Arts: Visual Arts

The Visual Arts program focuses on skills development and the enhancement of creativity. To that end, we offer entry level courses in a wide variety of media. Advanced study is available in several areas, and students interested in pursuing work in-depth should consider Junior Portfolio and Senior Studio. Students are encouraged to record their ideas in journals and sketchbooks and to assemble portfolios containing a history of their creative accomplishments.

Requirements

Students are required to complete four semesters in the arts, although most take more. Ninth graders select one arts course each semester from foundation electives in music, theater, and the visual arts. They may also join Parksingers, participate in theater productions in winter and spring, and take advanced classes. 

Upperclassmen must complete their arts requirements prior to the second semester of senior year. Independent studies are limited and are only available to students who have fulfilled their arts requirement and wish to pursue advanced work. 

All students should read course descriptions carefully to determine eligibility. Accelerated courses are so designated. Please note that certain elective courses require a materials fee.

Full Year Course

Senior Studio (Acc)

Grade: 12                                                          

Prerequisite:  Permission of the department.

This accelerated course is for highly experienced students who wish to pursue work toward the completion of a portfolio for college applications or for archival purposes. Conceptual problems are presented and students are free to explore them in media of their own choosing, integrating skills developed in earlier arts classes. The emphasis is on critical and analytical thinking and the development of a personal style. The course is open to students with experience in 2-D, 3-D, or arts technology courses. An ability to work independently and outside class is essential. This course culminates with Senior Shows, a celebration of seniors in making, editing, and exhibiting their work.

Fall Semester Courses

Art History: Recurring Themes

Grades: 10-12

More than ever before, we live in a world of manmade appearance, and whether we are conscious of it or not, what we see affects us. In this course, the ultimate question is this: how does art (from painting and architecture to advertising and fashion) influence our sense of reality and identity and shape our desires? To approach this question in a manageable way, students will examine three or four major themes that recur throughout art history, such as Sacred Space, The Body, Power and Protest, and The Natural World. Students will study a broad range of works, comparing the ways artists from different time periods and cultures have responded to each theme. They will examine, discuss, read, and write about art, and may even make some art, too. This course can be taken for art or history credit.

CERAMICS

Grades: 9-12

Students become acquainted with the basic techniques and skills of using clay to create both functional and non-functional objects. Design principles, hand-building methods, safety, and studio etiquette are covered. In the second half of the semester, basic glaze theory and some wheelwork are explored. An emphasis is placed on personal expression and skill consistency. Students keep a sketchbook/journal throughout this course, and will record all work in a digital portfolio. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

darkroom photography

Grades: 10-12

This course introduces students to black and white film photography and 35mm SLR camera techniques. Students learn how to determine a correct exposure, control depth of field and motion, process film, and finally, learn the various procedures to make a print from a black and white negative. Students are asked to consider photography as a method for personal expression while also examining photography as a means of visual communication. Grades and comments are based on assigned projects and student growth in technical and communication skills as measured by a series of group critiques conducted throughout the term. All students are required to have a 35 mm camera whose aperture, shutter speed, and film speed can be controlled manually. The school will rent cameras to students who need them. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

Design thinking

Grades: 9-12

Design is everywhere – in books, at the supermarket, on the interstate, and on the internet. If humans made it, design played a role. This course examines design in two parts. The first half of the course is dedicated to learning about design concepts in a hands-on manner that emphasizes construction, clarity, composition, and critique. The second half of the course takes place in the digital lab where, after some extensive tutorials, students work in groups on a larger print production project using Adobe Illustrator. The course ends with a bang: a digital project with a real client and a class field trip to IKEA. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

Drawing

Grades: 9-12

How do we view the world around us? In this course, drawing is about seeing; it is about careful observation and perception. In this course, students experiment with charcoal, pencil, pen and ink, and pastels while exploring techniques and skills to enable them to gain confidence in their visual expression.

Graphic Design

Grades: 9-12

This course introduces basic skills and key concepts relating to the creation of visual media for use in print and online. Students develop their understanding of graphic design concepts while utilizing industry-standard software packages such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Students are introduced to concepts related to visual design through a series of exercises and assignments. Students assume the role of graphic designer as they complete a number of real-world design problems, such as the production of brochures, posters, and magazine page layouts. Student work will be assessed on the basis of how well each student has satisfied the requirements of each assignment, and critiques will be conducted periodically throughout the semester. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

ONLINE DESIGN

Grades: 9-12

In this class students will explore 21st century tools for design in a digital environment. Web pages, blogs, portfolios, and other online identities are increasingly accessible to designers, even without coding. Emphasis in this class will be on design principles that make an online presence visually pleasing and easy to navigate. Students will take advantage of available technology like smartphones as well as more conventional tools like digital cameras and the Adobe Creative Suite.

Painting

Grades: 9-12

This class is devoted to enriching a student’s development as an artist through the practice and study of painting in oils and acrylics. Students learn the basic tools and techniques used in painting and create a series of works of increasing complexity. They work primarily from life, beginning by exploring the ideas of realism and believability. As the class progresses, students delve into the murkier depths of painting, known as expression, eventually merging the two with a work of personal significance as they try to find the answer to the question, “What makes a good painting?” (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

21ST CENTURY MAKER SKILLS

Grades: 10-12

In this course students will embark upon a journey of exploring, creating, and research using 21st century tools and technologies. They will learn how to design and create 3-dimensional art and craft elements using a variety of tools such as a CNC router, Laser cutter, 3d printer, band saw, and a multitude of other tools available in the school’s modeling and fabrication laboratory. A strong emphasis is placed on student-generated design and conceptual ideas for each assignment, including carefully planned preliminary sketches.

