Art, the stories of artist’s motivations, and the methods employed by the greatest artists-- whether contemporary or historic-- are tightly interwoven in a curriculum that introduces students to the power of self-expression. Composition, line, color, texture, shading, white-space, and cropping are but a few of the tools introduced across grades and media in developmentally potent ways. Students learn art practices and procedures. They explore a wide variety of materials. They develop their motor skills. Perhaps most importantly, students are challenged to express themselves. They become capable technicians, but with thoughts and feelings, they want to share. Student artwork that draws others in and provides inspiration-- synergy among student artists in the classroom studio-- is the norm.
Nursery School, Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten
Nursery school, preschool, and pre-kindergarten art is all about the process of exploration. Students are encouraged to create artwork, try out new materials, and experiment with new ideas. Students work primarily with crayons, rather than markers, to strengthen their hand muscles and foster the development of a proper grip. Other art materials and methods include modeling material, tempera paints, watercolors, rubbings, careful cutting and pasting. Students design, trace, and compose at a light table. The Art teacher visits these classrooms once a week not only to lead art activities but to teach students how to follow directions, handle materials safely, and interpret projects through the lens of their unique creativity.
Kindergarten students come to the art room studio. They begin the year learning about the room’s layout, class rules, and how to handle art materials available to them in this space. Students enjoy working on art projects inspired by Piet Mondrian’s bold colors, Wassily Kandinsky’s wonderful lines, Jasper Johns’ numerical creativity, and Jamie Wyeth’s pet pig! These are just a few of the artists who shape the kindergarten curriculum. Students develop their knowledge of art elements such as line, shape, color, texture, and form. By the end of the year, each student has a beautiful portfolio filled with his or her accomplishments from the year.
The first-grade curriculum develops students’ fine motor skills, problem-solving abilities, and strategies for creativity. The introduction of children’s picture book illustrators is a popular aspect of the program. Students create artwork inspired by classics like Ezra Jack Keats’ Snowy Day, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Guy Parker-Rees’ Giraffes Can’t Dance. Later in the year, students develop techniques used by impressionist and post-impressionist painters such as Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Cézanne. For these pieces, students work with techniques such as resist painting, pottery, and even painting with a spoon!
Second-grade students explore subject matter such as still life, portraits, and landscapes. Projects include work inspired by artists such as Cézanne, Winslow Homer, and Grant Wood. In the second half of the year, students create scenery for the class play-- brainstorming ideas and painting the set. Students learn the fundamentals of weaving. Students create yarn in science class, using natural dyes from sources like flowers and walnuts. In art class, students learn to plan color, pattern, and to use a loom.
Third-grade art students spend the year increasing the range of their creative expression and problem-solving skills. This curriculum bridges the skill-based younger student art curriculum and the concept-based older student curriculum. Students learn about pop art by studying and creating art based on Robert Indiana’s “Love” sign, Roy Lichtenstein’s bold paintings, and Wayne Thiebaud’s iconic cupcakes. (This last assignment is a particularly yummy one!) Later in the year, students examine surrealist artists like Salvador Dali and René Magritte. Students learn to give positive feedback and suggestions to their classmates.
The fourth-grade year’s most anticipated activity is the papier-mâché animal project. Students spend weeks researching native animals of the United States. They plan the sculpture process-- building an armature (or skeleton) of the animal, applying papier-mâché strips, and bringing their animals to life using paint and other details. Fourth-grade students also explore the process of turning something representational into something abstract, creating prints with hand-made printing blocks, and more.
In fifth-grade art, students spend the year forging connections between ancient and contemporary art. Students study art from cultures past. They examine the historical context and artistic characteristics–patterns, colors, and designs. Students explore Greek mosaics, before creating mosaics of their own using brilliantly colored paint chips.
Students investigate the striking portraiture of ancient Egypt. They produce ancient Egypt inspired portraits of their own with chalk and glue on black paper. The class learns the cultural customs and artistic techniques employed in the making of African clay masks. Each student creates a mask from a slab of clay, using previously taught techniques and reinforcing her or his knowledge of symmetry and texture. The year concludes with a unit on the work of recent African-American artists like Faith Ringgold, Kimmy Cantrell, and Romare Bearden. Students explore the rich canon of contemporary African-American art. They learn the personal histories and methodologies of black American artists.
Sixth-grade students study value, or the lightness and darkness of a color, by investigating how to create value, manipulate mediums, and create visually striking compositions. Students experiment with watercolors, colored pencils, oil pastels, and more. (One handy tip students discover: different pressures create different values, depending on the materials used.) Students explore pushing the elements of visual art to their limits–and beyond. Next, the class learns all about form by creating three-dimensional shapes in drawing, painting, and sculpture. After learning how to draw a realistic sphere, students get wacky, building experimental sculptures from cardboard, clay, wire— even soap!
Seventh and Eighth Grade
Each semester, students choose from a wide selection of art courses or request a course of their own design. Offered courses focus in depth on a particular art concept, movement, culture etc.
Courses that have been offered include:
2-D Art: Drawing, Painting, and Collage; 3-D Art: Papier-mâché, Wire, and Clay; Painting: Watercolor, Acrylic, and Tempera; Bookmaking: Flip, Accordion, Tunnel, and Altered Book; Printmaking: Foam, Carving and Reduction Prints; Clay Method; Large-scale Papier-mâché; Textiles: Embroidery, Batik, and Weaving; Pop Art; Asian Art; African Art; and Abstract Art; Functional Pottery