarot, was recently on display at the Haven Gallery in Northport.

Nicolas’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Your art is a powerful tool, a universal language, and a therapy in itself. Your passion to create artwork will not only empower you; it will help inspire others to lift themselves up through creativity. By channeling your vision through art, you have the ability to impact the lives of people around the world. As artists, it is our duty to be the voice of the voiceless.”


RK (RACHEL) FAUTH
Long Island’s Best 2009
@un.precedent.ed
unprecedentedproject.com

RK currently works as a research associate at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University and a graduate student in English, with a concentration in contemporary poetry. She has published creative nonfiction and poetry, and runs the public art project UNPRECEDENTED. Go to www.unprecedentedproject.com to participate, free and easy, or bring the project to a classroom near you!

RK’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Art is inseparable from emotion, and emotion is just as important as logic. So art is always a good reason.”


JACLYN FIDLER
Long Island’s Best 2005
@fotofids
jaclynfidlerphotography.com

Jaclyn is currently working in tech sales, while also working as a commissioned photographer and painter. Throughout her artistic career, she has gravitated towards event photography; documenting special occasions such as Fashion Week as well as music festivals for various publications. In her freelance work, her photography specializes in portraits & intimate milestones. She is also a commissioned oil painter, specializing in abstract works of art at scale.

Jaclyn’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Relish in this time. Experiment like mad! Make mistakes, seek out mentors (& a muse), test out different processes – after all, you don’t know what you don’t know!”


PHILLIP GLADKOV
Long Island’s Best 2012
@phillipgladkov
phillipgladkov.com

Phillip is currently making films and video content professionally. His most recent project is a large scale series of birch artworks.

Phillip’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Really sit down and listen to the things that excite and drive you in life. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pursue them professionally or indefinitely. The exploration of your passions is the most important thing, it will lead you to incredible places.”


FRANCESCA GRAY
Long Island’s Best 2012
fgray63.wixsite.com/fgray2013-2

Francesca currently teaches middle school chorus grades 6-8, music appreciation and theory, world music, piano and guitar, songwriting club, and after school clarinet lessons. Most recently she has created and participated in virtual concerts. Last year Francesca founded and directed “Collaborative Clarinet in Concert Exhibition” which aimed to unite the broader arts community working together as a team of artists welcoming each other’s individuality to create a one of a kind performance experience.

Francesca’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Follow your passions and believe in yourself. Since you identify as an artist, bring along your unique creativity and imagination to all facets of life. Explore the numerous possibilities of a career in the arts and consider how you wish to pursue future endeavors personally, professionally, or both.”


CAROLINE JUANG
Long Island’s Best 2013
@catblip
carjuang.wixsite.com/portfolio

Creativity has followed Caroline throughout her career, informing her work as a scientist and allowing her to express her passions through a diverse set of mediums. She has created graphics and designed websites for her research, published comics in comic anthologies, and illustrated art (both personal and commissions for others) to express her love for space exploration.

Caroline’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Don’t let a non-art career stop you from creating. You can absolutely find a way, whether continuing with classes in college, extracurriculars, as a hobby, or inserting it into your profession. And your creativity will be so important for whatever you do!”


CRISOULA LAZARIDIS
Long Island’s Best 2014
@blues_clay
bluesclay.com

Crisoula founded Blue’s Clay in 2015. As a self-taught artist, she has experimented with different mediums, such as polymer clay, soap stone, and printmaking. She has a series of ongoing collections that she is constantly adding to, but her creativity is always expanding through experimentations with new mediums or inspirations.

Crisoula’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“I have always lived with imposter syndrome. Believing that whatever artwork I’ve made wasn’t good enough, well guess again if you truly made it yourself. Then you can make it – so go do what you love! Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t, not even your own brain.”


DANIELLE LIVOTI
Long Island’s Best 2003
@daniellelivoti
daniellelivoti.com

Danielle has had a long standing relationship with the Heckscher Museum. Beginning as an exhibiting artist in LI Best 2003, she has since exhibited in the Long Island Biennial 2020, and was recently featured in our Emerging Artist series. She currently teaches art at New Hyde Park Memorial High School where many of her artists have submitted to LI Best.

Danielle’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“The piece of advice that I would give to art students today is to keep creating for yourself, regardless of what a teacher might be assigning you. Practice your skills, get your class projects done but don’t be afraid to let yourself try whatever you want in your own time. That’s where the magic happens. The art-making shouldn’t stop when the class period is over.”


EMILY MARTIN
Long Island’s Best 2014
@martie_art
emilymartinart.com

Emily currently works as a weaver, installation artist, and textile designer. Focused on materiality, tactility, and color within her work, she strives to emulate mundane texture found everyday through material manipulation and textile design. As a textiles instructor, Emily is dedicated to sharing and inspiring creativity through this craft. She recently appeared in the Heckscher Museum’s Emerging Artist series.

