Explore our Curriculum

Visual Arts

The visual arts program at Groton provides students with various learning opportunities and experiences to acquire the skills necessary to understand and appreciate the arts. A studio-based learning approach lies at the core of Groton’s arts curriculum, emphasizing the importance of student inquiry, individual and collaborative work-ethic, and experiential learning. Teachers aim to teach socially conscious and culturally relevant lessons that promote and prioritize personal narrative and voice, student agency, and self-expression. Projects are designed to enable students to address important issues through their work, challenge student thinking, and encourage students to see things from multiple perspectives. Students can expect to study and analyze historical and contemporary artists’ works from different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. The visiting artist program allows students to work and learn alongside professional artists from various artistic disciplines. In the Art Center, students can immerse themselves in a wide range of classes such as photography, video, design, ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed-media art, woodworking, and advanced studio art. The visual arts program prepares students to be worldly, empathetic, thoughtful citizens and provides them the knowledge necessary to strive in our global society.

All Second Formers spend three terms exploring different art forms: visual arts, drama, and music. Third Formers may select from various disciplines such as Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, Art and Design, Theater, or half-credit music lessons as their required half-credit arts course. In Upper School, all students take a minimum of three credits of art in any discipline(s) to fulfill their art requirements.
  • 3D Sculpture and Integrated Practices (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. In this introductory three-dimensional course, students will explore a variety of hands-on materials including but not limited to: found objects/recyclables, plaster, wood, and clay. A diverse range of historical and contemporary artists from different backgrounds who have inspired the medium of sculpture or are redefining it today, will be explored. Projects will be conceptual and technical in nature, and will be informed by the resources and materials explored in class. Socially and culturally relevant topics will be addressed through different assignments. Students will learn the importance of space as it relates to sculpture and will have opportunities to create site-specific and outdoor installations. School-wide visiting artist events, along with trips to the local museums, will supplement the learning.
  • Advanced Drawing (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers.Prerequisite: Drawing course or previous drawing experience supported with a portfolio. Students will continue with the process of learning how to “see” by drawing from observation. Subject matter will become more complex in nature and other drawing concepts will be explored such as analytic drawing, life drawing, perspective drawing, emotive drawing, narrative drawing, imaginary/fantasy drawing, etc. We will investigate the development of style through the study of both the old masters and contemporary artists. There will be an emphasis on discovering the “tricks” of drawing and how to make things look real. Assignments are conceptual in nature and explore a variety of themes that allow students to develop their own concepts and ideas. Discussions and critiques will accompany studio activity to help students develop a visual language. Enrollment is limited to eight students.
     
  • Advanced Painting (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite: Painting course or previous painting experience supported with a portfolio. Students will begin first by exploring mixed media with art and will spend the term focusing on a specific concept with a paint medium of choice. Works completed will be displayed in various locations around the Circle as students develop an understanding for presenting their work in a professional setting.
     
  • Advanced Portfolio (Y)

    This is a course for upper school students who have shown artistic proficiency and an interest in submitting an AP portfolio in 2-D Art and Design, 3-D Art and Design, or Drawing. In the media of choice, a student will investigate materials, processes, and ideas, making works of art and design by practicing, experimenting, and revising. Students will communicate their artistic voice through their visual expressions while documenting their work process and artistic journey. Each student will have a complete portfolio which will include fifteen pieces of a sustained investigation of an idea, concept, or working style, and five pieces of selected works that are technically strong and highlight one's artistic vision, and they will submit the portfolio for AP review in May. Students will learn and utilize safe studio practices and should understand the time commitment beyond class. Permission from the instructor is required.
  • Advanced Printmaking (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite: Printmaking or previous printmaking experience supported with a portfolio. Students will be introduced to intaglio, monotype, and silkscreening, while having the chance to focus on creating an edition series based on a specific printmaking technique of their choice. Printing surfaces will include handmade paper, fabrics, and even sculptural application. Enrollment is limited to ten students.
     
