Mercedes Augusta  |  Fiction

An emerging millennial writer, Mercedes Augusta hails from the Northeast Bronx with a strikingly powerful voice. Known for her crisp prose and fluid dialogue, the leading-edge writer is currently working on her first novel, set in early 1940s Poland. Also, adamant about increasing philanthropic influence and needed resources in under-served communities, she has devoted her talents to serving disadvantaged youth and adults at Mental Health Association of New York City, St. Vincent’s Services, GENYOUth Foundation and her alma mater, Fordham University. When not writing, Mercedes bleeds green for the Philadelphia Eagles, rants about her favorite TV shows and devours all things Steinbeck, Z. Smith, Saramago and Hansberry.

Judith Baumel  |  Poetry

Judith Baumel is a poet, critic and translator. She is Professor of English and Founding Director of the Creative Writing Program at Adelphi University. She is president emerita of The Association of Writers and Writing Programs and is a former director of The Poetry Society of America. Her books of poetry are The Weight of Numbers, for which she won The Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, Now, and The Kangaroo Girl which was named a top five poetry book of 2011 by The Jewish Daily Forward.

Paul Bulman  |  Poetry

Paul (“Pinny”) Bulman is a BRIO award-winning poet whose work is infused with the imagery of his native New York City. Much of Pinny’s writing happens on the subways and buses of his commute to work in his other passion, helping children and families in the Bronx within the non-profit mental health sector. Pinny is currently working on a collection of poems entitled old shul, reflections on an urban synagogue and childhood in the dying Jewish community of pre-gentrified Washington Heights. Many of these poems have appeared in Poetica, Mima’amakim, and the arts blog of The Jewish DailyForward. One of the old shul poems was awarded the 2013 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award First Honorable Mention.

Gina Clark  |  Fiction

Gina Clark was born and raised in New York City. Certified to teach English, she holds a MFA in Creative Writing, with additional coursework in psychology and behavioral science. She has written articles for Publishers Marketing Association and she currently works as an arts specialist and educational consultant. Her work has appeared in African Voices magazine; her interviews have aired on C-SPAN, ABC, NBC, CBS and BET Nightly News. Winner of numerous academic and professional awards, she completed international studies at the University of Paris, Sorbonne. A born adventurer, Gina is an apprentice falconer with plans to train her own raptor. Her 2014 BRIO award-winning literary work The Nibibi features a mythical falcon inspired by her falconry studies. Gina travels extensively, often to conduct research. In an effort to inform as well as entertain her readers, she infuses fact into her fiction narratives, providing details that reflect her experiences and discoveries.

Davalois Fearon  |  Dance

Choreographer/dancer/teacher Davalois Fearon joined the Stephen Petronio Company and graduated with a BFA from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College in 2005. Since then, she has performed and taught nationally and internationally, developed an Education Program for the Petronio Company, staged Petronio repertory and assisted Mr. Petronio in the creation process of “The Social Band” for Other Shore Dance Company and “Prometheus Bound” for the American Repertory Theater. In 2013 she began making her own work and was asked to become a member of the Joyce Theater’s prestigious Young Leaders Circle Artists’ Committee.

Orlando Ferrand-Rodriguez  |  Poetry

Orlando Ferrand is a Cuban-American award-winning poet and multi-disciplinary artist. He is a graduate of Columbia University, City College and Parsons. His first collection of poetry, Citywalker, won the Gold Medal in the Readers’ Favorite Book Review and Award Contest in 2011. He also won the Linden Lane Press Poetry Prize in 2011 for his book La Otra Isla, (Spanish Edition). His memoir Apologia: Cuban Childhood in My Backpack, received a 5-stars rating by Readers’ Favorite in 2012, and was selected by the City University of New York as the Book-of-the-Semester in the spring of 2012. He’s also a visual artist with exhibits at the Leslie/Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Sikkema Jenkins and Company, at Cheim & Read in New York City and at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. He’s worked as a playwright, theater director, actor, script supervisor and art director in the US and Europe.

Sean Paul Gallegos  |  Installation

Sean Paul Gallegos has been a Bronx-based artist for over 15 years. He was the recipient of the 2012 BRIO Award from the Bronx Council on the Arts and is a recent alumnus of the AIM 33: Artist In the Marketplace program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. His work was featured in La Bienal 2013 at El Museo del Barrio. With several reviews for La Bienal 2013, Sean Paul’s work was showcased in the New York Times and Art Forum’s Critic Picks. He is the recipient of the 2013 Sol Shaviro Award from the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Gallegos’s work was seen on the streets of New York City with Faberge’s Big Egg Hunt. Sean Paul is excited to be creating new work in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Process Space Residency through June of 2014. Learn more about Sean Paul at

