About Us/Board of Directors

Currently Art FORM offers art education workshops to schools, youth groups and the community for little or no cost.  To qualify for a free workshop, you must be an eligible public Title I school.  At this time we have a limited number of free workshops for the 2017-2018 school year.  Other public schools, charters, private schools and youth groups are welcome to schedule a workshop with a sliding scale of $10-$15 per participant.  The best days for workshops are Tuesday-Friday morning or afternoon, or occasional Saturday afternoons.

In most cases, workshops are 2 hours in length and include: a tour of the space, introduction to creative reuse, group observations and discussion, arts education lesson using recycled materials, and culminating with a project that each participant can take back to school/home.  Workshop lessons can support classroom’s grade level curriculum if planned in advance with our teaching artists, or can be more of a general art and design lesson using recycle materials appropriate for the grade level.  Other workshops may include themes using seasonal content or cultural celebrations.


Art FORM’s Governing Board is a group dedicated volunteers from diverse professional fields.

Erin Pennell, Founder-Board Member/Teaching Artist has been an arts educator throughout California for more than 20 years, having worked with children of all ages in both public and private settings.  Recognizing the need for an expansion of children’s art programs in San Diego, and the vast quantity of recyclable and reclaimable materials potentially available to students and teachers, she opened The Rare Hare Studio in 2008.  The studio has been a mainstay of the Adams Avenue Business District ever since, offering art camps and workshops that feature the wide array of materials that are steadily collected and donated by local individuals, businesses, and industries.

Erin's Comic Con Photo

In 2011, Erin developed Art FORM (Found Objects Recycled Materials) a nonprofit 501c3 branch of the studio, as a way to make her programs accessible to a broader range of San Diegans. Art FORM provides arts education with creative reuse to schools and the community for little or no cost; makes recycled materials accessible for projects; and helps students discover an art form that promotes ingenuity and creative problem solving.  Art FORM currently offers free workshops to Title I schools and features a creative reuse store that makes scrap materials available to schools, families and the community.

Catherine Morrison, Board President, is an attorney with San Diego’s City Attorneys’ Office, with an interest in nonprofit formation and development.  Also, with two artistic teenage daughters at home, she is very interested in and aware of cultivating the arts while being environmentally responsible and conscious.  Art FORM is the perfect blend of these two facets of her world.

Catherine George Hagan, Board Member, is a long-time resident of the Kensington-Normal Heights area of San Diego.  She is fortunate her teenage daughter, who is particularly passionate for art, has been able to participate in Art Form/Rare Hare workshops for many years.  As an attorney with the State Water Resources Control Board, Catherine advises the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board in its regulatory efforts to protect and restore the quality of waters in the San Diego Region.  Through her work and outside interests, Catherine is familiar with many of the environmental challenges facing the region and beyond. She is excited to be able to support Art Form as an organization that, among its many focuses, promotes environmental education through art.

Charles Pennell, Board Secretary, Chuck was born in Tokyo, Japan and lived there prior to WWII. Returning to Japan in the early 1950s, he completed high school at the American School In Japan. After completing his Masters in Social Work and Public Administration at San Diego State, where he met his wife of 52 years, Chuck went to work for the County of San Diego as a social worker/ administrator.  Chuck has two grown daughters and 4 grandchildren, and after 31 years with the County, he retired and began his public service career.  Having been with Erin when she created the Rare Hare Studio and subsequently founded Art FORM, there have been many opportunities to volunteer and donate to these innovative community-based organizations.

Karen Martin-Spellerberg, Treasurer, moved to Southern California in 1993 to attend U.C. San Diego, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Post college, she spent the next 20 years in the corporate world, as the head of HR and also as the Controller for a local IT company. She has a wide range of experience from auditing, project & budget management, to marketing, fundraising and event planning. She most recently served as the Director of Office Operations for a boutique financial services firm in San Diego.

While coordinating volunteer opportunities and events for company employees,  Karen realized her true passion was working directly with nonprofits. She is the past Fundraising Chair for the Urban Discovery Academy Network, and is the Community Volunteer Liaison and member of the PR & Media Team for Princess Project San Diego. She is also a volunteer at fundraising events for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and San Diego Professionals Against Cancer (SDPAC).

In addition to her volunteer work, Karen is a huge supporter of the art community; she has hosted educational finance panels at San Diego Comic-Con, in order to provide attending artists and creatives with the educational tools necessary to help them be financially successful in their careers.

Gwen Sterling, Board Member, has worked in Development/Fundraising at the non-profit Special Education Aseltine School since 2008. Through her work with Aseltine students, she has become passionate about helping others realize their potential and discover their passions. At Aseltine, Gwen also discovered the amazing work of Art FORM Founder Erin Pennell, who taught art classes at the school for two years. Gwen was impressed with Erin’s talent for reaching students at every level – especially those who typically resisted the Arts – and loved the emphasis on responsible stewardship that she infused into each lesson. She also appreciated Erin’s focus on creative problem-solving skills and confidence – two skills she has learned are extremely important for the development of happy, healthy individuals.

Thanks to her mother’s strong encouragement of both participation in and appreciation of the arts, Gwen developed a strong love of the arts as a child and is still passionate about making the arts accessible and appealing to the community. Growing up in the “outdoorsy” culture of the Pacific Northwest also instilled a deep appreciation for nature and an understanding of the importance of environmental stewardship and conservation efforts. Gwen, who earned a BA in English (Creative Writing) from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, joined Art FORM as a freelance grant writer and Board Member in 2016 and looks forward to using her skills and experience to support its great work in the community.

Deanna Sampson, Board Member, has always had a passion for art as an artist and an art museum lover.  Deanna is also an ocean lover and a gardener and this helped her realize her need to take care of the environment.  When Deanna met Ms. Erin 8 years ago she fell in love with Rare Hare studio.  Her family and especially her daughter took lots of art classes and camps at Rare Hare studio.  When Art FORM began in 2011 Deanna and her family were founding supporters as it is the perfect combination of taking care of the earth, landfill diversion, and arts education.

Deanna has a BS in Mathematics with an emphasis in Computer Science from SDSU.  She has worked in San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Zurich for companies such as Lotus Development Corp and IBM as a Software Engineer/Web Developer.  Deanna has served on several nonprofit boards and loves to provide volunteer service.  Deanna, her husband and two teenage children provide 100’s of hours in volunteer service a year.  At Art FORM, Deanna has volunteered as a Technical Specialist and Fundraiser and has also volunteered at workshops, conferences and the Art FORM store.

To reach us:

*Tuesdays (phone or email) 619.788-6609 or email us at info@artformsandiego.org

*Saturdays 10:00am-2pm for Art FORM’s Creative Reuse Store on-site at 3316 Adams Avenue Suite B., San Diego, CA 92116.  (in Rare Hare Studio building)

Art FORM is a nonprofit tax exempt organization (501c3); Our federal tax ID number is #45-1273085.

For more information, contact us:

Erin Pennell
Founder/Teaching Artist
3316 Adams Avenue, Suite B
San Diego, CA 92116

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