Lynda Greenwade: Bringing Culture Abroad To Friends Select School


Lynda Greenwade, Metalsmithing Teacher

From being drawn to art at indigenous festivals (and having to be dragged away by her parents) to helping kids design and create their own art, Lynda Greenwade, Director of Cultural Curricular Programs and Upper School Art Teacher, enjoys seeing people’s imaginative ideas become a reality.

Spending her childhood in New Mexico and Colorado, Lynda grew to appreciate the cultural significance art could bring. She grew up in a household full of artists; her father was a cartoonist and had a comic strip in their local newspaper about Lynda called My Little Girl. Her mother was a trained tailor. When she was five, Lynda first attempted metalsmithing in her fireplace while trying to make a piece of metal that she found into a fine piece of jewelry. It almost ended up in a house fire.

Traveling the world to experience different cultures and styles of art is a great joy of Lynda’s. Something that she is particularly curious about is the varying processes and methods artists use, no matter their environment or their resources.

Lynda has studied different cultures’ art through National Endowments for the Humanities (NEH), a federal agency “dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.” NEH has centered art from Nepalese, African, and Native American cultures. One of her big fears is that the cultural significance of art will be lost.

An NEH endowment helps support and fund research, education, and preservation in libraries, universities, and for individual scholars. Few people receive a National Endowment for the Humanities because funds are extremely limited.

Linda has received an endowment from NEH, along with four additional endowments: Mapmaking and Cartography at the University of Chicago, History and Art of Africa at Michigan State, South-Eastern Asia at Clark University, and Contested Homelands, about the history of New Mexico and its indigenous people. Even though she has received these national awards, she says, “My favorite award of all time will always be my 2018 [FSS] Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award!”

Lynda has taught art at Friends Select School for 31 years. She has also taught at Tyler School of Art and Architecture and Lehigh University, among many other schools. However, she likes Friends Select and teaching high school students the most. She says, “They have much more humor and are very inquisitive. College students are much more serious and don’t laugh as much.” 

Lynda first started working at Friends Select in the 70s, but she decided to take a break from teaching in the 80s to start her own jewelry company called Thorp Artisans.

Lynda’s company strived to encourage and train women who never had the opportunity to learn the skills of metalworking. Lynda then decided to leave Thorp Artisans and come back to teach at Friends Select when two of her three children attended and she wanted to spend more time with them. Lynda has been teaching since then. She says her favorite thing about teaching is “seeing kids all of a sudden go, oh wow I did that.” Lynda’s new 3D art studio is a lot bigger than her last studio, and she sees students complaining about always bumping into each other.

Lynda regularly hosts International students from Friends Select. Lynda loves hosting international students because she has the privilege of learning about their culture and provides them with a safe space to live in. Coming in the 9th grade, Shirley Wang ‘22 has now been living with Lynda for three years. Shirley said, “It was really difficult to adapt to a new environment and use another language to study, and I kind of struggled for a while.” But Lynda was always there to help and encourage her. Lynda taught her how to write emails to teachers and how to be more active in class.

Even though he hasn’t had Lynda as a teacher, TJ Hampton ‘22 has a close connection with Lynda because he has known her a long time and considers her a family friend. TJ describes her as always willing to help and being warm-hearted towards everyone. He also emphasized how knowledgeable she is about the art world and how willing she is to use her experience as inspiration for others in their work. When asked about a memorable interaction with Lynda, TJ mentioned waiting at the bus stop to get to school on a cold winter day and Lynda offered him a ride. During the ride, they had an in-depth conversation about Rochester Institute of Technology, which later became TJ’s top college choice. TJ summarizes Lynda’s personality, saying, “She is always kind and warm no matter who you are.”

Now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing, Lynda is eager to travel again. She says, “I am looking forward to bringing back experiences and the art culture of these places [Scandinavia, Spain, and Portugal] to the kids that I teach.”