The Masters School’s visual arts program invites all students into the practice of using discovery, experimentation, risk-taking, critical thinking and collaboration as a means to engage visually. Through experiences and ideas; using a variety of materials, tools and techniques; and by creating strands of learning from grades 5 through 12, we encourage respect, perseverance and responsibility in learning and developing new ways of seeing, speaking and knowing.

The goal of the visual arts program is to have students develop the creativity, imagination and necessary technical skills to practice art as a vital means of communication in our highly visual culture, in communities both local and global. We have a faculty of practicing artist educators and New York City readily available as a primary resource.

Middle School

The Middle School visual arts program provides a creative environment in which students explore visual communication in two-and three-dimensional forms. They gain hands-on experience with a broad range of materials and techniques while working on projects designed to develop craft as well as cognitive skills related to thematic grade-level investigations.
Students work in a variety of artistic disciplines including drawing, painting, photography and sculpture, and they learn and use the elements and principles of design as they explore their creative potential. The students keep art journals to monitor their progress throughout the year, and assessments are based on effort rather than ability level. Our goal is for our visual arts students to develop and expand their artistic voice while gaining a better understanding of self and their relationship and responsibility to the world community.

Middle School Courses

List of 4 items.

  • Fifth Grade

    Students begin their year working on drawing skills in a variety of media. In-class art projects include studies in line, shape and value. Subject matter ranges from still life to figure drawing and self-portraits. Drawing assignments continue throughout the year in which students are to draw real three-dimensional objects as well as subjects from their imagination. Students visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art to explore the ancient Egyptian art and Greek art halls. A yearlong, collaborative project follows, incorporating visual art with history, creative writing and music. Students write scripts on ancient cultures in their humanities classes and transform their scripts into an opera in music class. In their visual arts class, they create rod puppets of their characters as well as backdrops and props. They then rehearse for their performance. This interdisciplinary project allows students to explore a variety of media in the visual arts while learning various skills and techniques along the way. Areas of art explored, but not limited to, are: art history, design, drawing, color theory, painting, sculpting, sewing and performance with puppets. At the end of the school year, the students perform their original puppet opera for their parents and teachers.
  • Sixth Grade

    Sixth grade students begin their year developing drawing skills in a variety of media. Drawing assignments continue throughout the year in which students are to draw real three-dimensional objects as well as subjects from their imagination. Subject matter ranges from still life to figure drawing and self-portraits. To enhance their grade-level thematic focus on the Hudson River Valley, students study the Hudson River School of Art by taking a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art American Wing or the Hudson River Museum. Here, they are able to experience actual paintings made by the landscape artists of the mid to late 1800s. Back in the studio, the students create their own watercolor landscapes inspired by these artists. Other projects students have explored include the creation of a hand-sewn quilt while studying American folk art, designing a presentation for a site-specific sculpture at the Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park, or becoming an expert on one of the many fishes found in the Hudson River and then making a to-scale fish puppet. 
  • Seventh Grade

    During the first trimester, students learn one-point perspective and how to draw common geometric forms in perspective (such as the cube, the cylinder and the sphere.) In the second trimester, the class focuses on design, function, development and team work. In a collaborative effort, students design an object using the forms studied in the first trimester. They create sketches and drawings, write a description or an artist statement, and finally, build a sculpture or a prototype of the object. Each team is assessed on its ability to manage tasks and conflicts within the group, and its ability to create an inclusive and harmonious group. During the third trimester, the students make paintings with acrylic paint. We ask students to think about who they are and what lives within themselves that they wish to express. The style of the paintings may be surreal, abstract or representational. Throughout the school year, seventh grade students create a visual journal of their learning experience at school.
  • Eighth Grade

    Students begin their year developing drawing skills in a variety of media. In-class art projects include studies in line, shape and value. Subject matter ranges from still life to figure drawing and self-portraits. In the fall, students also study photography. They take a class trip to Philadelphia, capturing images at historic sites that have thoughtful content and composition in a triptych format. Back in the classroom, they create a 30-second video presentation using their photos and music. They then write artist statements to explain their work as it relates to their yearlong theme of American identity. Eighth graders also learn how to use one-and two-point perspective drawing techniques to give the illusion of depth to their drawings. They first learn that linear perspective was devised during the Italian Renaissance. Using the same rules as the master artists of that time, students practice drawing landscapes and cities, and then interior spaces. The final project is to design and draw a room that they would like to spend time in that is rendered in one-and two-point perspective. Finally, a collaboration with arts and humanities occurs in the last portion of the year. Students divide into rock band groups in their music class. In visual arts they learn to brand their music group by creating a band logo, a concert poster, an album cover and a group band photo. The year culminates with the students curating and displaying their visual artworks in an Eighth Grade Arts Expo. The student bands also perform their original rock songs, poetry and other original works at this event.

