Skip To Main Content
Walnut Hill School for the Arts

Behind Stowe Online

The Latest

Mary Cattan ’60: A Mission to Write

Mary Turner Cattan ’60, a psychotherapist and spiritual director, published her first book, Pilgrimage of Awakening: The Extraordinary Lives of Murray and Mary Rogers, in June. The biography follows the lives of two missionaries and their transformation into proponents of interfaith dialogue. We asked Mary a few questions about her own journey . . .

How did you choose your career path?

Graduating from college in 1964, I was blissfully unliberated, too busy tending to my firstborn to delve into Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique (1963) or to consider I might have a career path beyond matrimony. Yet that first calling—raising four children—was challenging and deeply satisfying. By age 40, I had learned that human relationships are much more complicated (and fascinating!) than I had ever imagined. Experiences of loss and failure propelled me to wake up and to learn as much as I could about the intersection of human psychology and spirituality. It led to my second calling—chosen much more consciously—as a spiritual director and psychotherapist. Awareness and life-giving human connection—with oneself, with intimate others, and with the loving, life-giving energy of the universe (that some might call God) became my passion. It was that passion, driven by curiosity, that led to my writing Pilgrimage of Awakening.

Did you have any teachers at Walnut Hill who influenced your passion for writing?

Actually, my passion was for the story that cried out to be told. Writing, which I find incredibly hard work, was the necessary vehicle. Of all my teachers at Walnut Hill, Miss Clark challenged me the most to develop writing skills. She was a very quirky, old-fashioned teacher. She had us reading James Joyce, and her writing assignments were tough. As was her grading! No messing around in Miss Clark’s class!

What advice would you give to someone tackling a major project or writing a book?

What I needed most for my project was structure. For me, the saving grace was a doctoral program that required me to meet deadlines. Through Andover Newton Theological School, I was provided with a loving but strict advisor who said, “Just Velcro your bottom to that chair and WRITE!”

What is your favorite memory from your time at Walnut Hill?

My favorite memories involve relationships with friends. Fifty-six years later, Christie Coon, my roommate for three years at Walnut Hill, is still among my closest friends! Back then, we would gather, with three or four others, in someone’s room, door closed. Some of us were knitters, and we would talk, talk, talk about our lives and gossip. Exploits with boyfriends—actual or wished for—were of great interest. Friday evenings were special for me. At most meals in the Eliot dining room, our every move was scrutinized by a faculty member at the head of the table. But Fridays we were allowed to sit for supper without faculty supervision! There was always ice cream for dessert and no rush to go to evening study halls. Just time to connect. Very occasionally a weekend dinner would be spiced up by some guests—a busload of “boys” from a neighboring prep school. A joint glee club concert and perhaps a dance in the gym would follow. We were to “mix”—just not too much! Spotlights were turned up for the walk between Eliot and the gym to be sure the strict rule of not stepping off the sidewalk into the shadows was enforced. Since the blueberry pie we’d all enjoyed for dessert left our teeth and tongues stained purple, the temptation for stolen kisses was kept in check!

Pilgrimage of Awakening: The Extraordinary Lives of Murray and Mary Rogers is available on Amazon.

Street Art on Campus

In a recent project, our Visual Art Department students had the opportunity to dabble in “street art,” an art form practiced by artists around the world, in which wheat paste (a natural and biodegradable glue made of water and flour) is used to create vibrant poster work. This public work is usually installed in the middle of the night, and operates outside of the art-world system. It can be subversive or “street” in its content, reflecting the lives of urban artists or their political views. Our students studied street artists from around the world and papered the Walnut Hill campus with their own art, resulting in striking additions to our campus landscape. Their task was to create an image, send it to a large-format printer, cut the image, and install it using ladders and buckets of wheat paste. We are pleased to share the work of these talented students with you! 


Maddi Das '22

"My personal mural was one of a girl trapped in a box, waiting as the time ticks by with only a single light bulb to keep her from losing sight. It is up to the viewer to find the true meaning behind this image, as there are countless opportunities for a hidden meaning."


Yolanda Duan '22

“I was in the classroom wondering and struggling for ideas. Then I thought about nature, about flowers and humans. So I combined them into one, because I think they are all parts of each other. Mine wasn’t big, but you are able to see it walking to Highland. It was really great to experience wheat pasting in the cold weather.”


Caterina Fanale '20

"When our class was introduced to this wheat paste project, there were some examples of murals that stood for different political causes. This was part of my inspiration. I wanted my work to stand for something. Most of my inspiration came from the community around me, being immersed in not only visual arts, but all kinds of arts from people with different backgrounds. Everything that my peers bring to the community was my inspiration. My mural stands for diversity, for arts and for the cultural pool that I am so thankful to have the opportunity just to experience."


Simone Gardner '21

"My mural was inspired by circling seagulls I saw this summer. I wanted the focus of the mural to be the birds’ movements with the characters in the boat taking up the background. It was very fun to put up and I’m proud of how it turned out."


Eunji Huh '19


"My inspiration for this project was the kids who live in WHS dorms. Kids in our campus are adorable, and I have wanted to work with them for a long time. So, I thought it would be great to put them on the walls where they live, so that they and their parents can have special memories. I asked the kids what they like and what want to be in the future. Based on what they said, I collaged their photos with my drawings of whatever they wanted to be. I was very fortunate to be able to work with these four children and I am so glad the kids and their parents liked my work."


Cindy Liu '21


"In ancient Greece, there were nine goddesses that take charge of the arts. Apollo was their leader. I chose to use this myth as the main concept of my drawing because I want this campus to be blessed by those art goddesses so every young artist can get fantastic inspiration."


Olivia Na '22

"I thought about different dimensions over the wall and the door. First I thought of the eye looking at the students and then the hand trying to grab the students, so the hand is coming out of the wall."


Annabelle Press '19

"I chose to show a playful illusion of the music and visual artist students' feet walking towards the entrance of Highland going to the studios or practice rooms."


Harry Zhao '19

''I see goldfishes and clouds as symbols of freedom."