Arts event memorializes beloved Woodlands Academy teacher

Women in the Arts, a Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart tradition, takes on new significance this year as it becomes the Jamie Tuttle Women in the Arts. Tuttle was a vital member of the school’s arts faculty for three decades who inspired generations of Woodlands students with her dedication to the arts. She passed away Sept. 15, 2020, after a heroic battle with cancer.

In addition to renaming the annual arts series in her honor, Tuttle’s husband and daughter will donate a photo of the late faculty member and one of her photographs to be permanently displayed in the student art gallery in the front hallway of the Lake Forest school.

“Jamie Tuttle will be greatly missed by the Woodlands Academy community, but we will have a permanent piece of her incredible art and fondly remember her annually during our Jamie Tuttle Women in the Arts celebration,” Associate Head for Academics & Student Life Christine Schmidt said. “For years Jamie proudly took care of updating our student art pieces in the front gallery. She also worked closely with the original Women in the Arts series to bring in talented women artists to share their crafts with our students.”

Schmidt and Tuttle began their Woodlands Academy careers in the fall of 1990. “Jamie had a tremendous impact on our students in developing their photography skills and, more importantly, she helped them develop a sense of seeing,” Schmidt added.

This year’s event began March 11 with a virtual presentation by photographer Emma Powell, whose fine art photography incorporates alternative photographic processes to illustrate fantasy narratives. Her work has been exhibited both within the United States and internationally. In addition to teaching at the college level for more than 10 years – including full-time at Iowa State University, Powell also has led alternative process photography workshops at Penland School of Crafts and other educational institutions.

The 2021 program concluded March 15 when Woodlands Academy virtually hosted potter Patty Kochaver, whose fascination with volume and scale has led her to create a series of wheel-thrown vessels that appear to be inhaling and floating. Her current firing technique is the lesser-known sagger method that is unpredictable and offers little or no control. However, it creates a balance and an almost landscape quality to surfaces on her work. This unpredictability has driven Kochaver to investigate the endless possibilities of surface.

In addition to their virtual presentations to students, works by both artists were displayed at the all-girls college-prep day-and-boarding high school as part of the annual event. It all began in 2005 when parents of two Woodlands Academy alumnae offered to sponsor exhibits by two visiting artists, each of whom also made a presentation to students taking studio art and photography classes. Because this initial event was so well received by the visiting artists and students alike, the donors offered to make it an ongoing program.