Who We Are

The Beginning

A Real Thought (A.R.T.) In Action was founded in 2014 by artists Mailyne K. Briggs and Sarah Lickley. Mailyne and Sarah met while engaging youth and promoting employment and entrepreneurship. They noticed the lack of arts programming in various communities and wanted to make an effort to change that. Mailyne came to Sarah with a 12 week art program that she had developed many years prior. The two decided to take the program and run with it. With the support of local artists and generous donors, they were able to facilitate a free 6 week art and multimedia workshop for youth ages 14-29 at the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center. Sarah has since moved out of Ottawa to live off the grid on a small homestead.

What originally started off as 12 week art workshop for youth facing barriers has evolved into community partnerships, honorariums and programs for people of all ages and abilities. With a small but dedicated team, A.R.T in Action has become an integral part of building relationships and supporting the mental well-being of community members.

Our Board Members

Mailyne K. Briggs

CEO and Co-Founder

Mailyne Briggs is a mixed media and multimedia artist-entrepreneur. Born in the Philippines, Mailyne was adopted and immigrated to Canada at the age of four. Although a creative since birth, it wasn’t until her late teens that she picked up painting as a way to heal from childhood trauma.

Overcoming her mental health and depression through painting and yoga, Mailyne recognized the arts as a form of therapy and in 2014 she along with Sarah Lickley, decided to co-found A.R.T. In Action.

As a community builder Mailyne is focused on deepening her awareness of accessibility, and amplifying the calls to action of Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ communities. As an artist, she strives to find ways to use art as part of her healing journey, while also incorporating her hopes, dreams and activism into her work.

Claudine Santos


Claudine studied in England and Kingston, ON at Queen’s University, earning degrees in politics and Spanish literature as well as a certificate of international studies. She also has a background in law.

She’s had a circuitous career path to becoming Director of Parliamentary Affairs to Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson, having worked as the general manager and corporate trainer for Prime Restaurant, social media manager for TheINNERface.com, and run her own company Family Industries, to name a few.

She lives in Barrhaven, ON with her husband and young son.

Anona Kosmack

Program Director and Art Facilitator

Anona is a mixed-media, visionary artist based in Ottawa, Ontario and was our first Art Facilitator brought on the team! She has worked with a variety of youth living with disabilities and understands the need for art in mental health and therapy.

Here is a word from the Anona:

“I truly believe that everyone is an artist in their own way. Everyone has felt something so deeply that it has overwhelmed their senses and poured out of their soul’s containers. That raw overflow channelled through a particular structured talent is what fosters creations like my work. My creative process is cyclical much like the building of a thunderstorm or the movements of the sun. I notice, I feel, I create and then I rest. This process that I have actively committed myself to repeatedly has encouraged me to travel immersively.

In courting new, and at times uncomfortable, experiences I have pushed my limits as an individual coping with multiple psychological diagnoses, personal losses and spiritual evolution. My artistic process has been with me through all of my becoming. From crayons on ripped cardboard of my youth, to sophisticated mixed media renderings of my adulthood; I have, and will always, love creating.”

Claire Carson


Our Professional A.R.T.ists

A.R.T. In Action employs professional artists living and working within the communities and groups that we work with. They offer a diverse range of art disciplines that our programs involve. They are selected based on their past experiences, their professional body of work and their ability to connect and efficiently communicate with our target demographic. Our A.R.T.ists harbour creative energy and understand the importance of meaningful connections.

NATALIE MEARS  – is an artist situated east of Ottawa. A self-taught artist working primarily with watercolor, she is always on the lookout for new techniques, and mediums to challenge her abilities. Growing up Natalie watched her mother create paintings, and was in awe about her ability to bring concepts together from ideas, imaginary concepts, and make something beautiful and concrete that could be shared. Natalie incorporates her passion for learning and teaching into her art. She has a background as a wildlife educator which translates into creating pieces focusing primarily on fauna, while encouraging her audience to become inspired and more curious about the topic.  

Sara Bessin is a Toronto born multi-disciplinary artist and educator.  Starting as an artist and activist, Sara ‘s work was chosen for the campaign posters for the Anti-Child Exploitation Campaign in affiliation with ACAT in 2000.  The body of work she created for this project was exhibited at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva Switzerland in 2001. Sara then entered the Community Arts Sector, having trained through the Engrenage Noir – Levier community arts training and exchange program.  She holds a diploma in Art Education Specialization from Concordia University, Montreal and has since pursued studies with York University and with the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.

With funding and support from the Engrenage Noir Levier program, she coordinated and directed the community arts project “Raising Mom” with the Young Parents Program of Head and Hands from 2005 to 2007.  She facilitated the making of a collaborative documentary of the process which was screened at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil in 2009.  The film and project are also featured in the publication “Célébrer la collaboration: Art communautaire et activiste humaniste au Québec et ailleurs”.

Sara has worked in affiliation with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, En Masses Pour Les Masses and the QPAT Teachers Convention. She has been a speaker and presenter at the Kairos Anti-Poverty Forum, LEVIER Community Arts Forum and the Common Wealth Community Arts Conference.

Sara is most interested in collaborative initiatives that affect social change through holistic and transformational educational approaches.

She and her family recently relocated from Montreal to Belleville Ontario,  where she founded and directs the Visual Arts Program at the local chapter of the YMCA and teaches with the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.

ELIZABETH (ILISAPI) GORDON was born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut and is fluent in both Inuktitut and English. She was taught to create with her hands, earliest memory being when her great aunt taught her to sew seal skin ookpiks .  She watched and learned the resourceful inclinations of her people and naturally carried that forward into her own family.

Elizabeth is a mostly self taught artist using many mediums to create art. One of her interests is in working with hard shell gourds.  She incorporates northern images into her gourd artwork by either painting with acrylics or dyes and inks, wood burning, sculpting, or carving.  Elizabeth is also into doll making, sewing, sculpting polymer clay faces of Inuit elders, making wooden wall hangings, folk art painting, as well as mixed media paintings.  Her interests are always expanding, and recently took classes in pottery and in stained glass.

Elizabeth is a member of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, and has been a member of the Canadian Gourd Society for 8 years. All her entries into the Gourd Festivals have been award winners and she has won best of show in 2009, 2013 and 2015 in Toronto and Buckhorn, Ontario.