Alumni in the Arts
Packer fosters visual and performance artists from a young age, as anyone wandering its art-lined hallways—resonant with the sounds of strings and horns—would immediately discern. As a community, we do a great job of recognizing talent, through plays, musicals, Dance Concert, Coffee House, and Shen exhibits. But what happens when these artists graduate?
This year’s Founder’s Day—an annual event celebrating a Packer alum’s career—honored Luke DiTommaso (‘97), visual effects supervisor at The Molecule, a creative company that specializes in visual effects for movies, TV shows, ads, and other videos.
While at Packer, DiTommaso was particularly influenced by Ken Rush, former Visual Arts Teacher, who encouraged him to pursue his passion by attending the School of Visual Arts.
“He welcomed me into the 5th-floor studio and really nurtured me as an artist,” said DiTommaso. “His boundless enthusiasm and infectious energy was an inspiration and motivation for all of us.”
Other Packer alumni who have pursued careers in visual arts were able to share their talent this past spring in The 2018 Packer Pop Factory, a benefit and art auction featuring the work of Packer’s extended community.
Kate Linder (‘04), daughter of former Lower School Art Teacher Risa Glickman, has continued developing her artistic abilities since graduating, using everything from acrylic paint to recycled t-shirts. She says that her love for art sprouted early on, and the teachers at Packer helped her achieve her goal of attending art school.
“I loved art as soon as I could hold a paintbrush, so it felt like a very natural progression for me,” said Linder. “When I started looking at colleges, I knew immediately that art school was the right fit. With the support of great art teachers and my parents, I was lucky to be able to pursue my dream.”
When asked about her favorite memories at Packer, she explained that she loved the opportunity to study printmaking with Mr. Rush. Now, an artist and art teacher in the Lower School at Trevor Day, Linder spends her time drawing, painting, and coming up with new ways to engage her students. Her work takes a variety of forms and colors, from rats made of azure blue t-shirts to 30-foot-long murals of the ocean.
Jeffrey Kinzel (‘84), another Packer alum, specializes in foil images that take on varying appearances in different light exposures. As a Packer student, he shared the collective admiration for Mr. Rush, saying, “His heavy powers of observation and his steady moral streak were beyond inspiring and meaningful.”
Now, Kinzel focuses on all of the ways in which art can be viewed. One of his pieces, titled Yellow Shape in Conversation, looks almost iridescent and highlights hidden details when under bright light. Going forward, he hopes “to tap into the history of reflective materials like gold leaf used on the back of Renaissance paintings.”
Delilah Draper (‘18), a more recent graduate and current student at Kenyon College, was actively involved in Packer’s theater department. She remembers her first Coffee House, when she performed a monologue she had written, as a pivotal moment in her career as an artist.
“It was the first time I had performed anything I composed, and [I remember] seeing the overwhelmingly positive response,” said Draper. “I was taken in by the art community. I realized that creating and performing art was more than something I wanted to do—it was something I could do.”
Her talent has continued to awe at Kenyon, gaining her recognition similar to that she received during her time at Packer. She just finished performing The Importance of Being Earnest, a play by Oscar Wilde, in which she played Gwendolen Fairfax, and she is now rehearsing for the mainstage production of Machinal, as well as helping to direct Agnes of God. She cites Ali Boag, Arts Department Head at Packer, as the most influential person in her decision to continue her study of theater in college.
“He was the first person that I contacted after getting each one of these roles and the first person I thought of when the lights went up in the theatre,” said Draper. “I am forever reminded of him and am sure I will be for as long as I am in the arts.”
Although we do not often hear about Packer alumni in the arts, they continue to remember the experiences and teachers that influenced their careers. DiTommaso, Linder, Kinzel, and Draper make up a small number of the larger community of Packer-based artists who continue to impress beyond the walls of our school.