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Upper School Classes

Visual Arts

The visual arts expose students to creative work from many different cultures, and they are an essential educational experience for all students. By developing skills in visual language and creative exploration, a student is encouraged to become a more accurate and sensitive observer of herself and the world around her.
Skills in art, as in all other disciplines, are learned through instruction, practice, and experience. With time and effort, all students are able to produce work of increasingly high quality. Courses are taught at the beginning to the advanced levels, offering strong sequences for portfolio preparation for college admission. The program is enriched by trips to museums, lectures by visiting artists, and exhibits in the Dana Hall Art Gallery.

Visual Arts Classes

List of 14 items.

  • Studio Art

    This foundation course is the prerequisite for all visual arts elective courses. The primary goal of the course is to encourage and increase visual awareness. Seeing is perhaps the most powerful and complicated of the senses and the primary source of information we gain about the world beyond us. Since drawing develops the skills of seeing, the course begins with basic observation and the drawing of three-dimensional forms and spaces. Students study composition and the visual language of advertising through design projects that are often based on design traditions from other cultures. Color theory and painting complete the course, and additional projects may include printmaking and clay or wire sculpture.
  • Drawing and Painting I

    This course is designed for students interested in learning how to draw and paint in a ‘realistic’ manner. Through class exercises and extended projects, students strengthen their drawing skills through direct observation of natural and inorganic objects, focusing on proportion and spatial relationships. A variety of wet and dry media is then introduced to expand the students’ understanding of form and tone through shading. Painting projects in watercolor, gouache, and acrylics are then introduced as students explore composition, color relationships, expression, and the further representation of three-dimensional form.
  • Drawing and Painting II/III

    This course is offered to intermediate and advanced art students. In Drawing and Painting II, students continue the art of drawing and painting with an emphasis on the refinement of skills and the development of content. Through a combination of observational, expressive, and conceptual approaches, students explore a variety of wet and dry media, including conte, graphite, watercolor, and oil. Regular critiques allow students to examine their own work and explore visual language. Drawing and Painting III encourages individual development of personal imagery. Students focus on an in-depth study of drawing or painting within the classroom setting and work individually with the teacher to develop a theme or topic that they explore through a series of works. This course includes regular in-class critiques. Students learn how to prepare and submit a portfolio for college admission.
  • Exploring Design I

    This course is for students who are interested in exploring the fundamentals of design and how they relate to problem solving in graphic design, advertising, fashion design, and computer graphics. No previous experience is necessary. Projects vary and students explore the principles of design and visual elements using hands-on materials and computer graphics programs, such as Photoshop and inDesign. They also work on product and fashion design projects, including garment design, construction, and illustration. During Trimester II, students study publication design, and as a culminating project they create fully illustrated portfolio catalogs of their work from the entire year that are professionally printed.
  • Exploring Design II/III

    This course is offered to students who wish to continue their study of design and concentrate within a specific field. Students focus in-depth on one of the following: fashion design, graphic design, product design, illustration, or computer graphics. Problem solving, documentation, field-specific methods and techniques, and contemporary and historical styles are explored. Students work on a variety of projects within their area of study and create a portfolio of work (or for fashion students, a “collection”), that is documented in a professionally printed portfolio catalog designed by each student. Exploring Design III students continue their exploration of their chosen field and design an independent program based on their specific interests.
  • Ceramics I

    In Ceramics I, students begin their ceramics education by learning the basic rules and techniques of working with clay. Students are introduced to the fundamentals of hand-building with a focus on pinch, coil, and slab methods of construction. Students also learn to throw and trim small vessels on the wheel, and they cover the basics of high-fire and low-fire glazing. They have the opportunity to express their individual style within the guidelines of the assigned projects.
  • Ceramics II/III

    As students continue their education in ceramics, they build upon their knowledge of clay and further explore the various methods of glazing. They work to refine their hand-building and throwing techniques to make both functional and sculptural pieces. Attention to detail and aesthetic quality play a significant role in the creation of each piece. Students have the opportunity to challenge themselves in new and inventive ways with each project. Ceramics III students may propose and design an independent project of their choice using a combination of learned techniques.
  • Architecture I

    In this course, students learn the basics of architectural planning. Emphasis is placed on the creative exploration of ideas and on concepts including, function, form, scale, and spatial relationships. Projects involve planning an ideal personal space and designing a modern wing on a traditional building chosen from a list that reflects many different cultures. Students learn the fundamentals of architectural drawing, and reference is made to architectural traditions of the past and present. In the second half of the year, students design and build a model of their environmentally-conscious “Dream House.”
  • Architecture II/III

