Visual Arts

Header Image

The Visual Arts Department mission is to create a learning environment where a student can explore, create, and develop the skills needed for the creation and the appreciation of visual art forms. The aim is to increase aesthetic literacy and promote respect for the arts of all cultures. The Academy believes art is an intellectual process which stresses visual thinking, creativity, skill development, and critical analysis. Our program emphasizes the skills of seeing and drawing, problem solving, persistence, and personal expression. Learning to take informed risks and being inventive in making images and objects are central to the program. Fundamental and advanced levels of design, drawing, painting, and art history are pillars of the curriculum. Students will work through a wide variety of mediums. They will see works of art live with field-trip opportunities offered in the Washington, DC area's nationally recognized museums and galleries.

Students participate in a variety of extra-curricular art activities throughout the DC-metropolitan area including, but not limited to, the Independent School Arts Competition, the Congressional Art Competition sponsored by the House of Representatives, and the Holy Cross Festival of the Arts.

Each year the Visual Arts Department nominates a talented student to participate in the High School Seminar, sponsored by the National Gallery of Art. This is an outstanding opportunity for students to get a behind-the-scenes look at the world of art while at the same time learning more about their passions.

Our Visual Arts faculty are committed to providing opportunities for our students to showcase their talents and share their works with our local community.

Visual Arts Courses

Studio Art I

Students enrolled in Studio Art I (formerly Art Fundamentals) will explore art history, the elements and principles of design, keep an investigative journal, and create artwork in the following areas: drawing, color theory and application, design, painting, mosaic, 3D forms, and craft. Either Studio Art I, Photography I, or Ceramics I may be used to fulfill the graduation requirement for Visual Arts.

Studio Art II

Students will build on experience gained in Studio Art I and have the opportunity to create artworks in a larger variety of drawing and painting mediums, while learning about the techniques, styles, and history of artists and artisans from around the world.

Ceramics I

Students learn and apply the basic techniques involved in preparing clay (wedging) and various hand-building techniques, such as pinch, coil, slab, and drape. They maintain an investigative journal, create sculptural forms, and learn the art of glazing in a variety of ceramic projects. Either Studio Art I, Photography I, or Ceramics I may be used to fulfill the graduation requirement for Visual Arts.

Ceramics II

Students execute advanced techniques in ceramic art, focusing specifically on the techniques of wheel throwing and glazing. Students maintain an investigative journal, apply skills to perfect the technique of throwing on the potter's wheel, and enhance their hand building skills using a variety of clays and glazing techniques.

Photography I

Students will learn the basics of operating a camera and working with Photoshop. They practice black and white and color photo techniques, balance, composition, depth of field, contrast, and design in photography. There will be frequent critical analysis of selected professional photographs, as well as the work of other students. Students will maintain an investigative journal and produce a portfolio of individual prints that demonstrate their experience with a variety of photographic modes of expression. Either Studio Art I, Photography I, or Ceramics I may be used to fulfill the graduation requirement for Visual Arts.

Photography II

Students will expand upon their knowledge photography, the artistic use of digital photographs, and the expressive uses of Photoshop in enhancing and altering digital images. They will maintain an investigative journal and produce several series of prints exploring a single theme.

Graphic Design I

Graphic design is the art of problem solving that blends art and technology together. Students will learn and apply the fundamentals of industry standard software applications (such as Illustrator and Photoshop). Students will be given challenging real-world projects and assignments typical of the graphic design industry. Classroom activities will include research and development, reading, projects, and problem solving. Students will work individually and in groups on assignments and projects. Course evaluation will consist of assignments, projects, quizzes and tests, in addition to oral and written research reports.

Graphic Design II

Graphic Design II builds on the concepts introduced in Graphic Design I. Students will continue to explore the interaction between text and image. They will expand their understanding of visual communication through creative solutions to a series of realistic design problems. Students will continue to investigate contemporary design issues and graphic design history, as a vehicle to develop their own sense of style. In addition, they will expand their proficiency in all aspects of the design process, including brainstorming, conceptualizing, critical thinking, collaboration and presentation. Projects will be completed from concept to print and will incorporate the use of industry standard graphic design software such as Illustrator and Photoshop. Prerequisite: Graphic Design I

IB Visual Arts SL I and II

Students will produce art observation journals that reflect their critical, visual, and written studies to support and inform their studio art work, and to address such issues as the part art plays in the world today, what part emotion and intellect play in art, and the role of the artist in society. Classroom discussion and independent research will place emphasis on themes, content, comparisons to other art forms (drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and ceramics), and historical, social, and cultural influences. Investigation of techniques, and exploration of art from a variety of eras and societies, as well as comparison and interpretation of form, meaning, and context are used to encourage students to come to a broad-minded understanding of the significance of artistic expression to all people. Among topics studied will be the proper uses, imitation, and documentation of references to other people’s artwork and a cautionary explanation of plagiarism as it relates to art. Students will be encouraged and also required to make visits to museums, galleries, and public displays of art throughout their two years as IB Visual Art students. Students in IB Visual Art undertake a comparative study, build a process portfolio, and curate their own exhibition of work.