Academic Program
Upper School

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

“It is a matter of realizing potentialities. It is not a matter of ‘adding to’ but of ‘developing,’ of ‘evolving.’ We contain within ourselves a world of capacities, of possibilities, which the outer world summons forth, speaks to, releases.”
—M.C. Richards
Semester electives and discipline-based studios in
 the Upper School give students the chance to explore specific media in-depth. Throughout the program, emphasis is placed on the visual expression of ideas, the creative value of taking risks and making mistakes, in addition to a vibrant combination of careful planning, visual problem-solving, and experimental play.

Enrollment permitting, all art courses in Grades 9–12 may be taken more than once. The Visual Art Department distribution requirement must be completed by choosing one course from each group (2-D art, 3-D art, and applied art).

Upper School Visual Arts Curriculum

List of 9 items.

  • Painting and Drawing

    This class is an in-depth introduction to the language of drawing and painting, focusing on composition, form, and color. Working primarily from observation, students learn to see in new ways, and to translate three-dimensional reality into two-dimensional space. Students gain experience with charcoal and pencil techniques and learn to work in color with acrylic and oil paint. Additionally, students are guided through the essentials of perspective, measuring, and shading with still life and portraiture. Later in the term, students tackle complex projects, mining their imaginations, and exploring abstraction. Group critiques and studying ancient to contemporary artists round out the curriculum. Grades 9-10.
  • Sculpture

    This course offers an innovative, experimental environment for exploring a variety of both traditional and non-traditional art forms. Students will examine the relationships between form, space, materials and meaning as they relate to sculpture and will become familiar with the tools and materials they need to manifest their ideas visually. Projects are accompanied by group critiques and field trips when possible. This class is an excellent foundation for further studies in 3-D art and as preparation for the AP Studio Art program. Grades 9-11.
  • Ceramics - Wheel Throwing

    Students are introduced to working on the wheel, glazing, and firing and learning how to make simple, functional forms such as bowls and cups as they explore the relationship of the interior space and the exterior shape to create balance. As each student gains proficiency, more complex forms are assigned, challenging them to grapple with more complex design concepts. Grades 9-11.
  • Photography

    This course emphasizes fundamental image-making concepts through the mediums of analog and digital photography. Exploring the photographic process through various shooting assignments and personal projects, students will gain valuable experience using manual, DSLR film, and smartphone cameras, black and white film processing and darkroom printing techniques, and studio lighting tools. Grades 9-11.
  • Ceramic and Mixed-Media Sculpture

    This class provides an introduction to the concepts of three-dimensional composition with an emphasis on problem-solving and composing in the round. Projects will allow students to create work in clay using traditional hand-building methods. Other projects will introduce a variety of traditional and non-traditional materials and techniques. Projects are accompanied by group critiques and field trips when possible. This class is an excellent foundation for further studies in 3-D art and as preparation for the AP Studio Art program. Grade 10.
  • Multimedia and Materials

    Students address fundamental 2D design issues and techniques through various image-making processes that utilize traditional, alternative, and digital media. Brief, 2D design exercises encourage students to experiment with a combination of materials and techniques. Because of its variety and flexibility, this course provides excellent preparation for students considering AP Studio Art in their senior year. Knowledge of Photoshop is beneficial but not required. Grade 11.
  • Printmaking

    This course focuses on two dimensional-composition through the media of printmaking. Students explore various printmaking techniques, including monoprints, embossed prints, block prints, collagraphs, and engravings. Grade 11
  • Senior Studio

    This semester-long course centers on the individual interests and goals of each student. Focused work in any of our regularly offered disciplines is possible: Ceramics, Photography, Sculpture, Printmaking, Painting and Drawing, as well as the opportunity for cross-disciplinary work in multiple studios with instructor-guided projects. Grade 12.
  • Advanced Art Portfolio

    This class meets six times per week, allowing for deep exploration and development of personal artistic voice. Students create a portfolio focusing on either two-dimensional or three-dimensional art, with some room for cross-over in between. Students develop two bodies of work - one exploring a a range of approaches and subject matter. The other, an in-depth examination of a theme, branching into various media and stylistic choices.

    This course requires a great deal of time and energy, balancing assigned projects with independent work. Students create approximately 24 pieces for the completed portfolio. It's very helpful that AAP students have built their skills and documented their artwork from Grades 9 to 11. The Visual Arts Department is no longer submitting to the College Board, but portfolios will be critiqued by a panel of teachers and shared with the Upper School at a May Assembly. Grade 12.

Explore Our Curriculum

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