Featured Alumni

Together We Are Stronger: Creative Connections

Written by Dr. Carrie MacVean Grimes '91 for the Summer 2021 issue of The Bridge
Generations of alumnae have launched their futures from our Water Street campus, exemplifying the values of the Severn School community as artists, leaders, advocates, activists, and more. Friendships forged on Water Street often translate to connections in the working world. Those connections took one idea from creative inspiration to small business reality, showcasing the talents and creative perspectives of three inspiring alumnae artists.

A Fluttr of Creativity

It was Mother's Day. Matt Sarro '91's wife was flying home from a girl's weekend in Florida. “As usual, I had forgotten a card. I packed our three boys into the car and hit the grocery store. I couldn't find a single card that I was willing to buy, so I packed the boys into the backseat again and headed to the pharmacy. Still nothing.” Ultimately, he settled for a blank card and a plant from a local nursery. Matt spent the rest of the day thinking about how much he hated the process (and the card he ended up with!) and started brainstorming a better way to choose and send cards. The idea for Fluttr was born ( Fluttr is a unique card subscription service where customers can select, sign, schedule, and send high-quality, physical cards created by a creative network of independent artists, including Admiral alumnae Kate Bouchard '14, Julia Deckman '03, and Missy Dunaway '06. Matt and his team discovered Kate, Julia, and Missy through the Severn alumni network, and were eager to invite them to contribute to the Fluttr's creative network of artists.

Julia Deckman '03

Julia Deckman '03 describes herself as having been “an artist my whole life, but I didn't realize it until I was an unfulfilled adult. I finally recognized that painting and creating is my passion when I was about 27 years old and began pursuing my art career.” She is grateful for being able to live an authentic and rewarding life since shifting her professional focus to art. While she claims Georgia O'Keefe as her “hero” in terms of artistic influence, she recalls that her early days of painting were in former Severn arts department chair Ms. Carol Duncan's art studio where she was first exposed to oil paints.

Throughout her career, Julia has learned the importance of perspective. “'Success isn't ever really attained, it evolves after each accomplishment. There is no finish line. When I am feeling stuck or frustrated, I remind myself of where I came from.” Partnering with Fluttr has been an exciting collaboration for Julia. “At this phase of my career, I truly enjoy collaborating with other artists. I am both a Fluttr artist and outreach contractor. I help sign up other Fluttr artists and it's a joy to see so many friends in the roster." You can learn more about Julia and her creative collaborations at
“I have focused on constantly creating work while engaging in my local community. By continuing to create, I have found what process and approach work best for me; I have discovered new media and subject matters. I have been able to evolve and develop my work, thereby remaining perpetually inspired and excited about being in the studio.”

Kate Bouchard '14

Kate Bouchard '14's art takes a spin on everyday objects. “I love drawing food, creatures, books, and people here and there. I think that I am very much still discovering my style so the work I create often changes along the way. Sometimes it is more sketch-like, and other times I spend a lot of time refining each subject.” Kate hopes her work encourages people to see the everyday in a fun or different way. “Maybe the next time you buy tomatoes at the grocery store you will realize that they are little works of art.”

Kate currently works in social media for children's book publishing and is constantly exposed to new artists and illustration techniques. Reflecting upon those who've influenced her budding career, Kate recalls a great piece of advice she received from her animation professor her senior year of college. “Our homework for each semester was to draw every day in our sketchbooks. It didn't matter if it was for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, we just had to draw every day. This activity helped me to learn that creating is a process and it's not always about the end product. To this day I try to draw or make something every day.” Her persistence and practice have certainly begun to pay off, both as a creator for Fluttr and in her recent work as a freelance artist for Admiral alumna Claire Bowersox Vetter '03's family food business, Tessemae's, where Kate's art was featured in their new product line.
“I think a big part of success is believing that you can continue doing what makes you happy or even scares you if you continue to put in the work.”

Missy Dunaway '06

Like many Severn artists, Missy Dunaway '06's relationship with Ms. Duncan was instrumental in her creative development. Ms. Duncan allowed Missy to spend extra hours in the art room while she built her portfolio for college. And she encouraged Missy to seek an education in a liberal arts program that would allow her to pursue several passions. This advice was invaluable, as Missy credits her undergraduate study at Carnegie Mellon University for laying the foundation for her artistic style. “As a student in the Bachelor's in Humanities and Arts (BHA) program, I was given dual admission into the College of Fine Arts and School of Humanities. After four years of studying painting and material & visual culture side by side, I strive to pair research with art and communicate findings through painting.”

In 2013, Missy was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to research Anatolian textiles in Turkey. In 2019, she was awarded a New Student Scholarship to the Academy of Realist Art in Boston, where she is currently studying. This year she was awarded a Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship and will be their artist in residence in November. Missy's debut book, The Traveling Artist: A Visual Journal, is an illustrated travelogue of eighty colorful paintings that documents her five-year international journey as a Fulbright Fellow, artist in residence, and solo traveler. Visit to learn more.

Through her partnership with Fluttr, Missy is donating a percentage of purchases of her designs to support the World Wildlife Fund. Her greeting cards feature critically endangered animals and she donates all illustrator royalties to environmental conservation.
“I like to use painting as a learning tool, and my projects often explore new interests. Previous projects have investigated ornithology, Anatolian textiles, and English literature. This collection of greeting cards gave me an opportunity to look into critically endangered animals.”

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Scroll below or click here for a full text version of the article from our 2021 Summer issue of the Bridge celebrating 50 years of women at Severn:


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