Visual Arts Faculty

Navanjali Kelsey

Navanjali Kelsey

Visual Arts
Elizabeth McGiff

Elizabeth McGiff

Ceramics, Visual Arts, Warner Art Gallery Assistant Director
John McGiff

John McGiff

Arts Department Co-Chair, Warner Art Gallery Director, Drawing, Painting, Art History
Joshua Meier

Joshua Meier

Photography, Yearbook

Visual Arts

The visual arts program at St. Andrew's seeks to foster an understanding and appreciation of drawing, painting, ceramics, photography, and film, while also encouraging students to discover and pursue interests in any or all of these art forms, and to develop personally as adventurous, expressive, and creative individuals. Our visual arts courses provide both formal training and instruction in the theoretical, historical and cultural background of each discipline. This intensive training and instruction, combined with close contact with established faculty artists who are continually pursuing their own artistic practices, allows the student grow in their artistic understanding, creative capabilities, and tendency toward free expression. Our master-apprentice teaching model for the visual arts allows our students to gain a strong sense of the arts as a means for investigating and celebrating the world in which they live.

An additional fee may be charged for visual arts classes to help defray the cost of materials.

Read more about the individual visual arts disciplines offered at St. Andrew's on the Arts section of our website.

Visual Arts Department News

Arts Requirement

Students are required to participate in a curricular or co-curricular aspect of the arts program before graduation. Incoming III Form students are required to take Introduction to the Arts.


Visual Arts Courses

Introduction to the Arts

Required for III Form students

Half-credit course

Team-taught by visual and performing arts faculty, this course introduces all III Form students to the breadth of the arts curriculum at St. Andrew's through six-week long workshops in dance, music, theatre, and art (students will have rotated through all four by the completion of the course). Developing an appreciation of art patronage is also a strong component of this course; students are asked to attend and reflect upon both peer and professional performances and exhibits offered at the School throughout the year.

Art History

Half-credit elective

Surveying the history of art from Ancient Egypt to late 20th century America, this course aims to create an intellectual foundation allowing students to become more aware of the role art and architecture have in the growth of human societies. By studying specific historical periods and analyzing cultural contexts, students develop an appreciation for how a community’s buildings, sculptures, textiles, and paintings reflect the values, beliefs and worldview of its people. In addition to this generally chronological overview of artistic creations in Western culture, students also investigate non-western civilizations through the lens of cross-cultural contrasts: what, for example, does the Gothic Cathedral at Chartres (12th century France), have in common with the Great Stupa at Sanchi (1st century BCE India)? Explorations of history are guided by thematic categories ranging from themes of sacred architecture, to images of power and authority, to the changing role of narrative in art. Students write frequent short analytical papers and keep an art journal of both personal reflections and examples of art culled from various media. Text: Helen Gardner, Art Through the Ages.

Art in Biology

Not offered 2017-18

Half-credit course

This course gives students an understanding of how artists and biologists have crossed paths throughout history and influenced their respective bodies of work and research. Since the dawn of human civilization, artists have drawn upon nature for inspiration: beginning with the cave paintings of Lascaux through the art of such masters as Audubon, humans have strived to express the beauty of the natural world and its biodiversity in their art. Students will explore historic links between art and biology and use these links to inspire their own creative projects, such as stenciling using transformed bacterial cultures. Coursework includes:

  • an exploration of biologic evolution through sculpture;
  • fine-art representations of symbiotic relationships; and
  • studies of biodiversity through student painting, drawing, or photography.

This is a studio art class in which the School's biology lab and greenhouse often serve as our studio.

Studio Art

Drawing 1

Half-credit elective

Students in this course work with a variety of media to create a visual language for describing natural form. Using charcoal, conte, and pastel, students render still-lifes, landscapes, and portraits with the goal of creating strong representational images.

Painting 1

Half-credit Elective

In Painting 1, students work on on still-lifes, landscapes, and portraits, and in doing so learn how to use color as a means for describing light and form.

Multi-Media Explorations in the Visual Arts

Not offered 2017-18

Prerequisite: Drawing 1 or Painting 1

Half-credit Elective

This studio art course allows students to work in a variety of wet and dry media, including inkwash, watercolor, printmaking, and digital photography. Students experiment with compositional strategies for making original work and create personal images both by combining different media techniques and by launching a working series, for which they will investigate a given subject from various points of view. The class is team-taught by visual arts faculty, in separate and combined sessions.

Ceramics 1

Half-credit elective

This course introduces students to the many techniques of handbuilding and throwing functional clay forms on the pottery wheel. Beginning with the most basic handbuilding methods, students learn to control the form and refine the surface of clay vessels. Working with slabs of clay, they learn about transfer printing of underglazes and also make patterns to create repeatable shapes. Plaster-mixing, mold-making, figurative sculpture and the basics of glaze formulation are also introduced in this class.

Ceramics 2

half-credit Elective

This course encourages students to work more independently on the pottery wheel as well as in other techniques and styles within the clay studio. As they combine thrown and handbuilt techniques on the wheel, students add originality and complexity to their work. Testing and formulating glazes as well as experimenting with clay additives round out students’ experience and skills.

Advanced Study in Studio Art

Prerequisite: two courses in any one visual art medium

This course is an intensive studio class designed for VI Form students interested in investigating advanced methods and concepts central to the visual arts. Students concentrate on hands-on studio work with individual faculty in one of the visual arts disciplines (painting, ceramics, photography, or film), and come together for lectures and discussions of contemporary issues in art, practical demonstrations, such as portfolio development, and critiques. Coordinated, thematic assignments stimulate comparative discussions among visual art disciplines as in an advanced fine arts seminar.

Photography and Film Studies

Photography 1

Half-credit elective

This course allows students to explore the expressive qualities of black-and-white photography while learning both the fundamentals of image-making with a 35mm manual camera, and the functions of a black-and-white wet darkroom. Students hone their photographic voice in an open critique setting and learn to edit their work by compiling a comprehensive final portfolio. They are introduced to medium-format film and have the opportunity to experiment with a Holga camera. A study of historical and contemporary photography complements practical exercise and work in the darkroom. No prior experience is required, but access to a 35mm camera with manual exposure capability is necessary.

Photography 2

Prerequisite: Photography 1

Half-credit elective

Students in the second-year photography course continue to explore and refine the techniques and aesthetic possibilities of black-and-white photography. A series of assignments helps students to clarify their individual photographic voice, as they conduct research, complete project proposals and work within set parameters, while exploring the possibilities of their ideas. Each project allows students to make important editing, sequencing, format and size decisions. An examination of historical and contemporary photography complements the development of each project and overall personal vision. Students clarify their vision with an artist's statement composed at the completion of each project, and also play an important role in the preparation for student exhibitions.

Advanced Study in Photography

Prerequisite: Photography 1 and Photography 2

This course is an intensive studio art (in this case, photography) class designed for VI Form students interested in investigating advanced methods and concepts central to the visual arts. Students concentrate on hands-on studio work with individual faculty in one of the visual arts disciplines (painting, photography, sculpture, or film), and come together for lectures and discussions of contemporary issues in art, practical demonstrations, such as portfolio development, and critiques. Coordinated, thematic assignments stimulate comparative discussions among visual art disciplines as in an advanced collegiate fine arts seminar.

Film Studies 1

Half-credit elective

Film Studies introduces students to the basic elements of the film medium. Students examine both classic and contemporary films and analyze cinematography, plot, thematic and sound elements. In conjunction with the critical component of the course, students also explore the film production process. Students shoot and edit their own pieces for the class, and, during the latter part of the course, develop and produce individual projects.

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