Students are granted wide latitude to develop their own ideas and styles while simultaneously honing the skills necessary to bring those ideas to fruition. Visual arts classes are both rigorous and fun, and they offer an engaging respite from the school day. Teamwork and positive social support are highly valued in all of our studio classrooms. To help contextualize student work, projects are often supplemented with art history presentations and trips to local museums and galleries. In 2018, the School opened the Cohen Center for the Creative Arts, a state-of-the-art facility that houses our Middle School and Upper School visual arts programs, in addition to the RCDS Makerspace and the School’s drama program.
In the Lower School
Using a choice-based learning approach and a wide variety of materials—including watercolors, tempera paints, colored pencils, pastels, clay, wire, collage, fabric, and 3D printing pens— students explore and discover the world of visual arts. Students express imaginative ideas and artistic thinking in visual form. Problem solving and experimentation are key in the development of foundational artistic skills. The curriculum also integrates learning experiences from classroom studies and other special area subjects. Art history is introduced at age-appropriate levels through a visual thinking program that encourages students to question and interpret art.
In the Middle School
The Middle School program seeks to heighten students' awareness and appreciation of the visual arts as unique and important forms of self-expression. This is accomplished through creative exploration, communication, sharing of verbal and visual ideas, and problem solving in a relaxed, nurturing, and stimulating environment. Whether working in traditional or innovative styles, students learn to use design concepts to create compelling, engaging, and dynamic artworks. Students may choose courses in such areas as drawing, painting, ceramics, digital photography, and manual arts.
In the Upper School
The Upper School visual arts curriculum is designed for flexibility, and it offers students opportunities for both broad and deep artistic exploration. Process and product are equally valued, and students are pushed to develop their ideas as much as their technical skills. Play, experimentation, transdisciplinary research, and creative risk-taking are strongly encouraged. Art historical context is woven into the studio experience in the form of slide presentations and trips to local museums or galleries.
Most Upper School students begin their art studies with an introductory level course in drawing, painting, ceramics, photography, digital design, or videography. Those wanting to gain greater expertise may continue their studies with upper-level offerings in each of these areas. Students who have fulfilled the necessary prerequisites have opportunities to pursue more independent studio work or enroll in any of the three AP Studio Art courses that we offer.