Upper School Academic Departments

Visual Arts

Two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) studio course work builds upon the fundamental artistic skills and expressions explored in earlier grades. Students are introduced to a variety of media, techniques, and processes that foster imagination and creativity, stimulate observation, and heighten analytical thinking skills. Students are equipped with the appropriate tools to translate individual ideas into personal visual expressions.

The arts curriculum inspires and empowers students to develop a visual language. All work is displayed in exhibit spaces and school publications within the community as recognition of artistic achievements.
  • Basic 2D Studio Art

    Grades 9-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    This course is a comprehensive introduction to drawing, painting, and digital design. Art history, criticism, and aesthetics are included. Higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, problem solving ,and evaluation are emphasized. Projects are designed to aid in acquisition and development of basic observational skills. Emphasis is placed on the basic elements of line, color, value, form, space, and composition through the use of a variety of media: graphite, charcoal, watercolor, collage, and printing methods. Brief lectures, demonstrations, slides, sketchbooks, and written reflections are used to develop course content.
  • Printmaking

    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    Grades 9–12
    Prerequisite: Basic 2D Studio Art
    This course offers an introduction to printmaking techniques: relief printing, lithography, and digital screen-printing. Students will gain comprehensive skills in stamping, stenciling, mixed-media, color printing, and multiple-layer printing. Higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis, problem solving, and evaluation will be emphasized throughout this course. A student’s performance is evaluated by completion of all projects in the specified time, process-documentation, effort, quality, and creativity of artwork produced.
  • Intermediate 2D Art

    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Basic 2D Studio Art
    This course continues to emphasize the elements and principles of design and their conscious application. Students consider the unique linear characteristics of the drawing medium combined with an array of surfaces and materials from which to choose. A variety of materials are explored such as graphite, charcoal, ink, chalk-pastel, watercolor, acrylic, oil paint, oil pastels, and digital design. This course gives students the opportunity to find their own solutions within a wide range of drawing and painting media. Instruction emphasizes design, composition, creativity, originality and increased technical competence. Student performance is evaluated by technical growth and development, process-documentation, effort, quality, and creativity of artwork produced.
  • Beginning Ceramics

    Grades 9-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    Students will learn the art and science of clay in this course. They will explore clay sources and the accessibility of clay as a resource both locally, on our campus, and globally. Students will be introduced to a unique tradition in the basic construction process of working with clay through Peruvian ceramics techniques, which will expose them to the fundamental hand building processes of slab and coil building. Projects will expose students to a range of creative and craftsmanship skills.
  • Intermediate Ceramics

    Grades 9-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Beginning Ceramics
    This course builds and expands on the skills taught in Beginning Ceramics and introduces a variety of clay bodies including porcelain and terra cotta. The use of ceramic decals and cone 6 glazes provide further opportunities to investigate unique creative expression. Students engage in aesthetic critiques and technical analysis. Collaborative peer discussion is an integral part of the course.
  • Advanced Ceramics

    Grades 10-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    Prerequisite: Intermediate Ceramics
    This advanced exploration of clay demands the execution of more technically challenging processes and conceptually defining creative expressions in clay. Thematic and interpretive visual narratives inspire and direct student production. Innovative techniques of paper clay and printing on clay are introduced, and students learn the Raku firing process.
  • Wood, Stone and Metal Sculpture

    Grades 9-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    Class size limited to 10
    This 3D studio arts class explores the various tools and materials used to create sculpture. Using wood, steel, plaster, and stone, students will learn how to manipulate these materials and use the elements and principles of art to sculpt. They will study and learn to analyze other sculptures through readings, field trips, discussions, and group critiques. By examining geometric, abstract, representational, and organic forms, students will design and craft their artwork.
  • The Science of Art - The Intersection of Materials and Practice

