Chronicles: Lost and Found Laura Hobby ’94’s senior thesis is now hanging in the Leyburn Library.
After graduation, Laura Hobby ’94 packed up her belongings and had to leave behind a large painting she created as part of her senior thesis.
“My parents weren’t about to pay to have it shipped home, and it didn’t fit in the trunk of my Toyota Camry,” she said. So she gave it to Larry Stene, professor of art. “In my mind, that was code for ‘I don’t have the heart to throw it out. Can you?’ ”
Even though Hobby came back to campus for her class reunions, she never allowed herself to wonder about that painting. “I never had the heart to ask because I didn’t want to hear that it ended up in the dumpster.”
Hobby, who double majored in European history and studio art, is the supervisor, visual and theatre arts education, K-12, in Hillsborough County Public Schools, the seventh-largest school district in Florida. She overseas and trains 260 art teachers, impacting more than 85,000 students.
“It’s been a tough couple of years for our teachers,” she noted. “We’ve been dumped on by COVID and budget cuts. Over the summer I wasworking on a teacher training presentation wondering how to motivate them to display their students’ art — it’s a lot of extra work for them. ButI also know how much it means to the kids to have their work seen.”
Cue the timely email from Kaylin Jury ’24, who spent her summer as a curatorial intern for Washington and Lee Museums. In the email was a picture of Hobby’s painting, now hanging in Leyburn Library (albeit upside down, according to Hobby).
“I was so overwhelmed with emotion,” said Hobby. “I cannot tell you how meaningful it was to hear from her.” The connection with Jury and reconnection with her painting became an important part of her presentation to her art teachers on why art matters.
“We’ve gone more and more towards standardized testing, where’s there’s only one right answer,” said Hobby. “I think art is beneficial to thechildren because there isn’t one right answer. It gives them mental space, to just be themselves and create.”
Hobby, who is taking her high school daughter to visit colleges, has put W&L on the list. “I don’t care where she goes to school, but I’m definitely going to check on my painting.”