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Visual arts

The department believes the study of art is a creative and intellectual endeavor that encourages students to challenge their perceptual environment. It is the goal of the visual arts department to develop students' skill, technique and understanding so they may have a rich artistic experience. These objectives are met in each artistic discipline through a variety of approaches including studio/darkroom time, theoretical readings and critiques. The school's location in London, one of the finest art centers in Europe, enables the department to make use of the city's rich resources. Trips are encouraged to the many classical and contemporary galleries and museums in Britain and on the Continent.

Courses are geared to both novice and experienced students. While beginning courses cover a wide range of topics within specific media, advanced courses provide the opportunity for concentration and specialization. Courses suggested as a point of entry for Grade 9 or 10 students are Drawing and Painting I, 3D Studio Art I or Black & White Photography. These courses provide exposure to a wide variety of drawing, 2-D or 3D media, as well as an understanding of basic art elements and principles of design. Learning to analyze and interpret artwork using the language of art is introduced during semester I in all beginning courses. All art courses incorporate technology, whether for research or to manipulate digital images.

All students must take a level-I course to begin with unless they have previously taken a high school art class and have received departmental approval. There are no prerequisites for Drawing and Painting I; 3D Studio I; Black and White Photography; Digital Photography, Film, Video and Animation; Digital Video Editing; Graphic Design: Print; Architectural Design I; or Publications I.

Drawing and Painting Ia

½ credit; semester I

Investigating a variety of dry art media such as charcoal or pencil, students are guided through a series of sequentially planned exercises and assignments, which provide them with a solid foundation in the central elements of art and pictorial composition, as well as the essential underpinnings of drawing and painting. This is an entry-level class designed to cultivate students’ artistic abilities and help realize their potential as creative individuals in art. This is a good class for students interested in trying a visual arts class in a supportive atmosphere, as well as those students who already know they want to go on to more advanced studies in the arts. This class can be taken on its own or in combination with Drawing and Painting Ib. Students successfully completing one semester of Drawing and Painting Ia or Ib may enroll in Drawing and Painting II the following year with departmental permission.

Drawing and Painting Ib

½ credit; semester II

Investigating a variety of wet art media such as acrylic paint and ink, students in Drawing and Painting Ib are guided through a series of sequentially planned exercises and assignments, which provide them with a solid foundation in the central elements of art and pictorial composition, as well as the essential underpinnings of drawing and painting. This is an entry-level class designed to cultivate students' artistic abilities and help realize their potential as creative individuals in art. This is a good class for students interested in trying a visual arts class in a supportive atmosphere, as well as those students who already know they want to go on to more advanced studies in the arts. This class can be taken on its own or in combination Drawing and Painting Ia. Students successfully completing one semester of Drawing and Painting Ia or Ib may enroll in Drawing and Painting II the following year with departmental permission.

Drawing and Painting II

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting Ia or Ib, or departmental recommendation

Drawing and Painting II is an intermediate-level studio class designed to further develop students’ creative potential in art. Students in this class are guided through an in-depth study of the technical, compositional and expressive possibilities of drawing and painting as a means to creating original pieces of artwork. Moreover, in this course students examine drawing and painting as tools for creative problem-solving and innovation. This is a good class for students interested in further developing their skills in drawing and painting, as well as those wishing to begin a portfolio of artworks for submission to universities and art schools. Assessment includes student participation in regular critiques. This course requires studio work outside regular class time.

Advanced Studio Art

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting II, or departmental recommendation 

In this class, while continuing to hone skills in a range of art media and techniques, students are introduced to various strategies to help develop conceptual, investigative and creative problem-solving skills. The course is designed to prepare students for the Advanced Placement Drawing portfolio, as well as provide them with the opportunity to craft a body of artwork for submission to universities and art schools. However, to enroll in this class, students do not have to have the intention of continuing on in Advanced Placement Studio Art.