  • Advanced Studio Art (Y)

    Open to Sixth and Fifth Formers. Prerequisite: approval from the department. This year-long advanced course is for students who are interested in preparing pieces for a portfolio according to college and university standards. Students will work independently to create artworks surrounding a chosen concept, showcasing a strong range of artistic techniques, methods, and materials. Areas of focus for the student may include drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, or interdisciplinary art. Students will be well-prepared for the application process by the end of this course with a range of artworks to include in their portfolio.
  • Art and Design (Y)

    This is a Third Form year-long course that incorporates a broad range of technical and conceptual skills necessary for visual communication. A wide variety of materials and artistic methods will be introduced, and emphasis will be placed on exploratory thinking and visual problem-solving. Through hands-on experiences with a variety of art materials, students will learn the basic vocabulary of two- and three-dimensional design, and color theory. Discussions, various media, critiques, and a culturally and ethnically diverse community of visiting artists will complement studio activity to help students understand the historical, cultural, and contemporary context in which art is created.
  • Art Exploration (F)

    This is a Second Form visual arts course, exposing students to the elements and principles of design through various materials and techniques. References to "master" artists from art history and contemporary artists in the 21st century create a framework for personalized projects. Students will use drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture to create individual and collaborative works. Our critique sessions will stress ways to look at, analyze, and discuss art. Artists will walk away with a robust understanding, language, and appreciation for visual art.
  • Art Without Boundaries (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Formers. This course focuses on the intersection of art with other disciplines such as poetry, music, photography, video, fashion, and performance. Projects will be two- and three-dimensional and will encourage students to explore art materials in an unconventional way. Students are encouraged to have an open mind and willingness to step outside of their comfort zones. All assignments will be conceptual in nature and will involve the production of creative work that responds to the material & media we will discuss and view in class. Discussions and critiques of artworks will be held to help students develop a strong visual language and understanding of how to analyze artworks. Enrollment is limited to ten students.
     
  • Ceramics (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite: 3D Sculpture & Integrated Practices or an acceptable portfolio. This course provides a hands-on, comprehensive study of clay, and the ability to work three-dimensionally. Students are given a specific vocabulary to learn and content is emphasized so that students understand the use of clay as a vehicle for personal expression. Methods of hand-building and techniques that enable them to give visual (three-dimensional) form to their ideas are taught. Assignments are conceptual in nature and explore themes such as identity, the environment, and social/political issues. Students who take ceramics for three terms can choose to work on the potter’s wheel as a one-on-one tutorial with the instructor. Enrollment is limited to eight students.
     
