Gus Miranda and Melissa Maxfield-Miranda own and operate Anhinga Clay Studios, Inc. This husband and wife team are both accomplished artists and educators who are sharing their passion and dream of opening an art space for children and adults. These two individuals are extremely knowledgeable about art making and its processes, art history, and are well rounded in museum studies. This unique couple with over 33 combined years of experience working in the Visual Arts arena. Both born and raised in Miami-Dade County, they are familiar with the education system and community at large, having been part of the public school system, themselves.
Gus holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Florida International University with a major in painting along with his National Boards for Professional Teaching Certificate in Visual Arts. As a former employee in Miami-Dade Public School System, he had over 15 years experience as an elementary art teacher and museum educator. He has also had many years instructing summer camps and teen portfolio development classes at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Bass Museum of Art. He is following his passion of making pottery and teaching others the wonderful world of art and clay. Gus’ philosophy on art making and teaching is “You must learn to trust yourself and your intuition, have no fear and expect beautiful mistakes”.
Melissa holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute and a Master in Fine Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach, both with a concentration in Ceramics. During her time in college, Melissa earned scholarships to attend residencies at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Watershed, both located in Maine. Her extensive background in Ceramics sparked from a love of working with clay and supportive art teachers in high school while in attendance at New World School of the Arts. During her years in graduate school in California, she worked as an artist exhibiting with Yoram Gil Gallery and working full-time as an artist/educator at a notable non-for profit organization, Inner-City Arts. Melissa currently teaches art at David Fairchild Elementary School in South Miami. Melissa’s teaching duties extend beyond the classroom into the prestigious Museum Education Program of Miami-Dade County Public Schools as a museum educator at the Bass Museum of Art, and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Melissa’s philosophy on art making and teaching beautifully complements Gus’ idea on the same. She simply states, “Beauty is finding who you are within each moment that you are creating your artwork. The external struggles of life begin to fall away and the human being, filled with love, curiosity and compassion bloom before your eyes, forever changed.”
Alison Burrus holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Masters in Art Education and a Specialist in Art Education, all from Florida International University in addition to being a National Board Certified Teacher. She is newly retired as a Miami-Dade County Public Schools Art Teacher from David Fairchild Elementary School, as well as a Curriculum Support Specialist working with the Museum Education Program at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU. She is also currently the Assistant Superintendent/Superintendent for the Dade County Youth Fair, Fine Arts Department. Throughout her career, Alison has led many professional development workshops, held numerous leadership positions within her school and throughout the community, working closely with the PTA/PTSA, Dade Art Educators Association, the Florida Art Educators Association, and Ocean Bank. She has been nominated and awarded Teacher of the Year at David Fairchild Elementary, Distinguished Service Award and the Skevy Ralis Art Education Award of Honor from the Dade Art Educators Association. Not only is Alison a notable art teacher, she is also a very skilled painter having exhibited her artwork at CQ Gallery, Borders Gallery, and the Fairchild Tropical Gardens Gallery. Alison states, “I am able to allow my students to reach and achieve their creative potential. I am a professional artist who shares my love of art with my students. I help them rediscover their first language…Art.”
Ash is our studio assistant. She is always making sure the studio is running smoothly, thanks to her we have glazes mixed and kilns loaded. She is an amazing ceramic artist in her own right and an essential member of our team.
Sarah Hinkes is an artist, cook and teacher. After working in restaurants and bakeries for many years, she now teaches cooking classes and hosts dinners and events. Sarah started pottery in 2020 and has been taken with it ever since. She currently teaches pottery classes at Anhinga Clay studios.
Acosta was raised in Miami, Florida where he attended New World School of Arts High School. He received a BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art, in Baltimore, Maryland. During his time at Maryland, Acosta was awarded the Presidential Scholarship, Maryland Institute Scholarship, National Art Honor Society Scholarship, Seymour Mandeldaum, and the William Ferguson Merit Scholarship. He also earned an Honorable Mention Award, National Endowment of the Arts, National Art Honor Society Scholarship, and Liquitex Excellence in Art Student Grant. Acosta received his Masters of Science in Art Education at Florida International University. Graduating with honors for outstanding Academic Achievement, and awarded the Florida International University Provost award for Outstanding Creative Project. Mr. Acosta is a full-time teacher with Miami Dade County Public Schools since 2005; currently teaching at Springview Elementary School.