Visual Arts

Foundations of Art is a prerequisite for all other visual art classes, as it provides basic understanding of both two- and three-dimensional design principles while exposing students to a wide variety of mediums and processes. In addition, students learn visual arts vocabulary, which is used throughout all of the upper-level visual arts electives. After completing Foundations of Art, students can go on to choose from more specific studio disciplines, which include drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, applied design, and book arts. Digital imaging is woven into several of these disciplines.

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Foundations of Art

This course explores the basic principles of the visual arts through introductory experiences in design, drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Foundations of Art is designed to help students of all abilities develop their creative and perceptual skills. The concepts and vocabulary learned in this course serve as a common body of knowledge for all other visual arts electives.

Visual Arts Electives

Drawing and Painting

This course explores working on a two-dimensional surface in black and white as well as color. While the emphasis is on observational drawing and the principles of composition, students also complete work that is both imaginative and experimental. Students use a variety of drawing and painting media, including pencil, charcoal, pastel, and acrylic paint. Prerequisite: Foundations of Art.


Using clay, students create artwork that may be functional, decorative, or sculptural. An emphasis is placed on developing hand-building and modeling techniques while learning about a variety of surface treatments and glazing possibilities. Students are also asked to apply artistic elements and principles of design to create works that convey a message or function. Students also examine works by ceramic artists and engage in spoken and written analysis. Prerequisite: Foundations of Art.


This course explores thinking and creating in three dimensions, using a variety of media that may include plaster, cardboard, wire, found objects, and wood. In addition to the elements of art and principles of design, students also work on understanding specific sculpture principles such as mass, volume, space, light, time, and location. Prerequisite: Foundations of Art.

Real-World Design

In this class students explore the principles of design in contemporary, real-world applications. Students use elements of graphic, architectural, and industrial design to work in both two and three dimensions. Assignments include manual and digital work while referencing modern art and design history. Focusing primarily on matters of form and function, the class also examines the use of design as a communication tool in contemporary society. Prerequisite: Foundations of Art. Open only to juniors and seniors.

Painting and Printmaking

This course focuses on different approaches and processes for painting and printmaking. Building on their experiences in Drawing and Painting, students combine observational skills and personal interpretations. Handling the physical properties of paint and the graphic potential of differing printmaking methods is stressed. Students also study the interaction of color and color mixing with both paint and ink. Prerequisite: Foundations of Art; Drawing and Painting recommended.

Printmaking and the Photographic Image

This course combines traditional printmaking techniques and alternative photographic processes. Printmaking and photography both lend themselves to making images in multiples, enabling students to make variations and work in a serial format. Some assignments may be strictly photographic, while others may combine the two disciplines. Printmaking processes may include relief (working on a raised surface), intaglio (incised, etched printing), and stencil (block-out printing). Photographic processes may include cyanotype, a variety of toner and other transfer techniques, and possibly photo silkscreen. Many processes include preparatory work using the photocopier and computer for digital imaging. Prerequisite: Foundations of Art. Open only to juniors and seniors (preference given to students who have taken one other studio class).

Wheel-Thrown Ceramics

In this course students focus on foundational skills at the pottery wheel, beginning with centering. Students produce several pieces made on the wheel, including cups, bowls, lidded containers, and plates. A range of surface treatments are explored and may include slip design, printed patterns, pouring, brushing, and spraying glazes. Students should expect to work in the studio outside of class to practice and keep pace with the curriculum. Prerequisite: Foundations of Art. Open only to juniors and seniors.

Advanced Studio

This course offers the advanced art student an opportunity to work on skill development and formal thinking, and to develop creative solutions to aesthetic and conceptual challenges. While the course emphasizes visual image making, it’s not necessarily limited to strictly two-dimensional work. A variety of techniques and materials (both traditional and experimental) and colors are used. Subject matter may vary greatly, from the observed to the constructed to the imagined. Most important, the class focuses on different ways to think about the how and why of making art. Students taking the course should feel confident about their drawing skills. Prerequisites: Foundations of Art, Drawing and Painting, and one other studio art course. Open only to juniors and seniors.

Word and Image

This is an advanced interdisciplinary course for juniors and seniors who are interested in exploring the interrelated worlds of the visual and written arts. Students combine their own words and art to make one-of-a-kind or small-edition books. Writing focuses on the imagery and form of poetry, the narrative qualities of the personal essay, and the development of character in the short story. Authors studied may include Annie Dillard, Anne Sexton, Sandra Cisneros, and a wide variety of poets. Writing includes extensive drafting and revision work. Students are also introduced to the illustrative work of several book artists while learning a variety of book structures. Possible visual art disciplines in which to work are drawing, painting, digital imaging, photography, collage, and printmaking. Students are asked to bring to class a creative spirit and the self-motivation to develop the complex relationship between the visual and written arts in concurrence with each other. This is the equivalent of two courses. Prerequisites: Foundations of Art and one other studio art class. Completion of Writers’ Workshop or Essay Writing is recommended. Open only to juniors and seniors.