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Mission

The mission of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is to provide education and training in the history, traditions, principles, and skills of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture as a foundation for one’s future development as an artist.

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.

Leadership

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  >

Ian Neviaser, Secretary  >

Lee Bowes, Treasurer  >

Timothy Griswold, ex officio  >

Sue Joffray >

David Kelsey  >

Susan Skelsey  >

Paul Knierim  >

Will Allik  >

Eileen Eder  >

Russell Rushmeier  >

Staff

Mora Rowe, Executive Director
mora@lymeacademy.edu
860.434.5232

Jordan Sokol, Artistic Director
jordan@lymeacademy.edu
860.434.5232

Amaya Gurpide, Co-Artistic Director
amaya@lymeacademy.edu
860.434.5232

Kimberly Monson, Director of Pre-College and Youth Programming
kimberly@lymeacademy.edu
860.434.5232

Charles Orcutt, Facilities Manager
charles@lymeacademy.edu
860.434.5232

Rick Lacey, Facilities Co-Manager
rick@lymeacademy.edu
860.434.5232

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.

Ian Nevasier, Secretary

Mr. Nevasier is the Superintendent of Schools of Lyme/Old Lyme and a veteran educator.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sue Skelsey

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

Paul Knierim

Judge Knierim is a trust and estates lawyer at Czepiga, Daly, Pope & Perry, a former state representative, a retired probate court judge and the former head of the probate court system for the state of Connecticut.

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.

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.

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.