Visual Arts

Our visual arts program offers courses in drawing, painting, and ceramics to students at all levels of expertise. Students who complete introductory coursework in any of these disciplines (as well as photography and film)— may choose to further their study of that discipline by “majoring” in that discipline in the senior year. Majors take a full-credit Advanced Study course during the senior year that requires extensive, independent work and artistic production outside the classroom, with a goal of building an individual portfolio of ambitious original work.

In each fine arts discipline we teach, students are introduced to the core elements of the given language, and guided through a series of exercises that ensure them a basic fluency. We believe that any student can achieve this modest goal, regardless of prior experience or natural facility. Once our students have developed a familiarity with the building blocks of a visual art form, they are encouraged to embrace the process of gaining technical mastery, and to risk experimentation that might take them outside of their comfort zones. Each course is designed to offer progressively more challenging projects, with room for individual interpretation, so that both the beginning and experienced artist will find a tempo that both suits and challenges them.

Art history is also a key component to our studio arts curriculum. Whether students are creating ceramic vessels inspired by Native American traditions, oil paintings that are interpretative copies of French Impressionists’ work, or drawings inspired by famous twentieth century photography, we ask arts students to constantly engage with images from different cultures and understand the historical context from which a particular art form or style emerged.

The O'Brien Arts Center is home to the Warner Gallery, which holds student exhibitions three times a year, and visiting artist exhibitions four times per year. These visiting artist exhibitions give students a chance to interact with professional artists and to witness the ways in which the artistic disciplines we teach in our classrooms can be pursued in the wider world. When combined with close contact with established St. Andrew's faculty artists who are continually pursuing their own artistic practices, our intensive visual arts training allows the student grow in her 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.

Visual Arts Courses

Studio Art

Drawing 1

OPEN TO IV, V, AND VI FORM STUDENTS

HALF-CREDIT COURSE

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

OPEN TO IV, V AND VI FORM STUDENTS

PREREQUISITES: INTRODUCTION TO THE ARTS OR DRAWING 1

HALF-CREDIT COURSE

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

PREREQUISITE: DRAWING 1 OR PAINTING 1

OPEN TO V AND VI FORM STUDENTS

HALF-CREDIT COURSE

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

OPEN TO IV, V, AND VI FORM STUDENTS

HALF-CREDIT COURSE

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

OPEN TO V AND VI FORM STUDENTS

HALF-CREDIT COURSE

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

OPEN TO VI FORM STUDENTS

PREREQUISITE: TWO COURSES IN ANY ONE VISUAL ART MEDIUM AND PERMISSION OF THE INSTRUCTORS

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, photography, sculpture, and 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.

Art History

OPEN TO IV, V, AND VI FORM STUDENTS

HALF-CREDIT COURSE

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.

Recent News & Exhibitions


For more info on the visual arts at SAS, contact:

John McGiff

John McGiff

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