WOODWORKING

Grades: 9-12

Students learn basic woodworking concepts and skills. Safe studio practices are emphasized. The main thrust of this course is the logical process of designing and crafting in wood. Three projects are usually completed, with some students exceeding that number. A strong emphasis is placed on student-generated design and conceptual ideas for each assignment, including carefully planned preliminary sketches. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

Winter Arts Course

Figure Drawing

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Painting or Drawing or permission of the department.

This intensive study of drawing from the model meets two times a week after school during the winter sports season (early November through February). Using a variety of drawing media, including pencil, charcoal, pen and wash, pastel, watercolor, and tempera, students explore gesture, proportion, mass, foreshortening, portraiture, and composition. Opportunities for expressive interpretation of the figure occur in the final portion of the course. This class counts as a course during the spring semester. (This class may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

Spring Semester Courses

CERAMICS

Grades: 9-12

Students become acquainted with the basic techniques and skills of using clay to create both functional and non-functional objects. Design principles, hand-building methods, safety, and studio etiquette are covered. In the second half of the semester, basic glaze theory and some wheelwork are explored. An emphasis is placed on personal expression and skill consistency. Students keep a sketchbook/journal throughout this course, and will record all work in a digital portfolio. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY

Grades: 10-12

This course introduces students to black and white film photography and 35mm SLR camera techniques. Students learn how to determine a correct exposure, control depth of field and motion, process film, and finally, learn the various procedures to make a print from a black and white negative. Students are asked to consider photography as a method for personal expression while also examining photography as a means of visual communication. Grades and comments are based on assigned projects and student growth in technical and communication skills as measured by a series of group critiques conducted throughout the term. All students are required to have a 35 mm camera whose aperture, shutter speed, and film speed can be controlled manually. The school will rent cameras to students who need them. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

DESIGN thinking

Grades: 9-12

Design is everywhere – in books, at the supermarket, on the interstate, and on the internet. If humans made it, design played a role. This course examines design in two parts. The first half of the course is dedicated to learning about design concepts in a hands-on manner that emphasizes construction, clarity, composition, and critique. The second half of the course takes place in the digital lab where, after some extensive tutorials, students work in groups on a larger print production project using Adobe Illustrator. The course ends with a bang: a digital project with a real client and a class field trip to IKEA. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Grades: 10-12

This class introduces students to photography and the use of the computer as a photographic tool. Students learn camera functions, including how to determine a correct exposure and how to control depth of field and motion, and how to use Adobe Photoshop. Topics include Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, as well as selections and masking, sharpening, and basic color correction. At the same time, students are encouraged to view photography as a means of visual communication and to produce images that incorporate a point of view. Grades and comments are based on student growth as measured in a series of group critiques conducted throughout the term. The school rents cameras to students who need them. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.) 

Junior Portfolio, Accelerated

Grade: 11

This accelerated course is designed for second-semester juniors who wish to pursue work toward the completion of a portfolio for their college applications or for archival purposes. Students should come to this class with solid experiences in 2-D, 3-D, or arts technology courses. Assignments are designed to enhance skills and experience and to develop a personal aesthetic and unique approach to artmaking. The ability to work independently and outside of class time is essential.

ILLUSTRATION AND SEQUENCE

Grade: 9-12

Illustration and Sequence is a course about communicating ideas through images. Students focus on drawing and collage techniques that lead to creating illustrations about both personal and universal ideas. They spend a significant amount of time looking at contemporary artists and illustrators online and in books; they also explore how pictures, when grouped together and put in an order, can be used to tell stories, as we see in books, graphic novels, and animation.

metal fabrication and manipulation

Grade: 11-12

This course allows students to learn basic techniques, design considerations, and safety skills while working with non-ferrous metals and some non-traditional materials to create both personal and sculptural objects. This study includes cutting, shaping, smithing, enameling, and soldering methods for wire and sheet stock. Students will keep a sketchbook/journal throughout this course.

RACE AND FILM IN U.S. HISTORY

Grades: 10-12

Cinema has been integral to the exploration of American history from the earliest days of film in the late nineteenth century. And just as the issues of race and racism are central to the nation’s history, so are they to film history. In this course, students will examine the way film has addressed race in the United States, including: “race films” of the 1920’s that employed black directors and all-black casts; treatments and representations of African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos; and the aesthetics of black American cinema. Course work will combine an investigation of historical themes with an exploration of the contributions of the films to the development of film art. This course may be taken for either history or art department credit.

SURFACE DESIGN

Grades: 9-12

This team-taught course will take over the Art Center using a grand total of four studios to teach a combination of handmade techniques and digital technology. Traditional relief printmaking and ceramic hand building will be combined with the new equipment in the Maker Space, such as the laser cutter, vinyl plotter, and CNC router. Students will dive into two- and three- dimensional design exploring color theory and pattern. Ceramics projects will emphasize glaze and texture, printmaking projects will explore multiplicity, color, and pattern. This is a perfect class for both beginning and advanced students.