Visual Arts Program
The visual arts program is an integral part of Haverford's challenging and diverse curriculum. Use the tabs below to explore by division.
In pre-kindergarten and kindergarten the boys are focused on nourishing a love for creating while zeroing in on the fine motor skills used in tasks such as cutting, gluing, and gripping. Projects are woven in with their classroom studies so that there is a cross-curricular element that promotes a consistency throughout their monthly themes. Our lessons include elements of art such as basic color theory, shape recognition, texture and size relationship.
The boys paint, sculpt, collage and construct creations that reflect classroom studies such as Russia, the rain forest and the Polar Express. The boys are also inspired by the work of various artists like Faith Ringold, Paul Klee, and Wassily Kandinsky. There is always a conscious balance between following directions and nurturing individual expression within each project.
Our first and second graders build upon the skills that they’ve learned and developed in earlier grades. Motor activities such as gluing, cutting, and gripping are further practiced and perfected as they delve into various projects.
In first grade the boys focus on human anatomy and the mechanics of drawing. Students are exposed to a variety of artists and art movements that inform and inspire their projects. Cultural arts and crafts also play into their artwork.
In second grade the boys study Africa in their classroom so we spend a unit in art studying the work of Renos Towanameso, who carves storytelling walking sticks. In turn, each boy creates his own story telling walking stick out of wood and paper mache. When drawing, painting, printing, and sculpting, students continue to build upon elements of art such as depth, texture, color theory, line, and rendering. As they create they are taught and encouraged to speak about their own work and to offer constructive insights concerning the work of others. Above all, our aim is to cultivate a love of creative exploration and expression.
The third and fourth graders have reached an age where their motor abilities have improved greatly. This more advanced capability to manipulate materials enables them to create a variety of inspiring work. Their artistic endeavors throughout the year incorporate both three-dimensional and two-dimensional creations that are inspired by established artists like Louise Nevelson and Escher as well as cultural creations like the Wayang Goleck Rod puppets of Indonesia. Students are challenged to cultivate their verbal skills and artistic awareness as they speak about their own work and discuss the work of others. They are exposed to various historical movements in art in the form of visuals, discussions and activities that help them to experience styles like Impressionism, Fauvism, and Pop Art.
This more advanced capability to manipulate materials and analyze data enables fifth grade boys to create a variety of inspiring work in graphite, paint, pastel, and ceramic media. Their artistic endeavors throughout the year incorporate both three-dimensional and two-dimensional creations that are inspired by legendary artists such as Picasso, Matisse, and Escher as well as cultural creations like Olmec heads and Roman ruins. Fifth grade students are challenged to cultivate their verbal skills and artistic awareness as they speak about their own work and discuss the work of others. They are exposed to various historical movements in art in the form of visuals, discussions, and activities that help them to experience styles like Impressionism, Fauvism, and Pop Art.
Sixth and seventh grade Visual Art explore how humans learn and communicate visually through a wide range of processes. During their time in these courses, boys draw, paint, sculpt, work with clay and wood, as well as spend time in the multimedia lab on photography, video, and animation.
Sixth grade students are expected to learn and utilize concepts of structure, balance, shape and form to name a few, while working in a creative environment that encourages them to explore, invent and experiment.
In seventh grade, pattern, design, symmetry, balance, scale, and perspective are all topics of discussion and inquiry throughout the course. The art department works closely with the other middle school disciplines in order to give a real-world picture as to how art enables and enriches a more complete understanding of the world in which we live.
Eighth Grade art builds on how humans use visual stories to connect their lives to the world around them. The program extends the students' experience of 2-D, 3-D, and multimedia techniques supplemented by examples in Art History. Projects tend to be more challenging in this course, as students are asked to follow specific guidelines and explore a variety of processes:
- The students use line and contrast both as function and metaphor while drawing and painting from life.
- They are presented with a set of 3-D problems to solve using woodworking and other innovative sculptural methods.
- The boys then take an in-depth look at film making. From script to screen they plan, produce, edit, and distribute their short films.
