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.