Arts

Hilary Takiff Weiss '96, Department Chair

The Friends' Central Arts Department provides diverse courses and extracurricular activities encompassing visual and performing arts. Classes explore different approaches to artmaking as well as an assortment of mediums and styles. Visual arts offerings range from applied arts to fine arts. Music offerings provide opportunities for students to listen to, create, and/or perform music depending on their personal interests. Our drama program includes both modern and classical instruction, and all students are invited to participate either onstage or behind the scenes in any of the three plays produced each year.

Art surrounds us, and we teach students to respond to and appreciate what they experience while providing outlets for their own creativity. We encourage every student to discover their individual artistic voice and to collaborate within ensembles developing their talents, furthering the acquisition of skills, and honing critical thinking. Students emerge confident, capable, curious, and expressive from their interactive arts experiences both in and out of the classroom.

FCS graduation requirements include two years of art courses fulfilled through offerings with a high degree of flexibility in both course selection and sequence. The acquisition of credits usually begins in ninth grade, and as a result of the variety of semester or yearlong classes, many students choose to surpass this requirement.

Students are exposed to many additional experiences such as visiting performances and collaborative connections with the vibrant array of arts in Philadelphia. They can also showcase their talents throughout the year both on and off campus..

For information on clubs, plays, and other non-curricular Arts opportunities at FCS, visit the Arts at FCS page.

Ensembles

Chorus (not for credit)

The Chorus is a mixed-voice ensemble that meets during the school day twice a week and is open to anyone interested in singing in a group setting. No audition is necessary. The Chorus performs in two concerts a year and also sings for various community events. Repertoire is varied and represents music in several languages and from different periods and styles. Development of vocal technique and choral discipline is a part of the rehearsal process.

Vocal Groups (not for credit)

In addition to the choral experience, there are two smaller vocal groups open to singers from the Chorus who are interested in pursuing a more challenging repertoire. Participation in these groups is by audition. They are listed below:

GRACE NOTES
Open to sopranos and altos in grades 9 and 10, the Grace Notes perform three and four-part repertoire in a variety of genres. In addition to performing during the two choral concerts each year, Grace Notes also sing at special events throughout the year. Grace Notes rehearse two blocks per week during the school day.

FOXTONES
Open by audition to all tenors and basses in US Chorus, this ensemble sings music from a variety of genres, including traditional choral, barbershop, world music, and contemporary a cappella. They perform independently at school concerts and at other community events, including Singing Valentines, throughout the school year. Student leaders within Foxtones help to choose and arrange songs for the ensemble.

SPICETONES
Open by audition to grade 11 and 12 sopranos and altos in US Chorus, this ensemble sings music from a variety of genres, including traditional choral, world music, and contemporary a cappella. They perform independently at school concerts and at other community events, including Singing Valentines, throughout the school year. Student leaders within Spicetones help to choose and arrange songs for the ensemble.

Instrumental Ensembles

Upper School instrumentalists may participate in the jazz ensemble, orchestra, chamber music ensemble, and solo recitals. Private instruction is also offered. The jazz ensemble requires an audition before participating. Each of these ensembles explores a wide variety of repertoire from each tradition. Students may receive up to two semester credits for participation in orchestra and the jazz ensemble as a sixth course (they can elect to take it as a seventh course instead but will not receive credit). Participation in orchestra (full year) as a sixth course is one semester credit, and participation in the jazz ensemble (full year) is one semester credit. As with other classes, students cannot earn credit for taking the same class more than once.

Art Electives: Music

Fundamentals of Singing

This semester course is designed to lay a foundation for proper vocal production through an overview of vocal anatomy, proper breath technique, vocal health, and song study. Materials studied may include vocal exercises, folk songs, English and Italian art songs, popular standards, and musical theater selections. Students will perform in class, and opportunities will exist for students who are prepared and interested in performing for an audience outside of class. Students of any experience level in grades 9-12 are welcome. Ability to read music is helpful but not required. This course fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

History of African-American Music from Spirituals to Hip-Hop

This course will give each student an introduction to the major styles and genres that have defined black music in America. We will begin with a musical and historical investigation of work songs and spirituals, making our way through ragtime, jazz, blues, R&B, and hip-hop. Students will learn about the broader cultural significance of this music, as well as its influence on Classical composers and innovators in the rock and roll and pop genres. This course is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Music: Intro to Theory and Composition

