October 13, 2019

Newly-Independent Lyme Academy Plans Its Re-Birth With Exciting Schedule of Fall Classes

File photo of the Chandler Academic Center at the now independent and renamed Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

As of the end of last month, the renamed Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme became an independent entity once again with all ties to the University of New Haven (UNH) severed. Moreover, contrary to a number of rumors circulating around town, the Academy is not about to close, but rather is entering an exciting new phase in its evolution.

On Thursday, the Lyme Academy Board of Trustees Chairman Steven Tagliatela and the newly-appointed Interim Director of the Academy, Frank Burns, met with The Day to discuss the future of the institution. Also present was Kim Monson, an instructor of sculpture, anatomy and drawing at the school, who has been deeply involved in plans to retain the institution as a viable concern.

Lyme Academy College alumna and instructor Kim Monson who has been intimately involved in efforts to keep the Academy as a fully operational institution and is now designing the fall programs.

Monson was authorized to speak to LymeLine.com after the meeting to share an overview of its content. She explained that the overarching message that Tagliatella gave was that the Academy is most definitely not about to shutter its doors, nor to become a generic “Art Center.” She explained that the upcoming academic year is being treated in many ways as a ‘rebuilding’ year during which the Academy will determine the optimum way to move forward. A new program of serious art classes will begin in late September and Monson stressed there is also a strong desire to re-engage the local community in terms of its role as both students and donors.

A vibrant summer program is currently running at the Academy (visit this link for details) and the curriculum is currently being finalized for regular ‘core’ classes to start in late September. These will all adhere firmly to the original mission of the school as defined by its founder, the late Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, who believed passionately in what Monson describes as “observational training.”

Designed by Monson, these core classes comprising six hours per week for six weeks will be offered in Drawing, Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking. They will be modeled on the format followed by the Arts Student’s League in which students work with a model for the first part of the class followed by time with their instructor when he/she gives feedback.  Monson commented that this is the format followed by Lyme Academy College when she studied there as an undergraduate.

There will also be a Portfolio Prep course held over weekends between late September and November for students aged 14 and up.  Classes will include Art of the Cast (Drawing), The Skull- Sculpture), and Shades of Gray (Value Painting.)

Finally, a number of Masterclasses are planned in subjects including Animal Sculpture and Stone Carving.

Publicity postcard for the upcoming 2019 Senior Studio Summer Exhibition, which opens with a reception, July 19.

Marketing will be key to the success of the Academy’s re-birth and an agency is in the process of being hired.  This agency will be responsible for creating a new, engaging website and all ongoing marketing operations related to the fall classes.

Several of the current faculty are being retained by UNH including Randy Melick, Nancy Gladwell and Roland Becerra, who all predate the UNH take-over. The Academy is looking to retain an MFA-qualified faculty in general.

Monson’s enthusiasm for these new programs is palpable — on a personal basis, she said that she is thrilled to see the Academy “return to its roots.” She also mentioned that there are plans to upgrade the academy’s digital studio — a move she feels will enhance the Academy’s already outstanding art teaching spaces even further. Monson added that partnerships with other art colleges are still being explored.

In terms of the wider spectrum of facilities, Monson described the objective as being “how to best utilize the campus … in order to fulfill Elisabeth’s mission.” The townhouses built across the street from the Academy have been returned to the developer with the expiry of the current lease and the administrative space in the Chandler building will be offered for rent.

The Academy’s Board of Trustees will serve as an active board once again rather than in the advisory capacity in which they acted under UNH’s tenure. Monson paraphrased Tagliatella in describing how the board now felt about their task going forward, saying it was as if, “a weight had been lifted.” After a year of uncertainty about where the academy was going, the path forward is now clear, and perhaps more importantly, Monson noted, the message from the meeting was that there is an overwhelming determination to achieve success.

The first event being held under this new administration is the Opening Reception for the 2019 Summer Senior Studio Exhibition next Friday, July 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Chauncey Stillman Gallery at the Academy.The public is welcome to attend and view the work of the 29 graduating students, who have completed an accelerated program in order to complete their BFA’s while the College still held its accreditation.

Editor’s Note: Visit this link to read an article by Mary Biekert of The Day, who was present at the meeting with Lyme Academy officials, and describes its content in more detail. The article was published on theday.com yesterday and printed in The Day today.

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