Wesleyan created the Fine Arts Circle of Honor in 2007 to show appreciation to alumni and members of the Wesleyan community who have made significant contributions to the Fine Arts program at Wesleyan. Meg Foster, Director of Fine Arts, said it is “a place to honor our best and brightest artists, in visual arts and the performing arts.” Because this is such a high honor to be nominated, the committee is very selective.
In order to be considered for the Circle of Honor, nominees must meet several qualifications. Some qualifications include: a waiting period of at least five years from their high school graduation date, making a significant contribution to one or more of the Wesleyan Fine Arts programs, being an exemplary role model in high school (good academic and disciplinary standing) and exhibiting excellence in personal and/or professional life after Wesleyan graduation. Nominees could have made their contributions in “visual arts, drama or theatre, [as] an instrumentalist or [as] a vocalist.” Once all nominations have been submitted, the Director and Assistant Director of Fine Arts and the Headmaster will review all nominations to make sure they meet the requirements before they are brought to the committee. Ultimately, the committee will decide whether or not the nominees will formally be inducted into the Circle of Honor. If selected, inductees will be notified by the Fine Arts Department of acceptance before a public announcement is made.
This year, the committee selected only one inductee, Jayne Pitney, former Wesleyan teacher, for the Fine Arts Circle of Honor. Pitney was a faculty member at Wesleyan from 1991-2012. During her time at Wesleyan, Pitney served as the Lower School art teacher, Resource Teacher Team Leader and hosted meetings at Wesleyan with other private art school teachers where she shared lesson plans and unique ideas that could be used in the art room. In a recent interview, she explained where her love for art began and the ways in which it impacted her future.
Pitney said, “I have loved art for as long as I can remember. My church had the most beautiful stained glass windows, and I remember that I was mesmerized by how the colors changed with the sunlight.” Early on, she got a lot of positive feedback from her parents, teachers and classmates concerning her art projects and that gave her huge motivation. When she could not sleep, Pitney would stay up practicing drawing until she fell asleep.
Eventually her love for art would bring her to Wesleyan school where she helped lower school students learn about and create many types of art. “I enjoyed making the aspects of art relatable and enjoyable for my students. I loved introducing them to new materials and their possibilities,” Pitney said. Her philosophy was that with enough love and encouragement, any child could be successful.
While Pitney was able to make a huge impact in students’ lives, Wesleyan also made a huge impact on her. “It was amazing to work in a school where the arts are respected and valued,” she said, “the administration and parents understood the value of the arts and celebrated them at every opportunity. It was wonderful to work with a dedicated Christian faculty that focused on nurturing each individual student.”
One of the things Pitney was most proud of from her time at Wesleyan, was her involvement in Fine Arts Day from the very beginning. Pitney explained that throughout her time at Wesleyan, Fine Arts Day took many forms. She said, “Every year was different, but it was always a fun day with a picnic lunch and lots to do and learn.”
After her 22 years at Wesleyan, Pitney retired to Naples, Florida where she currently is a member of the Naples Art Association and the Bonita Springs Art Association and actively volunteers at both. Since she moved to Naples, she has also made bowls for the Harry Chapin Empty Bowls project along with other artists.
Pitney will be honored at the opening night of the 2017 Wesleyan Artist Market. According to Foster, “[she] will be given a commemorative gift and a duplicate of a plaque which will bear a Bible verse of [her] choosing and will hang in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building.”
The Fine Arts Circle of Honor is a way to honor alumni, former teachers and friends of the arts and their contributions to the arts.
Foster said, “It is so wonderful to hear from them where they are in life and how Wesleyan has impacted their journey.”