Advanced Placement Studio Art

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Advanced Studio Art, and departmental recommendation

This is a university-level, studio art course for students wishing to create an organized body of original artworks to be submitted to the AP Board of Examiners, as well as to art schools and universities. Assignments are configured to reinforce students’ technical skills and design knowledge, while providing the opportunity for the development of a series of coherent artworks based on individual subject matter and conceptual ideas. As in all AP classes, this course requires students to work independently during class, as well as outside of regularly scheduled class periods. Students may choose to submit either an AP Studio Art Drawing portfolio or a 2-D portfolio, which could include photography, graphic design or architecture. In early May, all enrolled students digitally present a portfolio to the AP coordinator for submission to the AP Board on or before the scheduled exam day.

3D Studio Art I

½ credit; semester I and II

In 3D Studio Art I, students are introduced to sculptural concepts using a variety of materials such as wood, plaster, wire, found objects, paper and clay. Basic sculptural techniques such as additive, subtractive, manipulative, assemblage and installation are covered. There is an emphasis on the development of style and creative problem solving as well as the exploration of the elements of design including color, line, shape, texture, value and form. Students experiment with art elements to combine principles of unity and composition in structuring 3D works of art.

3D Studio Art II

½ credit; semester I and II
Prerequisite: 3D Studio Art I, or departmental recommendation

In 3D Studio Art II, students learn about the artistic, sculptural and functional properties of various materials. Challenges of assembly, scale and visual complexity increase with visual goals to develop new forms. Inventive processes, generation and construction methods are studied and undertaken while producing aesthetic forms. An emphasis is placed on the development of skill and concept using plane, line, texture and time, along with visual phenomena such as balance, rhythm, scale, movement and transformation. The history of ceramics, sculpture and assemblage, and their use as contemporary medium are studied for inspiration and critical review. This course requires studio work outside of regular class time.

Advanced 3D Studio Art

½ credit; semester I and II
Prerequisite: 3D Studio Art II, or departmental recommendation

Advanced 3D Studio Art offers the opportunity to expand on the knowledge, techniques and skills developed in 3D Studio Art II. This course continues the study of qualities inherent in three-dimensional artwork: mass, space, plane, line and texture. The fourth dimension, time, is added through movement, sound, moving image and transformation. The properties of materials, as well as conceptual and imaginative processes, are explored on a more sophisticated level. This course requires studio work outside of regular class time. If this course is taken twice, students may submit an AP Studio Art 3D portfolio. This course may be repeated multiple times.

Advanced Placement 3D Studio Art

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Advanced 3D Studio Art, or departmental recommendation

This course provides a student with one year to organize and complete a substantial portfolio of 3D work for submission to the AP Board of Examiners. Pieces for the “Breadth” section of the AP 3D Portfolio can generally, but not exclusively, be completed during enrollment in 3D Studio I, 3D Studio II and Advanced 3D Studio. Students work with a variety of media, materials and techniques; critiques, as well as independent investigation and research, are required. Course assignments are designed to build upon pre-existing 3D skills and techniques covered with and emphasis on the development of a personal style and interpretation. AP 3D Studio Art is a rigorous university-level course and requires a substantial amount of time and energy, as well as independent studio work outside of regular scheduled class time. This course also counts as an academic course in the determination of “course-load” requirements. In early May, students digitally present a portfolio to the AP coordinator for submission to the AP Board on or before the scheduled exam day.

Foundations of Photography

½ credit; semester I or II
Prerequisite for all other photography courses

This entry-level course is an introduction to the basics of photography, its history and evolution through creative experiences using film, digital and mobile device photography. Students begin to develop a foundation in the skills, techniques and processes of photography, including darkroom and digital methods, while understanding basic art principles. Learning new ways of seeing through exploration, inquiry and discovery are emphasized. Regular excursions in London for photo walks and gallery visits are an integral part of the class experience.

