From the ever-changing student artwork displays to the diverse pieces in our permanent art collection, visual culture is celebrated throughout Friends' Central. Showcasing each student's expressive mark making is one of the ways in which we honor the individual.
Nursery through grade 5 artists in the Lower School create a dazzling array of artwork as they acquire age-appropriate skills. The thematic learning that extends across all subjects in the Lower School is often interwoven into art projects. As students progress through the Middle and Upper Schools, the conceptual learning and skill development continue. Through a mix of required arts rotations and elective arts majors, students explore a broad range of expression from drawing, painting, and photography to fiber arts, woodworking, and mixed media.
Year-round, the Lower School walls are covered in artwork created by nursery through grade 5 artists, in a wide range of media – with sculptures on display and bright-colored mobiles hanging from ceilings. The art teachers consider the hallways a gallery for the Lower School community, and the work of every child is featured.
The Lower School art program works thematically, based on both individual classroom curricula and the school-wide Fall Thematic Project. The teachers utilize a hands-on, multimedia approach, encouraging the joyful discovery inherent in the creative process. Students have the opportunity to work with clay and papier-mâché, tempera and watercolors, stenciling and printmaking. Art classes include history, theory, and an appreciation of the masters.
Middle School students participate in visual art rotations in each of their three years. Each class is meant to foster a love and appreciation for art, while also nurturing developing skills and encouraging creative voice. Students learn about art through a variety of media, art historical references, concepts, and personal creative interpretations as they delve into a hands-on experience.
The grade 6 curriculum focuses on ceramics, with students incorporating the design elements of form, texture, color, and line as they learn handbuilding techniques and the process of recycling clay from slip to kiln-fired, glazed pieces. Crafting a clay lamp base ‘topped-off’ with a wire lampshade designed in their choice of media has been a popular, functional project over the years as they metaphorically celebrate “the Light” with this Quaker aspect.
The grade 7 theme is “All About Me,” where students create several preliminary pieces to gain a kinesthetic understanding of facial proportions. Choice of media in the rendition of their first portrait aids in developing confidence as they then produce their grid-drawing self-portrait using a value scale. Viewing portraits with an art historical slant allows for relevant connections in decision making, creating, and appreciating. Our Quaker Peace/Piece Project allows students to reflect on their interests through motifs as they use a ruler and compass to create a personal Mandala.
Grade 8 artists explore a culture or country of their choice as they learn and share art historical concepts and information about masks crafted in their selected region. The fabrication of this piece will allow for creative problem-solving, collaboration, and ingenuity. A ‘stewARTship’ component is added to the mask through the required incorporation of recyclable elements into the design. The Quaker Peace/Piece is a framed tapestry where students use an iPad to weave their design into the wood loom that they construct. Reflecting on the meditative and rhythmic process of weaving their tapestries in a collaborative environment exhibits a variety of media, skills, and creativity.
Students use both traditional media and digital tools in the rendering of research, ideas, assessments, and projects.
Visual arts students are offered a variety of curricular courses that provide both conceptual and concrete opportunities for skill development. In all courses, students learn foundation skills through imaginative exercises culminating in finished work. The Student Art Gallery in Shallcross Hall offers a continuous, regularly changing exhibition of student work.
For more information about visual arts curricular course offerings, please visit the academic pages of the website.