Borinquen Gallo  |  Mixed Media

Born in Rome, Italy, Borinquen Gallo is an artist and educator, living and working in NYC. She earned her  BFA from the Cooper Union for The Advancement of Science and Art and her MFA in Painting from Hunter College, now having 10+ years of experience planning, development, teaching and management in the education sector. She’s held many roles within the NYC Department of Education, as well as in numerous museums and citywide cultural institutions. With a number of awards and residencies under her belt, she is currently an Assistant Professor of Art and Design Education at Pratt Institute, Sculpture Instructor at the National Academy School, and Supervisor of the Pratt Saturday Art School. Her sculptures and installations incorporate a variety of discarded materials that resonate on a personal and social scale. Her work points to a search for what makes us commonly human beings rather than just mere living creatures or even products.

Larisa Gelman  |  Instrumental Music Performance

Classical bassoonist, Larisa Gelman has established herself as an exceptional and dynamic performer in the United States and abroad. In recent seasons she was featured as a soloist with the Brooklyn Symphony performing Richard Strauss "DuoConcertante" and with the Broadway Bach Ensemble performing Vivaldi and Weber Concertos. Ms. Gelman's solo concerts have included Carnival in Caroline, MD; Impromptu Concerts, Key West, FL; Mozart Festival at World Bank, Washington, D.C.; Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA; West Chester University, PA; Queens College, NYC; Flint Institute of Art, Flint, MI; Juneau Jazz and Classics, Juneau, Alaska, The Encore Programs, and Elmira College, NY, as well as the acclaimed recital at the Caramoor Music Festival. Ms. Gelman attended the Pacific Music Festival in Japan as well as the Colorado, Tanglewood, and Aspen festivals. She’s recorded the American première of Kurt Weill's opera Die Burgschaft for the Spoleto Festival, U.S.A. under Julius Rudel for the EMI label.

Diana Henry  |  Acting

Diana Henry is a professional actor and seasoned voice-over artist. She has starred in numerous Off Broadway and Regional theatre productions, as well as feature films; has had multiple appearances on network television; and has been the voice of many national TV and Radio commercials. Some notable credits include: “Fortunes”, “Law & Order”, “One Life to Live” and Emmy award-winning “The Lineup: Best Sports Movies.” A season regular since 2008, Diana has been in over 40 episodes of ABC News “What Would You Do?” She is the co-founder of The Drawing Board, a script reading collective of artists dedicated to helping writers in film, theatre, and television. Diana taught acting at the college level and to private students. She received a MFA in Acting at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and a BFA in Acting at Miami University, Ohio. Diana proudly lives in Riverdale with her husband and two children. Learn more about Diana at

Nigel HoSang  |  Narrative Film/Video

NYC Born and raised, photographer Nigel HoSang was introduced to photography at the High School of Graphic of Arts. Upon graduation, he dove fully into the photo industry with an intensive printing internship with Green Rhino. He later became a photo assistant and was fortunate enough to be introduced to Martin Schoeller. Nigel began to develop his vision as photographer during his years with Schoeller and changed his interest from documentary to portrait work. He is currently an assistant for some of the world’s top photographers while pursuing his personal work. His current bodies of work, all explorative studies in different aspects of human activities, contain a wide range of interests. The work is a combination of scientific, art and portrait photography in which the genres are intertwined to produce his projects. Nigel’s projects span the art and fashion worlds. His photographs and films have been included in ShowStudio, Contributor Magazine, Trace Magazine, NY Fashion Shorts, London Fashion Shorts, and Dossier Magazine.

Laura Kaminsky  |  Music Composition

Laura Kaminsky is a composer with “an ear for the new and interesting”. Her works are “colorful and harmonically sharp-edged” (New York Times), and her whose “musical language is compounded of hymns, blues, and gestures, not unlike those of Shostakovich” (inTune). Laura’s music is “full of fire as well as ice, written in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection” (American Record Guide). Kaminsky has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Opera America, New York State Council on the Arts, Aaron Copland Fund, Chamber Music America, American Music Center, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Likhachev Foundation, Kenan Institute for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission, North Carolina Arts Council, Meet the Composer and others. She has received six ASCAP- Chamber Music America Awards for Adventurous Programming and the Polish Ministry of Culture National Heritage 2010 Chopin Award.



Lisa Lebofsky  |  Painting

Lisa Lebofsky is a painter residing in Bronx, New York. She holds an MFA in painting from the New York Academy of Art and is the recipient of several awards. Ms. Lebofsky finds inspiration and collects source material by traveling extensively to immerse herself in different environments. She primarily paints onsite, but also takes digital photos to cultivate a library of images for studio work. Recent travels include Tuscany, Antarctica, Labrador and Greenland. Most recently, she joined a group of artists on an excursion to the Maldives to produce a body of work examining the effects of rising sea levels.