Black & White Photography

½ credit; semester I or II
Prerequisite: Foundations of Photography

This course introduces students to a basic understanding of how to use a 35mm manual camera, develop a roll of film and print a photograph. Exercises in which students look, write and talk about photographs establish a discerning eye and foundational vocabulary. With an emphasis on the development of individual style and creative problem solving, students explore the basic elements of design such as line, shape, value and form. By completing a series of photographic projects and frequently critiquing work, students come to understand many of the concepts and techniques at the heart of creativity in the arts. Darkroom techniques are covered; health and safety instruction is included. Students use a 35mm single-lens reflex film camera with full manual capability for this class.

Digital Photography

½ technology credit and/or ½ art credit; semester I or II
Prerequisite: Foundations of Photography

In this course, students learn the basics of digital camera use and image production. A digital camera with manual capabilities is required. We examine the nature and creation of digital image files, the differences between types of files, and the use of these files for various kinds of output. Adobe Photoshop is used to edit images. Students learn how to produce traditional and experimental images, and how to output these as digital files or prints. Emphasis is placed on traditional photography techniques created using digital technology. Students learn about digital image use in art, print media and other applications. They are asked to write about both their own work and that of others, and to participate in critique assessments of images they produce themselves and those of their peers.

Digital Photography Studio

½ credit; semester I or II
Prerequisite: Foundations of Photography and Digital Photography

This advanced-level course continues learning around digital photography with a focus on student-directed projects. Students extend their skill development using a camera and digital editing tools around projects they primarily design and develop. Some emphasis is given to expand capabilities through experimentation around multiple styles and techniques, with an ultimate goal of creating a body of photographic work unified by a theme or concept. This prepares students for Photography Portfolio.

Black and White Photography Studio

½ credit; semester I or II
Prerequisite: Foundations of Photography and Black and White Photography

This advanced-level course continues learning around film photography with a focus on student-directed projects. Students extend their skill development using a camera and darkroom printing around projects they primarily design and develop. Some emphasis is given to expand capabilities through experimentation around multiple styles and techniques, with an ultimate goal of creating a body of photographic work unified by a theme or concept. This prepares students for Portfolio Development in Photography.

Photography Portfolio

½ credit; semester I and II
Prerequisite: Foundations of Photography, Digital OR Black and White Photography, and one semester of Digital OR Black and White Studio Photography

This advanced-level course continues learning around digital or film photography, with a focus on student-directed projects. Students extend their skill development around projects they primarily design and develop, using either digital or film-based photography, or some combination of these methods. Emphasis is placed on developing a body of photographic work unified by a theme or concept. This prepares students for creating a website of their work, preparing a college art supplement and/or completing a 2-D AP portfolio in photography.

Digital Video Editing

½ technology credit and ½ art credit; semester I

In this course, students are introduced to the basic concepts and practices of digital video editing to create project-based outcomes. The course consists of a series of lessons that are followed by cumulative project assignments. All projects throughout the semester focus on teacher-directed, but student-chosen, subjects. Students learn basic techniques of storyboarding and camera movements, as well as the importance of pre-production planning, and get hands-on practice shooting and producing digital video using digital cameras and editing in Final Cut Pro. Cumulative project assignments, the result of a series of lessons, are viewed and critiqued by the instructor and class. Students learn how to export and share their completed productions in various formats.

Film, Video and Animation

1 art credit and ½ technology credit; full year

This course introduces students to the language and practice of the moving image. Watching, writing, reading and talking about film, video and animation are approaches used to build a discerning eye and a foundational vocabulary in artistic practice. Through collaborative exercises, instructional workshops and the completion of individual projects, students gain a foundation of technical and conceptual skills for thinking about film and video as tools for making art. Students hone their critical skills as film viewers while developing proficiency with camera operation, the use of lighting and microphones and computer-based video editing using Final Cut Pro. A focus is placed on achieving a clear understanding of introductory animation principles. The importance of working with sound, as well as image, is emphasized. Students critique on their own work and that of their classmates in writing and in group discussions. Examples of cross-genre work from around the world are screened for inspiration, examination and discussion.

Graphic Design: Print

½ art credit and/or ½ technology credit; semester I

This is an introductory course that aims to help students understand the elements of art and principles of design, typography and digital photography through current, professional applications. Students explore a variety of hand-drafted and computer-based approaches to design as well as learn about the real-world applications of design. Media literacy, history and copyright are also explored. The culminating project from this course is a printed design portfolio.

