Upper School
US Curriculum

Visual Arts

Hackley Upper School Visual Arts is a sequential program that begins in the 9th grade with our foundational studio art courses and extends to more advanced courses in a range of disciplines.
All courses emphasize the importance of drawing as the root of all image making, and students work in all disciplines to acquire a sound grasp of essential formal drawing issues, such as composition and design, line, light, space, form, and color. Students learn the intrinsic value of creative activity, and gain the satisfaction and confidence that successful results bring while learning technical skills and proficiency through in-studio projects, hard work and sustained dedication to one’s craft. In our most advanced courses, technical proficiency is understood as a means to a personally creative end, and not as an end in itself.

Visual Arts Courses

List of 13 items.

  • Foundations of Studio Art

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Open to all students.
    This course provides a comprehensive foundation to the visual arts. The objective is to excite students about the breadth of creative exploration while building technical skills and a sense of self as artist. Students study the principles of drawing and design as they experiment with a wide variety of media and methods, including pencil, ink, watercolor, and computer graphics. Through lectures and in-class critiques, students learn about relevant artists and acquire critical skills. Requirements include short, written responses to question sheets, participation in class critiques, and a field trip to Manhattan.
  • Intermediate Studio Art (Major)

    • 6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits
    • Prerequisite: Foundations of Studio Art 811, 3-D Sculpture & Design 822 or permission of the instructor
    This class offers qualified students the opportunity to pursue an exploration of the visual arts with intensity and focus, enabling them to investigate several two-dimensional media, while maintaining an emphasis on drawing skills and on an understanding of composition and design. As they study significant artists and art periods, they will begin to make connections between art and culture, forming an individual sense of style. Students interested in this course should have a strong desire to develop both skills and analytic abilities as they start to see themselves as artists.

    Requirements include weekly sketchbook assignments, long-term projects and in-class critiques. Field trips to Manhattan museums and galleries will take place in both fall and spring semesters.
  • Intermediate Studio Art (Minor)

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Prerequisite: Foundations of Studio Art 811, 3-D Sculpture & Design 822 or permission of the instructor
    This course allows students with prior studio experience the opportunity to continue their investigation of the visual arts. Students will focus on further developing their drawing skills with a range of media, including graphite, charcoal and pastel. Students will also be encouraged to sharpen their perceptual drawing skills through a series of challenging life drawing exercises. In-studio critiques will help students to think and speak confidently about their own work as well as the art around them.

    Requirements include both short and long term art assignments. A field trip to Manhattan will take place in the fall.
  • Advanced Studio Art/Drawing and Painting

    • 6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits
    • Prerequisite: Intermediate Studio Art (Minor) 812, Intermediate Studio Art (Major) 814 or permission of the instructor
    Advanced Studio offers students who are ready to make art a major part of their Upper School experience the chance to further develop their drawing and design skills, as well as deepen their understanding of a full range of formal visual issues. An extensive syllabus of drawing projects will help students build a solid portfolio of formal work, and prepare them for the rigors of AP Studio Art in the senior year. The course places an emphasis on life-drawing, as well as the importance of the critique as a vital tool in the creative process. Students will also be encouraged to work independently on outside assignments, as a means of cultivating their own personal creative interests and vision. Important artists will be presented and discussed throughout the year.

    Requirements include in-studio assignments and a field trip.
  • AP Studio Art/Portfolio (Major)

    • 6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3credits
    • Open to seniors only.
    • Prerequisite: 816 and Mr. Cice’s permission, in the form of his initials on course selection sheet
    AP Studio is intended for students who are seriously interested in the practical experience and study of art. The AP syllabus demands a high level of commitment and performance throughout the year, and is therefore not a course for the casually interested. A rigorous syllabus of in-studio projects, combined with independent “concentration” work, will provide students with an ample body of work from which to assemble a final AP portfolio for submission to the College Board in May. To succeed, portfolios must exhibit a sound grasp and understanding of a full range of formal art issues, as well as an ability to explore more personally creative concepts and directions. A number of museum/gallery excursions will take place during the year, including one overnight trip, and students will have the opportunity to participate in external exhibitions.
  • Three-Dimensional Sculpture & Design

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Open to all students.
    This class emphasizes the translation of two-dimensional ideas to three-dimensional forms as students explore problems in spatial organization. Using a variety of media and techniques, such as clay, wire, sheet metal, and wood, students will respond to a range of sculptural challenges designed to expand the boundaries of possibility. Emphasis is placed on developing skills in creative thinking, problem solving, drawing, and craftsmanship. Requirements include the ability to articulate concepts and ideas while utilizing the “language of art”. Participation in class discussions and critiques enables the students to reflect on their work and artistic development.

