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


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:


Adriana Vawdrey

Adriana Vawdrey is an illustrator and story-teller born and raised in Salt Lake City. As a teenager she studied drawing and painting here at VAI, and later went on to get her BFA in Illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. She works from a home studio, freelancing as an editorial illustrator and writing/illustrating her own books. She has recently published her longest narrative yet, entitled: Please, You're Welcome, I'm Sorry, Thank You. She loves the students and faculty at the Visual Art Institute and credits the community as something that supports her growth and evolution as an artist. You can view more of her work at


Barbara Kidd

Carly Perez

David Costa

Heidi Somsen

Mike Green


Board of Directors


Office Manager at Rocky Mountain Consulting Engineers

Susan Stetich (Board President)

CPA, Thurman & Associates

Jim Thurman (Board Treasurer)


Executive Director, Visual Art Institute

Bruce D. Robertson

Instructor, Outreach Coordinator VAI

Shelley Redford Young

Principal Designer, Owner Jamie Bellessa Designs

Jamie Bellessa


Beck Berrett

School Teacher (Retired)

Patty Evans Bradley

Interior Designer, Jamie Bellessa Designs

David Clyde

School Principal (Retired)

Connie Daly


Kindra Fehr

Owner/Chef, Meditrina & Porch

Jen Gilroy

Real Estate Development

Tamy Ringwood Gray

Glass Artist

Michael Green

Account Executive, Insight Exhibits

JK Homer

Artist, Willamarie INC

Willamarie Huelskamp

Regional Manager, Certiport

Elementary School Principal (Retired)

Robert N. Imhoff

Gene Klatt

Director of Convention Sales, Visit Salt Lake

Cannon Tarbet

Teacher, Taylorsville High School

Mary Welsh

Attorney at Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough

Jessica Wilde