Former Student To Donate Art Gift To Darien High School

DARIEN, CT — One of the town’s own is giving back and offering hope and joy to the Darien High School community.

On Tuesday night, the Darien Board of Education unanimously voted to accept an art gift from DHS alumna Katie Southworth, who is a contemporary abstract artist based in Boston, Mass.

Southworth will be coming to DHS on April 20 to work with art students and create a piece that she will then donate to the school.

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The piece, which will support mental health awareness, will be prominently displayed when it’s completed, said DHS Principal Ellen Dunn, who went before the board of education Tuesday to explain the gift and how it all came about.

Southworth graduated from DHS in 2012, and studied art and psychology at Colby College. She then pursued a master’s degree in education at Tufts, before starting her career as an artist.

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“Katie shares on her website that her work harnesses the power of color and verticality, and she does so to promote mindfulness, joy and well being,” Dunn said.

In 2015, Southworth’s mother, Eleanor “Ellie” Southworth, who was the head gymnastics coach at DHS and at the Darien YMCA Gymnastics Center, died by suicide.

“Katie describes that the higher purpose of her work is to foster a brighter, mentally healthy future for all, is a dedication to her mother,” Dunn explained.

In 2022, DHS experienced three sudden student deaths, which rocked the community.

“Katie has reached out to us as a result of the losses we’ve experienced, and is wanting to be a part of our community, return to our community, and share the beautiful art she is creating,” Dunn said. “This gift will be a celebration of her work with our students, and a symbol of the hope and joy her work embodies.”

Because Southworth’s work is highly valued, the school will recognize the piece she creates as a donation to the school. According to documents associated with Tuesday’s board of education agenda, the artwork will be valued at $3,500.

Southworth will lead a talk about color and then have the students participate in a color mixing lesson. Students will create color beads which will be incorporated into the gift.

“We are very, very grateful to Katie for reaching out to us, to support us and our school community, and hope that this is a relationship that will continue long into the future,” Dunn said.

The board swiftly approved the gift, and thanked Southworth for her generosity and willingness to give back to the school and DHS students.

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