By studying different artistic traditions, students become aware of the cultural contexts that inform perception and imagination and begin to see their own work in context. Artists, movements, and cultures that are relevant to studio projects and interdisciplinary themes are studied. Museum trips and visits by artists are scheduled when appropriate.
In conjunction with the UNIS Media Lab animation, web design and video production courses are also available. Our full-time staff has extensive experience in art education, and our teachers are also practicing artists who have exhibited their work nationally and internationally. The art rooms at UNIS are full of natural light and the atmosphere is open and relaxing. Students frequently find their way back to the art studios during free periods or at the end of the day to continue working on their own projects or art related events.
Skills in design, drawing, creative process, problem solving, special techniques, and cultural research are structured to enable students to direct their imaginative efforts and learn from tradition. Students respond to class projects and interdisciplinary themes with different strategies and personal inspiration. Work is done individually, in small groups, and occasionally as a class. Students maintain portfolios and sketchbooks to help them retain knowledge and techniques learned and become aware of their choices and interests. Digital portfolios assist teachers in assessing students' progress during the course and at the end of each semester.
The Junior School Art program is designed to stimulate visual awareness, to provide a variety of experiences with materials and tools and to introduce the language of art making to young children. It assumes that young artists gain the confidence to express themselves naturally when given the opportunity to explore, to practice skills, and to try out new ideas in a supportive environment. For the early years, the emphasis in teaching is placed on building a broad foundation that will provide each child with the meaningful experiences needed to make informed decisions in creative work.
Middle School students focus on drawing and design concepts as well as special techniques in painting, graphics, and sculpture. Students use developmental sketchbooks along with their studio work. The sketchbooks help build an understanding of art as an investigation in ideas, process, connections to different traditions, and art vocabulary. A digital portfolio is also begun in Middle One and continues through the student’s art program. This portfolio enables students and teachers to become more aware of progress, strengths, and tendencies over time. It provides appropriate exemplars for assessment and a record for the student.
In the Tutorial House, students are required to complete one year of credit for graduation through elective courses. Art Dimensions and Drawing are the two studio courses. Students who want to build a portfolio for art schools are encouraged to take the advanced drawing class. Students who want to work in a range of other media from traditional studio techniques to computer graphics take the Art Dimensions course. Students who want to focus exclusively on digital media take Media Lab electives. Photography is offered as a non-credit course in the after-school program.
In the two-year International Baccalaureate program, students work with considerable independence on portfolios that form the beginning of a personal artistic direction. Extensive investigation into artistic traditions that are relevant to a student’s direction is required. Aesthetic education, cultural and historical contexts, and gallery visits become an important part of this process. At the end of the two years, students present their work for internal assessment by the IB teachers and external assessment by trained IB examiners. In the spring, IB students exhibit their studio work and research for the UNIS community.
On the completion of the three semester IB Art program students exhibit a selection of projects from portfolios that they have been developing since the beginning of T3. The organization and presentation of their work in the school hallways and on the available display surfaces is a problem they consider with a partner and their teacher.
IB Art students are expected to develop fully independent work in different media in conjunction with research on relevant artists and cultural contexts. Students may work with any of the traditional art media as well as computer graphics, digital photography, and film. The student’s Investigation Workbook is an essential companion and tool for self-guidance in aesthetic decisions and analytical reflections on their projects, the artists and cultures that influence their ideas. These books are available for public review at the exhibition reception in April.