Former Ravenscroft visual art teacher Joyce Fillip returned to campus earlier this month as part of the Visiting Artist Portfolio Series. The series, made possible by the Victor E. Bell III ’74 Endowment Fund, brings contemporary artists to campus to showcase their work and share their techniques and expertise with students in our visual art program.
Fillip, who retired in 2020 after working in the Fine Arts Department for 24 years, spent several days on campus working with Upper School visual arts students in Erin Stelling’s classes. A reception held Tuesday, Oct. 4, in the Pugh Gallery of the Fine Arts Center drew students, faculty and guests eager to visit with her and see her work.
Among those guests were retired colleagues Russell Vacanti, Angela Connor, Pansy Morton, Greg Hanson (who is also Fillip’s husband), Roz Cooper, Millie Florio, Bruce Miller and Mary Beth Immediata (pictured at right). In addition, Britt Honnbarrier Rimmele ’03 brought her children to see the work of her former teacher.
“My husband and I met in Joyce’s homeroom class our freshman year and continued to take classes with her through AP art,” Rimmele said. “Joyce has been a friend and mentor to both of us over the years, and I was thrilled to be able to bring my children to her beautiful show.”
Fillip was also joined by current faculty and student members of the Morton Committee, who help guide the selection of art for the Hugh Morton Jr. Art Collection that was established in 1997 in memory of Pansy Morton’s husband. Fillip led that work for many years of her tenure at Ravenscroft.
Visual art teacher Allison Tierney, who serves on the committee along with colleagues Jenn Lam, Erin Stelling and Amelia Karporwitz, said, “This was a great opportunity for our student members to attend an artist reception and have the opportunity to speak to an exhibiting artist from our community.”
“I got a chance to tour [the exhibition] with my two Morton Committee students, and it was great to see their reactions and observations,” Karpowitz added.
Fillip said she was delighted by the opportunities made possible by the Visiting Artist Series.
“Being invited back to Ravenscroft to teach and to exhibit my artwork has completed a circle. It was a pleasure to meet and share ideas with a new generation of curious art students in Erin Stelling’s classes,” she said. “It was wonderful to see and chat with past colleagues and students at the reception, as well as discuss my work with the new members of the Morton Committee.”
Director of Fine Arts David McChesney said he was struck, as he enjoyed the company of the guests at the reception, by how “surveying the room gave us the broad perspective between the ‘then’ and the ‘now’ — and the path we’ve taken as an institution in that time, in large part thanks to the vision and collaborative spirit of Joyce and her colleagues. The vitality, knowledge and skill sets of our current visual art faculty are a direct reflection of Joyce’s efforts on behalf of the program. And seeing her art in such full blossom — the energy and creativity she’s taken into retirement — is a real testament to the passion she brought to her career as an educator,” he said.
Fillip’s exhibition, “A Microcosm,” explores botanicals in a range of media including watercolor, collage and photography. In her Artist’s Statement, found in the Fine Arts Booklet for 2022-23, Fillip explained, “Botanical illustrations created by explorers to far-off lands and historic photographs used to document unknown species have inspired my artwork for many years. … My goal is to isolate the stunning shapes and forms of these unique organisms.”
“A Microcosm” will be on display in the Pugh Lobby gallery of the Fine Arts Center through the end of the month. The show is free and open to families during the school day.
“Ravenscroft has always been a place for nurturing young minds and creating long-lasting friendships. Coming back during Homecoming week made me feel that bond once again,” Fillip said. “I want to thank the Fine Arts Department for inviting me and the Bell Endowment Fund for always supporting visiting artists.”