Erik Maldonado  |  Spoken Word

Raised in the Bronx between seedy neighborhoods and affluent communities, this parlor trickster of paragraphs began fashioning language in an attempt to bridge the duality of his world. Erik “Advocate Of Wordz” Maldonado is an acclaimed performing poet, author and teaching artist who has been teaching kids how to talk their way out of detention for over a decade. He is a resident artist at the famed Lincoln Center as part of the “Meet the Artist Series,” an alumnus of the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café and a founding member “El Grito De Poetas.” His book “Advocate of Wordz; a book of poems and other creative nonsense that is imperative to your existence” can be found on He is also the handsome son of a Puerto Rican who can speak in Old English and a White Woman who knows how to mambo!

Marlyn Matias  |  Acting

Marlyn Matias is a bilingual actor who has been performing since the age of 13 after moving from her hometown of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Her film credits include the Indie Horror, Sacred Game where she starred in Julia's Song, Vox, And that's that, The day I Woke Up and Lazos. Past Theater credits include The Ortiz Sisters of Mott Haven, produced at The Puerto Rican Travelling Theater and Teatro Farancisco Arrivi in Puerto Rico, from which she won an HOLA award. She’s performed in dozens of plays in New York City, including Kia Corthron's Caged Rhythm, and has toured as a cast member of “Slanguage”. Former Artistic Director of The Point CDC Theater and Theater Specialist at The Door, Marlyn has  recently worked on a series of readings with Carlos Serrano on his new play Hold: A Requiem for a Bride. She is also currently working on her third draft of her one-woman show Dying to Live which will premiere in 2015.

Agnes Murray  |  Printmaking

Agnes Murray’s work includes lithographs, intaglio prints, monotypes, artist's books, drawings, photographs, watercolors and oil paintings, which have been exhibited nationally and internationally in curated and juried exhibitions. Solo exhibits have been held at the Southampton Civic Centre Art Gallery (England), the Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, NY, and the Roland Gibson Gallery, Potsdam State College (SUNY). She received a Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) award in 2005 and recently completed a major project, Approaching Slains Castle, with funding from the Hatchfund (formerly USA Projects). Her work is included in public, corporate, and private collections, in the US, Europe and Brazil. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a BA in Studio Art, and received her M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts, Oakland. The artist is an experienced master printer in lithography, arts administrator and art professor, living in the Bronx for twenty years.

Nahshon Ratcliff  |  Non-Fiction

Nahshon Ratcliff was born in Los Angeles, California. He is an artist, writer, and model with a diverse background in film and television broadcasting. He worked as a production assistant on The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show (1997) and was production coordinator for Russell Simmons' One World Music Beat (1998), Naughty by Nature’s music video Jamboree (1999), and the documentary 1 More Hit by Shuana Garr of Smart Girl Productions (2007). Nahshon has been a Sag-Aftra actor since 1999 and has performed in several television series and national commercials. He was featured in Diana Krall’s music video Let’s Face the Music and Dance (1999). He was selected to perform in drag with recording artist Sheryl Crow at the 26th Annual American Music Awards and was mentioned in Terrance Dean's memoir Hiding In Hip-Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry. Nahshon is currently developing his first short film, Shooting Range.

Sheila Reinhold  |  Instrumental Music Performance

Violinist Sheila Reinhold enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, teacher, and recording artist. She gave her first performance as soloist with orchestra at age nine in New York City. At fifteen she joined the Master Class of Jascha Heifetz at the University of Southern California where she studied for five years. Ms. Reinhold’s engagements have included solos with major symphony orchestras and she is an active chamber musician with recordings on the Albany and North/South labels. She maintains a teaching studio at her home and has taught at schools such as Juilliard Pre-College and Mannes Prep. She has performed and recorded with popular artists such as Tony Bennett and served as concertmaster of many Broadway shows. Ms. Reinhold is the founder and music director of Intimate Voices, now in its fifth season presenting world-class musicians in chamber music concerts and community outreach events in the Bronx.