    Students are required to attend the field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the fall.
  • Advanced Sculpture and Ceramics

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
    • Prerequisite: 811 or 822 (or permission of the instructor)
    In this course, students will develop their craftsmanship skills while learning to construct models in wood, welding (using an M.I.G. welding machine), cold forging and cutting steel (with the chop saw and plasma cutter). Students may choose to hone their skills in throwing pottery on the electric wheel, building large-scale vessels and constructions with the extruder, and exploring the sculptural qualities of paperclay. Drawing is an essential component of all sculptural project development.

    Students will research contemporary as well as historical art and artists as they develop their personal visual vocabulary. Advanced Sculpture students will
    work towards exhibiting a cohesive body of sculpture in the Upper School Art Show in May. Students may also enter local and national exhibits and competitions throughout the year.

    Requirements include a visit to an exhibition and a written art review, as well as participation in class discussions and critiques. Students who have taken this course may continue their studies in sculpture and design by registering for an independent study with the approval of the instructor, Ms. Coble.
  • Foundations of Photography

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Open to sophomores, juniors, seniors.
    • Prerequisite: 811 or 822 or permission of the instructor
    This course is designed for those who are interested in learning black and white photography. Beginning with a survey of the historical development of photography, students will learn the fundamentals of the medium, from basic camera operation and darkroom techniques to the rules of composition. Through class projects, students will gain a solid understanding of various photographic techniques and learn to use those techniques effectively to express their personal visual ideas. For the first half of the year, students will focus on traditional film method. In the spring, digital photography will be introduced. Students will learn how to use digital cameras as well as manipulate their images in Photoshop. Class critiques and the study of master photographers’ work will help promote discriminating technical and artistic judgment. A manual-option 35mm camera (preferably SLR camera) is required for the first half of the year. Students may use either a point-and-shoot camera or a digital SLR for the second half of the year.
  • Intermediate Photography

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Open to juniors and seniors only.
    • Prerequisite: Foundations of Photography 832 OR permission of the instructor
    As a continuation of Foundations of Photography 832, this course enables students to develop their visual strengths in photography as they sharpen their technical skills. Each class project is designed to target a specific photographic issue of either technical or expressionistic importance. Students will learn new lighting techniques as well as ways in which they may best express their individual ideas. They will also continue to develop their analytical skills as they participate in class critiques and study the work of master photographers.
  • Advanced Photography

    • 6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits
    • Open to juniors and seniors only.
    • Prerequisite: Intermediate Photography 834 or permission of the instructor
    This course is for serious photography students interested in refining their craft and personal vision. Having completed both Foundations and Intermediate level photography courses, each student is expected to produce a body of work that demonstrates both mature technical skills and individual expression. Advanced lighting techniques will be introduced and explored throughout the year. A large portion of the course will be devoted to digital photography. Each student is expected to become proficient in advanced Photoshop techniques.
  • Architecture and Design

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Prerequisite: Foundations of Studio Art 811, or 3-D Sculpture & Design 822, or permission of the instructor
    • Limited enrollment. Preference given to seniors.
    This course introduces students to the world of buildings and their design. Students begin the year with a variety of mechanical and schematic drawing exercises or “puzzles,” designed to teach them how to visualize complex architectural forms in space. Students will also become familiar with a range of architectural tools and techniques, as they learn to confidently draft fundamental design elements such as plans, sections, and elevations. In the final trimester, students will have the opportunity to design and draft a full set of plans for an original structure of their own conception, as well as construct a scaled model of their building. Throughout the year, as a means of cultivating a deeper appreciation for the role of architecture in society, the storied history of architecture will be presented and discussed. A full-day field trip into Manhattan is scheduled for the spring.
  • Introduction to Filmmaking

    • 3 meetings per seven-day cycle/2 credits
    • Prerequisite: Intermediate Studio Art (812 or 814) or Architecture and Design 842, or special permission of the instructor
    This is a production-oriented course that guides students on a step-by-step exploration of the fundamentals of filmmaking, including brainstorming short film ideas, script writing, character development, storyboarding, animatic creation, directing and cinematography essentials, picture editing, sound design, and titles/credits. After a short overview of cinema and animation history, students begin production of a short film of approximately 10 to 20 minutes in length. Grouped in teams, students will brainstorm, write, direct, shoot, and edit a short film that emphasizes a strong story structure. Teams will be encouraged to share these key responsibilities to give each group member a first-hand understanding of the filmmaking process. With permission of the instructor, some students may work on shorter solo film projects. Video camera basics will be covered to allow students to take full advantage of the camera’s tools to further enhance a film’s aesthetic quality and creative potential. Students may choose to explore their artistic visions by making films of any genre, including fiction, non-fiction, animated, live-action, music-themed, documentary, comedy, drama, etc. Throughout the year, students will be introduced to various professionals in the field who will advise them on their conceptual, pre-production and post-production phases of their films.
  • Independent Study: Visual Arts

    • 2 credits/meetings to be arranged with instructor.
    For students with a focused interest in pursuing a specific idea that does not fall within the scope of the above course descriptions (whether three-dimensional design, photography, studio art, or ceramics), the option of individual instruction is available. Students should present a carefully considered proposal to the Department Head for approval.