This course introduces students to the basics of reading and writing music, directly applying concepts learned to the creation of music compositions. Students will work on computers and learn to use music composition software/web-based programs such as Noteflight and GarageBand. Topics include – but are not limited to – reading and writing in treble and bass clefs, rhythmic and melodic notation, major and minor scales and keys, pentatonic, whole tone, and chromatic scales, modes, intervals, triads, and solfege/sight reading. Each unit includes hands-on composition practice, playback, and critique by peers and the teacher. This course is open to students in grades 9-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Music: Theory & Composition II

In this course, students continue their development of music theory and composition skills through daily hands-on practice in a workshop context. Students will work on computers and continue to develop their facility with music composition software/web-based programs such as Noteflight and Soundtrap. Through score reading and analysis, rhythmic and melodic dictation, sight reading practice, solfege exercises, and composition, students will continue to develop their music reading and writing skills. Throughout the semester, students will explore project-based units that cover a range of musical genres and concepts, including minimalism, impressionism, arranging for specific voices/instruments, creating a musical work inspired by a piece of visual art, and scoring for a short film or video game. Specific music theory topics include: a review of scales and keys, modes, intervals and triads, chord progressions, the basics of four-part writing, Roman numeral analysis and figured bass. Students are encouraged to create music shaped by their unique background and musical point of view,  including an individually designed final project. This course is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement. Prerequisite: Music: Introduction to Theory and Composition or permission from instructor.

World Music Drumming

In World Music Drumming, students will practice ensemble drumming while studying musical traditions from cultures around the world (including, but not limited to, music from the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Asia, and various European folk music traditions). Students of any musical background and all levels of experience are welcome. Students will develop both musical skills (reading musical notation, basic technique on a variety of world percussion instruments, musical improvisation and composition), and non-musical skills (listening, collaborating, reflecting). Through our musical journeys, students will also investigate correlations between patterns found in music, art, dance, literature, and society of the cultures they explore. This course is open to students in grades 9-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Musical Theater (not offered in 2018-2019)

This course will present an overview of American musical theater, highlighting the lives and careers of prominent musical theater composers, lyricists, producers, directors, and choreographers. Students will not only learn the historical contexts of composers and their works, but will also study and present historically and/or culturally significant songs (through performance and/or research presentation). This course is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Art Electives: Theatre Arts

Intro to Stage Acting

Course content will include an overview of theatrical performance with a focus on ensemble creation, acting, and improvisation. Students will attend one theatre and/or musical performance in Philadelphia as part of the curriculum. Using those theatre experiences, students will be introduced to improvisation techniques, voice, and movement exercises leading to one performance of scene work and/or devised theatre. As part of this study, students will consider how a theatre company is created and how plays and musicals are produced, from writer to producer to performance. A possible optional trip to see a play in NYC or Philadelphia may require an additional fee. This course is open to students in grades 9-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

The Contemporary Stage I: Making a Scene

This class will develop the fundamental skills necessary to perform in realistic drama. Exercising improvisation skills and engaging in scene work, students will learn the principles of acting in modern plays. There will be two showcases, one presenting improvisation and another​ ​presenting scene work. Students will read and attend a play running in Philadelphia​ and meet with ​the artists. This course is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement. NOTE: In alternate years, the drama major will be two semester-long courses: Shakespeare in Performance and Ensemble Building, Improvisation, & Play Making.

The Contemporary Stage I: Creating Characters

This class will focus on creating characters for the modern stage. Utilizing improvisation and techniques from current schools of theatre arts, students will present a showcase of monologues and ensemble pieces. Work will include workshops with artists from Pig Iron Theatre Company. This course is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement. NOTE: In alternate years, the drama major will be two semester long courses: Shakespeare in Performance and Ensemble Building, Improvisation, & Play Making.

Shakespeare in Performance (not offered 2018-2019)

This highly comprehensive course culminates in a public performance. Students participate in a variety of theatre practices, including creating devised theatre, directing, acting, and dramatic criticism. Course requirements include a trip to Staunton, Virginia, to work with artists at The American Shakespeare Center and to see three Shakespeare plays. This class is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement. NOTE: In alternate years, THE CONTEMPORARY STAGE is offered.

