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Faculty Spotlight: Visual and Performing Arts Department

Jan Baldwin
Visual and Performing Arts Chair

As a professional musician and actor, I have a passion and genuine need to share my voice in order to inspire or to evoke an emotional response that is relatable. The human experience is what the arts respond to or propel. We imagine. We design. We create. Every interaction is an opportunity to share and shine a light on our own vulnerability and on our strengths. Our classes research, define, and expand the opportunities for our students to find their own unique voice. Stuart students are able to see the world through a creative lens and react to or challenge our world views through music, dance, theatre, architecture, photography, film, and visual art. Our curriculum is tailored to the female experience; we explore female artists from the past and insist that every student challenge herself to become an artist as we encourage deep thought and skill-building in every class. We seek to encourage our students to break through the glass ceiling with leadership by introducing professional guest artists in production, architecture, cinematography, photography, gallery ownership, musical conductors and entrepreneurs in the arts. We are also an outward face for Stuart Country Day School for the Princeton area community.

Classes are individualized and work to support self-confidence and agency, collaboration and team building, discuss moral complexities, and create production and performance. We are blessed with superior spaces that enlighten and enhance the experience of learning. Curricular and co-curricular opportunities are supported as every student is given the opportunity to lead and grow. We hope to inspire, share our love for Arts education and to mentor every learner.

Andres Duque
Lower School Art Specialist 
Gallery Director

As an artist, gallery director and art teacher I am interested in promoting environmental ideas that have a positive impact on our society. Teaching and learning are equivalent and empower us to grow and to be better humans.

At Stuart we are inspired by the beauty of nature and the artists who create with social conscience. Our students learn the value of all the visual arts and motivate them to be leaders in their lives through their work. The Lower School is an  important place to install the love for education and creativity. We are learning everyday in a community committed to social justice, environmental protection and the love for service. As a teacher I am blessed to help girls become leaders, knowledgeable and active in the exploration of art. We look forward to developing their interest in architecture, science and technology through the visual arts. Our students express their joy of learning with natural materials, creating drawings, models and sculptures with clay. Stuart is the space designed by Jean Labatut, an architect who is considered a teacher of teachers. His intention lives on today and our community embraces the idea that nature should lead us to create solutions for a diverse and multicultural future. 

Victoria Scheirer Hughes
Lower School Music Specialist
Middle and Upper School Instrumental Music Teacher

My passion for music came from riding around in my dad’s old volvo, listening to Nirvana’s Live & Unplugged in New York album. That’s when I realized music can change you, make you feel different, and experience something totally new. At Stuart, I strive to share new and exciting musical experiences with my students. Teaching in an all-girls atmosphere has it challenges, but it’s biggest benefit is being able to encourage girls specifically to express themselves freely through music.

Kelsey Lewis
Middle & Upper School Music Teacher
Chair of Leadership Endorsement in Arts & Humanities 

My passion for music is based in the essence of collaboration: learning how to work together to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts alone. Together, we use music as a vehicle to connect in our shared human experiences. In committing ourselves to the work of refining our musical skill set, we become better equipped to channel our creativity and serve the world in remarkable ways.

Why arts education in an all-girls environment? Here at Stuart, girls take center stage. Our music curriculums are centered in the female perspective, with an emphasis in developing personal agency and leadership. Just as our students are empowered as individuals to take the lead, I am thankful that Stuart has the same approach towards teachers and curriculum. As a pedagogue, I am constantly learning from my students and aligning our lessons with their needs and interests. It is my goal that each student’s take away from the music program at Stuart will be empowerment in music by learning literacy skills, innovating music with STEM, understanding music’s intersection with culture, and discovering something new about themselves along the way.

Jacqueline Silva
Lower School Drama and Theology Specialist 

The most magical four words that I believe anyone can hear are the words “once upon a time.” With these words, we are transported to lands both familiar and foreign, mystical and real, spectacular and silly. Theatre allows us to live out each “once upon a time” as our own, and provides us the opportunity to explore emotion, reason, conflict, and motivation as we do so. As we look through the lens of a different character each time, we grow to understand and empathize with them, expanding our understanding of what it means to be human. The theatre we see and the characters we play never truly leave us, rather, they deepen our capacity for connection with others, as well as our capacity for connection with ourselves. These experiences are just some of the reasons why I’m passionate about both performing and teaching theater.

Theater provides an unparalleled opportunity for Stuart girls to establish themselves as empathetic, intelligent, and resourceful leaders. At the elementary level, our girls are working on making connections with others, asking meaningful questions about information, communicating effectively, and establishing who they are as individuals. Theatre experiences help them accomplish each of these goals. When they immerse themselves into the life of a character, they learn to value diverse perspectives that may be different from their own. They learn to ask questions about why a character is choosing to act a certain way, and how they are going to get what they want. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they learn that they have a voice, and that their voice is insightful, valuable, and deserves to be heard. As their confidence in their own voice grows, their confidence in themselves grows with it. Their understanding of themselves deepens as they gain courage from the act of performing, and emotional insight from the characters that they have spent so much time with. Theater helps our Stuart girls develop each of these skills holistically, and then directs them to use these skills purposefully in all areas of life, as strong and mindful leaders.

Andrew Wilkinson
Upper School Photography Teacher

I’ve been studying and working as a photographer and a graphic designer since college. At that time resources were limited. I shot film and things took forever (developing, processing and printing in the darkroom). I learned to design on the first Apple Macs, (now on display in the MOMA), and I continue to learn to this day. My first love was graphic design, typography specifically. My goal was to design album covers, and ended up working in film for a few years, but also fell in love with software and the potential of it. There’s always going to be the ‘next thing’ in camera equipment, computers, software, social media - and you do the best with what you have. 

I love the quiet pace of studio work, and have had a photography studio in Trenton for over ten years now, but I’m still an artist at heart. I am constantly moved to photograph random things for my pleasure as well as practice, practice, practice - all the time in the studio.

I have been pleasantly working in education, with the Fine Arts department at Digital Media Arts at Stuart Country Day. Photography still is and always will be the practice of  patience, ways of seeing (yours) and the fastest way to communicate and share. We will always be learning new systems all the time to adapt and be present with our world.

Our digital media classes cover a lot. From intro to advanced levels we look at all perspectives, and philosophy, psychology and ethics in imaging. In Graphic Design, we have to use all the creative suite software to remain current as well as the study of successful design that perhaps have become a part of our popular culture. 

We are engulfed in images, digital media, using apps and computers. With our study we can successfully communicate , understand design as a language and elevate visual literacy for whichever field we end up in.

Phyllis Wright
Middle and Upper School Visual Arts Teacher

Art for me has been a window to life. In many ways I learned about the world through my experience as an artist and art student, which has never stopped. I am a student of life through art. With this in mind, I work toward bridging other subject matter into the art making experience, especially in the upper school. Students reflect on what they care about to deepen their experience of art making. The fundamentals remain important tools to expand skills at all levels. I love teaching at Stuart. The students are receptive, smart, and willing to take creative risks. Confidence is built through mutual respect  and positive feedback from other students and me. I paint every day. I encourage my students to keep visual journals, and see art as much as possible. The world of art is exciting, curious, and expansive. It is my true pleasure to introduce my students to art and guide their development as Creatives!