Faculty Artist Spotlights: Deva Watson and Thatcher Cook
Faculty Artist Spotlights: Deva Watson and Thatcher Cook

The Anne Reid '72 Art Gallery is currently displaying the work of nine faculty artists. The exhibit is open to the public and will run through November 17th. The Gallery will be hosting a reception today, October 17th, from 12:30 to 1:00. We hope you can join us!

In order to provide more insight into our impressive faculty and their diverse artistic talents and careers, we will be featuring two faculty artists each week. This week will focus on Deva Watson, our Middle School Art teacher, and Thatcher Cook, our Upper School Photography teacher.

Deva Watson: Middle School Art

A native to Philadelphia, Deva has been an art teacher for almost 10 years. With a Master's degree in Art Education from University of The Arts, Deva has taught in both private and public schools in Philadelphia and Princeton, New Jersey.

Deva is also the Co-Founder of the Fresh Artists 'Palates To Palettes' program. This program features a novel art curriculum that takes middle schoolers into the best restaurants in Philadelphia to meet the chefs, eat their signature culinary masterpieces, and then sketch and paint a still life of that meal. The result is not only a wonderful learning experience for all involved but has the added benefit of beautiful interpretations of the Philadelphia food scene. As young philanthropists, the student give the use of this art to Fresh Artists to raise money that delivers art supplies to severely underfunded public schools.

Before coming to Princeton Day School, Deva worked for eight years in severely underfunded schools in North Philadelphia. There was no playground, no healthy lunch, and Deva raised her own money for supplies, student clothing, and sometimes even beds so that her students felt loved and supported. As an example of the environments from which her students came, about a third of the homes on West Oakdale Street between 15th and 16th in North Philadelphia are empty and several lots are vacant.

Deva's piece in the exhibit examines the process that came to be known as "redlining," because of the way that banks and federal agencies marked maps of the neighborhoods where mortgages should be withheld, chalking them off from the rest of the city with red ink. North Philadelphia and its cousins across the U.S. were choked off from credit, the lifeblood of any healthy community. Could redlining have impacted the lives of her students 60 years after it was illegal to do so? Deva used mixed materials, such as maps and torn cloth, to raise questions about this process and the implications it can have on a community.

Thatcher Cook: Upper School Photography

Before teaching at PDS, Thatcher Hullerman Cook was a documentary photographer. His assignments have taken him to over 60 countries, chronicling programs for non-governmental organizations and the United Nations. Beyond photography, Thatcher has acted as an advocate for refugees and stateless people, meeting with heads of international organizations and policy makers in both governmental and NGO spheres, to leverage significant change in the lives of disenfranchised people.

The work presented in the PDS faculty show is a group of nine triptychs, 27 photos, inspired by the Wallace Stevens Poem, Crude Foyer. The images were made around assignments in several countries including Bulgaria, Darjeeling, Dubai, France, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, and Thailand.

Images, from top to bottom: Deva Watson installing her piece in the Gallery. Deva Watson's final piece. Thatcher Cook's triptychs on display in the Gallery. One of Thatcher Cook's single photograph.