By: Meg Smith
Sitting atop the chapel lawn, overlooking the lower basin of campus, sit two bright red Adirondack chairs. Now slightly weathered and bleached from the New England summer sun, to an unsuspecting passerby the chairs are nothing more than a vessel for students to gather together on spring days. Yet to a knowing few, the chairs have a more meaningful purpose.
Remy Steevensz, who passed away April 9th, 2017, spent more than a decade on the Hill, acting as Maloney Hall’s first dorm head, a graphic design teacher, and advocate for Tilton students. Her presence extended beyond her arts classroom, and seeped into the very fabric of campus, resonating with anyone who came to know her.
While threads of Remy still weave their way across campus, Rams new and old will now be able to see her legacy live on in Tilton’s latest initiative: the Remy Steevensz Artist In Residence Program.
Crafted to enhance the Tilton arts program while amplifying local and national artists, the Remy Steevensz Artist in Residence Program will take its pioneer voyage this fall, hosting its first artist as soon as September 2023. “Remy was just an extraordinarily creative person — love and color just radiated from her,” says Head of School Kate Saunders. “Not only did she help move us forward in the arts, but her impact across campus was genuinely felt in the relationships she curated every day. Naming this program after her impact on Tilton felt natural.”
Remembered for her unequivocal ability to connect deeply with everyone around her, Steevensz managed to make everyone on the Hill feel perfectly at home, no matter how far they traveled to get there. “She had such a positive energy, but she was also a firecracker,” remembers Arts department head Tyler Goodwin. “How she carried herself resonated really deeply with the kids.”
During her tenure on the Hill, Steevensz managed to connect intimately with students and faculty from all walks of life. She had a way of making every person feel truly heard, and would devote her undivided attention to students who needed a supportive person to lean on. “Remy had this unique ability to uplift students, but also make sure they never sold themselves short” says Goodwin. “She knew how to pull out the potential of our students — she saw the best in them.”
“Not only did Mrs. Steevensz radiate love, positivity, and enthusiasm,” says Class of 2017 Student Assembly President Olivia Orlando, “but she also had a way of ensuring those around her always felt seen, supported, and valued. She changed so many lives for the better, especially mine.”
Kaitlyn Hess ’17, president of her class, describes Steevensz as being “blessed with the ability to create these perfect moments in our lives.”
“At prom we all stood outside the library awaiting our turn in front of the camera, when Mrs. Steevensz entered the scene,” remembers Hess. “There she stood, head to toe, entirely in red — red shirt, red pants, topped with a pair of red Uggs. It was the best outfit on prom night and perfectly represented everything Remy was: a colorful, vibrant human being.”
That memory, paired with the exceptionally bright light Steevensz brought to campus, is what inspired the Class of 2017 to give Tilton School a pair of Adirondack chairs, in the same vibrant red, reminiscent of their beloved arts teacher.
Though campus mourned the loss of Steevensz, threads of her continue to exist in each corner of the Hill. When spring finally made its way to Tilton, a wave of color bloomed in the garden spaces Remy had created. As the annual Spring Fling weekend kicked off in May, students enjoyed the first Arts Fest, which Steevensz had meticulously curated and planned throughout late 2016.
In true Steevensz fashion, the Artist in Residence will engage fully in the Tilton community, as she did each day. Occupying a studio and apartment in the newly renovated Charles E. Tilton Mansion, the artists who join us on the Hill will have the resources available to expand their skill sets, while teaching the next generation of artists.
“I think one of the lessons from Remy is the benefit of real educational opportunities for people to be connected with artists, so that they can see the connection of art and a career,” explains Saunders.
Whether it’s ceramics or stage design, oil painting or origami, artists across the nation can find a home on the Hill, where students are eager to learn from their expertise. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming the first Remy Steevensz Artist in Residence, please submit an application.