Visual Arts

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. 

Visual Arts in The Lower School

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.

Visual Arts in The Middle School

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. Students learn about art through a variety of media, art historical references, concepts, and personal creative interpretations.

The grade 6 curriculum focuses on ceramics, with students incorporating the design elements of form, texture, color, and line as they learn 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 has been a popular, functional project over the years.

In grade 7, students create several preliminary pieces to gain a kinesthetic understanding of facial proportions before creating their grid-drawing self-portrait using a value scale. Viewing portraits from the past in combination with other materials has been a new direction to explore.

Grade 8 artists learn about the human figure – a study of proportions – as they model and draw each other and then transform from 2-D into 3-D with the construction of their own figure-in-action sculptures.

Students use both traditional media and digital tools in the rendering of research, ideas, assessments, and projects.

Visual Arts in The Upper School

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. 

Visual Arts Program


Hilary Takiff-Weiss
Chair, Arts Department 
610-658-5650

Heather H. Exley
LS Art Teacher
610-642-7575 x7496

Kim E. Parris
Lower School Art Teacher
610-642-7575 x7492

Caroline Maw-Deis
Middle School Art Teacher
610-645-5052

Peter Seidel
Upper School Art Teacher 
610-645-5053

CJ Keller
Director of Technical Theater
3D Art and Woodworking Teacher

610-645-4497 
 

 

Friends' Central alumnus Benj Pasek '03, with songwriting partner Justin Paul and collaborator Justin Hurwitz, received Academy Award nominations for two different songs in the Best Original Song category, "City of Stars" and "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)", in the highly acclaimed film La La Land starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
FCS alumnus Benj Pasek '03 and songwriting partner Justin Paul won a Golden Globe for the original song "City of Stars" in the film La La Land.
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