Introduction to Publication Design

Grades 9-12; ½ art credit and/or ½ technology credit; semester II

In this course, students learn the language of the publishing industry, the technology used to produce printed products and how to access their creativity as publishers. Students develop tools to use in their own creative publication, which may include a book, magazine, poster, map, game, blog or one-of-a-kind artist book. Students learn about the historical context of publication through a visit to the permanent collection of the British Library. They are introduced to the use of current publication software and how to publish their work online or on site. These skills are important as a foundation for Publication Design: Yearbook - The Sojourner.

Publication Design: Yearbook - The Sojourner

Grades 10-12; 1 art credit and ½ technology credit; full year
Prerequisite: Introduction to Publication Design, Beginning Journalism, Photography, or Graphic Design: Print

The Sojourner is a complex publication involving organization, cooperation, decision-making, self-motivation, computer skills, design skills, photography, writing, editing and the ability to meet a very demanding deadline schedule. Students take on the job of a photographer, writer or designer and work in teams along with Editors to get spreads done by their deadline. The rewards of a successful publication that represents and covers our high school community over the course of the year make all the hard work worthwhile.

Publications Design: Editors

Grades 10-12; ½ technology credit and ½ art credit; full year
Prerequisite: Publications I or permission of adviser

Students in editor positions will have gone through an application process and been selected by portfolio work, writing and their peers. Students in these positions have demonstrated their readiness to take on leadership roles and to motivate the entire group to work together. Editors make sure the quality of the book meets high standards and that the staff works well and effectively together. The ability to work well with administrators in the School, other student leaders and all members of staff is essential for editors. Special editor meetings are held weekly to insure high standards of communication.

AP Art History

1 social studies credit or 1 art credit; full year
Prerequisite: departmental recommendation

This university-level course explores major artistic movements and works from the prehistoric period to the present. Students study western and non-western painting, sculpture and architecture. Visits to London galleries and museums augment lectures, discussions and student presentations. Students take the Art History Advanced Placement exam. AP Art History counts as an academic course in the determination of course-load requirements.

Art and Code

½ technology credit and/or ½ art credit; semester I or II

Students in this course develop understanding of computer science principles while exploring coding from an aesthetic perspective. Students who are curious about computing or art and want to explore these subjects in a supportive atmosphere find this course a good match. Topics of study include an introduction to programming using the Processing language, with special attention given to creating interactive and generative art, and exploring topics in interactive installation art/physical computing. (Processing is a variation of Java, originally developed for the use of artists, but now also used by journalists and scientists for data visualization.) The course follows a workshop format, with a final portfolio of project work to be assessed. The course is entry-level, though students with more programming (or more arts) experience are welcome. Project work is differentiated as needed to accommodate these variations. Some examples from outside ASL of art and code can be found by Camille Utterback, Nikolas Roy and Jer Thorp.

Fashion Design and Illustration

½ credit; semester I 

In this course, students develop skills and techniques in illustration, design and mixed media construction through the context of fashion. Reusing, recycling and refurbishing materials is emphasized. Students explore a variety of media and approaches to illustrating, build a visual vocabulary, and begin to develop their own personal drawing style. Students use sketchbooks, digital media and concept boards to document and express ideas. Research and using fashion illustrators and designers to inform their work is integral parts of the design process, from conception to completion. Students visit the Fashion and Textile Museum as well as relevant exhibitions in London to further expand their knowledge of the art form. The course culminates in a fashion piece of their own design and construction.

Design and Engineering

½ art credit; semester I

In this course, students learn design thinking and creation skills. They work to plan, design, and make basic physical objects or structures related to contemporary concepts, trends and technology applications. Most of the work occurs in a collaborative classroom framework and students learn skills for idea generation, planning, team building and group critique of ideas and products. Research informs projects and students gain methods for innovating new solutions to continuing real-world challenges.