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 children 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.
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. Weekly drawing assignments continue throughout the year where students are to draw three- dimensional objects as well as from their imagination. Students visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to explore the ancient Egyptian and Greek Halls. A yearlong collaborative project then pursues that incorporates 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 year-long, 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 put on their original puppet opera for their parents and teachers.
Sixth grade students begin their year developing drawing skills in a variety of media. Subject matter ranges from still-life to figure drawing and self-portraits. Weekly drawing assignments continue throughout the year where students are to draw three-dimensional objects as well as subjects from their imagination. 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 MET Museum American Wing. Here they are able to experience actual paintings made by the landscape artists of the mid-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, and becoming an expert on one of the many fish found in the Hudson river and then making a to-scale fish puppet. The students then make a video depicting an underwater environment of the Hudson River.
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. The second trimester the class focuses on design, function, development, and team work. In a collaborative effort, the students design an object using the forms studied 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 their ability to manage tasks, conflicts within the group, and their ability to create an inclusive and harmonious group. During the third trimester, the students make paintings with acrylic paint. We ask the students to think about who they are and what lives within themselves that they wish to express. The subject of the paintings may be surreal, abstract, or representational. Throughout the school year, the Seventh Grade students create a visual journal of their learning experience at school. For homework, each week students create a drawing and a description of a topic of their choice that relates to what they are studying at school. Towards the end of the third trimester, students collect their visual journals and bind them into a hard-cover book.
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. Weekly drawing assignments continue throughout the year where students are to draw three-dimensional objects as well as objects from their imagination. 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 learned that Linear Perspective was devised during the Italian Renaissance. Using the same rules as the Master Artists of that time, students practiced drawing landscapes and cities, and then interior spaces. The final project is to design and draw a room in one and two-point perspective that they would like to spend time in. Finally, a collaboration with Arts and Humanities occurs in the last portion of the year where the students divide into rock band groups in their music class. In visual arts students 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.