- Visual Art - Foundations
- Two-Dimensional Art - Principles of Design
- Ceramic Arts
- Two-Dimensional Art - Portfolio*
- Two-Dimensional Art - Senior Thesis*
- Three-Dimensional Art - Design
- Three-Dimensional Art - Portfolio*
- Three-Dimensional Art - Senior Thesis*
- Visual Communication Design
- Video and Animation
- Video & Animation II*
- Woodworking Arts
This year long course introduces students to the fundamental vocabulary of the visual artist across a wide variety of media, and working methods. Students are exposed to those skills, knowledge and practices fundamental to the visual arts, providing the starting point for all further visual arts courses at Haverford. Students have the opportunity to work with each art instructor in each of the four art studios. Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Design, Photography, Architecture, Video, Computer Graphics and Animation are explored through a variety of hands-on projects. Each project develops students’ visual acuity, their fluency in the visual language and their practice in the creative process. Much emphasis is placed on drawing, painting, sculpting from still-life set-ups, the figure, and objects and environments of the students' real world and experiences. By means of structured projects, each student is encouraged to seek imaginative, personal solutions to a wide variety of problems while learning traditional visual art skills and techniques. Creative concepts, strong design and effective use of media are stressed in an effort to help the student challenge himself and tap his deepest creative potential. Historical and contemporary artists and movements are introduced in relation to each new unit of study. Group critiques, online blogs and written “reflections” give each student the opportunity to learn to articulate his observations about his own work and that of his classmates. This process also prepares the students for the written sections of their two major exams projects. Foundations is an introductory level course open to students Third through Sixth Forms.
These semester-long courses serve as the second level in the 2D art sequence. Experimenting with pencil, charcoal, pastel, printmaking techniques, watercolors, and oil paints, students will explore fundamentals of line, shape, form, value, color, texture, and composition. Student will begin the course working in black and white and later explore basic color theory. Through projects rooted in prevalent themes in contemporary art, students will strive to develop personal concepts that are well thought out and connected to the work of professional artists. Each project offers significant freedom for students to explore their own ideas and develop their creative thinking skills. Students will spend time looking at art throughout history, critiquing each other’s work, and writing virtual reflections on their process and product. Students can take both the fall and spring semester course without repeating projects.
Ceramic Arts is one of two second-level courses in the progression of our 3-Dimensional art curriculum. This full year course is designed to provide a thorough immersion in the Ceramic Art making process in order for each student to achieve high levels of proficiency in self-expression through forming clay with their hands. With a primary emphasis on learning to use the potter’s wheel, students will also explore the traditions of modeling sculpture and hand building techniques in the construction of vessels as well as sculptural forms. While exploring these processes students will experience hands on the mixing of clay and glazes from raw materials in our lab facility and the process of loading and firing kilns. The importance of aesthetic content is emphasized in both functional and sculptural projects and in the finishing of surfaces with traditional glaze techniques and non-traditional solutions.
This course is the third level (and most advanced level available to Fifth Form students) in the sequence of drawing and painting based art courses. This course focuses on using the art elements and design principles stressed in lower level courses and developing the skills needed to communicate effectively and passionately. Students will learn to coordinate subject matter, color theory and two-dimensional design to support an overall concept. New artists’ materials including oil paints and gouache will be introduced. Students will begin building a portfolio of high caliber works covering a range of art concepts suitable for college applications, outside exhibitions and competitions and will begin developing a possible theme to serve as the core of future work in the “2-D Art, Senior Thesis” course. Prerequisite: successful completion of one or more year-long art courses and approval of the instructor. “2-D Art: Portfolio*” is intended for the most dedicated students, as successful course work is the result of enthusiasm, focus, and a significant investment of time and work.
* This is an advanced level course.
This is an intensive culminating thesis seminar for the most experienced visual art students. The course is designed to transform experienced art students into emerging young artists by stressing the development of a personal visual arts thesis and a supporting body of work. In the fall semester, students will create works in the medium of their choosing related to a prevalent theme in contemporary art. In the spring semester, students will create a related body of work in the form of an investigation. Through individual research and experimentation, each student will discover and refine his most eloquent voice for effective communication in the visual language. While individual artists will work in different media and dissimilar concepts, the class will meet as a group to learn about contemporary artists and critique each other's work. The year finishes with an exhibition of students’ thesis works. Prerequisite: successful completion of two or more year-long art courses and approval of the instructor. “2-D Art: Senior Thesis” is intended for the most dedicated and experienced Sixth Form students only.
* This is an advanced level course.
These semester-long courses serve as one of two possible second level courses in the 3D Visual Arts sequence and build on the basic skills acquired in Foundation level courses. Three-Dimensional Art: Design features a more in-depth focus on the design process itself at work in the production of both sculptural and functional objects and will tackle concepts and projects that require real world problem solving skills. A variety of sculptural and three-dimensional design projects ranging from simple woodworking projects, to product design and architectural design as well as traditional fine art sculpture will provide students with the multifaceted experience of planning, design and construction of objects. Students will utilize an array of tools from a personal sketchbook to the industry standard laser cutter. This course will seek out opportunities to do interdisciplinary work involving engineering and math concepts and skills. Some student work each semester will be focused on entries for national and international 3D design competitions. Although similar, each semester will vary enough for a student to take both semesters without repeating any material.
