Visual Art Institute

About Us



Visual Art Institute nurtures creative expression, teaches imagination and fosters artistic development through in-depth study and experimentation, inspiring individuality and confidence regardless of age or ability.

You can help out by donating today! One hundred percent of donated funds go to programming and community outreach.



The Executive Director, teachers, and staff believe that adding the arts to your child's education can:

          -  Increase imagination and curiosity

          -  Build self-confidence

          -  Improve artistic skills and talents

          -  Strengthen critical thinking

          -  Enhance emotional well-being

Our focus is on offering quality instruction in the visual arts. By doing so, it is our hope that students will discover their own artistic voices and will have other areas of their lives enhanced.  We have seen many of our teens gain confidence as they progress through our program and received recognition and awards in the community. Young children who "love to draw" quickly respond to our curriculum. Students who want to draw and paint find VAI a welcoming and supportive place to create. 

It is not uncommon for students to discover VAI at a young age and work through our curriculum throughout high school.  Our most dedicated students have earned scholarships at colleges & universities and have pursued careers in the arts.  Some have even returned to VAI to teach a new generation of aspiring artists. 

Meet Our Team

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Bruce Robertson - Executive Director

Bruce is a practicing artist with an emphasis in mixed media painting. He has received a BFA in Drawing/Printmaking and an MFA in Drawing/Painting from Brigham Young University. He also has two additional years of post-baccalaureate study in Mixed-media Printmaking and Painting from California State University Long Beach. Bruce has taught at the university level for 26 years, for the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, and Utah Valley University. In 1995, Bruce was introduced to the Visual Art Institute and was added to the faculty for the 1995 - 1996 school year. In 1998, he was selected to be the Executive Director of VAI. Bruce is committed to the mission of VAI and believes that introduction to a strong art curriculum at an early age is beneficial to children. He challenges his students to let their artwork be a positive reflection of their life. 


Shelley Redford Young

Shelley Redford Young began her art employment at OC Tanners, SLC, Utah after graduating from school where she learned emblematic jewelry design and air brush rendering. While raising her 4 children, she ran an art school for youth called IDIZ in Alpine, Utah and currently holds a 3-year Foundational degree from the Watts Atelier in Encinitas, California with a focus in portrait and figurative drawing and painting, landscape, and still life. She has also studied abroad at the Florence Academy of Art, in Florence, Italy, where she learned old masters techniques of sight-size drawing, and painting representational still lifes from North light. Shelley has been a youth instructor at the Watts Atelier,  an instructor for youth, teens, and adults at the Peterson Art Center in SLC, and has been instructing at Visual Art Institute for several years. She loves instructing as much as making art herself. You can see some of Shelley's work on her blog:

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Heidi Somsen


Adriana Vawdrey - Designer & Instructor

Adriana (“Addie”) is the in-house graphic designer at Visual Art Institute. She freelances as an editorial illustrator, working with art directors across the country to fill magazines & newspapers with story-telling artwork. Addie was a teenage student at the Visual Art Institute, who went on to study illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon from 2008-2012. She loves teaching artists young and old how to harness design principles and technique to tell an amazing story with their artwork. Addie credits her summers at VAI’s Figure Academy and year-round classical training with VAI’s excellent instructors for helping her to be accepted to and pay for art school. You can see her illustrations at

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Sophia D’Agrosa - Program Assistant

“I love being the program assistant for VAI! It gives me the opportunity to interact with everyone who walks through our doors. I really enjoy spending time with others so I can get to know people from all walks of life. VAI has given me the chance to spend time with the kids as they create and they always remind me to look at the world with an open heart.”

“Although I did not major in fine arts, wheel throwing and oil painting are my favorite ways to get creative. This Spring Term I was able to take our Teen/Adult Ceramics class and in the Fall I am hoping to take an oil painting class.”

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Susannah Mecham - Instructor

“My favorite thing about being an art teacher is getting to be inspired by my students' creativity. I love getting to know each student as well as their artistic interests. I am currently studying painting, drawing, and sculpture at the University of Utah. I love painting people and other subject matters that remind me what is important and connects us in human life. A few of my favorite artists are Mattise, Elaine De Kooning, Brian Kershisnik, Milt Kobayashi, Minerva Teichert, and John Larriva. I feel that the work of these artists uplifts the viewer to live well and inspires positivity and optimism.”

You can find Susannah’s art on Instagram @susannahthankful.


Heidi Somsen, Barbara Kidd, Mike Green, Carly Perez, David Costa

Board of Directors



Susan Stetich (Board President)

CPA, Thurman & Associates

Jim Thurman (Board Treasurer)


School Principal (Retired)

Connie Daly

Executive Director, Visual Art Institute

Bruce D. Robertson

School Teacher (Retired)

Patty Evans Bradley

Artist and Art Instructor

Kindra Fehr

Senior Quality Assurance and Release Manager, Advanced MD

Susie Hitner Funk

Glass Artist and Instructor

Michael Green

Attorney and Art Critic

Scotti Hill

Artist, Willamarie Inc

Willamarie Huelskamp

Regional Manager, Certiport

Robert N. Imhoff

General Counsel, StorageCraft Technology Corp.

Brett Johnson

Elementary School Principal (Retired)

Gene Klatt

Teacher, Taylorsville High School

Attorney at Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough

Mary Welsh

Jessica Wilde

Occupational Therapist, Harmony Home Health

Art Instructor, Outreach Coordinator VAI

Jay Wheeler

Shelley Redford Young