Storming the Art Department

Surrounded by creative and resourceful family members growing up, Loretta Barnett was destined to pursue a career in art. Barnett’s great-grandmother and many of her great-grandmother’s children were very talented fabric artists. Her great-uncle owned a photography studio, and many other family members enjoyed painting. It was natural for Barnett to enjoy art at a very young age.

Barnett received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Boise State University and her Master in Fine Arts from The Ohio State University. After graduating, she applied for a teaching job at Colby-Sawyer. She said, “I remember riding the bus into the Warner/New London area and finding the landscape seeming familiar and comfortable to me as I had enjoyed many years of hiking and camping in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.” Barnett’s husband agreed to finish his schooling later and the two decided to make the move to New Hampshire.

Teaching comes naturally for Barnett, and she has enjoyed every class she has taught at CSC. Her favorite, however, is the sculpture classes that were held in the studio under the theater at the Sawyer Fine Arts Center. Barnett remembers, “The students were making great art in the most cramped circumstances.”

Over the years, Barnett has brought a lot to the college besides her excellent teaching skills. She has been the chair of the Art Department, as well as the chair of the newly formed Fine and Performing Arts Department. Barnett has served on many committees on campus, including the Steering Committee whose work and research led to the college becoming a coeducational institution. She has also been the director for the Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery several times.

As a professor for 43 years, Barnett has enjoyed seeing her students come in as first-years, continue to learn and grow, and finally graduate as wonderful people ready for the world’s adventures. She said, “Every year I watch the students graduate, some never to see again and many to have as friends forever. I have made art with many alums as collaborators and continue to do that to this day as they have become dear friends over the years. They stay in touch, invite me to crazy dinners and the conversations always center around CSC back in the day.”

Barnett’s decision to retire came after her husband’s death and enduring the difficulties of Covid-19. She decided to start a new adventure and plans to spend more time with her children and grandchildren. Barnett hopes to travel and visit horticulture and garden sites, work on her own garden, go fly fishing and play with her dog, Bella. She said, “I might make a few pieces of art along the way.”

As Barnett prepares to leave after a 43 year tenure, she has this advice for others thinking about starting a career in teaching art: “Be ready to listen, work hard and well beyond the job description, especially when working with students who are willing to take chances and learn new things.”

When asked if there is anything she would like others to know that they might not know about her, Barnett answered, “I am a quiet storm.”

Colby-Sawyer will certain miss this quiet storm. May you enjoy a happy, healthy retirement, Professor Barnett.