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In Memory: Emily Trespas, Art Instructor, Passes Away at 49

Courtesy of N. Hitchcock
Courtesy of N. Hitchcock

Emily Trespas, Instructor in Art, a beloved community member known for her lively energy, warm kindness, and gracious dedication, passed away on February 10 from pancreatic cancer, according to an email sent to the Andover community by Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington. Trespas had served as a faculty member for 21 years.

“Ms. Trespas created. For me, it always seemed like that act of creation was the essence of her being. She created art, connection, community, family,” wrote Abbey Siegfried, School Organist, in an email to The Phillipian.

Beginning her teaching career at Andover in 1999, Trespas taught art courses in painting and drawing, printmaking, and visual studies, according to “The Gazette.” Thayer Zaeder ’83, P’17, Department Chair in Art, began teaching at Andover the same year as Trespas. As a close friend to Trespas, Zaeder noted how she brought meaning and purpose to teaching.

“If you were lucky enough to work with or study with Ms. Trespas, then you know the wonder and joy and fun that she brought to everything she took on…it didn’t matter how dull or somber the task was at hand, Ms. Trespas always lightened the mood with her energy and wit and enthusiasm for progress. Ms. Trespas provided a genuine sense of place and purpose to scores of students as they navigated their high school experience,” wrote Zaeder in an email to The Phillipian.

During her years as an Instructor in Art, Trespas championed efforts to not only teach basic painting or drawing skills but also to help her students to express themselves genuinely. Violet Enes ’21, who initially took an introductory art course with Trespas her Junior year, recalls scouring the Course of Study for another course taught by Trespas because of her positive impact.

“Ms. Trespas taught me how to paint and draw and make my own canvas, but more importantly, she taught me how to express myself and how to genuinely not care what other people think. Her scissor-shaped earrings and cat ear headbands and headache-inducing scarves showed me that everything we do, wear, and say is only an expression of ourselves, so why not take every opportunity to show ourselves off,” wrote Enes in an email to The Phillipian.

Enes continued, “The first day in class, I wore my cheetah print turtleneck which I debated wearing earlier because I didn’t want to be too flashy or grab people’s attention on the paths. As soon as I walked into the classroom, she gasped, and her hands flew over her mouth. She exclaimed how much she loved my shirt and immediately made me feel at home. Over the course of the term, I spent hours and hours in her studio.”

Citing Trespas as a source of joy in her life, Enes credits Trespas for exposing her to interests that she hopes to explore in college: biology, art, and mental health. Enes had hoped to conduct an Independent Project with Trespas this coming Spring Term, but following her passing, Enes shared that there was no one that could replace Trespas.

“I miss wandering around the corridors of Addison with her as she slyly took pictures of me and the other students enjoying the art for the Andover Instagram and bumping into her in the hallways and her somehow always managing to make me cackle and her always loving my neon clothes or psyche outfits. I miss sitting in the back classroom and her judging my true crime podcasts I played out loud without ever needing to open her mouth. I miss her all the time. I thank the universe for giving me the strength that fall morning to wear a silly turtleneck because it drew me closer to the person who changed my life,” wrote Enes.

Kiran Ramratnam ’22, a former student of Trespas, will most remember her kindness. Trespas had encouraged Ramratnam to apply for art summer programs her Junior year, something she had never considered before meeting Trespas, according to Ramratnam. Sophie Ma ’21 had a similar experience. Without Trespas’ support while pursuing art schools, Ma would have never considered art as a core aspect of her identity or a possibility for her future.

“I owe Ms. Trespas so much. She was a mother to me—from late night talks in the ceramics studio to pumpkin muffins and kombucha during advising. When I was at my lowest point, she let me cry at her dining room table with a mug of hot tea. When all was well, we bonded over funky earrings, cats, and doodling random monster creatures for fun. She was the sole parental figure I had at Andover. I could rely on her for everything,” wrote Ma in an email to The Phillipian.

In addition to studio classroom teaching, Trespas coached Outdoor Pursuits and Power Walking, as well as served as a house counselor in Morton House for 17 years. Donald Slater, Director of Outdoor Pursuits, who has worked with Trespas since 2003 in Outdoor Pursuits and other programs, will miss her thoughtfulness, dedication, and endearing goofiness dearly.

“Every time I had the pleasure of working with her there were always laughs and great conversation to be had. Her faculty and staff friends adored her, and she lovingly mentored, cared for, and inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of students in her 2+ decades at Andover,” wrote Slater in an email to The Phillipian.

Siegfried, who served as house counselor of Morton House alongside Trespas, recalled the welcoming atmosphere that Trespas conveyed through her warm smile. Claiming her as the “creator” of the Morton dorm community among many other accomplishments, Siegfried further noted how Trespas often handed out artwork and pottery as holiday gifts to the residents.

“Working and living with [Trespas] in Morton House was like breathing… [My] family joined the Morton House “fam” for her final four years in the dorm. She welcomed us with her ever-open arms, wide smile, deep laugh, and sometimes mischievous wink. We loved her. The girls loved her,” wrote Siegfried.

Siegfried continued, “I still feel her here with us in so many ways: there are the physical reminders – the art, the tulips, hyacinths and daffodils that come up by the dorm entrance every Spring. And there are those things I can’t touch, but will carry with me forever: remembering to not be afraid, to be bold, to lean in and listen and learn, a family of amazing Morton House women who will carry on Ms. Trespas’ love and legacy for the rest of their lives.”

The Chaplaincy will host a virtual Service of Remembrance on Friday, February 26 to honor Trespas and the recent passing of two other Andover community members, Shawn Dalton, an Andover groundskeeper, and Pedro Nunez, a member of the Paresky Commons dining team. According to Kington’s email, Trespas’ family will provide further insight on how and when the Andover community can honor Ms. Trespas on campus in the future.