Visual Arts News

List of 20 news stories.

  • Wrapping Up the Year With Artistic Flair

    Outstanding exhibits of artwork that showcase the vast range of creative talent within the upper school and middle school communities are currently on view.
  • Photo on left by Corinne Furniss ’23; photo on right by Nicole Degelman ’23

    A Lesson in Technique Makes a Splash

    Call it photobombing of another sort. This week, Photo 2 students put their technical skills to the test with water balloon-popping fun on the quad.
  • Student Photography Zine Gets Candid

    When Frank Yang ’22 approached a cab driver on the streets of Shanghai to speak to him and take his photo, he knew he had to capture that moment.
  • Designing a Green Space for All

    With its 96 acres, The Masters School campus has provided plenty of inspiration for ninth and tenth grade architecture students as they design imagined outdoor campus parks. 
  • Fifth Grade Puppeteers Ready For Their Close-Up

    Feeling like Hollywood royalty, fifth graders walked the red carpet at the Claudia Boettcher Theatre for a special viewing of Julie Taymor’s Metropolitan Opera production of “The Magic Flute” on Wednesday, May 26. 
  • Meaningful Art for All To See

    Artistic expression is on full display in the Middle School. Students in Vicente Saavedra’s seventh grade art classes are sprucing up the walls of temporary classrooms on campus by creating big and bold wall murals.
  • Photography Student Focuses on Giving Back

    One day it just clicked for Charlie Cooper ’23: He should use his art for good. “Having photography as my passion and a love for community service, I thought it would be a great idea to start a club where I could connect with younger kids and give them this opportunity,” the sophomore explained.
  • Sixth Graders Learn to Think Like Artists

    Sixth graders didn’t have to travel far for artistic inspiration this week. On Friday, April 9, young artists scouted out possible locations for imagined outdoor sculptures in the Eldridge Family Woods near the Greene Family Field track. 
  • Creativity and Talent on Display

    Inspiration struck Skyla Case ’21 while on a trip to Union Square in New York City. She “sat down on a park bench and drew for eight hours and came back the next day and did six more.”
  • Photo by Haoqing (Sunny) Shi ’22

    Impactful Image Earns Prestigious Nod

    Sharing her message through art has paid off for photography student Haoqing (Sunny) Shi ’22. A towering construction site near her home inspired Shi to snap a prizewinning image emblazoned with the word “Awaken.”
  • Junior Earns Honors for Artwork

    When Advanced Studio Art student Christopher Shim ’22 noticed people around him going through difficult times this year, he decided expressing himself through art was a way to be “a small power for good.”
  • Photo by Charlie Cooper ’23

    Student Photos Selected for Elite Exhibit

    From more than 2000 submissions by more than 770 high school students across the country, four Masters students - Rachel Schwartz ’21, Charlie Cooper ’23, Niamh Fortuna’ 23, and Ava Bashew ’23 - had their photographs selected to be included in the annual Drexel University High School Photography Exhibition.
  • Painting by Sage Weinstock ’24

    Student Art Exhibit Is Online and On View

    If you are looking for something to do during the holiday break, you may want to take a stroll through some virtual galleries filled with the stellar artwork of ninth and tenth grade Studio Art Major students. 
  • Student Snapshot is a Global Winner

    Being stuck inside during the pandemic in May forced George Chang ’22 to get creative. His ingenuity earned him an honorable mention in the prestigious global contest for the International Photography Awards (IPA) with his bright and eye-catching entry in the student competition category. 
  • A Local Legend Sets the Scene

    Upper school media arts teacher David Becker didn’t travel far for inspiration when he assigned a recent animation class project.
  • Photo by Charlie Cooper ’23

    Winning Photo Captures Nature’s Wonder and Global Spotlight

    A father-son camping trip to Yellowstone National Park in September provided a picture-perfect moment for budding photographer Charlie Cooper ’23. 
  • The fifth grade's ancient Egyptian god and goddess puppets.

    Fifth Grade Presents Delightful Puppet Opera

    The fifth grade’s yearlong interdisciplinary study of ancient Egypt and opera culminated in an impressive puppet opera — performed via prerecorded video — on Monday, June 1.
  • The fifth grade's completed puppets, which the students worked on over the course of the year.

    Explore Masters Artists’ Work

    Using virtual galleries, middle and upper school students are proudly displaying the colorful, innovative and powerful artworks they created over the course of the year.
  • Artists Document the Passing of Time With Sketches

    Every day can feel quite similar under stay-at-home orders, but for students in Studio Art Major, the routine of daily life has become an inspiration.
  • “Humans of Masters” Documents School Community Members

    A medley of familiar faces currently adorns the Wenberg Gallery on the third floor of the Fonseca Center.

The Masters School