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Art Around Campus

Highlighting the artwork around campus expands educational opportunities for students and enhances the cultural environment of our community. Learn more about our campus through its works of art!

‘Vision,’ by Vicky-Forsythe-Smith, class of 2012. Graphite on Paper, 48” x 96”. 
A ‘Purchase Award’ piece, newly displayed in the Gill Library.

Elizabeth Wilson recently got in touch with the artist to let her know that her drawing has been installed in a more prominent place on campus, where it can be appreciated by more students and adults alike. She asked her a few questions about herself and the work, what inspired her to create the drawing, the process, and inspiration for working large scale, how long it took to draw and to tell us a bit about what she’s doing now! The following is what Vicky had to say…

I love to see that a little (well, pretty large) piece of me is still around ESD. Currently, my career has shifted to the digital space. I am an art director at an ad agency, Digitas, in New York with my focus in digital marketing. Basically, I Photoshop in my sleep. After starting my college experience as a fine arts major at the School of Visual Arts I quickly realized design was going to be my lane.

Drawing will always be the fundamental form that any artist must learn before excelling in any other medium. I don’t think that means you need to be great at it, but you do have to learn it. There are so many rules to learn and while they don’t all have to be followed… they are vital in understanding form. SO, drawing is where I started in high school. I always had a knack for realism and Kathleen Raymond, the art teacher at ESD at the time, encouraged me to push further than just leaning on that skill. Every week I could bang out a hyper-realistic drawing, but she was right. Those works started to lose their power when produced in a constant stream. Scale seemed like the obvious way to push these to a new and more exciting form.

Chuck Close was always one of my drawing heroes. This drawing, as well as another full-face one, are my attempts at directly copying what he was doing. The full-face portrait was done first. It is 4ft x 6ft and took about three weeks and 36 4B pencils to complete. Vision (which I don’t remember naming Vision, but I guess that checks out) was done because of a blank wall ESD had at ISAS that was in prime viewing space. Ms. Raymond asked me to make something big, fast. Thus, Vision was conceived and born in about three days. I took a photo of my eyes with my staple high school glasses, created a grid (à la Chuck Close), and drew through most of my classes, every lunch, and stayed late with Ms. Raymond making me tea as I went. I wish I could remember the body count of pencils on Vision… had to be close to 50? Also, I have new staple glasses now.

I cherish that time so much. One quickly learns that there simply is never as much time in the day as in your teens. Art is such a healthy manner of escapism, and I owe so much life-balance in my teens to the sheer amount of hours I spent thinking only about a piece of paper in front of me. Art for the sake of art feels so rare at the current stage of my life. However, I have found that art can just be art when I work with musicians. Working in music is the next step in my journey. I have done a variety of work for musicians including: Dolly Parton, Florence and the Machine, Flume, Pretty Lights, Cashmere Cat, Maggie Rogers, Mattiel, TMWRK, and for the past two years, the creative director for the artist Tanners (we also happen to be dating!) These projects have been album covers, websites, posters, t-shirts, bags, Instagram stories, simply whatever. And it’s all for the sake of art.  

Samples of my current work can be found at my website

Next time you visit the library please take a close look at Vicky’s drawing, which is placed near the fireplace. The quality of the work is exceptional.

About the work:
Oil on Canvas, 60’ x 78.5”, 2010. Displayed in the Daryl Johnston Family Dining Commons over the fireplace.

About the artist:
Born into an artistic family, artist Dorian Vallejo began drawing while sitting on his father’s lap as a toddler. His first commissions were at the age of eleven. A few years later at the age of fourteen, he attended his first sketch classes with his parents. Dorian then began his career in his late teens when he began receiving commissions from book publishers in New York while attending the School of Visual Arts in New York City. As the field increasingly began to incorporate the use of computer-generated images, Vallejo felt the need to pursue other avenues with his art. His love of traditional media and people, drew him to classical portraiture and to the gallery world where he had the freedom to express his ideas.

What the late Father Swann said about the painting:
“My goal was to bring the Good Shepherd imagery into the context of ESD. The Head of School is the shepherd and the Commons is the sheepfold. I asked Dorian to show the busyness, both past, present, and future, of the students in a reflection on the glass in my office overlooking the commons. He said that he was open to the painting of reflections. The intent being that the shepherd is always present but, not always presiding or seen”.

What the artist said of Father Swann:
“I remember the time and painting well. It was truly a wonderful experience from beginning to end. Rare is the client who is simultaneously very creative, specific and demanding, yet completely trusting. To clarify, when I say demanding, I mean in his expectation that only the highest level of excellence is natural.  One of the great pleasures I have as an artist is that I occasionally meet people whose brilliance extends beyond themselves to positively affect the lives of everyone in range of their light. I knew immediately that the opportunity to paint a portrait of Father Swann was a rare honor. What I did not know was how much trust he would allow me. I expected a project that might be managed with a high degree of scrutiny, especially after I understood that Father Swann had a specific concept in mind for the painting.  In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth. After initially explaining his idea to me, I was given complete trust to complete a painting that would be commensurate with his dignity, respect, and ESD’s legacy. That unusual level of trust was something that compelled me to create a work of art that would exceed the expectations of an institutional portrait. His portrait remains one of my favorites and without a doubt a unique experience that I will always remember. Beyond the painting, it was a lesson learned on the value of trust, it's power to elevate respect, and draw-out one's potential.”

Gifted to ESD by:
Mr. Bill Felder

About the work:
The angle of the pyramid was designed so that you can stand and see your reflection and the sky at the same time. The design was inspired by a fountain in Washington D.C. at the Vietnam Memorial. Fallen leaves in the fountain are important, a mark of the seasons and rebirth in life.
The water in the fountain comes from the edges, which is the reason it does not pool... it ripples instead, in order for the observer to see his/her reflection. There was only one company in the country that could successfully create this engineering feat - Hobbs Architectural Fountains in Atlanta, Georgia, who made it happen for us.
‘Pyramid fountain,’ has four inscriptions in the black marble; two in Greek and two in Hebrew, which are the four Founding Tenets of ESD.  The 24 karat gold lettering on the pyramid was done by R. Alden Marshall from Austin, Texas, an art conservation, gilding, and sculpture company.

About the artist:
James Langford, received a Bachelor in Architecture in 1979 at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. After a year of interning with RTKL in Baltimore, Maryland, Mr. Langford went to work with I. M. Pei and Partners in New York City. Mr. Langford worked directly with Mr. Pei and Henry Cobb for over six years on such notable projects as the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas and Commerce Square in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After leaving I. M. Pei’s office, Mr. Langford later received his Masters in Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. James E. Langford, Architects and Planners, L.L.C. was founded in 1989 after Mr. Langford returned to his native Dallas from New York.
Jim Langford was the architect who also designed the All Saints Chapel, and the Doug Blaz Memorial at ESD. Mr. Langford’s research and design concepts in sustainable design have also found their way into his Architectural and Structural Engineering and Building Technology courses in Civil and Environment Design at Southern Methodist University.

Gifted to ESD by:
Mr. Jamey and Mrs. Judy Clement, the ESD parents of:
Capera Clement Norinsky '09
James Clement '02
Gregory Clement '04