Adult Instructors



Liz Steiner holds a BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from Kent State University with a minor in Geology and an MFA in Metal Design from East Carolina University. In 2012, she curated the international, juried exhibition Hot Under the Collar and was the Artist Fellow in Fine Metals at Peters Valley Craft Center. In addition to teaching at Emerge, she currently teaches adjunct at Craven Community College in New Bern, NC and Pitt Community College in Greenville, NC.



Lisette Fee has been creating and designing jewelry for over 15 years. Lisette began her apprenticeship at a silver smithing repair shop then moved on to acquiring her metalsmithing degree from East Carolina University. Lisette has assisted a course at Penland School of Craft and has taught entry level jewelry and metalsmithing at Emerge Gallery.



Gail Ritzer received her BS in Art Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an MFA in Ceramics and Painting from East Carolina University. She has been exhibiting her work nationally since 1980 at such locales in New York, The University of Missouri-St. Louis, Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Nebraska. Her work has appeared in several publications including FiberArts Design Book, Art/Quilt Magazine, and exhibition catalogs. Gail has been fortunate to receive a number of grants from the North Carolina Arts Council to pursue a variety of personal and community arts projects. She has been teaching surface design techniques, mixed media methods, painting, and ceramics to students of all ages for many years at workshops, as Outreach Coordinator for the Greenville Museum of Art and as an instructor at Emerge Gallery & Art Center.



Charlotte Fitz is a ceramic artist whose work consists of functional and sculptural handmade artworks that are inspired by stories, myths, dreams, and symbols drawn from her ancestral home of eastern Kentucky. Charlotte is a graduate of Guilford College, where she studied English and creative writing. She continued her studies at the School of Art and Design at East Carolina University and received a degree in ceramic design as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching. She is the curator of the Janice Hardison Gallery at Joyner Library, East Carolina University, where she researches, designs, and implements a variety of art and history exhibitions.



Heather Suter is a graduate of East Carolina University with a BFA in Studio Arts with a concentration in Ceramics. She was born in Michigan and moved to Apex, NC in 2001 where she began to pursue her love for both visual and theater arts. Moving to Greenville for college in 2007, she explored her loved for jewelry design, interior design, and pottery. Heather is currently our Education Coordinator and loves being involved with our youth classes and public events. As an artist her inspiration comes from colors, repetitive imagery, and organic patterns found in nature. The objective of her artwork is to simultaneously create decorative and utilitarian ceramics.



Haley McElroy graduated from Appalachian State University with a BFA in Art Education and a BA in Art Education. Since Graduating she has taught elementary art for 5 1/2 years. She has lived in Greenville, NC, for the last two years and excited to be teaching summer art camps for my second year. In her own studio, she enjoy constructing figural wall pieces and surface decorating simple functional forms. In her free time she enjoys spending time with my partner, AJ, curling up on the couch with their cat, Little Man, and getting lost in a new show.

Erika Gibson


Erika Gibson is a largely self-taught, versatile and eclectic designer. She built her first simple websites by age ten, and had a multi-page site under her belt by the end of middle school. Erika's first experience with entrepreneurship was a screen-printed t-shirt business she started her senior year of high school. Her interest in ceramics dates from summer camp experiences in her single-digit years, and she rediscovered the medium as an adult. She then went on to study Fine Art at East Carolina School of Art & Design, and Business Administration, Marketing at Western Governors University.
Erika’s primary aim is to empower and encourage others to create. There are prevalent misconceptions, like that an artist must have a degree and be able to draw a straight line without a ruler. The professed perfection of others can be intimidating; but the process of creation can be approachable, accessible and centered on the sheer joy of making something unique and authentic.

melissa Gates


Art, art, art is in my blood. I come from a long line of artists. I graduated from The University of Michigan and had a long career in IT. For my second act, I've focused on ceramics full time. Hand building is my passion, especially anything whimsical or out of the ordinary.. if you can think it, you can build it! I absolutely love teaching and doing art shows. Spend a little time with me and I'll get you hooked!

