Through pairing traditional arts training with contemporary art making practices, the Visual Arts Department’s curriculum values process over product and teaches technical skills that builds critical integrity to cultivate young artists who are independent and ambitious thinkers and makers.
We believe it is not what an exceptional art portfolio looks like that makes it unique, it is what that exceptional portfolio thinks like that makes each of our students distinct.
Within the Visual Arts Department framework of studio practice, critique, and exhibition, students develop skills to articulate their ideas and process. They are encouraged to become self-directed in pursuing their own subject matter and concept areas in their artwork. Each student takes classes in Drawing and Design and selects from electives in Printmaking, Painting, Sculpture and Interdisciplinary Arts.
During the early years of the Visual Arts Program, students develop technical facility with various mediums and art forms. In advanced years, students develop a portfolio and create a body of work for a Senior Exhibition. Throughout the four years, students participate in traditional intensive figure drawing workshops and conversely are introduced and engage with contemporary art making practices. Photoshop and digital mediums are integrated into across the Visual Arts curriculum. Students regularly showcase their work through professional juried exhibitions, school exhibitions and outside opportunities.
As a result of our student-centered and portfolio driven program, our graduates garner scholarships to esteemed and competitive art and liberal arts schools including: Cooper Union, Rhode Island School of Design, Maryland Institute College of Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Parsons New School of Design, Pratt Institute, Kansas City Art Institute, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, etc. Bard College, Central St. Martins London.
Design introduces students to the principles and theories of visual design that provide a foundation for future investigations in the visual arts. The elements of design and the principles of composition are developed through ongoing technical exercises and projects of varying duration and explore the relationship of form and content, as well as medium and meaning. Students exercise how to explore a concept through two- and three-dimensional forms that incorporate digital mediums such as Photoshop. Students learn how commit to long-term projects and develop the necessary discipline to maintain an extended focus. Students understand design vocabulary and learn how to visually order and manipulate the two-dimensional plane and three-dimensional forms. They also understand the design as a process and how to control composition. Critiques are held at regular intervals and students learn how to evaluate an artwork. Readings and field trips further provide a solid base, critical thinking opportunities, and an inquisitive edge that students build upon in their future coursework.
Drawing is the core of the visual arts program. It is required for each student every semester. Grade and skill levels are mixed for interactive learning, and class rosters and instructors change each semester. Each drawing class is customized by the individual curriculum of each instructor. First semester stresses drawing from observation as a student’s ability to see and draw relationships of objects in space further develops skills of perception needed in all visual arts forms. Second semester concentrates on abstract and conceptual problems and projects. Figure drawing workshops occur two to three times throughout the school year. Instruction occurs on both individual and group levels and critiques are held at regular intervals. Throughout this course students discover their own personal content and cultivate how they uniquely use drawing in their arts practice as well as explore how drawing is used and supports other art forms.
In Color Theory, students are familiarized with various color theories and associated vocabulary of the color wheel, color harmony, and color scales. Through technical and expressive exercises, ranging from Joseph Alber’s “Interaction of Color” app on the iPad to creating three-dimensional color assemblages, students develop a critical and structural understanding of color’s role in a composition. Through projects that involve use of collage and painting, students develop skills to analyze, interpret, and create works in which color, its components, and modifiers are integral to the composition. Students understand and recognize the complexity and inter-relatedness of color. Critiques are held at regular intervals.
Interdisciplinary Art is a process and concept-based class that combines a variety of media including printmaking, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and other digital mediums. This is an advanced and self-directed course where students pursue a concept or theme of choice about which they research and create two- and three-dimensional work. Presentations and discussions of contemporary artists who work with diverse media aid students in their knowledge of contemporary art, and inspire ideas for creating and presenting their work. Frequent class critiques provide opportunity for students to practice articulating their ideas and to work collaboratively in a studio environment. Students develop a series of work for their portfolio.
In Painting, students learn to create space and dimension through the use of color and application of paint. Grade levels are mixed and instruction is individualized. Projects explore working from observation and developing personal subject matter that is developed through a series of works. Proficiency in use of materials, directness of medium, and different painting techniques are stressed. Group critiques occur at regular intervals and focus on form, color, and content. Students employ visual and verbal skills that enhance critical thought and artistic determination. Students create a body of paintings for their portfolios.
In Printmaking, students extend their drawing and painting skills through the immediate and technical processes of printmaking. Lithography, intaglio, and relief printing are among the printmaking processes offered and students produce an edition of prints and print variations. Unique printmaking procedures such as monoprinting techniques and other variant forms of producing multiples are explored. Students also learn how to incorporate and integrate digital processes such as Photoshop with traditional techniques. Students practice safe procedures in operating the printing press and using tools. Grade levels are mixed and critiques occur throughout the course. Students will develop a body of printmaking work for their portfolios.
In Sculpture, students learn three-dimensional and spatial vocabulary through a variety of additive, subtractive, assemblage, and installation projects. Students develop a working knowledge of different materials along with an understanding of how materials, form, and site work conceptually. A variety of media are employed including wood, clay, plaster, found objects, mold making and casting, and time-based media. Grade levels are mixed and instruction is individualized. Students’ abstract problem-solving skills are continually challenged throughout the process of working out ideas in the third dimension. Students develop a three-dimensional component for their portfolio.
*Course titles reflect transcripts for the 2017-2018 freshman class.
Visual Arts pieces from the Winter Juried Exhibit shown at the All-School Showcase! Work by Olivia Mulholland, Clara Grayson, Zixi Fan, Elise Robinson, and Paul Hartner.
Visual Arts pieces from the Winter Juried Exhibit shown at the All-School Showcase! Work by Mitch Abramson, Kennedy Frye, Molly Block, Audrey Landgren, and Clara Grayson.
Class of 2016 seniors Nickolas Payne and Xiaoyue Hu discuss their work from the 2015-2016 school year.
Chair - Visual Arts
Margy Stover has taught at The Academy since 2003 and has been Visual Arts Department Chair since 2008. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute and Master of Fine Arts from SUNY Buffalo.
Brenda Moore is a Chicago based visual artist represented by Linda Warren Projects. She has taught at The Academy since 2003.
Liam O’Connor is a Chicago based visual artist who has taught at The Academy since the fall of 2015. He grew up on a small suburban island near San Francisco, and received his BA from Lewis & Clark College and his MFA in Sculpture + Expanded Practice from The Ohio State University.
The Visual Arts Department audition consists of a portfolio review, a discussion of student artwork, and a departmental interview.