In Mercersburg Academy’s visual arts program, students learn to challenge themselves by taking risks learning the viable options and tools to produce quality work as they express themselves and represent current culture.
Courses range from ceramics to digital art, sculpture, painting, and drawing, as well as capstone experiences and travel opportunities to explore the arts from a cultural and professional viewpoint.
In addition to having their work displayed across campus, students have the opportunity to be published in the school’s literary and art publication, Blue Review, and regularly place in regional and national competitions. Competitions include South Central Pennsylvania Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and the National K12 Ceramic Exhibition.
Meet the Visual Arts Faculty
Arts Faculty and Director of Galleries
Sydney Caretti holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art from the University of New Hampshire and a master of fine arts from Marywood University, where she was awarded the Ella T. Ruane Medal for Excellence in Art. Sydney arrived at Mercersburg with 10 years experience as a fine arts gallery partner and consultant from New England with teaching experience from the New Hampton School in New Hampton, NH, and Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School in Kingston, PA. She has taught AP studio art, studio art, painting, drawing, design, and ceramics/sculpture. Sydney has been head or assistant head coach in equestrian and track & field as well as an adviser, dormitory parent, head of dorms, and class dean. She divides her professional time between serving as the director of galleries and teaching. Sydney lives just off campus with her husband, fellow faculty member Erin Caretti, and their two daughters, Quinlan ’24 and Allister.
Wells Gray has taught at Mercersburg since 1999, and is a past head of the school’s arts department. Wells approaches teaching by establishing a strong rapport with students and fostering their knowledge of art concepts and the mechanics of art in both the studio and for AS Art History. Wells served as head coach of Mercersburg’s girls’ varsity squash team for 16 years. His academic appointments have included Bennington College, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, the Kildonan School, and many art centers throughout the country. In addition to teaching art, Wells continues to create and exhibit ceramic vessels and sculpture. He and his wife, former staff member Willie Phillips Gray, live in Main Hall.
Arts Faculty and Head Girls’ Soccer Coach
Kristen Pixler teaches digital art and photography, as well as CommArts: The Art and Business of Graphic Design (a Springboard capstone course available to seniors). She is also the head coach for Mercersburg’s girls’ varsity soccer team, works with Mercersburg Outdoor Education, and is an adviser to Blue Review, the school’s student literary-arts publication. Kristen came to Mercersburg from Harrisburg Area Community College, where she was an adjunct professor of web design. She is an experienced commercial photographer, illustrator, and designer, and owns KHP Photo and Design in Chambersburg. She received a bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and a master of fine arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, both with an emphasis on photography. Kristen and her husband, Matthew, live off campus; Kristen is an adviser and dorm faculty member in Fowle Hall.