Visitors to the Exchange in the Inn are encouraged to take a stroll down the hallway leading to the Chapel where two new pieces of art have been added to the school’s permanent collection, commissioned by Head of School Steve Druggan and his wife, Pia. With his office in the Chapel hallway for the past six years, Steve noted that the wall opposite the head of school portrait gallery was noticeably absent of any art.
Knowing that SCH has a strong alumni artist community, he reached out to art teacher Dan Brewer to recommend alumni that might be interested in sharing their talents with the school by depicting a place on campus that has special meaning to them.
Springside alumna Elizabeth McClafferty ’14 and SCH alumna Emmaline Hamilton ’20 responded promptly and enthusiastically and their artwork has now been hung alongside an oil of the Wissahickon Inn painted by Springside alumna Judy Jarvis ’77. Her piece, commissioned and painted in 2020, was featured on the cover of the Lure of the Wissahickon history book by retired SCH history teacher and track coach Paul Hines.
McClafferty’s piece is called “Laurus crescit in arduis” and features the Wissahickon woods on an afternoon in autumn and draws on the Springside motto that she grew up with. As a student, Hamilton was “blown away” by the Henry Library and chose to depict that space based on a black-and-white archival image from when the school was all-boys. The artists’ statements are included below.
We are thrilled to welcome these pieces to the SCH permanent collection. Both Pia and Steve have been champions of the arts at SCH and have made great strides to document the many significant works of art throughout the school.
“Laurus crescit in arduis”
Oil on canvas, 2022
Elizabeth McClafferty ’14
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sits right on the edge of the Wissahickon, a beautiful woods and an incredible resource for young students. Many of my early days at Springside School were spent on the wooded trails or wading through the creek, learning about the various species of plants, insects, and birds that call the Wissahickon their home. I can track my time at SCH through the changing of the leaves in the trees, which are the ever-present backdrop for my fondest memories of the school.
The motto I grew up with, which is engraved on my class ring, reads: Laurus crescit in arduis. I’ve known this saying to mean two things:
The Laurel grows in steep places, and honor comes through hard work.
In this painting, I tried to capture the Wissahickon on an afternoon in autumn with the curving trail leading back up to the school and the dark waxy leaves of the mountain laurel that grows there.
In many ways, the Wissahickon was a treasured teacher, its canopy and forest floor our classroom. It taught me to be a steward of the earth—a custodian of the nature that surrounds us—and like the laurel, to persevere through the seasons. These are the lessons that I continue to hold dear, which served as inspiration for this painting.
“The Henry Library”
Oil on canvas, 2022
Emmaline Hamilton '20
The Henry Library inspired me the most for this piece due to its beautiful architecture and historical value. The piece is 30” x 40”, oil paint on canvas.
When I was a student at SCH, I was always blown away by its beauty. The light from the large windows cast pretty shadows and illuminated the dark wood accents. The reference I used was an old black-and-white photo of students and faculty, presumably from sometime in the 20th century. I hoped this would bring light to the fascinating age of this building and the historical importance of the school.