art ~ spirit ~ transformation

About e*lix*ir:

e*lix*ir comes into being to showcase the work of artists who find inspiration in the Bahá’í vision and to foster an aesthetic whose key ingredient is the conviction that the mission of art is to inspire, transform, and uplift individuals and communities.

Sandra Lynn Hutchison, Founder and Editor

Sandra Lynn Hutchison is the author of two books: Chinese Brushstrokes (Turnstone Press, 1996), a collection of stories about China in the prelude to and aftermath of the Tiananmen Uprising, and The Art of Nesting (GR Books, 2008), a book of poetry. Her stories have been anthologized in a variety of publications, including Chinese Ink, Western Pen: The Oxford Anthology of Stories About China (Oxford U. Press, 2000). She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in English literature and has been the recipient of various academic and literary awards, including a Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship, an Emily Dickinson Poetry Prize from Universities West Press and a Jane Kenyon Poetry Scholarship from Bennington College, where she did work towards an MFA in Poetry. She lives and teaches in Orono, Maine, where she is working on a memoir and a novel.

J. Michael Kafes, Assistant Editor and Webmaster

J. Michael Kafes is a financial analyst at Bloomberg. He has had volunteer experience for several non-profit organizations. He edited a book of first-hand experiences of Bahá’ís at the 1992 Bahá’í World Congress. He holds an M.B.A. from Lehigh University as well as a B.S. in Finance and a minor in American Literature from Lehigh. He lives in Carmel, New York, U.S.A., with his wife and son. In his spare time, he is working on preserving and expanding a body of work developed by Marian Crist Lippitt called “The Science of Reality.”

Shira Hollinger, Editorial Consultant

Shira Hollinger is studying Political Science at the University of Maine. She has a strong interest in Latin America and the Middle East. She has been involved in a wide range of social activism projects, mostly focusing on the environment and the homeless, receiving recognition from President Obama for her work with the latter. Shira published various poems and book reviews, and was editor of THINK magazine. Her photos were featured in an exhibit of the Penobscot River Restoration Project.

Ann Sheppard, Staff Photographer

Ann Sheppard has always had an eye for the ‘visual.’ She tries to capture the beauty and wonder of the phenomenal world through her photographs. She finds that attempting to capture these aspects of creation lifts her up from the mundane of the world into the spiritual realms. In her professional life, she has worked as a speech language pathologist, most recently in a school board where she focused on assisting children to be successful in school. She lives in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Bev Rennie, Staff Photographer

Bev Rennie currently lives in Hastings, New Zealand. Her passion for photography has been at the forefront of her life since childhood. For 13 years, she worked in the Audio Visual Department of the Bahá’í World Center in Haifa, Israel. While living in Israel, she pursued her interest in photography, and she now continues her quest to explore fresh ways of seeing in New Zealand. She is particularly interested in examining natural phenomena that are often overlooked in daily life. Her goal as an artist is to unveil what is holy in the creation by documenting the many small miracles that take place everyday in the natural world. Her photos have been used in numerous Bahá’í publications, and various commercial magazines.

Allison Grover Khoury, Children’s Book Reviewer

Allison Grover Khoury has been a life-long lover of children’s literature. She grew up in India and pursued studies for a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies at the School for International Training in Vermont. She has worked as a software technical consultant, an ESL teacher, a book reviewer, and an editor, but has most enjoyed her work in libraries and bookstores. She is a founding member of Spirit of Children and maintains a children’s literature review blog. Allison offers workshops on picture books and runs a special reading program at her son’s school, centered on books that have received the annual Caldecott medal for illustration. She lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles.

Shahin Mowzoon, Translator

Shahin Mowzoon holds a MA in engineering and works as the chief data scientist in a supply chain company. He completed Stanford University’s fiction writers’ program, and is currently working on a Master’s in creative writing and English literature at Harvard University. Shahin serves as the staff translator for, in whose pages his translation of Tahirih’s well-known poem, “If I Were to Gaze Upon Your Face,” appears. He was recognized as a finalist in the prestigious Barnstone Translation Contest for his translation of one of Rumi’s poems. He has translated poems by W. B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot into Persian as well as various classical and contemporary Persian poets into English. Shahin’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries. In his spare time, he paints in the impressionist style, draws portraits in charcoal, and plays the Spanish guitar.

Joyce Litoff, Writer

Joyce Litoff is a life-long resident of Chicago, and a world citizen at heart. She is a communications professional who has won multiple awards for her writing, podcasting, and video work. Joyce sees storytelling as central to all of these efforts and has recently delved into memoir and live-stage storytelling. Joyce works in the Office of Communications at the US Bahá’í National Center. The office is responsible for editing the content of US public website and electronic newsletter, engagement in social media networks, and media relations related to coverage of the Bahá’í Faith in the news. Joyce has worked in a variety of publishing, media production, and public relations positions in the course of her career, both in corporations and in the not-for-profit sector. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois.

Mehrsa Mastoori, Intern

Mehrsa Mastoori is a student in BIHE who majors in English Language Studies. She loves storytelling and has always been intrigued by how the work of a writer’s imagination can touch a reader so profoundly. She writes short stories and has worked as a writer of children’s stories for the Colins Program in Australia.