Kimberly Cusack


Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Kimberly Cusack has lived in New Bern, NC for sixteen years. She is a junior at ECU's School of Art and Design and is pursuing her BFA in painting and drawing. Along with an Entrepreneurship certificate and a minor in public and regional planning, she is working to become involved in community arts management once she graduates. After interning at Caven Arts her senior year of high school, she became inspired by how public art can help heal communities, raise awareness for important issues, and bring color to public spaces. Her body of work encompasses paintings and found object sculptures that use distorted abstract forms combined with realism to dissect peoples true intention.

Kia Glosson

Kia Glosson

Kia earned her BFA in Art Education with a concentration in ceramics many years ago, in 1989.

Since then, she has taught art for people of all ages, 3 years old-adult, in the public schools, arts councils, and in private lessons. Though she loves all media, her favorite remains clay. Over the years, she has changed from a product oriented perspective (learned in her undergrad program) to a more process oriented one that focuses attention on enjoying the creative process, rather than the final product. In the past five years her focus has changed to include wellness and resiliency skills. As a Resiliency Educator, recent MSW graduate, and LCSWA, she is excited about weaving together mindfulness and pottery in Intro to Throwing classes at Emerge.

Samuel Sugar


Samuel Sugar is currently attending East Carolina University working on his BFA in painting and drawing. Through different courses and mediums Sam has been working on his artwork for over 10 years. He has exhibited his artwork across North Carolina in Asheville and Winston-Salem. While Sam has experience in all mediums and applications, Sam focuses on large scale abstract oil paintings. When away from the studio, Sam focuses on spending time with his family. In January Sam and his wife welcomed their first child, Maggie. Sam enjoys nature walks with his dogs and going thrift store shopping with his wife. While new to teaching in a formal setting, Sam’s art experience and knowledge is ready to be shared with the world.

Sonya Coulson Rook

Coulson Rook

Sonya received a BFA in Metal Design from East Carolina University and has obtained additional technical training in stone setting and hand engraving at New Approach School for Jewelers in Franklin, TN and the GRS Training Center in Emporia, KS. In 2008 she established her own line of jewelry while living in Raleigh, NC which she currently wholesales and retails through various online and in person outlets. Her work can be found in stores and galleries around the country and has been featured in several publications as well as exhibitions at CAM Art Gallery in Raleigh, the Pratt Institute in New York, and the Baltimore Jewelry Center. She has taught metals classes at Sertoma Arts Center and the NC State Crafts Center, and has been teaching adult and youth classes at Emerge Gallery since relocating back to Pitt County in 2023.

stacey swinson


Stacey Swinson received her degree in education from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse and moved to NC where she met her husband. Stacey has always enjoyed making things and was a jeweler before falling in love with pottery. She started taking pottery classes at the University of Florida before moving to Greenville in 2015, where she continued to take classes at Emerge. Stacey and her husband have three children that keep her extremely busy so her home studio has made a huge difference in her development as a potter and has allowed her to create her pottery business Ground Up Pottery. You can find her most nights, after the kids are in bed, working in her studio with her resident studio bunnies and usually a dog or three to keep her company. Most of Stacey’s work is functional dinnerware but occasionally she will be inspired to hand build or do some alternative firings such as raku. Stacey is the founder and president of the Tar River Potters Guild and looks forward to growing the pottery community even more through teaching at Emerge.

Kimberly Newsom


Kimberly started her love of yarn crafts when she was 21. She taught herself to crochet in the early 90s, learning from books and magazines. About a decade later she taught herself to knit, while also tending a small homestead in the country. She had no TV, no YouTube and basic dial up internet. She learned through trial and error and made baby clothes and blankets, and found a lot of satisfaction in the art.
Kimberly moved to eastern North Carolina in 1991 to attend East Carolina University, beginning her school career by majoring in art. She later pursued a gardening passion and homesteaded for 22 years. Within that time she went back to ECU to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition while also building her family business. In 2015, she began her successful corporate career, spanning almost a decade. Today, she is changing paths again. Drawn back to her love of art, she has been painting, learning digital forms of art, both 2D and 3D, and crocheting and knitting. She seeks to share what she has learned over the years by teaching knitting and crochet at Emerge Gallery. She believes that being able to produce a beautiful utilitarian piece of art grows a belief in self-efficacy; inspiring confidence and a desire to create.