Tuttle dives right in as Academy’s first Artist in Residence

Tuttle dives right in as Academy’s first Artist in Residence


Artist Sophy Tuttle’s work can be found throughout the world and sometimes on walls as high as seven stories. But right now a considerably smaller work-in-progress of hers can be found in the corner of the Middle School Art Gallery.  

There, Tuttle, Thayer Academy’s inaugural Artist in Residence, uses a traditional easel with canvas to work on her painting alongside Middle School students and in full view of those passing through the Forum and gazing through the transparent glass walls. Tuttle’s presence in the art room is indicative of the engaging and interactive approach she’s taken to her time at Thayer. 

Tuttle, whose work focuses on the natural world and humanity’s relation to it, has met with sixth grade students in the marine science class of Middle School Science Department Head Jon Butler P ‘25, ‘28. The students are selecting endangered animals for their marine science research projects, and Tuttle is working with them to create complementary arts projects. Tuttle has also met with the Art Activists group, an elective in the Middle School in which students utilize creative expression and different art mediums to promote and support DEIB efforts at Thayer. At the Upper School, she is scheduled to work with performing arts students on a dance piece as well as visit Spanish classes to discuss her mural training in Oaxaca, Mexico. 

“We’ve hit the ground running,” said Brynn Wartman P ‘30, director of the Karen & Ted Koskores Gallery as well as the Academy’s Artist in Residence Program. The goal, Wartman said, was always to add a strong visual arts component to Thayer’s residency program but to make the artist’s role as collaborative and cross-curricular as possible. According to its mission statement, the new Artist in Residency Program seeks visiting visual artists “to create and nurture meaningful, collaborative relationships between the artist and Thayer’s community of students, faculty, staff, and parents/guardians.”


Wartman praised the efforts of Middle School arts teacher Destiny Palmer, herself a gifted muralist, who proved instrumental in bringing Tuttle to Thayer. In fact, many of Tuttle’s projects at the Middle School level are joint collaborations with Palmer. 

“We’re working hard to give every Middle School student an opportunity to have touchpoints with Sophy, and Destiny is so key to that,” said Wartman. 

An exhibition of Tuttle’s work, “Flora & Fauna: Conversations with Nature,” recently opened in Koskores Gallery. An in-school reception was held Feb. 7, and a public reception will be held Friday, Feb. 23, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. 

Tuttle explains her work broadly as “science through art” before explaining further that her well-researched pieces seek to allow viewers to access science emotionally. For instance, one work in the exhibit, “Solastalgia,” incorporates a series of hundreds of small boxes; each box is a visual representation of an animal officially classified in 2018 as “Extinct,” “Extinct in the Wild,” or “Critically Endangered” using the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. The work, which Tuttle completed for her master’s thesis at the University of Hartford, is a memorial to the 150 to 200 species which are estimated to go extinct every day, the majority of which yet to be scientifically identified and named by humans. The word “Solastalgia” is a neologism coined by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht to indicate “the emotional anxiety that derives from climatic impact on the environment.” 


Tuttle is best known for her murals which explore both the collaborative and conflicting roles humans play in nature. The murals, which can be seen from Boston to Columbia, seek to reimagine the role of humans and push back against the Aristotelian view of humans at the top of some hierarchy of being. 

Tuttle said she has always gravitated to murals and completed her first one during her 2013 art residency in Oaxaca, a city known for its art in general and its murals in particular. 

“I love the public access of murals,” said Tuttle, adding that it makes the art more democratic because there are fewer barriers to entry than, say, a museum or a private collection. 


Located in the lower level of Thayer’s Southworth Library, the Karen and Ted Koskores Gallery has been showcasing the work of students, faculty, and professional artists for over 40 years. Renovated in 2011, the gallery offers a bright and open 1200-square-foot space. The gallery is open for viewing by appointment only Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Admission is always free, and parking is available in the lot next to the Center for the Arts (CFA), which is accessible via Central Avenue. To plan your visit or for more information, visit the gallery’s web page

Recent News