Thomas S. Elias
Thomas S. Elias, Ph.D., served as director of the U.S. National Arboretum from November 1993 until December 31, 2009, when he decided to devote himself full time to scholarly studies in botany, horticulture, and writing.
During his tenure, the arboretum’s research, horticultural, and educational programs and activities grew considerably. Elias expanded the educational and visitor services programs, improved the collections and grounds, and made numerous major improvements to the infrastructure.
Elias began working in and visiting Japan over 30 years ago and has been a frequent visitor to various regions there. During this time, he has lectured at the University of Kyoto, the University of Hokkaido in Sapporo, Makino Botanical Garden in Kochi, and at the Osaki Memorial Center in Ise.
In 2005, he attended the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan and presented keynote addresses in Tokyo and Kyoto. He has visited and studied different types of traditional Japanese gardens ranging from Imperial, samurai, temple and shrine, and private gardens.
Elias has been twice invited to tour the gardens of the Imperial Household in Tokyo and also was given a personal tour of the Imperial Guest House garden in Kyoto by the landscape architect who designed and maintains that garden.
Elias has written over 20 articles relating to Japanese gardens, bonsai, and stone appreciation. His next book, Chrysanthemum Stones: The Story of Stone Flowers will be published by Floating World Editions in October 2010.
He received an undergraduate and M.A. degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Ph.D. from St. Louis University.
Frenchy Lunning received her doctorate from the University of Minnesota in Design Communications and Cultural Studies. She is a Professor of Liberal Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her work on American comic books and film led her to a discovery of anime and manga in the 1990s and changed the focus of her studies. She is co-founder with Barbara Schulz of “SGMS: Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits: Culture and Creation in Manga and Anime,” an annual weekend workshop that features lectures from anime scholars, screenings, a Cosplay event, and Fruits Basket Fashion Show (mcad.edu/anime ). She has written and lectured on the cultural implications and meanings of these works for a number of years.
Soei Chieko Mihori
Soei Chieko Mihori is the Vice President of Cultural Affairs on the Morikami Museum’s Board of Directors in Delray Beach, Florida. Mihori teaches Sogetsu Ikebana flower arranging and the art of the Sado Omote Senke tea ceremony.
Instructor Chieko Mihori is also a Sogetsu teacher of the highest rank and recipient of several awards of distinction. Soei is her professional teacher name. She has studied with Sogetsu founder Sofu Teshigahara, his daughter, Kasumi, and his son, Hiroshi, late headmaster of the Sogetsu School.
In addition to her role as a Sogetsu instructor, Mihori has made a lifelong study of the tea ceremony. Since the dedication of the Seishin-an Tea House in 1993 at the Morikami, individual tea ceremony lessons have been offered. Under her accomplished direction, this unique opportunity to study a traditional art continues.
A member of the floral industry for more than 35 years, Kevin Ylvisaker has a background in art with a focus on sculpture and weaving. Ylvisaker works as a freelance designer with his company, KLY Floral International, and he is also a Teleflora education specialist, an Oasis design director, on the design team for Fitz Designs, and an endorsed designer for Design Master Color Tool.
Ylvisaker was a member of the 1989 design team for the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush, and led the design team for the inauguration of President William J. Clinton in 1993. In 1997, Ylvisaker was a judge for the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. In 1999, he was a member of the floral design team for the Fiesta Float Company.
He is a certified member of the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) as well as its past president. He is also a member of Professional Floral Communicators International (PFCI) and a past president of the Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Florists Association (WUMFA).
Ylvisaker has designed and judged across the country for garden clubs, wholesale houses, state associations, floral organizations, and floral wire services. He has presented at international design programs and taught classes in England, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
He has worked on both the current Teleflora Selection Guide and the Teleflora Wedding Guide. Ylvisaker has been featured in Teleflora’s Flowers magazine numerous times. He is a contributor to Smithers Oasis IDEA magazine and does a majority of the worldwide advertising for Smithers Oasis.