Celebrating Black Artists at Iona’s Washington Home Center

February 19, 2021

Iona’s adult day health center in Southeast DC, the Washington Home Center, is filled with beautiful artwork from local Black artists in tribute to the vibrant community where our center is located. Congress Heights is a historic neighborhood with abundant arts and cultural offerings, including nearby campus THEARC.

Enjoy this introduction to their works below, all of which can be found at Iona’s Washington Home Center! (Please note: In-person tours of the center are not available at this time due to the public health crisis.)

Melvin Nesbitt, https://www.melvinsart.com/

Four portraits of children






I’m a visual storyteller. My current artworks are stories set in the early 1980’s, the decade of my youth. Inspired by boyhood memories of the housing project where I lived from kindergarten through the sixth grade, I create imagery that deals with community, friendship, the joy of childhood, and the Black American experience.

I remember reading a lot as a kid, and I searched for books about kids like me and my friends from places like the housing projects where we lived. My imagery are the pages from that picture book I could never find as a kid.

“Aziza” Claudia Gibson-Hunter, http://gibsonhunterstudio.com/

“Aziza” Claudia Gibson-Hunter was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Temple University, (BS), and received her MFA from Howard University. Aziza attended Bob Blackburn’s Printmaking Studio, the New York Arts Students League, and later received a fellowship from the Bronx Museum of Art. She joined “Where We At,” a group of Black women artists, in the early 1980’s. Ms. Gibson-Hunter was an administrator at Parsons School of Design and a faculty member at Howard University and Bowie State University. Ms. Gibson-Hunter was awarded the Individual Artist Fellowship Program Grant from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities in 2014, 20016, 2018, and 2020. Her work can be found in the collections of the Washington DC Art Bank, the Liberian Embassy, Montgomery County, Maryland, and other noted collections.

Sondra Hassan, http://sondrahassan.com 

Sandy Barrett Hassan, a native Washingtonian, began quilting in the 1970s by making crib quilts for her daughters and gifts for friends and family. In 1984, she joined the Daughters of Dorcas, a D.C. chapter of the National Quilting Association, and in 1994 she became a member of Uhuru Quilters. Sandy’s fiber art has been exhibited in galleries and museums and throughout the metropolitan area including the Smithsonian, the Sumner Museum, and the Corcoran Art Gallery. Her quilts are included in two books – Communion of the Spirits by Roland Freeman and Spirits of the Cloth by Carolyn Mazloomi. “Free South Africa,” made in the mid-1980s, is described as “vibrant and exuberant” in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. Sandy was commissioned by the District of Columbia Historian to make pictorial quilt blocks commemorating historic sites for DC’s bicentennial celebration. Sandy’s home studio was featured in a nationally televised segment of “B. Smith with Style.”

Paula Cleggett, https://paulacleggett.com/

My creative expressions start with stories worth telling on canvas. My most compelling narratives convey strong composition and design with a supporting cast of relatable characters, confident color palettes, and believable brush strokes.

With light playing a leading role, my paintings feature morning light gracing cattle and cowhand, midday sun embracing church picnic patrons, and evening shade serenading a retiring couple. Filtered light falls on a family around the table as well as a duo tackling a cookbook recipe. Smoky spotlights bounce off dancers, singers, and music-makers.

I shine a light on warm, familiar themes—family, friends, food, and frivolity—with new perspectives. It is my intent to connect with viewers through our shared, life affirming experiences.

Kassee Andrews-Weller, https://kasseart.com

Born in rural Georgia, one of my fondest memories is visiting “Jugtown” and watching mesmerized as a lump of clay was being transformed into a vessel on a handmade kick wheel. My affinity with clay was kindled. From digging clay from a local spring to making mud cakes for my pretend childhood restaurant, clay has evolved over the years as the common denominator and go to medium in my artwork.  In the serenity of my studio, I recreate thoughts and memories into tangible art. Kasse is a military veteran who works out of Studio One on H street in DC.

Eileen Williams, https://www.elwilliamsart.com/

Maryland artist Eileen Williams has widen the conventional boundaries of fabric as a medium, by using fabric as her paint palette to create one of a kind three dimensional mixed media and fabric art. After working 18 years in the medical field, Eileen works now as a full time artist. Eileen has exhibited her work in galleries, public spaces and art venues located in Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, New York and Connecticut. A cancer survivor since 2009 Eileen states, “having gone through chemotherapy and radiation, every opportunity that I can exhibit my work and encourage others, is truly a blessing.”

Sheila Crider, http://dcartistseast.org/artist/sheila-crider/

Sheila Crider graduated with a University Degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and became active in the literary community of her native Washington, DC. In 1997, 1998 and 2003, she received Small Project Grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She was nominated for a Tiffany Foundation Award in 2003 and again in 2005. She has served on grant review and public art selection panels for the DC Commission on the Arts. She is a long time member and supporter of Washington Project for the Arts and is active with the recently formed Ward 8 Arts and Culture Committee. Recent commissions have included public art for the New St. Elizabeths’ Hospital, Anacostia High School, Community of Hope Conway Clinic, and St. Elizabeth East and the Concord Apartment Building in Crystal City. She currently lives and works in SE DC.

Desiree Sterbini, https://www.hillcenterdc.org/artist/desiree-sterbini/

Artist Desiree Sterbini creates award winning works with oil pastels and colored pencils on textured paper and board. Her sensitive compositions are detailed with vibrant colors and strokes, created by stumps of rolled paper and brush. Women of color, children, the simple lives of ordinary people and nature are her primary subjects.

Desiree received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and continues to study through workshops and studio classes. Her oil pastel paintings have been exhibited and featured throughout the DC metro area and nationally, including Embassy of Cote d’Ivoire, Fox News Washington DC Myvoicedc.com, Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at the Smith Farm Center, Edison Place Gallery, L’Eclat de Verr Gallery, Sandy Springs Museum, Art Expo Las Vegas and 7 Women from 7 Countries exhibition in Doral, Florida. Desiree’s works have also been on loan in Port Louis, Mauritius Embassy through the United States Arts in Embassy Program.