Creative Caroline Chriss ’07 Reflects on Calvert Days

Caroline Chriss ’07 is a visual artist in Chicago whose seascape paintings are available on well-known retailer sites such as Serena & Lily. When growing up in Baltimore, she lived a short walk from the Calvert campus. And even now, she enjoys coming by the campus when back in Baltimore visiting family, as it brings back some of her best memories.
A few of her favorite memories include singing in the Lower School talent show, attending art classes with Mrs. Butler, shaking hands with Mr. Hall, learning the states with Mrs. Szczerbicki, and participating in Mr. Hardesty’s music classes. Caroline says, “To this day, I think I can still sing the whole ‘Silhouette Child’!”
Caroline grew up with a highly creative mom, who inspired her to want to be in the arts. She said, “For a long time at Calvert, I wanted to be a singer. However, after singing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ in the Fifth Grade talent show, I quickly realized that was not going to work out! In my later days at Calvert, I began to get into the Fine Arts and always kept this with me as a hobby throughout middle school, high school, and college.”
After receiving a BFA in Communication Design from Parsons the New School for Design, she dabbled in a few creative jobs in interior and graphic design. While these jobs were extremely stimulating, deep down she knew that her goal was to take the leap and become a full-time fine artist. “My most significant accomplishment thus far is quitting my day-job almost a year ago, and making this dream a reality!” Caroline said.
It has taken patience, perseverance, and self-confidence for Caroline to be where she is today. She said, “I learned quite quickly that being a full-time artist was not going to come quickly or easily. I knew I was going to have to put all of my time and energy into it and be very self-disciplined, if I was going to make it work.” A pivotal point for her in her career path was reading the book When to Jump by a friend of hers, Mike Lewis. This book made her realize that she needed to stop looking to the outside for permission to pursue her passion, and instead, look to the inside and get that permission from herself. “Once I mustered up the courage and gave myself the go ahead, my career as an artist truly began.”
As a full-time artist, no day is exactly the same for Caroline. Although she does try to maintain a rhythm and structure each day, no two days are ever alike. “My studio is in my apartment, so I always try to get out and go to a coffee shop in the morning to go through emails and do the more administrative work. After that, I return to my studio, where all the creativity happens,” said Caroline. Depending on the day, she may be working on a new collection, completing a commission, brainstorming new ideas, or packing and shipping works of art.
Caroline has some sound advice for her fellow alumni, “It is so important to take the time to explore and find out what is it is you are truly passionate about. It is easy to get influenced by others around you, but always remember that the little voice inside of you is your true voice. Listen to it and fly. It is okay to chase goals that are not plainly laid out for you.”
Caroline shared that Calvert instilled in her a sense of honor, respect, and the importance of a strong community. “The one thing I hold closest to me from Calvert are the friendships that were built there. To this day, my closest friends (both guys and girls) are my Calvert buddies. I am so thankful to Calvert for giving me such a wonderful community.”
Caroline still writes in Calvert script and uses it to sign her paintings, which can be viewed and purchased through her website, as well as through Serena & Lily and Well & Wonder
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.