This is an intermediate level sculpture course that builds on the foundations covered in 3-D Art and is designed to prepare students for the creation of a significant body of work and representative portfolio. This portfolio work will be used to supplement the college application process, and apply to outside exhibitions and competitions. The portfolio is composed of 35 mm slides and digital format of twenty or more strong art pieces representing three main categories of the student's work: (1) Quality of concept, design and technical skill, (2) A concentration of a series of related works based upon a theme of the student's choice, (3) Breadth or the range of accomplishments in a variety of three-dimensional forms and techniques. Materials commonly used are clay, wood and mixed media. Some of the main areas of investigation are figure study, abstract sculpture, and utilitarian design. Prerequisite: successful completion of one or more year-long art courses and approval of the instructor. “3-D Art: Portfolio” is intended for the most dedicated and interested students, as successful completion of this course is the result of enthusiasm, focus, and a significant investment of time and work.
* This is an advanced level course.
This is our most advanced sculpture course designed as the continuation and advancement of the work generated in the 3-D Art Portfolio course (see above description). Students are encouraged to participate in major national competitions and will further develop the quality and range of their portfolios. This course culminates in the production of a Senior Art Public Exhibition and is supplemented by a written Thesis in support of each student’s completed body of work. Prerequisite: successful completion of the Three-Dimensional Art: Portfolio* course.
* This is an advanced level course.
In line with the visual arts departmental goal of “developing a fluency in the visual language”, this course will examine how that language is at work in the world around us. This course will enable students to become more adept at using a visual language in digital media to communicate their ideas, convey meaning, and influence opinion. Students will explore page layout, branding, advertising, typography, visual presentation, and web design through the use of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. This course will be project-based with real world applications, including enhancing page layout for the Haligoluk or Pegasus and field trips to visit professionals in the visual communications field. Students will compile an online portfolio of their finished products.
Photography explores both digital and traditional darkroom techniques for the creation of still images. Students will gain an understanding of how artists have used light to create images with both experimental and traditional methods of using light sensitive materials and darkroom techniques. Students will also explore how digital photography replicates those traditional techniques and allows for even greater manipulation of images using computer software. Students will learn to use Photoshop software to not only manipulate their digital photographs but to create their own composite images. Students will explore the basics of graphic design where images, photos and text are combined to create visually powerful communication. Students will integrate writing, design and computer proficiencies to develop a portfolio that will demonstrate skills that carry over to many other disciplines. Photography is open to Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Form students with or without any other art experience.
Students will learn the basics of video production: storyboarding, shooting, composing, and editing. Working with digital video cameras and Premiere video editing software students will create a variety of short films that explore different techniques, skills, and subject matter. Students will learn a variety of traditional and contemporary animation techniques to continue their study of the moving image. Students will learn how to present their video and animation works in a variety of formats and will integrate writing, design and computer proficiencies to develop an online portfolio that will demonstrate skills that carry over to many other disciplines. Video and Animation is open to Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Form students with or without any other art experience.
After mastering basic video editing techniques in the Video & Animation course, students in the honors level will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of this powerful means of communication and expression, becoming more adept at script writing, editing techniques, idea pitching, and creating longer length films. Assignments will reinforce and deepen understanding of the core techniques and skills explored in the introductory level, with more room for exploring personal interests and artistic goals. Honors level students will create longer, more developed films, spending at least 2.5-3 hours a week outside of class on their projects as compared to the 1 hour expectation of intro students. Honors students will read influential texts in film history and film criticism, applying concepts discussed in the readings to their own films. They will also have a midterm essay where they deconstruct and evaluate a feature length film by applying concepts of film history and criticism. All advanced students will be required to submit to specific student film festivals and competitions.
* This is an advanced level course.
This course allows interested students the opportunity to explore the sculptural and functional aspects of design with wood. At the core of our work is developing an understanding for and a facility with the design process. This project-based course will build from simple construction methods with wood and wood tools and gradually expand the scope and skills used to more and complex forms culminating in a project of the student’s own design. Students will have the opportunity and expectation to work imaginatively while accomplishing the goals of each project. The use of hand and power tools as well as the qualities of selected woods will be a component of each unit. Students all learn the basics of linear perspective, orthographic perspective, and scale drawing techniques used by designers, architects and engineers. Students will maintain sketchbooks for planning purposes and a shared personal blog where they will document the progress of their work and learning. Although similar, each semester will vary enough for a student to take both semesters without repeating any material and to deal with more complex ideas and techniques. . Three instructors will team teach this course. Mr. Thorburn (Assistant Headmaster) has experience as both a woodworker and builder. Mr. Wisniewski (Director of Physical Plant and Facilitates) also has experience with fine woodworking and building. Mr. Fox (Upper School Art Instructor) has taught woodworking and has also been a building contractor.