Emily’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Having the opportunity to be exhibited in Long Island’s Best is truly what began my passion for art and ultimately led to me going to college to study art and starting my art career.”


ROBERT MCENANEY
Long Island’s Best 2006
@RobMac1824
RobMacDP.com

Robert is currently working as a Director of Photography and Drone Pilot. Rob’s work is inspired by his affinity with all things “wild by nature”. His images are a product of adventure seeking, of risk, of pushing to find out what may lie beyond the next bend in the road, river, or ridge.

Robert’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“You get what you give!”


NINA MILLER
Long Island’s Best 2016
@ninamillart
ninamillerart.com

Nina currently works at a non-profit art organization, Kimball Art Center as the Education Coordinator. She teaches art to all ages and is surrounded by art and artists that inspire her. Nina also has a studio and continues her artistic practice. She works on commissions, and works for galleries and open calls. As a multimedia artist, she creates paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works. Currently, she is most inspired by natures textures, colors and forms.

Nina’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Don’t doubt yourself. Be honest with yourself and your art. Work hard. Make connections with people who lift you up and inspire you. Don’t pay attention to any judgment from yourself or others. Trust your intuition.”


TINA MITCHELL
Long Island’s Best 2016
@tinamitchellart
tinamitchellartist.com

Tina creates paintings, sculptures, and installations based around the relationship between color and form. She aims to explore the idea that color can be more than just a surface coating of objects. She is currently working as an art teacher while also creating artwork primarily based in painting and fiber art.

Tina’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Enjoy this time to be creative! Don’t worry so much about comparing yourself and your artwork to others, just trust yourself and your art process, good things will follow!”


SAMANTHA MURPHY

Long Island’s Best 2012

Samantha currently works as a licensed Mental Health Counselor where she uses the arts in her practice working on mental health with youth.

Samantha’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Follow your passions, they can take you anywhere! I wanted to go to art school and ended up becoming an adolescent therapist utilizing art therapy!! Let your passions take you to new places!”


NICOLE NOEL
Long Island’s Best 2016
@niqorina

Nicole is currently working as a CG generalist with a focus on look development, lighting and compositing. An alum of the School of Visual Arts in New York, she is working as a freelance artist. When she’s not stuck on the train somewhere, Nicole is hard at work making interesting and appealing CG characters. She also enjoys illustrating on her own time.

Nicole’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Whatever the theme may be, don’t try too hard to push out a literal interpretation or something you think the judges would want to see – consider making something that you’d like and you’d like to see. You are likely going to put countless hours of your life into this, so when the time comes to submit your piece, you should hand in something that is special to you and that you are proud that you have breathed life into.”


MELANIE POPESCU
Long Island’s Best 2018
@_meli_anie_

Melanie is currently working in graphic design, where she is expressing her creativy in a number of different mediums, including packaging design, posters, brochures, websites, branding guidelines, photography, bookbinding, typesetting, and more!

Melanie’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“High school and freshman year of college is a great time to figure out what you are truly passionate about! Take that passion and ride with it throughout the rest of college. The knowledge your teachers and future professors have bestowed upon you should forever resonate in your artwork! Everything they taught you will definitely come in handy in any art major.”


MALIK TRICHOCHE
Long Island’s Best 2014
@maliktricoche
Maliktricoche.com

In 2019, Malik founded Guayaba Gallery in Union City, NJ— going on to curate and exhibit shows like Guayaba01 and 6FT FROM YOU while working with the Themendous sculpture team on installations for the 2019 MET Gala, NYC fashion week and the Museum of Sex. He continues to work full time creating paintings, sculptures, poetry, and performance art.

Malik’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Don’t try and be successful in the arts without knowing who you truly are. Getting to know yourself is an inspiring journey that will show you exactly what your strengths/ weaknesses are. Knowing that enjoy and what comes naturally to you will reveal your most authentic talents.”


DANIELLE ZAKIAN
Long Island’s Best 2011


Danielle currently works as a social media photographer for Macy’s. She works alongside a team of fashion stylists and art directors to photograph numerous special projects that are published in printed advertisements, catalogs, mailing lists, social media and the official Macy’s website. She has photographed, three years in a row, the annual Macy’s 4th of July firework display show!

Danielle’s Advice to Future LI Best Artists:

“Never give up on your dreams! No matter what anyone says, follow your true passion and you will never have to work a day in your life!” Choosing to pursue a career in photography was the best decision I have ever made. I am so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to follow my true passion in life.”

Past Long Island's Best Exhibitions

EXHIBITIONS

Long Island's Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum 2021
April 17, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Long Islands Best 2020 Lopez, Stephanie_Hicksville HS_Prismatic Bubble_Acrylic on canvas
Long Island's Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum 2020
August 1, 2020 - October 4, 2020
Long Island's Best 2019 Grace Connors Grace and Sammy. Mixed Media, Acrylic Paint, oil pastel, & fabric on masonite
Long Island's Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum 2019
April 6, 2019 - May 19, 2019
more exhibitions

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