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 I
- Two-Dimensional Art II*
- Two-Dimensional Art Portfolio*
- Ceramic Arts I
- Ceramic Arts II*
- Woodworking Arts I
- Woodworking Arts II*
- 3D Art & Design I
- 3D Art & Design II*
- 3D Art Portfolio*
- Digital Art & Design I
- Digital Art & Design II*
This yearlong 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 art instructors in each of the four art studios. Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, 3D & 2D Design, CAD, 3D printing, and Graphic Design 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 observation, using 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 major final exam project.
Open to Third through Sixth Form students. This course is the prerequisite for all other visual art courses as it provides the most basic skills and concepts for future work in the visual arts.
Prerequisite: Successful completion of Visual Art Foundations.
These semester-long courses serve as the second level in the two-dimensional (drawing and painting) art sequence, building on the skills and concepts introduced in the Foundations course. Working in a variety of media with pencil, charcoal, pastel, printmaking techniques, watercolors, and oil paints, students will explore fundamentals of line, shape, form, value, color, texture, and composition. Students 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 or can combine one semester of this course with another arts semester course.
Prerequisites: Visual Arts Foundations and two additional semesters of arts courses (2D Art I preferred). A- or better in previous art courses and teacher recommendation is necessary for consideration. Open to Fifth and Sixth Form students
This semester long course is the third level of the two dimensional (drawing and painting based) visual arts sequence. Projects continue to build both technical skills and conceptual versatility. Projects offer the opportunity for more personal approaches to solutions to individualized project challenges. Each project will have a reference in contemporary or historical methods and concepts, giving students an understanding of how their work is part of our cultural tradition. As with honors courses in other disciplines, significant time outside of class spent in the studio and or working at home is required. Students can take both the fall and spring semester course without repeating projects or can combine one semester of this course with another arts semester course.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of four semester long courses and departmental approval. A- or better in previous art courses and teacher recommendation is necessary for consideration. Open to Sixth Form Students
Two-Dimensional Art Portfolio* 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. During class and two hours of extra studio time per week, 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 Visual Arts Foundations. Open to Fourth through Sixth Form Students
Ceramic Arts is one of three second-level courses in the progression of our 3-Dimensional art curriculum. This semester course is designed to provide a thorough immersion into contemporary and historical practices within the field of Ceramics. Ceramic Arts students will be encouraged to pursue a curiosity about the linkages between process, meaning, and perception within a challenging yet supportive studio environment. Expanding on the ideas presented during the Foundation year experience, Ceramic Arts students will be introduced to and use a huge variety of tools and processes including but not limited to the potter’s wheel, figurative sculpture, mold-making, slab-building, and alternative surface treatments. The ultimate aim of this class is to gain the tools and skills to become fearless in the pursuit of an individual artistic voice with skill-building, research, and experimentation happening simultaneously. The work in Ceramics, as in all visual art classes, aims to strengthen students’ ability to think and see critically, to develop a fluency in the visual language, and to become more adept at the creative process. Students can take both the fall and spring semester courses without repeating projects or can combine one semester with another semester art course.
Prerequisites: Visual Arts Foundations and two additional semesters of arts courses (Ceramics I preferred). A or better in previous art courses and teacher recommendation is necessary for consideration.
Students in this semester long course to build on the technical skills and processes from Ceramics I. Students will learn to mix glazes and the basics of firing kilns as well as advanced wheel throwing and handbuilding techniques. Complex functional forms such as Lidded Jars, Teapots and Nesting Bowls will be explored alongside figurative sculpture and modeling. Projects in Ceramics II* are designed to encourage the development of individual student voices reflecting their individual interests and pursuits. As with honors courses in other disciplines, significant time outside of class spent in the studio and or working at home is required. Students can take both the fall and spring semester course without repeating projects or can combine one semester of this course with another arts semester course. Ceramics Arts II* is a third level course open to students in the Fifth through Sixth Forms.
Prerequisite: Successful completion of Visual Arts Foundations.
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 create more 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 will 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 increasingly complex ideas and techniques. Three instructors will team teach this course. Mr. Thorburn (Assistant Head), Mr. Ressler (Art Department) and Will Bryant (Theater) who all have unique experience with fine woodworking and building. Students can take both the fall and spring semester course without repeating projects or can combine one semester with another semester art course. Woodworking Arts I is a second level course open to students in the Fourth through Sixth Forms.
Prerequisites: Visual Arts Foundations and two additional semesters of arts courses (Woodworking or 3D Art preferred). A- or better in previous art courses and teacher recommendation is necessary for consideration.
Woodworking II* continues the practice begun in Foundations and Woodworking I that develops both the technical skills and conceptual foundations craftsmen use to design and build functional and sculptural works with wood. New tools and techniques are introduced and basic skills are reviewed and strengthened through increasingly complex project challenges. At this level, instructors guide students’ development in the creative practice through a sequence of projects based on individual student interests and experience. Students will continue to maintain sketchbooks for planning purposes that will document the progress of their work and learning. Starting with simple to use scroll saws, and working towards milling their own wood from rough sawn lumber, students will learn new tools and techniques as the continue through the levels. Three instructors will team teach this course who all have unique experience with fine woodworking and building. As with honors courses in other disciplines, significant time outside of class spent in the studio and or working at home, when possible, is required. Although similar, each semester will vary enough for a student to take both semesters without repeating any material and to deal with increasingly complex ideas and techniques or students can combine one semester of this course with another arts semester course. Woodworking Arts II* is a third level course open to students in the Fifth through Sixth Forms.
