A legacy of creativity and love takes shape in a re-imagined art studio


Avery Kim '24

The Finn family donates custom art studio as a tribute to Vivienne Finn ’27.

The custom art studio brims with sunlight as Lower School students sculpt, paint and create.  The family of Vivienne Finn ’27 donated this re-imagined art space, which memorializes Vivienne’s affinity for both creativity and the environment.  

Ms. Erica Bogin P’10, Lower School Art Teacher, designed the space in collaboration with architect Ms. Laura Kaehler for one year before construction began June 2022.  Ms. Kaehler and her team removed the wall between the prior Lower School art room and the Mustard Seeds room, allowing natural light to brighten the area.  New elements include a maker-space counter, a signature sink feature, and a specialized glass kiln compartment.  

Compared to the old art room, the new studio improves openness and organization.  Avery Kim ’24

Ms. Bogin noted the designers’ dedication to Vivienne’s memory.  Vivienne battled Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a brain tumor, from her diagnosis in 2018 to March 2020, when she passed away at the age of 11.  Among other art forms, Vivienne loved sewing, collaging, and print-making.  The new space accommodates for these types of media to reflect Vivienne’s curious approach to the arts. 

Ms. Kaehler’s previous work with Vivienne at the Finn family home enabled her to color the new studio with a paint palette that was personally meaningful to Vivienne.  The walls will also display one of Vivienne’s works, inspiring future art students.  Ms. Bogin spoke about Vivienne’s creativity and believes that the spacious new studio would have delighted her. 

“I keep imagining her walking in here and seeing it,” Ms. Bogin said.  “I think she would have just been in love.  She would have appreciated every bit of it.”  

Ms. Bogin and the architects tailored the room to the individualized needs of Lower School students.  The concrete sink feature, for instance, sits partially embedded in an elevated floor tier, allowing younger artists to easily wash off clay and paint.  Ms. Bogin is grateful for her close involvement in the room’s design. 

“As you can imagine, having this space is a dream come true,” Ms. Bogin said.  “Typically, teachers are given a classroom and have to create whatever they can do with it.  For me, after working in the same space for this many years, it was clear exactly what we needed to do to improve the space and functionality for our young artists.  Having that play out, in reality, is really special: a once-in-a-lifetime experience as a teacher.” 

Ms. Bogin and Lower School art students enjoy the serenity of the new space.  Avery Kim ’24

Currently, Ms. Bogin is working to organize the art space in preparation for its official exposition, which will likely take place at the start of 2023.  She appreciates the clean precision of the room and uses the library-style sliding ladder, extensive closet space, and vertical portfolio storage to arrange supplies and student work.  She cherishes the new studio’s calm atmosphere, reflecting that her old art room felt comparatively cramped and visually overstimulating.  

“Having adequate space and beautiful light to work in is crucial in an art studio,” Ms. Bogin said.  “Just as many of us are so inspired by working outdoors in nature, a beautiful, inspiring workspace can ease and calm the senses.  That’s a gift to have in a school.”

In addition to memorializing Vivienne’s love of art, this space conveys the significance of visual art to a well-rounded education.  Looking forward, Ms. Bogin is hopeful that the Finn family’s donation of the Lower School art space will inspire a campus-wide respect for art. 

“It is so beautiful for Vivienne’s memory to live here, forever onward, with all the students working in this room in her spirit,” Ms. Bogin said.  “It would be incredible for all the art studios to be updated this way.  It sends a message that art is essential and vital for our students, and we need to do more in this school to make sure everyone understands and respects that.”

Featured Image by Avery Kim ’24