WPA Welcomes New Program Director Samantha May and New Membership Director Deena O. Hyatt

As the season shifts into fall, things are also changing over here at WPA Headquarters, where Samantha May and Deena O.Hyatt have recently joined the WPA team. We hope you’ll have the opportunity to meet them at (e)merge or one of our upcoming events. In the meantime, you can read a little more about them here:

Samantha May

Samantha holds a Masters in Art History from American University in Washington, DC. She comes to WPA after three years at Hillyer, where she started as an intern and ended up as Gallery Director.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with such a wide range of artists,” Samantha said. “In working at Hillyer, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of DC artists. I loved working with them to bring their exhibitions to life. After working in the contemporary scene for three years, I am really excited to work with a wide range of artists and a wide range of exhibitions and programs. WPA offers some wonderful programs, which I will continue and expand. I also hope to extend our outreach and exposure, which starts with making sure everyone knows about WPA’s programs!”

Samantha’s interest in art started at a young age. At her small-town high school in Pennsylvania, she practically lived in the art room. She ate lunch there, did her homework there, and skipped class to go there. Finally, her teacher did something unprecedented and allowed her to take an independent study course where she would give an art history lesson to all of her classes on the last Friday of each month. “After that, I was hooked,” she said. While she pursued her undergraduate degree in Art History and International Studies at Wilson College, she also served as president of the campus Art Club and led a campaign to successfully bring the Guerilla Girls to campus for the annual Arts Day.

However, Samantha does have other interests outside of art. “I love camping and hiking and I spend most of my free time outside with my dog, Ruby.  I also love to sew and design clothing. Whenever I have a free second or a Groupon, you can find me at G St. Fabrics."

Samantha takes over for Blair Murphy who recently moved to New York with her husband. We wish her the best in this new chapter. For questions or suggestions about upcoming exhibitions and programs, feel free to contact Samantha.

Deena O. Hyatt

Deena is an event producer, performing artist, and active member of the creative community, orbiting the music, art, and film worlds with a passion for supporting all kinds of artists and bringing creative people together. She has served as a creative practitioner and consultant for organizations such as The American Association for The Advancement of Science (AAAS), Thirst DC, and Provisions Library, and has hosted events at alternative arts spaces like The Dunes and Above The Bikeshop. For over three years she taught children with disabilities, using art and music as empowering tools for communication. Fun facts: Deena was born in Bangkok, is classically trained in voice, and moonlights as a voiceover artist, including the voice of Wonder Girl for the DC Universe Game.

Deena attended the School of International Service at American University, and later graduated from the University of Texas in Austin, with a BA in English. During her time in Austin, she found herself at every art opening she could attend. Surrounded by artists, arts organizers, arts enthusiasts, and galleries, she learned rapidly about community cultivation and visual culture. At UT, she was denoted an honorary art student and invited to school field trips to museums in Dallas and Houston.

“I grew up in the DC area and after being gone for almost ten years, it’s great to be back and see such a thriving art scene bubbling up.  I’m inspired by the intelligence and scope of artists in the DC area and honored to be part of an arts organization like WPA with such a rich history,” Deena said.  “I'm passionate about providing practical means to help make dreams a reality, and excited to bring new ideas and energy to WPA and to the community.”

Deena likes to say that creativity runs deep in her DNA. Her mother is a painter, her dad is a writer, and her uncles are artists and architects.

“I remember reading article about how WPA founder Alice Denney’s ‘spirit was being directed by the community of artists’ -- this quote really resonated with me. I naturally gravitate towards and am steered by the creative community anywhere I go. I’m looking forward to getting to know the current members and expanding the membership base. I'm particularly excited about (e)merge, and currently planning the next Professional Practices Workshop on 3D printing software with Jonathan Monaghan and Anderson Ta (MICA).”

Deena will resume Membership and newsletter editorial duties from Christopher Cunetto who leaves WPA to pursue his art practice full-time. Christopher will remain in the DC area and we wish him great success. To nominate a new member or to share ideas or get answers to any questions related to membership benefits and programs, please feel free to reach out to Deena.



WPA’s commitment to supporting and providing platforms for artists has driven us for almost 40 years.  WPA takes great pride in its devoted volunteers, interns, supporters, and our talented artist members. And as we continue to work in service to our mission, we’re thrilled to welcome fresh perspectives from Samantha and Deena.

For more information about WPA Membership, contact Deena O. Hyatt by e-mail dhyatt@wpadc.org or by phone at 202.234.7103



October 2, 2013