Passing of Emily Driscoll ’05 sparks remembrances

According to friends, Emily Driscoll ’05 was something of a maverick – traveling through India alone, opening an art gallery, giving all of herself to her artwork and loved ones.

A gifted artist, talented athlete, dedicated friend and community-builder, and beloved member of the Williams community, Driscoll died on Nov. 16 after being struck by a car while walking home to her Brooklyn apartment.

Those close to Driscoll remember a magnetic young woman with strong convictions, unflinching loyalty and a unique ability to connect with people. “She was good at a lot of things that she tried,” said her mother Rosanne Benedetto. “She was as good a cook as she was an artist. She enjoyed being with people. She was a very inclusive person when it came to people – she was as comfortable talking to her art professors as talking to a neighbor over coffee.”

“She would engage people beyond the basic, material exchange to find the kernel of goodness or truth in them that other people just sort of passed by,” said friend Eliza Myrie ’03.

Driscoll’s fearlessness and curiosity shaped her approach to life. “She was never intimidated by a new experience, a new community, a new culture,” said her father David Driscoll ’73. “She approached things openly and without fear. She was anxious to learn. She positioned herself to learn. She was never smug about what she knew; she was more curious about what she didn’t know.”

During her time at the College, Driscoll played varsity soccer and double majored in American studies and studio art, in which she earned highest honors. “Art was definitely a passion of hers,” said Amy Podmore, professor of art. “Knowing and working with Emily was a real honor, not only because she was smart and talented, but because she wasn’t easily satisfied with her work and strove for the highest and most honest level while developing her artistic voice. Emily asked the probing questions and put in tremendous studio time, inspiring those around her.”

Faculty in the art department speak glowingly of Driscoll’s dedication to her artwork and her passion for engaging others. “I think that she was one of the most talented people to come through during my time here,” said Laylah Ali, professor of art. “She was really one of our best and we all knew her so well because she was such an engaged student. I think the reason we’re able to speak about her so much is because she was someone who wanted to interact. She will be hugely missed.”

Numerous professors spoke of Driscoll’s valuable ability to get to the heart of material, bringing an unusual directness and depth to discussions. “She had a delightful and uncanny ability to cut through the pretense and jargon and confront the most important and interesting issues head-on, always with her Emily-style sparkle and sense of humor,” Podmore said.

Ann Woods ’05, Driscoll’s close friend, soccer teammate and freshman year entrymate, recalled Driscoll’s distinctive sense of humor. “It was biting, very witty, very sharp,” she said. “She could dish it out as well as she could take it.”

Driscoll was an integral member of the women’s soccer team during her first three years at the College, before choosing to dedicate the remainder of her college career to art. During her time on the team, she made positive contributions both on and off the field. “She just sparkled,” said Michelyne Pinard, Head Coach of women’s soccer. “She had so much energy and sass. It was hard not to be infected by her energy and spirit. Honestly, something that will forever stay with me is her humble confidence. She was so comfortable in her own skin that she made everyone around her confident and comfortable in their own skin.”

According to Edward Epping, professor of art, Driscoll’s art and athleticism complemented each other. “There was an underlying discipline about the way she knew that the work process must be engaged,” Epping said. “The discipline came from her interest in sports, specifically team sports, so her success as a soccer player gave her the kind of discipline and knowledge of the relationship between work and consequence – it takes a major amount of work to accomplish important things. She understood this very, very well.”

After graduation, Driscoll spent a year teaching art at Thurgood Marshall Middle School in her hometown of Lynn, Mass. In July 2006, Driscoll began six months of solo travel to Ireland, Rome and India, including a three-week trek through the Himalayas. She returned stateside in Dec. 2006, moving to New York City the following month with partner Walker Waugh ’02.

Once in New York City, Driscoll and Waugh settled in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to set up a studio and gallery space with the funds Driscoll received from the College’s Hubbard Hutchinson Memorial Fellowship. According to Waugh, Red Hook’s waterside location appealed to the inner beach bum in Driscoll, who grew up on Boston’s north shore.

WORK, the gallery space opened by Driscoll and Waugh, was introduced to the community on May 18, 2007. Between May and September, interior renovations to the space readied it for WORK’s first show, curated by Kathleen Smith ’03. The gallery was a place “for everybody to get together and talk critically about art and show art,” Smith said. “It was a very selfless act. She started it to show other artists and create a community.”

According to those close to her, the mission of the gallery echoes Driscoll’s own approach to her artwork. “Emily seemed to have a sincere desire to make good work and to make interesting art and she didn’t seem as worried about how she appeared to be or how her work was judged,” Eric Gladstone ’04 said. “To me, she was the epitome of the honest artist who is working not because she wants to be seen as an artist, but because she truly believes in art as a way to express something valuable.”

The gallery’s third show was scheduled to open in mid-November, but has been postponed indefinitely. It is to feature works by Beck Suss ’03 and Frank Jackson, professor of art. Suss, a close friend to Driscoll and Waugh, recalls Driscoll as “ballsy and she had such courage,” she said. “She wasn’t afraid of things. She was cautious, but she was really courageous and strong, just incredibly strong.”

In addition to her mother and father, Driscoll leaves her sisters Jessica Moschetti and Abigail Driscoll, brother David Driscoll, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

In Driscoll’s memory, her family has established the Emily Driscoll Foundation for Arts and Athletics. A candlelight vigil will take place at the WORK gallery in Brooklyn on Dec. 16 from 4-6 p.m. A funeral mass was said Nov. 21 in St. Pius V Church, Lynn, Mass. Burial was in Harmony Grove Cemetery, Salem, Mass.

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