A Source of Healing
Leonard and Evelyn Grossman P’99
Leonard and Evelyn Grossman knew from a very young age that their daughter, Amy ’99, was meant to be an artist.
“When she was about four years old, our neighbor was on a ladder painting the side of his house, and Amy was sitting on the grass watching him. Eventually, Amy said to him, ‘How do you stay in the lines?’” laughed Evelyn. “It showed us how she was thinking about painting.”
But Amy’s artistic passion went beyond painting. She loved to play the piano, draw and write stories, often crafting pieces for literary magazines and entering writing contests. Leonard and Evelyn nurtured Amy’s talents, signing her up for piano lessons through Westminster Choir College and enrolling her at summer camps, where she could delve into theater and music. Over the years, as she became more focused on the visual arts, the Grossmans decided to send Amy to Peddie, a decision they are grateful for making.
“Those are incredibly formative years, and Peddie gave her a lot of personalized attention in the arts,” said Leonard. “It also gave her the freedom to be expressive, to explore and to learn. It gave her the freedom to try things with support around her, and to consider new techniques and new mediums.”
Evelyn agreed. “I remember an early project where the students had 20 days to do 20 self-portraits through different mediums. It had to be quite quick, and each one had to be different. It was a challenge for her because there wasn’t time to obsess over every small detail. I watched her become more confident in herself, and Peddie gave her that,” she reflected.
Outside of the art studio, Amy excelled academically, especially in the humanities, and was a varsity lacrosse player and captain of the girls’ JV soccer team. As a three-year member of The Peddie Singers, she helped Peddie garner 13 first-place awards in a national competition in her junior year. She also served as an officer in Model United Nations and produced her own magazine, titled Blue Coffee, Purple Soup. Amy formed close bonds with faculty members, including her art teacher Cathy Watkins P’14 ’17, and often stayed on campus late into the night, working on projects and spending time with friends.
In 1998, when the Peddie Singers produced a CD, Amy designed the winning cover. It featured a boy playing the cello, which later evolved into a large oil painting that depicted the neck of the cello running through the boy’s shoulder, as though the two were meant to be together. Other memorable works of Amy’s included compositions that fused sneakers onto trees and displayed flying carrots alongside a glazed doughnut.
“I remember Amy as a fearless and brilliant visual artist. Fueled by an insatiable curiosity, disciplined work habits and high personal expectations, she grew over her four years at Peddie to become a leader in the art studio and a powerhouse in front of the easel. Her lyrical oil paintings embraced an impressive range of ideas, including references to Judaic iconography, classical literature, art history and pop culture. My arts colleagues and I cherished Amy’s voracious mind, her thoughtful insights and her clever sense of humor, which kept us on our toes for four years,” said Cathy.
After graduation, Amy followed her older brother, Eric, to the University of Chicago, where she studied art history with a focus on the Italian Renaissance and Greco-Roman art. A master’s degree from The University of Illinois at Chicago was next, this time in art history with a specialty in contemporary art and cybernetics. Over the years, she grew as an artist in new ways, developing skills in graphic design, jewelry making and photography, and further developed her knack for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
“Amy always was a bit of a non-conformist. She always wanted to be her own person and never felt she had to do it a certain way. She saw the world in her own way,” Evelyn said.
Amy also experienced the world in her own way. As a young adult, she was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a rare but benign brain tumor that led to severe hearing loss. Despite the challenges of those years, Amy continued to pursue a full and active life until her untimely and unexpected passing in March 2017.
“Losing Amy was, and still is, so hard. But on the other hand, I love to think about and talk about her. I don’t want her forgotten,” said Evelyn. Amy’s Peddie experience, her love of the arts and the Grossmans’ desire to keep her memory alive led to Leonard and Evelyn establishing the Amy Marlene Grossman ’99 Scholarship Fund for the Visual Arts in late 2017. The following year, Bryanna Mendez ’20, a boarding student from West New York, N.J., was the first recipient. Like Amy, Bryanna found her place in the art studio at Peddie.
“Bryanna’s ideas were unusually sophisticated for someone so young, often tackling issues of faith, gender, hardship and her Latino heritage. She magically transforms simple, everyday things into poetic sculptural results. Her warmth and kindness coupled with her passion for art made her a worthy inaugural recipient of this generous gift honoring Amy’s memory,” reflected Cathy. Today, Bryanna is thriving at Washington University in St. Louis and double majoring in art and business.
“I am so thankful to Dr. and Mrs. Grossman for allowing me the opportunity to pursue my education at Peddie and my love for the arts. I will always be grateful,” Bryanna shared.
The second recipient, Mary Lynch ’21 from Crosswicks, N.J., agreed. “While I’m eager to pursue a career in nursing, I look forward to making art inspired by my time at Peddie for years to come. I am so grateful for this honor and for the opportunity to explore a new part of who I am and what is important to me,” she said. Mary is currently in her freshman year at Temple University.
“Amy’s passing has left us broken-hearted. We loved her deeply and still do. Death does not take that away. We can no longer hug her or hear her laugh or see a new painting, but creating the scholarship fund has been a source of healing for us. We are proud to know that the fund will enable others to be part of the Peddie community,” Evelyn shared.