"Boys of a certain age who demonstrate an interest or who have a talent in the visual arts need to be in a refuge, a studio if you will, where they can let their imagination free and experiment with a variety of expressive techniques."Gail Laferriere, AOF Visual ARts Chairperson for 42 Years
The creativity and energy of our students is on full display in our new Ordway Art Gallery. Visitors to this unique space will find hand-crafted oak cabinets created by our talented staff members and an Alumni Spotlight that currently features the photography of Moises Esquenazi '89. For more information about the Ordway Art Gallery, please contact Cristina Pinton, Chairperson of Visual Arts, at email@example.com.
In 1970, Gail Tyskwicz Laferriere was hired as the first full-time female faculty member to live on the campus of Avon Old Farms School. Her job was to take hold of the scattered art department. Gail married soon after starting her work at Avon, and quickly became known around campus as ‘Mrs. L.’
Throughout her tenure at Avon, Mrs. L became synonymous with the visual arts at Avon - she planned annual art trips to New York City, helped develop award-winning yearbooks, and created the annual Commencement Art Show. Also of note, Mrs. L was a guiding hand in the creation of the original Ordway Art Gallery housed in the water tower.
Mrs. L remembers teaching her first ceramics classes in the classroom off of the Chapel, and others in the old studio in Brown House. The opening of the Estabrook Fine Arts Center in 1989 was a milestone for the visual arts, providing a visually engaging and comfortable space that has remained Gail’s “home” for nearly 25 years. After 42 years of carrying the Avon art department and bringing it a point where it would live off of its own momentum, it was time for Mrs. L to retire and start a new chapter of adventure in her life – a chapter full of travel.
Mrs. L has been publicly recognized for her extraordinary efforts on several occasions. She won the Swan Award from the WALKS Foundation in 1991 for her high standard of teaching, character, and leadership, and was named Avon’s Teacher of the Year in 1992. She has exhibited in many regional galleries—and as far away as Italy—and her works can be found in American and international corporate and private collections.
Given that it is Theodate Pope Riddle’s 150th birthday and Avon’s 2027 centennial is only a decade away, a new exhibit display case will be dedicated to Mrs. Riddle in the Ordway Art Gallery. The display is an exceptional way to celebrate Avon Old Farms and Mrs. Riddle’s legacy. The exhibit displays: some of the original tools used by local craftsmen to forge, carve, and chisel this campus into being; original hardware, elevation drawings of Mrs. Riddle’s vision for this building complex; and photographs of the campus being constructed by hand in the 1920s. We are grateful to the Class of 1963 Differ Fund for underwriting the cost of this exhibit.