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Art for Art's Sake

  Alumni Profile  

The opportunity to plan a 45,000-square-foot arts facility and strengthen an already solid arts faculty was the lure that took Carolyn Theiling Sutton '71 from the comforts of a Colorado teaching job to her current position as director of arts at Baltimore's independent Park School.

"It's been fun to be in on the ground floor of something like this," says Sutton. The Park School hired Sutton in 1999 after a nationwide search. In her position, she oversees the school's visual and performing arts faculties-groups that had not been under one umbrella. "I love seeing how much stronger we are when we work together," she says.

Family connections drew Sutton, a Chicago native, to Cornell. Her grandparents (Laura Levasseur Hunt '17 and Wesley Glen Hunt '16), great-aunt and uncle (Ethel Grassfield Hunt '10 and Duane G. Hunt '07), and an aunt, Helen Hunt Kennel '39, all attended Cornell. Carolyn met her husband, Stephen Sutton '72, while working on a college play. Their daughter, Katie Sutton '99, continued the tradition. After college, Carolyn started an arts program for a school in Elgin, Iowa.

"I left Cornell feeling I could do anything," she says. "I will always be grateful to teachers like Hank Lifson and Mel Hetland who gave me such confidence."

Carolyn and Steve taught together for many years, first at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa, and then at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School. Steve now chairs the English department at another Baltimore independent school.

Carolyn Theiling Sutton '71 is director of arts at Baltimore's Park School and serves on the advisory council for a PBS art series.

In addition to her Park School work, Carolyn serves on the advisory council for "Art: 21," a public television series focusing on contemporary visual art. She helps create accompanying teacher guides and online content. Sutton says the attraction of Park School and the PBS series are similar: "They make no apologies for teaching art. This isn't about learning music to become better at math, this is art for art's sake. That's what I'm all about."

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