Meet the Finalists

In September 2017, the entire U.S. Senate acknowledged the devastating impact of the rent-affordability crisis for millions of hardworking Americans by unanimously approving Senate Resolution 312 and designating September 2017 and 2018 as National Month for Renters.

Make Room, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization working to address the rental housing crisis in America, will commission 11 individual artists from across the nation to participate in the creation of a world-class public art exhibition in Washington, D.C., called “The Doors of Make Room,” as part of National Month For Renters.

Each of the 11 artists will paint a distinctive fiberglass door to be exhibited as part of a public art display in Washington, DC. “The Doors of Make Room” will be displayed on the streets of the nation’s capital in 11 different public and private spaces, including high tourist and/or traffic locations, from September 13 to 28, 2018.

Meet the Artists


  1. Gwen Seemel
    Born in Saudi Arabia in 1981, Gwenn is French-American. She has lived most of her life in France and on the west coast of the US. She currently makes her home in New Jersey. Over the course of two weeks in 2014, Gwenn created her first piece of public art in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, and she has exhibited her art throughout the United States and in Europe. She speaks regularly about creativity and culture, most recently at TEDxGeneva in Switzerland, the Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre in France, and the 5e Colloque de l’Adte in Quebec.
  2. Kim Testone
    Kim currently resides in a quiet neighborhood in Upstate New York with her husband and their three cats. Kim Testone is a former art magazine editor, writer and theme park caricature artist. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Drawing from the University of Central Florida and a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art and Design. She grew up in a small working-class town in Western Pennsylvania before relocating to Florida, pursuing her education and eventually becoming the editor of a small fine art magazine.
  1. Ghazal Ghazi
    Born in Tehran, Iran, Zeynab (ZYNB) is a transcontinental Iranian-American muralist, illustrator, painter, and poet who has lived in South America, the Middle East, and North America. Her work embodies a point of convergence between three continents and multiple visual languages, guided by a dedication to exploring the commonalities between marginalized communities and honoring ancestral knowledge. She strives to produce work that promotes transformative social healing, dialogue, and cultural intervention, exploring themes like: memory, poetry, ecology, genealogy, (im)migration, healing, and language.
  1. Shani Shih
    Shani Shih is a community advocate and multidisciplinary visual artist in Washington DC. She is dedicated to supporting communities in need through teaching and community arts, with a focus on serving underrepresented local Asian Pacific American communities. Along with her arts practice, she works as a tenant organizer and supports efforts to prevent displacement and preserve affordable housing, especially in DC’s highly gentrified Chinatown.
  1. Rachel Sousa
    Rachel Sousa’s work is inspired by nature, the dynamic synergy of abstract art, Transcendentalism, Native Pacific Northwestern Indian carvings, Pop Art, and Portuguese Azulejos. Sousa holds a BA in English Literature from Boston University, a MFA in Painting with a minor in Printmaking from Pratt Institute, and a MA in English Education from Brooklyn College. She has called New York City home, since 1993.
  1. Cathy Abramson
    Cathy Abramson maintains a studio at Artists & Makers Studios 1 in Rockville, MD and is a current member of Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda, MD. In March 2017 she completed the three year Master Artists Program at the Compass Atelier. She spent most of her career working as Art Director for NOVA Research Company where she designed publications and exhibits for NIH. In 2005, she illustrated Wild Washington: Animal Sculptures A to Z, and in 1997, Simple Secrets of Parenting: Easy as ABC. For a number of years she co-owned Grapevine Graphics, a local graphic design firm.
  1. Charis Ammon
    Charis Ammon is a painter and fabricator known for her exploration of indirect and implied narrative, detail-oriented craftsmanship, and upbeat work ethic. Ammon is formally educated in painting (MFA, University of Houston), woodworking, and welding. While attending the graduate painting program, she had the pleasure of teaching introductory art courses at The University of Houston.  While Ammon’s professional focus is on her oil painting practice, her interests remain firmly multidisciplinary, reflective of her resolute and insatiable curiosity.
  1. Hermmes Berrio
    Growing up in Colombia and studying in New York City, Hermes Berrio’s fearless irreverence and untamed imagination has captured the attention of collectors, galleries, and the South American office of Christie’s Auction House where he was featured. Hermes Berrio’s artwork is a powerful restructuring of urban emotion that transforms canvas into eye candy. His stylized creations alter ideas, redistribute meaning, and mutate concepts to the point of unrecognizable perfection! “My work is a process of investigating urban elements, working with materials, creating forms and compositions, and the artistic process of creator to viewer,“ states Berrio. ”As an artist, I am a re-arranger of meanings.”
  1. Amol Saraf
    Amol Saraf was born on October 28th, 1966 at Jalgaon, India, and earned his degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts from Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Arts, Mumbai, India in 1987. Amol Saraf feels that “his mission as an artist is enhancing the beauty of the world by creating exclusive, sustainable and eco-friendly works of art for the compassionate art loving community across various cultures around the globe.” Though Oil on Canvas is his first love, he enjoy creating through various forms of expressions and materials. His works of art ranges from oil/acrylic on canvas paintings, watercolor/ pencil on paper artworks, murals in painting, stone, plaster of Paris, and Siporex, on wall, metal box, plywood and so on, to advertisement, logo, symbol designing, calligraphic works of art etc.
  1. Angela Faz
    Angela Faz is printmaker and digital media artist. Her work explores themes of gender, culture identity and inspired by social justice movements. Her work has been featured by KERA, D Magazine, The Texas Standard, and others. In 2016, she was selected for two juried exhibitions, Hecho En Dallas and the 4th National Monotype Juried Exhibition at Attleboro Arts Museum in Massachusetts.
  1. Victoria Lovenotes
    As an adult pursuing art, Lovenotes started to notice that many artists were not getting the recognition they deserved. This realization helped her pursue her passion to shine light on the many hidden talented artists here in NYC thus working freelance as an Art Director/Curator. Lovenotes is a New York City based visual artist whose alias formed at a young age through her submergence in Bronx Graffiti culture. Still very passionate about graffiti culture, Lovenotes has branched into other forms of art. She primarily works in paint but has a great love for using different mediums, methods and styles to spread the movement of love.


Artists & Makers Studios provides services, support and studio/office space for select entrepreneurs and creative professionals in the Washington, DC area.

Located in the heart of Rockville’s White Flint business district, Artists & Makers Studios flagship building is a 13,000 Sq. Ft. facility consisting of 43 studios, 3 classroom/workshops spaces, 5 galleries, and is home to 70 residents juried by artist, curator and visionary Judith HeartSong.

Artists & Makers Studios is dedicated to providing a supportive and vibrant environment for artists to realize their creative goals – through studio practice, collaboration, education, opportunities, networking and connecting with the community beyond our doors.