Amy Wynne Artist in Residence

▲  2023 Artist in Residence, Amy Wynne

This Spring, Fountain Valley School invited Amy Wynne to spend one month as an artist in residence on the FVS campus. Amy’s residency was facilitated by Curtis Singmaster, with the purpose of having an artist come live and work at the school, while interacting with and enhancing the artistic endeavors of Fountain Valley’s students. Funding for this program is supported through The Nicholas McCumber ‘71 Visiting Artist Program Endowment established in 2000. Singmaster met Amy Wynne through her husband, Johnathan Derry, with whom he had attended the Rhode Island School of Design. He reached out to Amy, specifically, for her strong creative practice and her extensive experience as an educator.

During her stay in the Hacienda guest room off of the courtyard, Amy engaged in the “daily diaristic ritual” of drawing items she came across as she wandered the campus. "When I stepped out of the Casita on my first day [at FVS], there was a Spotted Towhee wing on my doorstep. It felt like it had been presented to me, and I had to draw it. This turned into a daily ritual of drawing specimens that manifested…like clues to a mystery unfolding.”

These daily practices of drawing and color-collecting served as a way for Amy to become “more intimate with her sense of place.”

I am curious about the liminal space in between clearly perceived moments. The speed of our existence leaves us with fleeting glimpses of nature. Painting outdoors deepens my sensory connection to the physical world. Witnessing what the landscape communicates through changing light, temperature and atmosphere allows me to present a vision of the environment that transcends its physical appearance, communicating the unity of nature and human spirit. Back in the studio, working from memory allows details to fall away while the most essential elements arise, revealing the truth of a place.”
—Amy Wynne

Wynne incorporates this acute awareness— or mindfulness — into the retreats and classes she facilitates. During her stay at FVS, she devoted ample time engaging with our students—those in both art classes as well as academic classes. This year, FVS offered the History course Religious Beliefs and Battles: Investigating how Faith Functions in the Contemporary World. During the Buddhism unit of this course, Wynne spoke about her experiences as a Buddhist and the time she spent engaging with Tibetan Buddhism in Thailand. They removed themselves from the classroom and sat peacefully in guided meditation, learning how to integrate this practice of “mindfulness” into their work and everyday lives.

▲  Students engage in guided meditation during the Buddhism unit of their history class.

Wynne also worked with art students, some who bravely chose the path of oil painting for their Senior Capstone Projects. Nearing the end of their endeavors, Wynne critiqued their pieces, providing valuable feedback from a professional’s eye on their semester-long art projects. Zia Oellig ’23 chose Art Therapy: The Psychology behind the Paintbrush as her Capstone title, producing an original piece with a creative spin on the traditional self portrait.

▲  Amy Wynne observes and critiques the final piece of a semester-long Senior Capstone project.

Visiting with Mrs. Wynne was an amazing opportunity. Not only did I get to learn more about gallery art, but I also got to learn a lot about art process. She was always there if I had quesions about her art or was looking for critiques on my own. My only regret is that she didn't have more time with us on campus."
— Morgan O. ’23

▲  FVS Senior Morgan O. ’23 taps Amy Wynne with her senior art projects.

A lifelong teacher, Wynne taught at the college level for over 20 years at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA and in the Rhode Island School of Design’s CE Programs. She began her teaching career in the independent school sector at Grace Church School in NYC, Moses Brown School in Providence, and at The Taft School in Connecticut, where her parents taught for 40 years. Now, Wynne primarily teaches workshops and retreats and participates in various artist residencies; however, her unique blend of experience as a working/teaching artist and educator made her an ideal fit as a visiting Artist in Residence at FVS.

While Amy’s background is as a full-time educator, in the last 5 years, Amy has focused primarily on independent teaching and workshops, enabling her to travel throughout Italy and New England. With much of her work being inspired by her deep connection to the natural world, Wynne’s workshops likewise integrate nature and mindfulness practice into various artistic mediums, including oil painting, watercolor, drawing, collage, nature journaling and poetry.

Since her departure from FVS, Amy Wynne remarked that two things stood out to her as the most memorable aspects of her time here: the FVS community—which was, “incredibly welcoming and curious about [her] work”—and the colors. One of the most remarked-upon facets of Fountain Valley School is the unique “sense of place” inherent to Fountain Valley’s presence as an boarding school located on a sprawling prairie, bordered on the west by the imposing silhouette of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains. One of the exercises Amy engaged in throughout her short residency was hand-painting sheets of paper with colors inspired by the prairie and campus, which, for Amy, served as, “an immersion in the sensory environment here [at FVS].”

Before departing campus Wynne spoke at All School, noting that, “the opportunity to be in a place like FVS for an entire month, without the distractions of the household and everyday life, allowed [her] to more deeply connect with ideas and concepts [she] previously hadn’t had the time and creative space to dive into.”

Amy has described her experience at FVS as an opportunity to create “systems of presence”—rituals or creative actions that allowed her to feel more present in a place that was so foreign to her. Amy, of course, mentioned her daily specimen drawings and color study as examples of her “systems of presence;” however, she also noted her study of Fountain Valley’s archival maps, alongside Jake Emery, and remarked upon how it was fascinating to see how the land has changed throughout the decades.

After returning home, Amy is now integrating some of these practices in places she knows well, asking, can you have that fresh vision in a place where you are every single day: “The fresh lens I had in Colorado, I’m turning that lens to my home.”

▲  Click here to the view the full photo gallery of Amy's work during her time at FVS.

Amy Wynne is an artist currently living and working in an historic mill studio in Pawtucket, RI. She holds an MFA in Classical Painting from The New York Academy of Art in New York City and a dual BA in Art History & Cultural Anthropology from Smith College. She received the 2015 CE Teacher of Excellence Award from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has been teaching painting and drawing for 25 years. Formerly full-time at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, she currently teaches workshops online across New England and Tuscany.

She exhibits in galleries nationally and has worked in private and corporate collections, including Brown University, Fidelity Investments and Meditech Corporation. She has been awarded grants from The Rhode Island Cultural Council and a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She is also an author of many online classes with LinkedInLearning.com and CreativeLive.com.
FVS is a private, college-preparatory, co-ed, day and boarding school for grades 9-12 in Colorado Springs.
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