Ensemble Building, Improvisation, & Play Making: Devised Theatre Practices (not offered in 2018-2019)

Devised theatre is a form of theatre where the script originates not from a writer or writers, but from collaborative, usually improvisatory, work by a group of people. This class is a “makerspace” for performing. Through collaborative creation and choral work, students will create ensemble pieces for public performance. The Class will include a performance of comic improvisation in the tradition of such groups as Second City and ComedySportz. They will also explore the idea of “performance art” and look at its development from mid-20th century through current practices. This class is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement. NOTE: In alternate years, THE CONTEMPORARY STAGE is offered.

Art Electives: Visual Arts

Concepts in Visual Art

This one-semester course is a slide-based introduction to looking at and understanding visual expression. The course is designed to introduce students to the idea of intentional seeing. By looking at art, issues of content, form, and style are explored. The Expressive Elements and Design Principles are examined in depth. Students learn some of the critical vocabulary used in understanding visual work. This course is open to students in grades 9-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Fiber Art Fabrication

In this process-based course, we will explore fibers, fabrics, and textiles with a hands-on approach. We will create with fiber from among a variety of selected techniques: spin, dye, felt, draw, coil, crochet, knit, papermake, printmake, sculpt, stitch or weave. Fibrous materials will be fabricated into 2D and 3D projects that may include: samplers, wall art, vessels/baskets, wearable, utilitarian, or collaborative site-installation pieces. Fiber and textiles from around the world – contemporary as well as historic – will inspire individual projects, with a storytelling aspect. The testimony of ‘stew-ART-ship’ will include the transformation of recyclables into fibrous pieces. The growth from concept to final project will be reflected in journal entries tracking techniques, sketch-notes, thoughts, research, and outcomes. The results will be visual, fiber art statements or functional pieces for the body or home. Journaling, reflecting, critiquing, and discovering are components that will guide our creative process. This course is open to students in grades 9-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Intro to Drawing

This one-semester course is designed to introduce students to one of the cornerstones of the Western image-making tradition: linear perspective. It is a hands-on studio art course. This course is open to students in grades 9-12 who have not already taken the course as part of a rotation and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Mixed Media: Appropriation & Reinvention

Mixed Media: Appropriation & Reinvention is a studio art course that explores a number of media, concepts, and styles of abstraction. Strictly speaking, the word “abstract” means to separate, remove, or change the characteristics of something, and students in Mixed Media will do all this and more. Everyday items will be recontextualized and repurposed as art, while images initially devised by others will be appropriated and altered enough to be considered an acceptable use within artistic copyright standards. Throughout the semester, students will be presented with a variety of projects, procedures, and opportunities for artistic expression, invention, and imagination ranging from painting and printmaking to clay and Photoshop. The majority of class time will be spent producing art, although there will also be lectures/demonstrations and critiques. This course is open to beginning or experienced or artists in grades 10-12 who are interested in exploring abstraction. It fulfills one semester of the four semester arts requirement.

Mixed Media: Connections with the Real World

Mixed Media: Connections with the Real World is a studio art course that explores a number of media, concepts, and styles of abstraction. Strictly speaking, the word “abstract” means to separate, remove or change the characteristics of something, and students in Mixed Media will do all this and more.  Students will begin the semester taking inspiration from and challenging how they see our world, and before the semester is over, they will make abstract items that can serve a practical function in this same world. Students will be presented with a variety of projects, procedures, and opportunities for artistic expression, invention, and imagination ranging from painting and digital photography to clay and glass. The majority of class time will be spent producing art, although there will also be lectures/demonstrations and critiques. This course is open to beginning or experienced artists in grades 10-12 who are interested in exploring abstraction. It fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Photography

This course covers the fundamentals of photography. From cyanotypes to Photoshop, various techniques through the history of photography will be examined, with an emphasis on modern digital photography.  Through a range of assignments, topics such as motion, composition, lighting, and color will be studied, and photographic genres, such as portraiture and narrative will be explored. The first semester focuses on mastering the technical side of the medium while developing a creative vision, all the while taking interesting photographs. The second semester builds on the previous semester and allows students more opportunities for expanded creativity in terms of the projects and post-production. Class discussions will include group critiques of projects and the introduction of the works of noted photographers. Students are expected to  provide their own digital camera, which must have the capability of manually controlling features, such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance. This course is open to students in grades 11-12 and fulfills two semesters of the four-semester arts requirement.

