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The mission of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is to teach the foundational skills of drawing, painting, and sculpture in the figurative tradition. By its commitment to training students in these skills and an engagement with contemporary discourse, the Academy will empower a new generation of artists. Through its programs, the Academy is committed to enriching the cultural life of the community.

About Us

We are an Academy of professional artists that encourages individuality and innovation through skills-based training.

With a faculty of internationally-recognized artists and scholars, we offer a comprehensive, multi-year program of disciplined study, integrating rigorous studio instruction in drawing and painting with anatomy, sculpture, and twenty-first century approaches to the histories of art. Our geography, located along the Connecticut River and in the heart of the celebrated Lyme Art Colony, and between the metropolitan centers of Boston and New York, is imbued with history, and remains an active site of progressive artists’ congregation and camaraderie.  Students at our Academy participate in this community, continuing an unbroken tradition of art education and practice while finding their own creative voice. From this unique vantage point and through their evolution, our legacy and future unites.

Welcome to the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts: The History of an Idea

“They will become the painters and sculptors of the twenty-first century; they will become the positive force in the art world of tomorrow. It is they who will have the knowledge and the training in the traditions of the past needed to celebrate and to teach as we enter the hoped-for Renaissance in the Fine Arts of the third millennium.”
– Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, Founder, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts

“…many in the art world believe [Lyme Academy] has contributed to a renaissance of representational art.”
– New York Times, March 3, 2018

Founded by the sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler in 1976, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts began with a single, bold idea – to offer a traditional education in figurative and representational art at a time when academic principles had fallen out of favor. Intense observation and a structured, sequential approach to drawing, painting, and sculpture would provide the foundation on which confidence, creativity, and self-expression were built. Classes would be taught in the picturesque town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, a site of great art historical significance, and Elisabeth’s beloved home.

A faculty of recognized artists worked to execute Elisabeth’s plan. Robert Brackman, newly retired from teaching at the Art Students League in New York and a giant in his field, was among the Academy’s earliest and most revered teachers; he was followed by Deane G. Keller, whose lessons in drawing and painting had a profound impact on the Academy for more than twenty-five years.

As the quality of the Academy’s curriculum became more widely known, enrollment began to climb. By the 1980s, students were applying to study at the Academy from across the United States. The single sky-lit studio rented from the neighboring Lyme Art Association soon became too small; this led to the purchase and renovation of the historic John Sill House in 1986, which stands at the center of the Academy’s campus to this day. As the Academy continued to grow – north-lit studios, an art gallery, and a substantial student library were added on four acres of land in the town’s historic district of Old Lyme – Elisabeth’s vision, now shared by her husband, the sculptor Laci de Gerenday, seemed a model of success.

The decision to seek accreditation as a college in the early 1990s seemed a natural evolution, and in 1995 the Academy began granting Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. But the requirements of this new role, and the infrastructure that it demanded, impeded the Academy’s historic focus on the fostering of students’ skills. This proved unsustainable, and the sacrifice too great. In 2018, twelve years after Elisabeth had passed, the Academy returned to her original mission, reclaiming its status as an Academy rather than a college, and operating better for the pause. No longer constrained by the requirements that came with a change in academic status, the Academy was free to return its focus to its program, and the students that they served. In 2021, with fresh leadership at its helm, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts reopens its doors to students, and welcomes a new generation of success.


The Lyme Academy’s greatest resource is its cadre of leaders, volunteers, and instructors. These committed individuals provide the organization with the highest level of governance, expertise, and creativity.

Board of Trustees

Michael Duffy, Chair  >

Laura Lee Miller, Vice Chair  >

Paul Knierim, Secretary 

Lee Bowes, Treasurer  >

Will Allik  >

Cassie Archer >

William Bachman

Melissa Barbieri  >

Lincoln Chan  >

Eileen Eder  >

Michael Grimaldi

Timothy Griswold, ex officio  >

Laura Hansen >

Joshua Janson  >

Sue Joffray >

Carol Jones  >

David Kelsey  >

Allen Rosenshine

Russell Rushmeier  >

Harry Segal

Susan Skelsey  >

Mary Wilson


Jordan Sokol, Artistic Director

Amaya Gurpide, Co-Artistic Director

Wendy Bury, Managing Director
860.434.5232, ext. 203

Chad Fisher, Sculpture Director

Rick Lacey, Youth Program Director

Edmond Rochat, Continuing Education Director

Michael McDermott, Head Custodian and Facilities Supervisor

Cameron Paynter, Store Manager de Gerenday’s Fine Art Materials and Curiosities
860.434.5232, ext 208

Caitlin Perkins, Director of Academic Affairs
860.434.5232, ext 202




Michael Thomas Duffy, Chair

Mr. Duffy is the President of the Great Oaks Foundation, which supports a network of schools with high-dosage tutoring; he is an adjunct professor at NYU on management and strategic planning in the public & non-profit sectors.

Laura Lee Miller, Vice Chair

Ms. Miller is a consultant on intellectual property and branding for Fortune 500 companies and was a small business owner on the Shoreline.

Lee Bowes, Treasurer

Dr. Bowes is the CEO of a national workforce development and placement company, America Works; she is an adjunct professor at Columbia University on Human Resource Management and Social Policy.

Will Allik

Mr. Allik is a painter and teacher who leads the Art Department at the Lyme/Old Lyme High School and trained at Wesleyan University and the New York Academy of Art.

Cassie Archer

Cassie Archer is a senior architect at Centerbrook in Essex; her  life has taken her from Pittsburgh to Nigeria then England; she studied at the Wentworth Institute in Boston where she met her husband Drew with whom she co-owns the Blackkat leather store in Chester.

Lincoln Chan

Lincoln Chan is a native of Hong Kong where he studied and received a degree in design from that city's highly selective Polytechnic University. He is currently restoring a riverfront, Federal-era home in Essex, where he bases his design practice.

Eileen Eder

Ms. Eder is a still life and plein air painter who trained at the New York Academy of Art and has been an instructor at Yale, the Lyme Art Association and Lyme Academy.

Tim Griswold, ex officio

Mr. Griswold is a long-time public servant who has served on several non-profit boards including the Florence Griswold Museum & the Old Lyme Historical Society; he is currently the First Selectman of the Town of Old Lyme.

Joshua Janson

Joshua Janson is an interior designer whose work can be found in homes throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. He maintains homes in both Boston and Essex with his husband Ben and is active in many philanthropic causes including the Boston Ballet and The Friends of the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit.

Sue Joffray

Ms. Joffray is a retired independent school administrator and a graduate of Lyme Academy, having studied with the Academy’s founder, Elisabeth Chandler.

Carol Jones

Carol Jones is a retired nurse and long-time resident of the Connecticut shoreline. She and her husband Richard live on a property in Old Lyme that contains the former studio of noted impressionist artist Matilda Brown, whose paintings adorn the panels of the Florence Griswold Museum house.

Dave Kelsey

Mr. Kelsey is the co-founder and managing principal of a real estate investment company, Hamilton Point Investments, and the Chair of the Finance Committee for the Town of Old Lyme.

Russell Rushmeier

Dr. Rushmeier is a retired math professor who taught at the US Coast Guard Academy and before that worked in business roles, including at US Airways.

Sue Skelsey

Ms. Skelsey is an architect who trained at Tulane University.