    This course allows students who have taken Architecture I to continue their work in architectural planning. Projects are determined by student interest, but involve both drawings and a model. Previous projects have included landscape design, a plan for a future building on campus, a design for a community, an interior design converting a garage into an apartment, and a design for a business. In the second half of the year, projects are developed using ArchiCAD, a computer-aided design program. The development of ideas, close work with the instructor, and group discussion are all part of the process.
  • ArtLAB

    The goal of this hands-on studio course is to create work inspired by the art of the 21st century. Students with various interests, from sculpture and painting to filmmaking and public art, work on individually chosen themes in a class where the emphasis is on the development of ideas and experimentation with materials. Large-scale murals, found-object sculptures, and installation art are just a few examples of possible collaborative and individual projects that may be undertaken, in addition to new approaches in painting, sculpture, and photography. Students develop their own projects based on their personal interests from a wide range of starting points, including, for instance, related to global issues and social justice, science and nature, and music and dance. Students also work with Artists-in-Residence in the Dana Art Gallery, as well as with other visiting artists. Filmmaking is a key part of the course as students interested in film create documentary films based on the process and development of projects over the course of the year.
  • Photography I

    This beginning-level course is for students with an interest in exploring photography as an expressive medium of visual communication. Students build a strong foundation in creative work in both color and black-and-white photography through an exploration of digital-imaging techniques and an introduction to the basic methods and controls of Adobe Photoshop software. While creative work is focused in the digital lab, the history of film and darkroom photography is also introduced. Interpretive assignments help students explore aesthetic and technical aspects of the medium and how to use the camera as a highly personal seeing tool. The fundamentals of 35mm camera operations, learning how to interpret differing lighting situations and principles of exposure controls, composition, framing and point of view are taught. Students are exposed to the work of many photographers and introduced to the medium’s history.
  • Photography II/III

    This course explores more extensively both the aesthetic and technical dimensions of the medium with an emphasis on the visual language of photography. Photography II/III is designed to focus on the development of each student’s personal vision and unique photographic voice through a series of exercises, self-assigned projects, independent work, and class discussions. This advanced course is aimed towards further exploration of the relationship between image-making and context through a deeper understanding of contemporary practices and the history of photography. Critical issues are examined through individualized assignments, indepth projects, class presentations, lectures, and more advanced technical skills. The course is designed for students who have achieved competence in manual camera operations and working with digital capture cameras. Color photography is taught through the use of digital-capture cameras and Adobe Photoshop software. Additional approaches to photography, such as text/image, collage/montage, appropriation, and series and sequence, are introduced. Individual approaches to assignments are stressed.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Art History

    This AP course is an in-depth study of the major achievements in the field of visual arts from pre-history to the present and from a variety of cultures. Art is one of the earliest and most significant of human activities. The impulse to make art has given us a window into centuries-old cultures, as well as a mirror into ourselves. The goal of this course is to enrich the students’ understanding of the roles of art and architecture and their impact on cultural advancement and cultural expression, both past and present. While AP Art History does not assume prior related coursework, it does require a high degree of commitment to academic work with significant independent preparation through extensive reading, writing, and analysis of visual art. Readings, essay writing, oral reports, projects, and required field trips to local cultural institutions encourage students to investigate movements or artists that interest them. Students who have done well in other courses in the humanities, such as history and literature, or in any of the studio arts, are especially encouraged to enroll. Students are required to take the AP exam in May.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Studio Art

    This course is intended for highly-motivated students committed to the serious study of art. Throughout the year, students prepare a portfolio in two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, or drawing, and their work is submitted to the AP program in May. The portfolio includes a minimum of 29 works of art that are assessed in three categories: quality, breadth, and concentration. Art projects and assignments are determined by the requirements of each student's portfolio with the consideration of the artwork she completed prior to enrolling in the course. AP Studio Art does not count as a fourth major but does count as a fifth major.

Upper School Classes


List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Michael Frassinelli

    Michael Frassinelli 

    Department Head
  • Photo of Lindsey Hendricks

    Lindsey Hendricks 

    Visual Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Mary Ann McQuillan

    Mary Ann McQuillan 

    US Visual Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Kathleen Teng

    Kathleen Teng 

    US Visual Arts Teacher

List of 3 items.

  • Area Studies Symposium

    Favorite Assignment
  • Blue Key Club

    Favorite Activity
  • Middle Eastern Studies

    Favorite Class

List of 1 items.

  • Caroline

    "Middle Eastern Studies has been my favorite Dana Hall class because both the teacher and the discussions always kept me engaged and excited to learn more."