Acclaimed Artist-Alum Shares Evolution of His Work

Upper School art teacher Mary Arzt this afternoon introduced Collegiate alum Pieter Schoolwerth ’89, her former student, in the Craigie Boardroom, where he walked students, faculty, alums and other guests through his journey as a painter, filmmaker and musician.
Mrs. Arzt said how proud she is of the path Mr. Schoolwerth has taken.

“You don’t always know how it’s going to work out,” she said, “but he was an artist when he was here in my class.”

The visit was a collaboration between the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts and Collegiate, with assistance from Mrs. Arzt and Barry Purcell ‘92.

Mr. Schoolwerth began by saying when he first arrived as a 9th Grade Collegiate student, he felt somewhat like an outsider. But the art room became a special place for him. 

“Those of us who didn’t fit in, for whatever reason, felt welcomed and had a community,” he said. “That really saved me as a person.”
A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, Mr. Schoolwerth has exhibited internationally since 1994. His monograph Model as Painting was published by Sequence Press/MIT in 2019, and his mid-career survey show will open at the Kunstverein Hannover in November 2020. His work has been included in group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London, and is in the permanent collections of MOCA Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Denver Art Museum, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Collegiate senior Grace Kinder said seeing the progression of Mr. Schoolwerth’s artwork from when he first began his career to present day was encouraging.

“My art is kind of wack, so that made me feel a bit more validated,” she said.

Mr. Schoolwerth expressed his admiration for how arts has grown at Collegiate since he graduated. 

“It’s inspiring to see what the art program has become at Collegiate,” he said. “What was an art room is now an art world.”

After his talk, Mr. Schoolwerth chatted with seniors in Pam Sutherland’s Honors Art class and critiqued their most recent work.

“The best thing to do is not try to control anything,” he said to the students. “Let it be what it is.”

He also encouraged those who were thinking about art as a career to pursue it, even if it didn’t lead down a traditional visual arts path.

“Being an artist is a real thing you can do,” Mr. Schoolwerth said. “Learn the tools and see what interests you. If you don’t do art, you can go in lots of different directions like film or digital technology. You’ll probably find something you like to do.”