NCLAC's First Session Academy Teachers

Below you will find brief bios and qualifications for each of NCLAC's First Session Academy teachers. For a full list of courses, as well as registration and payment information, click here. Lou Davenport Kavanaugh: Momma & Me (ages 3 & 4) Lou Davenport Kavanaugh is a working professional artist and designer who also has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the Mississippi University for Women. Lou’s work is currently featured in The Attic Gallery in Vicksburg, MS and in The Sugar Gallery in downtown Monroe. She creates painted furniture, acrylic paintings, and mixed media works. She is inspired by memories, symbols, and her imagination.

While living in Mississippi, she helped found the Aberdeen Art Association in Aberdeen, MS, and after moving to Louisiana, she served as the Curator of Education at the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe from 2001 to 2008. She has participated in the North Central Louisiana Arts Council’s annual Holiday Arts Tour for several years, and continues to challenge herself as an artist and teacher.

Elizabeth Blackwelder: Survey in Drawing and Painting (ages 12-14) Elizabeth Blackwelder is a local artist who was born in Ruston and has spent most of her life here. She has been active in the arts community for years and was a member of the Ruston Arts Association in the 80’s before it became a part of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC). She has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember and says her career as an artist actually began while she was still in high school.

Betty holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Louisiana Tech University and a Master’s degree in Art Education Louisiana State University. She has been teaching private art lessons in her home for children and adults for years. She prefers to work from still-life arrangements and photographs, and she considers herself a perfectionist.

Chris Alec Champion: Improvisation & Creative Movement (ages 6-14), Creative Writing (ages 15-18) Chris Alec Champion is currently working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre at Grambling State University, but Chris also built an extensive professional résumé in the performing arts before coming to Louisiana. Chris attended Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX and has performed with Dallas Children’s Theatre, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, the Chamberlain Ballet, and Irving Ballet.

Chris played the lead actor in Shelly Garrett Productions’ "Beauty Shop." He has also performed with Jean Ann Ryan Productions and Farrington Productions, a leader in Las Vegas entertainment. In addition, Chris has choreographed shows at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and was the Assistant Choreographer for the movie "The Great Debaters" directed by Denzel Washington and nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Drama).

Chris is also the founder of Craven Good Theatre Performance Group, writes children’s plays, and offers children’s theatre workshops.

Joshua Chambers: Prismacolor Colored Pencils (ages 15-18), Painting with Pastels (adult) Joshua Chambers holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and drawing with minors in theatre and graphic design from Northeastern State University in Tahlequa, OK. He graduated with honors. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts from Louisiana Tech University in painting and print making. While in graduate school he was awarded a teaching assistantship. He is currently a lecturer of art at Centenary College in Shreveport and is the Museum Educator at the Meadows Museum of Art also in Shreveport.

In his art, Josh focuses on metaphor and narrative, pulling inspiration from everyday life. His work has been featured in many national and international group and juried shows in the United States and Europe. His work has also been published in New American Paintings, Studio Visit Magazine and The Red Clay Survey. In addition, his pieces complement permanent collections at the Lessedra Gallery in Bulgaria, and Osage Gallery in the Gilcrease Museum of the Americas.

Leigh Anne Chambers: Scene Work for Teens (ages 15-18) Leigh Anne Chambers is currently the Executive Director of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a minor in English from Northeastern State University in Tahlequa, OK, and a Master of Arts in Theatre with a concentration in Arts Administration from Louisiana Tech University.

In her academic career, she received multiple scholarships and awards and was a member of Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society and Tech Theatre Players. She has worked as a manager, actor, or designer in varying capacities for River City Players in Tahlequa, OK and for the Oklahoma Shakespearian Festival, as well as for several shows at her alma maters.

She has experience teaching general theatre courses at the collegiate level and has given private acting lessons to high school students. In addition, before becoming the Executive Director of NCLAC, she worked as the Educational Coordinator for NCLAC’s Drama Warehouse, a program that teaches the fundamentals of theatre, from auditions to performance, to middle and high school students.

April Honaker: Writing College Application Essays (ages 15-18) April Honaker is the current Associate Director of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in English, both from Louisiana Tech University. She also holds a graduate-level E-certification in Technical Writing and passed the defense of her Master’s thesis with distinction.

She has experience teaching English and Writing at the junior high, high school, and collegiate levels. She also served as a Writing Consultant and Assistant Coordinator of the Writing Center while a Master’s candidate. Among her many duties as Associate Director of NCLAC, she writes the weekly “Art Talk” in the Ruston Daily Leader.

She is passionate about writing and the power of language, and she prides herself on being a versatile a writer.

Geri Taylor: Adult Acting (adult) Geri Taylor is active in Ruston Community Theatre (RCT) and in the Trinity United Methodist Chancellor Choir. She fell in love with acting as a first grader playing the bride of Tom Thumb. Since then, she has won roles in competitive auditions for multiple community and university theatre productions.

For example, she played the pregnant Nadine in a production of “Dearly Departed” by the Upstagers, Del Rio’s award-winning community theatre (Del Rio,Texas). She also played Jackie Kennedy in the Strauss Theatre’s Main Stage Production of “Ladies First” (Monroe, LA). In Ruston Community Theatre’s most recent season, she performed in “Solid Gold Cadillac,” “Picnic,” and “The Dixie Swim Club.”

In addition to acting, Geri also enjoys working on sets, properties, and costumes. This season, she will be directing her first RCT show “Dial M for Murder.”

Marlen Waters: Experimental Water Media (adult) Former Executive Director of the Dixie Center for the Arts, Marlen Waters is also a talented professional artist who has studied privately with renowned artists including M. Douglas Walton, Anne Bergeron, Betty Lee, and Anita K. Peterson.

Waters is also a master calligrapher and has studied the arts of calligraphy, papermaking, bookbinding, and paper preservation at Lake Forrest College in Illinois. She has owned and operated her own graphic art company (Waters and Associates) since 1979.

In addition, she has also completed over 30 credit hours in the School of Art at Louisiana Tech University, and she has taught water media workshops through various venues including Ruston Parks and Recreation and the Continuing Education programs at Louisiana Tech and Grambling State University. Her work has been selected for inclusion in multiple juried and group exhibitions throughout our region, and she is a regular participant in NCLAC's Holiday Arts Tour.

Caleb Clark: Introduction to Photography and Photoshop (teen-adult) Caleb Clark is a second year Master of Fine Arts candidate at Louisiana Tech University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of Louisiana in Monroe. His photography has been featured in national and regional exhibitions, including a recent juried exhibition at PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont.

Caleb has been studying and practicing photography on a professional level for more than 7 years. His work ranges from fine art color and black and white images to traditional portraiture to experimental digitally modified images. While working toward his Bachelor's degree, he worked for Piedmont Entertainment (aka NBC/FOX) in Monroe as a videographer and film editor.

As the owner of Thousand Words Photography Studio, Clark offered private photography classes. He has also worked with NCLAC previously on "My Vision, My Voice," a program that promotes literacy for high school students through photography and journalism.