    Grades 10-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    Spring Semester Only
    This course will focus on scientific inquiry into materials used in artmaking. In-class experiences will address the basic scientific composition and biogenic origins of art materials and the artistic application of our handmade materials in three disciplines: drawing, painting, and pottery. Course content will bridge a series of lab investigations with studio practice. This course will culminate in a capstone project demonstrating students’ full appreciation of how the science behind the materials impacts our personal expression and final work.
  • Graphic Design

    Grades 10-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: ½ credit
    This course offers an introduction to basic design problems using professional graphics software: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Premiere Pro. Students explore and apply principles of visual literacy to produce content relevant to today’s global, multimedia society. Students are taught industry-relevant technical skills and have the opportunity to work with a variety of technology, including digital cameras, design software, and editing tools. Students design, print, and present professional-grade images. Students also have the option to translate these images onto fabric using digital screen printing techniques.
  • Advanced 2D Art

    Grades 11-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: 1 credit
    Prerequisites: One year of Visual Arts courses and departmental approval
    This course is specifically designed for serious, productive, and dedicated students who want to explore in depth two-dimensional media techniques such as drawing, painting, printmaking, and digital design. Instruction emphasizes design, composition, creativity, originality, and increased technical competence. Higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis, problem solving, and evaluation will be emphasized throughout this course. A student’s performance is evaluated by completion of all projects in the specified time, process-documentation, effort, quality, and creativity of artwork produced.
  • Advanced 3D Art

    Grades 11-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: 1 credit
    Prerequisites: One year of Visual Arts courses and departmental approval
    This course is specifically designed for serious, productive, dedicated students who want to explore in depth three-dimensional art through the use of a variety of materials, which can include cardboard, plaster gauze, wire, and more. Extensive material investigations and alternative sculptural approaches such as performance art, site specific installation, and the use of digital media will be encouraged. A student’s performance is evaluated on completion of all projects in the specified time, a written artist statement, effort, quality, and creativity of artwork produced.
  • AP Studio Art: 2D

    Grades 11–12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: 1 credit
    Prerequisites: Successful completion of Advanced Art and portfolio submitted for departmental approval
    The AP program in Studio Art is intended for highly motivated students who are seriously interested in the study of art. This course has been developed to accommodate students who have expressed an interest in completing either the AP Studio Art: Drawing Portfolio Exam or the AP Studio Art: 2D Design Portfolio. Through direct teacher instruction, emphasis will be placed on the production of a volume of quality pieces of artwork. Students will address all three sections of the portfolio: Breadth, Concentration, and Quality. Students will develop and demonstrate mastery of concept, composition, and execution of their personal ideas and themes through drawing and/or 2D design.
  • AP Studio Art: 3D

    Grades 11-12
    Four Times a Week with one Block period: 1 credit
    Prerequisites: Successful completion of Advanced Ceramics and portfolio submitted for departmental approval
    This course addresses a broad interpretation of sculptural issues in depth and space. Elements and concepts such as mass, volume, form, plane, light, and texture may be articulated through additive, subtractive, and fabrication processes. A variety of approaches to representation, abstraction, and expression may be part of the student’s portfolio, such as traditional sculpture, architectural models, ceramics, 3D wood projects, or assemblage. A slide portfolio of 24 slides is required and must be submitted to the AP Committee at the completion of the course.
  • smART Team

    smART team is an afterschool, community service, visual art-based program.  Students work from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm on a variety of art projects to help our school community and local organizations with a focus on global issues.  The class is taken on a pass/fail basis and is counted as a PE Reduction for each quarter that it is taken.

Department Faculty

  • Katherine Elkins

    Visual Arts Department Chair, Upper School Visual Arts Teacher
    703-212-2930
    George Washington University, Corcoran College of Art - Master of Arts
    Savannah College of Art + Design - Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • Joseph Wade

    Upper School Visual Arts Teacher (3D Art)
    703-212-2864
JK-12 coed Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia

Campuses

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    Grades: JK-5
    400 Fontaine Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22302
  • Middle School

    Grades: 6-8
    4401 West Braddock Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304
  • Upper School

    Grades: 9-12
    1000 St. Stephen's Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304