Our team is diverse joining from across the world. We look for creative, leading voices that together join the chorus of AWE. We hold that anything is possible, and that boundaries are only set to help us push the limits of our existence and that those who search shall find.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Zhenya Gershman is a well-known artist, art historian and museum educator. As a Founder of Project Awe she has dedicated her scholarly and charitable work to examine the influence of Esotericism on the Arts. Gershman seeks to provide new dimensions to understanding and experiencing the cultural icons of Western European heritage.
Gershman’s specific area of study and expertise is in the life and work of Rembrandt. In her pioneering article Rembrandt: Turn of the Key, published by Arion and featured by Huffington Post, Gershman was able to reveal the evidence for Rembrandt’s involvement with the early pre-Grand Lodge Freemason fraternity, bringing new light to understanding of this great master. She has worked for over a decade in the internationally acclaimed J. Paul Getty Museum, and has contributed to such exhibitions as Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits and Rembrandt: Telling the Difference. Gershman’s groundbreaking discovery regarding the presence of a hidden Rembrandt self portrait was published by Arion, Boston University and was brought to European audiences by Le Monde, one of the most important international magazines. She is currently working on a book and TV series: Secrets of the Masters.
Photo credit: Michele Mattei
John Slifko, PhD, has dedicated his work to issues around the world for democratic civil society with major contributions to global efforts in improving the education of young women. Slifko has worked for the Los Angeles City Council and United States Congress engaging in environmental issues and technology policy. He is a founding member and on the Board of Advisers at the Hannah Mather Crocker Society, Notre Dame University, and C3 Advisory Group. John Slifko is a co-Director of the Roosevelt Center for the Study of Civil Society & Freemasonry and a co-Founder of project AWE.
Evan D. Pepper, PhD, is the Chair of Science at West Coast University. He received his Doctorate of Philosophy at University of Southern California. Dr. Pepper was awarded an NIH Fellowship for gerontological studies and has published extensively on Alzheimer's disease as well as other age related processes.
Alexander Maykapar is a renowned Russian harpsichordist, organist and pianist, grandson of the famous composer and pianist Samuel Maykapar, who combines a dense concert schedule with extensive writing, translation and teaching work. Having graduated from the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music as a pianist and from the Moscow Conservatory as an organist, he has been performing since 1970, with an emphasis on early music. In his concerts, research, teaching and editing activities, J.S. Bach stands out as one of the central figures; he has performed Bach’s complete harpsichord music (15 concerts), as well as that of François Couperin (8 concerts), and all keyboard works by Joseph Haydn. The English record label Olympia published five CDs by Maykapar in The Origins of Russian Piano Music series. Alexander is the author of over two hundred works on music history, the art of performance, painting, and musical iconography, in which he reveals the deeper hidden meanings of famous masterpieces. His translations into Russian include such important works as Wanda Landowska’s book On Music (1991, 2nd ed. 2005), Bach’s Ornaments by Walter Emery (1996), and the Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art by James Hall (1996), followed by Alexander’s own work in the field of symbology and iconography – a popular compendium New Testament in Art (1997). Alexander currently lectures at music schools and colleges, and performs in concert cycles under the umbrella name The Anthology of Harpsichord Music: the year 2014 was dedicated to Couperin, and in the 2015-16 season, Alexander is going to play 200 sonatas by Scarlatti. His most recent published work is the two-volume essay collection The Facets of Classical Music (2013-14) in which he explores a vast range of subjects and periods, from the musical culture of Ancient Egypt through Renaissance and Baroque periods and up to Thomas Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus, offering an unusual comparative approach and illuminating the reader with unexpected revelations along the way.
Dr. Andreas Önnerfors is an Associate Professor and Reader in intellectual history at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Additionally, Dr. Önnerfors is a Research Associate at the Centre for Fascist, Anti-fascist and Post-fascist Studies at the Teesside University, UK. On behalf of the German state government and a Nordic inter-governmental research organization Dr. Önnerfors carried out surveys on PhD education. Lund university library employed Andreas Önnerfors for a project of provenance in their rare book collections. He is a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg, Austria. Dr. Önnerfors research interests focus mainly on expressions of early modern fraternalism, in particular initiatory societies, the intellectual history of the enlightenment between public and secret spaces and of trans-national cultural encounters.
Photo credit: Elin Widfeldt
Jean-Michel Mathonière was initially trained as a designer in building and civil engineering. His early passion for cathedral builder’s traditions resulted today in him being recognized as a specialist in the history of craft guilds and journeymen stonemasons in France. Jean-Michel has published numerous articles and books on these subjects, including the prehistory of Freemasonry, stonecutter’s marks, and printer’s emblems of the 15th and 17th centuries. Jean-Michel is a founder of the Study Center in Avignon, France. He has organized various exhibitions on stereotomy and journeymen stonecutters and on other various related topics to the themes of compagnonnage and architecture.
