Working in both traditional and contemporary art-making materials, RCDS art students in all divisions explore a broad range of possibilities for personal, creative, visual expression. They are granted wide latitude to develop their own ideas and styles while simultaneously honing the skills necessary to bring those ideas to fruition. Our 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 a makerspace and theater program.

Student Work

Lower School Curriculum

Using a choice-based learning approach, the Lower School visual arts program introduces children to the world of visual arts through exploration and discovery. Using a wide variety of materials - including watercolors, tempera paints, colored pencils, pastels, clay, wire, collage, fabric, and 3D printing pens - students work through the creative process to translate their imaginative ideas and artistic thinking into visual form.

Problem solving and experimentation play a strong role in the development of foundational skills and concepts. The Lower School art 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 look at artwork, question it, and interpret it in their own ways.

Middle School Curriculum

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.

Upper School Curriculum

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.


Our teachers believe that exhibiting one’s artwork is as important as making it, and regular student exhibitions are central to our department’s pedagogy. Student artworks are displayed regularly during the year, often coinciding with the end of a marking period and providing the school community with a comprehensive view of students' visual arts accomplishments. Also throughout the year, smaller exhibitions highlight specific aspects of student work and our visual arts program. In addition to these exhibitions, the school comes together to celebrate the creative spirit at our annual Arts Festival & International Fair.

Focal Point: Student Photography Publication

Department Chair


Visual Arts News

Visual Arts