Photo: Pepper Negron

Peggy Robles-Alvarado  |  Performance Poetry

Peggy Robles-Alvarado is a tenured New York City educator, a 2014 Canto Mundo Fellow and an award-winning author of Conversations With My Skin and Homenaje A Las Guerreras/ Homage To The Warrior Women. Peggy has been featured on HBO Habla Women, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, 2014 Voto Latino Power Summit, Poets and Writers Fifth Annual Connecting Cultures Reading, and The BADD!ASS Women Festival, as well as other culturally notable venues throughout the tri-state area. She has been published in Letras, by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College,, and Sofrito For Your Soul. She has also participated in several panel discussions on contemporary Latina writers and is continuously creating and supporting literary events such as Women in Creative Rebellion though Robles Writes Productions. For more information on her current projects, please visit

Photo: Pepper Negron

Ignacio Soltero  |  Photography

Ignacio Soltero is a Bronx-based photographer who was born and raised in Brooklyn. He always had an interest in photography since learning of the process at eleven years old at day camp. Two years later, he learned how to operate a manual film camera and develop B&W film in a dark room in Junior High School. At that time, he photographed mostly school events, skateboarding & his BMX biking friends on the weekends. The passion for photography was short-lived due to the lack of funds to buy a camera. A few years later, his interest in photography was sparked again while studying Advertising Design in college. He then began to document his mountain bike adventures throughout Brooklyn with photos. He and some friends formed a website documenting other mountain bikers in New York City. Since then, he has fine-tuned his skills shooting action sports photography and applied them to shooting DJs, dancers and other events.

Bruce Tallerman  |  Fiction

Bruce Tallerman’s short stories have been published in numerous literary magazines, most recently in the Southern California Review and the Potomac Review. He has also written articles for various magazines and websites. Bruce is a three-time winner of the BRIO (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) award for fiction. He currently works as a marketing and communications manager and is, unexplainably, an avid Mets fan.

Matthew Thorburn  |  Poetry

Matthew Thorburn is the author of three books of poems: This Time Tomorrow, Every Possible Blue and Subject to Change. His poems have also appeared in The Paris Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Ploughshares and other literary journals. He is the recipient of a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and his work has been recognized with fellowships and prizes from the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund, the Mississippi Review and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. A native of Michigan, Matthew Thorburn has lived and worked in New York City for nearly 15 years. Learn more about his writing at

Yarisa Colón Torres  |  Crafts

Yarisa Colón Torres is a Puerto Rican writer and book artist. For over ten years, she has been experimenting with the creation of unique handmade books. Her works have traveled to France, Italy, Ecuador, among other places. She also organizes handmade book making workshops for children and adults, publishes limited editions of the poetry books written by fellow Caribbean writers, and collaborates with visual artists on multi-disciplinary projects that revolve around the written word. In 2012, Yarisa was selected by her peers to participate at the Global Voices Bloggers Summit, held in Nairobi, Kenya. She has also received the Cropper Foundation Writer’s Fellowship based in Trinidad & Tobago. Currently, Yarisa is working on various artist and poetry books and teaches Caribbean Literature at Lehman College, CUNY.

Macdara (Uibh Aille) Vallely  |  Narrative Film/Video

Writer and director, Macdara Vallely's second feature film, BABYGIRL, was released theatrically in the USA in October 2013. It won Best Irish Feature at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, Best Feature at the Santa Barbara Film Festival  2013, the 2013 Panavision Independent Spirit Award, and was premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. His first feature film, PEACEFIRE, was adapted from his Edinburgh Fringe First winning play and was premiered at Karlovy Vary. It won Best First Feature at Galway Film Fleadh, the Special Jury Prize at the European First Feature Festival at Angers and the Grand Jury Prize at the Annonay Film Festival. In addition to several short films, Vallely also wrote, directed and presented the 60-minute television documentary JOSPEH CAMPBELL: AISLING AGUS IOBAIRT. Vallely was born in Craigavon, County Armagh, graduated with a BA HONS in Theatre Studies and Irish Language from the University of Ulster in 1994.

Tammy Wofsey  |  Printmaking

Born in Colorado, now based in the Bronx, Tammy Wofsey makes larger-than-life black and white linoleum prints and artist books. She received a BFA from SUNY College at Purchase, New York, where she studied with Antonio Frasconi in the Book Arts Program. Her love of books led her to pursue a Master’s Degree in library science from Queens College. Having worked with her mentor, Bob Blackburn, at his printmaking workshop, she subsequently set up her own print shop, Plotzing Press, in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Wofsey’s work may be found at the Library of Congress, Yale University, the Museum School in Boston and in private collections. She is currently printing a twenty-page artist book called Soil and Water, which centers on our dependency on soil as a life source.




2014 BRIO Award Winners



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Funding for BRIO is provided by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs-Greater New York Arts Development Fund.

Additional funding is provided by the NYS Council on the Arts, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, and BCA’s membership program.





A successful night was in the bag as BCA and BRIO Cafe presented an evening of poetry and tea at Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos in April 2015. BRIO provided the poets and Serengeti Teas & Spices provided the tea.

Pictured (l. to r.): BCA BRIO Administrator Lydia Clark; BRIO winners and poets Judith Baumel, Sarah Stern and Matthew Thorburn; BCA Grant Administrator Sabrina Cedeno; and BCA Executive Director Deirdre Scott.


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