This week, we have two events and the visual exhibits!
Get your tickets and check out all the events, free and ticketed!

Support Our Fundraising Efforts!

We have an active crowdfunding campaign to raise $10,000. Please contribute to our fundraising endeavors to help make MICAfest 2024 a success. Read more here.

All About MICA

What’s the story behind M/others Institute for Collaboration and Art (MICA)?

Courtney Castaneda, of FIZZI!, with her daughter at MICAfest 2022. Photographer: Heather Matys. Image Courtesy of MICA.

Between the Crevices of Light, Procheta Olsen.

Between the Crevices of Light, Procheta Olsen. Image Courtesy of the Artist.

Our Mission

M/others Institute for Collaboration and Art (MICA): Reclaiming the Canvas, Revolutionizing M/otherhood.*

We rewrite the narrative where art and m/otherhood collide, not by whispering apologies but by blasting through patriarchal walls. In a world obsessed with singular narratives, nurturing mothers and creative visionaries are often cast as antagonists. At MICA, we rewrite the script.

(*Wondering about “m/others”? It’s not just a term; it’s an inclusive embrace of all primary caregivers, transcending conventional roles.)

We are a vibrant community of m/other artists – sculptors, dancers, writers, filmmakers, and storytellers – challenging the binary between caregiving and artistic expression. This is not a juggling act; it’s a powerful synthesis.

MICA dismantles barriers, not dreams. We curate captivating exhibitions, performances, events, and festivals, amplifying m/other voices through public forums, ensuring they’re seen, heard, and compensated for their work.

Our art isn’t born despite m/otherhood; it’s nourished by it. We celebrate the messy beauty of creation amidst changing diapers, bedtime stories, and college applications. This is not about leaving children behind; it’s about building a world where their mothers soar.

Society whispers, “Choose.” We roar back, “We defy the binary!” MICA empowers m/other artists to claim their rightful place in the spotlight, not in spite of their caregiving roles, but because they fuel their fire. We redefine m/otherhood, showcasing it not as a barrier but as an endless wellspring of resiliency, creativity,  and strength.

Join us in repainting the art world, one defiant brushstroke, one rebellious pirouette, one unapologetic story at a time. Let’s dismantle the inequities, amplify the underrepresented, and paint a future where m/otherhood and art bloom together, vibrant and untethered.

MICA: Reclaiming creativity, redefining m/otherhood. It’s not just art; it’s the art world redefined.

Who's Behind the Curtain?

Photo of Lyza Fennell at 33 Hawley Street, with stairs in background.

Lyza Fennell, Photo by Carol Lollis for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Lyza Fennell, Founder, Director, Curator

Artist, entrepreneur, changemaker. 

As a multidisciplinary artist, Lyza channels life’s complexities into compelling stories, costumes, and oil paintings. Her captivating narratives, like a senior spicing up her marriage with a “poisoned” meatloaf, explore womanhood, motherhood, marriage, and the human condition with humor and depth.

Driven by empathy, determination, and a vision, Lyza founded M/others Institute for Collaboration and Art (MICA) in 2022. Backed by a Magic Grant from the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation for Empowering Innovation, MICA creates opportunities for artist m/others, igniting dialogues and amplifying their voices. She aims to address the underrepresentation of women in the arts, challenging stereotypes, and igniting change.

Lyza’s leadership ensures MICA’s sustainability and impact, while her artistic soul infuses every aspect of the organization with creativity and passion.

Beyond MICA, Lyza is a force to be reckoned with. She co-owns T-Ray Music, Inc., and her sharp business acumen shines as Director of Operations for LawTutors. Earlier, she honed her skills managing a Betsey Johnson boutique on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A Smith College alumna, Lyza brings a wealth of experience to every endeavor.

Lyza Fennell is not just creating art, she’s painting a brighter future. Join MICA’s vibrant community and be part of the change. Get inspired, create your own masterpiece, and together, let’s amplify the voices of artist m/others around the world.

Headshot of Olana Flynn.

Olana Flynn,  Photo credit by: Matt Flynn

Olana Flynn, Creative Producer, MICAfest

Olana Flynn is a multi-disciplinary choreographer, educator, and producer based in Holyoke, MA. She holds an MFA in Experimental Choreography from UC Riverside and a BA from Hampshire College. She is the co-director of LOCULUS, a performance collective that creates work for non-traditional dance spaces, publishes The Loculus Journal, and programs The Loculus Studio in Holyoke. With LOCULUS, she has presented the work of over 50 local and regional artists. Olana’s work has been performed, exhibited, and installed throughout the US and Antwerp. She is currently a lecturer in the dance program at Keene State College.


Artist, Elena Allee, with her paintings in the background.

Elena Allee, in her studio. Image Courtesy of the Artist.

Elena Allee, Co-Curator, MICAfest 2022

Elena Allee is an artist, mom, chocolatier, and farmer, originally from New York City and Vermont, currently settled and working in Western Massachusetts, having arrived there via Oakland, the Central Coast, and Los Angeles, California, where, concomitant with her studio practice, she had a clothing label, designed theater sets, and ran a nightclub/alternative theater space among other endeavors. 

Elena received her BA in English and Spanish literature, with a second concentration in art, from Bennington College, and her MFA in painting from The Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. 

After scaling back her studio work and time considerably for the last 16 years to focus on raising her type one diabetic kid as a single mom (and running two businesses to be able to afford this), Elena has finally been able to get back to more studio time in the last year and is currently working on a number of painting commissions and a series of large drawings of endangered species. 

During the hiatus from her studio, she co-founded and co-directed a community education center and homeschooling co-operative, where she also taught art and writing. She is also co-owner of a local chocolate company in Western Massachusetts.


MICA has a team of talented collaborators who help Founder Lyza Fennell bring MICA to life. She carefully selects a team of experts for each event to help with planning, production, curation, and marketing. She’s also grateful for the support of her mastermind group, mentors, and volunteers.