June 07 2017

2017 Commencement Ceremony

On Friday, May 12th Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, of the University of New Haven celebrated a wonderful commencement ceremony graduating 16 seniors in the class of 2017.  Cody Lyn Avery and Matthew Charles Harris received a BFA degree in Illustration. Diego Antoni Espaillat, Eric Robert Sychampanakhone, and Daniel Robert Willig received a BFA degree in Sculpture. Brittany Leigh Hilpertshauser received a BFA degree in Drawing. Olivia Ines Bonilla, Dennis Carroll, Kerryanne Celona, James Philip Guarino, Morgan Delanie Kelley, David Dwyer Kuehler, Troy Medinis, Allison Marie Pillari, Gregory Theodore Wharmby, and Grace Mae Whatley all received a BFA degree in Painting.

Campus Dean, Todd Jokl was proud to present well-deserved students our long-time prominent awards in art education. The Diana Atwood Johnson Leadership Award recipient was Gregory Wharmby. The Stephen and Lynne Wardlaw Awards in Excellence recipients were Dennis Carroll and Daniel Willig.

Honorary degrees were awarded to Anne Harris and Robert Manice, and Dr. Stephen and Lynne Wardlaw.

The Distinguished Service Award in Art Education was awarded to Leeza Desjardins, art educator whose students have won art awards at the local, regional and national levels including Scholastic RIT and Cleveland Institute of Art 2D3D Competition. Her national art history society students have completed such projects as portraits of the victims of Sandy Hook and images of over 400 orphans from underdeveloped countries around the world. Her students are active in various charitable events. Desjardins has had a lasting impact on a multitude of students through her engagement as an art educator.

The event was splendid with heartfelt words from our alumni speaker, Elizabeth Cooke (’12), student speaker Gregory Wharmby, honorary degree recipient Robert Manice.  Honorary degree recipient and class speaker Anne Harris delivered a pitch-perfect commencement address.

Elizabeth Cook is a 2012 graduate of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts with a major in Painting. She holds a B.A. in History from Yale University, and an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City. Cook helped found Diastole Wealth Management in 1996, and continues as a Partner there. Cook teaches Art History at Three Rivers Community College. In addition, she creates art and blogs about the art world. Ms. Cooke noted “it isn’t graduating that makes you artists, it is everything you have done your whole lives, and everything you did to reach THIS POINT in your lives, that makes you artists.  A successful artist is one who makes art.  So make art.  Don’t stop. Ever.”

Robert G. Manice enjoyed a successful career in commercial real estate development and finance that spanned more than 20 years. In 1997, shortly after attending a workshop in Maine with Professor Emeritus David Dewey, he returned to his early love of art and enrolled in courses at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. He pursued this passion and dedicated himself to becoming a professional artist. He has been one of only a few artists to have the opportunity to apprentice with esteemed artist Gary Hoffman. In 2001 Manice joined Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts’ Board of Trustees and has been active in shaping the direction and success of the institution, currently serving as Vice Chairman.

Student Speaker Gregory Theodore Wharmbly spoke about what an education in the arts is all about and how the process of learning how to draw well allows BFA graduates to be better prepared for the challenges of life.  He discussed the BFA Senior Studio exhibition and the process it took to get to the show. “Please know that it took a tremendous amount of work to arrive at this place and much of this work is not easily seen just by looking at the art.” “Here at Lyme, we learn technique. We learn about the history of our tradition, we learn about form, space, line, shape, and value. We have complied the principals of a disciplined practice and became adept with the tools of the trade. We made hundreds of drawings (and collectively thousands of works of art including sculptures, paintings, collages, prints, film, textiles, and even exclusively time based art such as performance) and just when things started looking good it became apparent that this ability to speak visually, made it possible to communicate what we saw and that through this process of seeing, came the ability to comprehend more than what was expected. The emergence of the unseen presented the challenge of communicating ideas that were complex and difficult to distill.” “By learning to draw or paint better, we became able to see and comprehend more. This is when it becomes clear that we all do not see things in the same way.

Our honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker Anne Harris received an M.F.A. degree in painting from Yale School of Art, and currently teaches in the B.F.A. and M.F.A. programs at The School of the Arts Institute of Chicago. She serves on the board of the Riverside Arts Center and is Chair of the Exhibition Committee. She also is the originator of The Mind’s I – a collaborative drawing project designed to investigate the complexities of perception and self-perception through drawing. Ms. Harris noted, “Have faith in your own ingenuity. Work hard, make time, and be responsible. Have faith that what you’re doing matters and know that we here: mentors, teachers, friends, family, parents, and speakers…. We have faith in what you’re doing that you are here is a declaration of hope. We have faith in your role in the world. We have faith in your potential. We…. Have your back. We have faith in you.”

Lyme Academy College said farewell to our beloved and uniquely gifted artist, teacher and colleague, Susan Stephenson who accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Painting at California State University, Stanislaus.  Susan joined LYME in 1995 and was the first Chairperson of the Foundation program where she served for 8 years.  She was also the Chairperson of the Painting Department for 4 years and commented “I believe that my biggest contributions to the program are in helping students learn to use color in a structural way and in helping students learn to draw and see with greater strength and vigor.” 

A reception was held immediately following the ceremony for students, family, friends, faculty and staff.

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