Studio Art I: Foundations of Studio Art

This course consists of a sequence of projects designed to challenge the student with classic problems in observational drawing and painting. Class is run in studio fashion with a lecture/presentation followed by individual critique. There is a small lab fee to cover the cost of oil paints. This course is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills two semesters of the four-semester arts requirement.

Studio Art II: Advanced Topics in Studio Art

In this course, students will continue to develop drawing and painting skills learned in the Studio Art I course at a more challenging level. Topics typically include outdoor light, still-life, portrait and self-portrait, the predictive drawing, and the abstract drawing. Prerequisite: Studio Art I. This course fulfills two semesters of the four-semester arts requirement.

Wearable Art

Wearable Art is a studio art course that explores a variety of media and approaches to creating wearable art. From jewelry to scarves, students will be introduced to both technical and creative considerations that come into play when creating tangible items that are meant to exist beyond the walls of a gallery. The inspiration for projects will range from geometry to emotions, with the end result ranging from recognizable subjects to non-objective pieces with a functional twist. Throughout the course, students will be presented with a variety of opportunities for artistic expression, problem solving, invention, and imagination. The majority of class time will be spent producing art, although there will also be lectures/demonstrations and critiques. This course is open to experienced or beginning artists in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four semester arts requirement. There will be a small lab fee to cover the cost of precious metal clay.

Woodworking

This class will focus on creative building using an array of materials including wood, acrylic, concrete, and electrical components. Students will learn traditional woodworking techniques while practicing safety, discipline, patience, and problem-solving skills. With a strong emphasis on safety, students will develop a practical understanding of hand tools and learn to operate a table saw, band saw, mitre saw, routing table, and power tools. Projects students will create in this course may include: hardwood cutting boards, bandsaw boxes, concrete installations, curiosity cabinets, and a final project of their choosing. Class is limited to ten students per section. This course is open to students in grades 11-12  with preference given to grade 12 students. It fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Woodworking II

This class will build on the skills and techniques developed in Woodworking I, with a strong focus on hand tools and classic woodworking techniques. Students will build projects using dovetail, mortise and tenon, and mitre spline joints. Students will learn basic chip carving, chisel work, and wood turning projects on a lathe. After completing initial course projects, students will be given increasing opportunities to create and design projects of their choosing. Class is limited to ten students who have completed Woodworking I and who have demonstrated exceptional skill. This course is open to students in grade 12. This course fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.  Prerequisite: Woodworking.

Architectural Drawing & Model Making (Not offered in 2018-2019)

Through slide presentations and video, students are introduced to iconic buildings and the work of some of our most influential architects. They will begin to learn to read the language of architectural drawings, and they will learn to make architectural drawings of greatest use: plan, section, and elevation. The buildings on campus will serve as a lab for the exploration of the built environment. Students will survey and measure space and learn to represent it. As they become more comfortable representing spaces, students will begin to modify them and, as such, be introduced to the design process. Model making will not only support ideas of spatial representation but also allow students to develop a sense of craft while working in three dimensions. This course is open to students in grades 10-12 and fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.

Mixed Media: Advanced Topics in Abstraction (not offered in 2018-2019)

Mixed Media: Advanced Topics in Abstraction is a studio art course that builds on the exploration of abstraction begun in the other two Mixed Media semester offerings. Students will continue to develop skills in a variety of mediums, some of which were introduced in previous classes, and others which, as new additions, continue to broaden the students’ artistic range. Topics such as form and function, process, sources of inspiration, and altering perceptions will be covered. Students taking this class should be prepared to push themselves creatively with the ultimate goal of producing more self-directed and ambitious projects. Prerequisite: Mixed Media: Appropriation & Reinvention and Mixed Media: Connections with the Real World. This course fulfills one semester of the four-semester arts requirement.