AWE CONTRIBUTING MEMBERS
Gypsy van Melle Seaton discovered her passion for Western Esotericism through her lifelong fascination with art and design. Her particular interest in the junction between art, mathematics and esotericism developed while she was studying Product Design at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. The creative and technical aspects of her background as a designer have provided her with an original perspective within the academic framework of Western Esotericism. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies with a minor in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam (UVA) and is continuing her studies at the UVA’s graduate program for a Master of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies: Western Esotericism.
In 2017 Gypsy joined Project AWE’s team as a research assistant for the internship program. She has subsequently taken on an important position as Project Specialist.
Mauricio Oviedo Salazar received his masters in Religious Studies, with a specialization in Western Esotericism from the University of Amsterdam. He earned a BA in Art History, from the University of Costa Rica. His current research focuses on Renaissance Art, mainly 15th century art in Italy, and its role in the history of culture of the period. Mauricio has a number of publications in peer reviewed-journals, such as ‘La historia del arte como ciencia: La inserción de Imre Lakatos en la definición de la disciplina’, published by Revista de Filosofía (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), 41, 1 (2016) and ‘La profecía del diluvio de 1524: la astrología como herramienta fundamental para una comprensión política y celestial de la naturaleza en la Alemania del siglo XVI’, in Revista de Filosofía (Universidad de Costa Rica), 54, 140 (2015). Mauricio has also presented papers in a series of international conferences, the last ones being ‘A Deviant Annunciation? The Case of Cosmè Tura’, presented at the ESSWE 6, in Erfurt (2017), and ‘The E-Series Tarocchi: a visual representation for a theory of knowledge?’, at the 6th Scientiae, in Padua (2017).
Expressing the beauty and controversy of the world around him Artist and Filmmaker Dario Mellado has carved out a strong presence in L.A.’s underground art scene. Mellado’s work includes a twenty-year ongoing study of “America’s Decaying Suburban Experience”. He focuses on the post second world war suburban explosion and it’s environmental, social, and spiritual implications. Mellado’s background in social activism including work coordinating the Independent Living Program in the San Fernando Valley (a vocational and counseling program for “at risk youth” and foster children) and time spent as a Vocational Counselor and Advocate for teens with Autism and Asperger’s solidified Mellado’s idea and use of an art’s function as an influential “tool for social change”. His recent documentary “Nuclear Cowboys” addresses environmental concerns and raises awareness of local health crises.
Sasha Chaitow, PhD, is a British-Greek independent scholar, cultural historian, and artist. Her doctoral research (University of Essex) comprises a full scale review of the life and work of visionary author and occultist Joséphin Péladan. Sasha initially studied Fine Art at Vakalo Art School, Athens and Communication/Journalism at the University of Indianapolis, Athens. Her interest in the interdisciplinarity and the intersection between esotericism and culture led to an MA in English Literature (University of Indianapolis, 2004) and a second MA in Western Esotericism (EXESESO, Exeter, 2008). Sasha was assistant visiting professor in Religious Studies and History at the University of Indianapolis Athens 2008-2012, and founding director of Phoenix Rising Academy, an independent educational enterprise dedicated to introducing the academic study of Western Esotericism to a general audience. She has lectured on esotericism and art at a number of academic conferences in Europe and the US, and frequently delivers public lectures on the same topics. She has directed international conferences and colloquia in the UK, Greece and the US. In the past Sasha has worked as a cultural reporter for the Greek press. She has published several articles on her recent research in academic and cultural journals in the UK, the USA, France, Holland, Sweden, Russia, Spain, and Greece, has contributed articles and chapters to books on Freemasonry, Initiation, Synaesthesia, Methodology in the Study of Esotericism, Art and Esotericism, and Esotericism and Politics, and has published a monograph on Péladan (Daidaleos Books, Salonica, 2013). Her academic study of Péladan is currently undergoing peer review by an academic press with a view to publication later this in 2015. Sasha is also a prolific visual artist and runs ICON Gallery, which specialises in Greek sacred art and heraldry in Corfu, Greece. Alongside painting and writing, she conducts frequent seminars on art, culture, and mythology in collaboration with educational institutions in Greece and abroad.
Lindsay LaChapelle Mellado is a talented Filmmaker and a Producer. She is working on a TV pilot for Project AWE series.
Yanina Gotsulsky is a writer and translator, whose work has appeared in national and international publications. Yanina has a degree in Russian Literature from York University in Toronto.
Sydney Day's fascination with the ancient began with learning Ancient Greek during which time she was awarded a National Greek scholarship. She studied Classics at New York University concentrating on culture’s rituals, beliefs, and dramatic traditions. Sydney infused her knowledge of the ancient into her other areas of academic interest, discovering unexpected relationships between recent breakthroughs in cognitive neuroscience and ancient notions of consciousness. Day spends a great majority of her time delving into the mysteries that lie within. In her quest for truth, she avoids following any dogma or belief, rather placing her trust into that which she can experience herself, and thus gain wisdom from. At project AWE Sydney is on a mission to recover the notion of the Divine Feminine.
Image, top of the page: Rembrandt van Rijn, Syndics of the Cloth Merchant's Guild (deatil), Rijks Museum, Amsterdam
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