Prerequisite: Successful completion of Visual Arts Foundations.
These semester-long courses serve as one of four possible second-level courses in the Visual Arts sequence and builds on the basic skills acquired in Visual Arts Foundations. 3D Art & Design I features a more indepth focus on the design process in the production of both sculptural and functional objects. Each project will require in-depth research, sketching, idea development, execution, and real-world problem-solving skills. A variety of three-dimensional design projects ranging from simple woodworking projects, fine art sculpture, product, and architectural design 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. Students will begin to use software such as Adobe Illustrator to aid in the design of their projects. Although similar, the first semester focuses on seeing and creating objects using the basic modeling methods with wood, plaster, clay, foam, and wire while the second semester expands into exploring the laser cutter’s ability to create complex prototypes at industry standards. Students can take both the fall and spring semester courses without repeating projects or can combine one semester with another semester-long art course. 3D Art & Design is a second level course open to students in the Fourth through Sixth Forms.
Prerequisites: Visual Arts Foundations and two additional semesters of arts courses (3D or Woodworking preferred). A- or better in previous art courses and teacher recommendation is necessary for consideration.
3D Art & Design II is a third level design and sculpture course that builds on the skills and concepts of three-dimensional sculpture and design begun in Foundations and 3D Art & Design I. Students will focus on technical skills and conceptual development needed to create three-dimensional functional and sculpture works. We will continue to manipulate various 3D materials and media including wood, clay, wire, plaster, cardboard, and found objects. Extensive technical demonstrations will help students develop material interests and studio skills, including innovative uses of both manual and digital processes. Students will develop imaginative and creative solutions through a series of structured problem-solving challenges as well as project proposals for independent projects. As an honors course, students will be expected to drive their own practice and find personal solutions to each project challenge. As part of the creative practice, students will research, write, sketch, prototype, and share ideas in meetings with peers and faculty. Projects will all culminate in a group critique followed by a written reflection, and some work will become part of exhibitions in and outside of school and entered into competitions. Students will be led on studio tours around the Philadelphia area highlighting contemporary art, product design, and architectural implementation. As with honors courses in other disciplines, significant time outside of class spent in the studio and or working at home, where possible, is required. Students can take both the fall and spring semester courses without repeating projects or can combine one semester of this course with another arts semester course. 3D Art & Design II* is a third level course open to students in the Fifth through Sixth Forms.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of four semester long courses. 3D Art Portfolio* is intended for the most dedicated and experienced Sixth Form students only. An A- or better in 3D Art & Design II*, Woodworking II*, or Ceramics II* is necessary for consideration.
3D Art Portfolio* is our most advanced sculpture and three-dimensional design course, deepening the skills and processes generated in the Three-Dimensional Art & Design II* course (see above description). Students will develop a sophisticated body of work with individualized areas of research, and a directed, productive approach to studio practice. Students will have monthly meetings with faculty and guest artists. They will also have off-campus opportunities including field trips to exhibitions, museums, and artist studios that will highlight professional practices in contemporary art in the vibrant Philadelphia area. Finally, the course will introduce students to the possibility of participation in major national competitions and exhibitions, self-promotion, and various creative opportunities. As with honors courses in other disciplines, significant time outside of class spent in the studio and/or working at home is required.
Prerequisite: Visual Arts Foundations
In this semester-long course, students will explore different artistic methods and software. Students will solve complex visual design problems and find their artistic voice. Students will learn about DSLR photography and photo editing, website design, graphic design, laser cutting, CAD & 3D printing, typography, video, and animation. An understanding of composition, color theory, and universal design will be cultivated as students engage in some projects that are centered around personal expression and others with a focus on design for commercial purposes. Students may sign up for fall and/or spring, as the two semesters will have different areas of focus. In the fall semester course, students will primarily explore photography, Adobe Photoshop, and video editing. The spring semester will focus more heavily on Adobe Illustrator, graphic design, typography, and laser cutting. Students in both semesters will hone their creativity, digital literacy skills, and confidence in using emerging technologies. Digital Arts & Technology can be taken a full year or combined with any other semester-long art course.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of Digital Art & Design I (Digital Art & Design I preferred). A- or better in previous art courses and teacher recommendation is necessary for consideration.
Students in this semester-long honors digital art course will work across a range of digital media developing personal responses to project challenges related to prevalent themes in contemporary art. Students will deepen their skills with technology-based art mediums such as photography, graphic design, video, animation, CAD, 3D printing, and laser cutting as they explore ideas that are personally compelling and related to the contemporary world of art and design. Students will build on previous coursework as they develop their ability to use the visual language to communicate, persuade, inform, and connect. This honors course is designed for students who have developed the capacity to work in the art studio independently and are able to devote significant time to their projects outside of class. Students may take the course fall semester, spring semester, or full-year without repeating projects.