  • Comics, Editorial Cartoons, and Graphic Novel (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Artists will develop original characters and creative storylines utilizing the many techniques of comic panel illustration and text. Students will study the history of comics as a visual dialogue through artists Stan Lee, Liza Dionnelly, Will Eisner, and Osamu Tezuka. Comic study will be a combination of the development of an original character and a multi-paneled piece while studying the drawing and inking techniques of panel-shots. A one-shot editorial cartoon will incorporate the artist's opinion on a current event with pen and ink. Graphic Novels will introduce storyline and character development through a multi-page floppy with splash page cover art.
  • Cross-Disciplinary Art (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Formers. This is a course about the value of imagination and the power of creative thinking. Looking at the intersection of art with other disciplines (math, design, science, music, poetry) we will make connections with art that will result in new inventions. Projects will be two- and three-dimensional and offer the opportunity to choose unconventional materials. This is a course where imperfection can lead to innovation, and accidents can become unique discoveries. No artistic talent is necessary for this course, just an open mind and willingness to step out of your comfort zone and take your mind where it has not traveled before.
  • Digital Photography (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite: Photo 1. This class covers the basics of Adobe Photoshop, digital camera usage and print/negative scanning. The focus is on the creation of expressive, original artwork, with emphasis on artistic quality. Some assignments are given; some are self-generated. Enrollment limited to eight students.
  • Drawing: In Between The Lines (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This course introduces students to the foundational skills and methods of drawing. Students learn to develop their ability to “see” by exploring different techniques of observational drawing to understand how to place objects and the figure in space. Through the study of line, value, shapes, lights & darks, and shading, students will gain knowledge of how to create a two-dimensional drawing with three-dimensional qualities. A variety of drawing materials and their properties will be explored in order to develop a strong understanding of the medium. A diverse range of historical and contemporary artists from different backgrounds who have inspired the medium of drawing or are redefining it today will be explored. Socially and culturally relevant projects will be assigned. Projects will be both technical and conceptual in nature and will involve the production of creative work that responds to the resources we see and discuss in class.
  • Graffiti and Street Art (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Humans have been leaving their mark on walls since the beginning of time. Learn the techniques of Graffiti and Street Art through an exploration of airbrushes, stencils, paint markers, and spray paint. We will look at street art and its impact on social and political justice throughout the world. Shepard Fairey, Banksy, and local artists have used public spaces to display their art, bypassing the art gallery culture thus making art accessible to everyone. We will study how graffiti culture intersects with Hip-Hop music, skateboard culture, and political and social change. Artists will learn and utilize safe studio practices for the media covered in class.
  • Graphic Design (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This design course explores digital marketing content and discovers how graphic design can transform our lives. By examining current trends, advertisements, consumer products, political campaigns, and analytics, provides insight into the power and ethics of visual communication. We will uncover the use of color psychology, typography, and specific visual elements used to manipulate decisions for a specific objective or outcome. Students will design vision boards, logos, package design, and advertisement posters using Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and Procreate. The term will culminate in a branding suite designed for a consumer of the student’s choice.
  • Graphic Design (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This design course explores digital marketing content and discovers how graphic design can transform our lives. By examining current trends, advertisements, consumer products, political campaigns, and analytics, provides insight into the power and ethics of visual communication. We will uncover the use of color psychology, typography, and specific visual elements used to manipulate decisions for a specific objective or outcome. Students will design vision boards, logos, package design, and advertisement posters using Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and Procreate. The term will culminate in a branding suite designed for a consumer of the student’s choice.
  • Graphic Design (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This design course explores digital marketing content and discovers how graphic design can transform our lives. By examining current trends, advertisements, consumer products, political campaigns, and analytics, provides insight into the power and ethics of visual communication. We will uncover the use of color psychology, typography, and specific visual elements used to manipulate decisions for a specific objective or outcome. Students will design vision boards, logos, package design, and advertisement posters using Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and Procreate. The term will culminate in a branding suite designed for a consumer of the student’s choice.
  • Motion Graphics and Digital Animation (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite: Comics, Editorial Cartoons, and Graphic Novel. Students will learn to create animations using the principles of animation and basic techniques including staging, timing, mechanics, and kinetics. Drawing skills, storytelling, mechanics of motion, camera techniques, and working digitally will be an integral part of the course. Students will begin animating using Procreate on iPads and proceed through advanced digital processes by rendering animations on the computer. We will use applications such as Adobe Character Animator, Adobe Animate, Adobe After Effects, and Blendr to translate our drawings into motion graphics. Throughout the course, we will examine the history of the moving image and the power and influence of animation and computer-generated imagery in our contemporary culture. Course limited to 8 students.
  • Oil Painting (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This course is designed to introduce students to the technical skills of oil painting, while expressing originality and their emerging artistic voice. Through a variety of subjects, we will explore the language of mixing colors, brushstrokes, mediums, and canvas preparation. Students will learn and utilize safe studio practices and care of oil painting materials. Outside of class time, students will be required to paint in the studio. Group critiques will model how to use a vocabulary of art terms to discuss the various aspects of the piece including composition, technical elements, and artistic choices.
  • Oil Painting (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This course is designed to introduce students to the technical skills of oil painting, while expressing originality and their emerging artistic voice. Through a variety of subjects, we will explore the language of mixing colors, brushstrokes, mediums, and canvas preparation. Students will learn and utilize safe studio practices and care of oil painting materials. Outside of class time, students will be required to paint in the studio. Group critiques will model how to use a vocabulary of art terms to discuss the various aspects of the piece including composition, technical elements, and artistic choices.
  • Painting in the Contemporary World (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This course is an introduction to color theory and various painting techniques. Students will learn how to mix desired colors while achieving a harmonious color palette. Emphasis will be placed on using personal image references to encourage complete authorship and autonomy on the content of the pieces. In a typical term, a student can expect to produce three to four paintings. These might include several skill-building portraits and mixed media projects. Discussions using historical and contemporary artworks will enable students to understand the cultural contexts in which art is created, while questioning the reasons and selections for particular works that one might see hanging in a gallery. This course is suited to both the beginner and the advanced painting student, as one is encouraged to pursue personal concepts in their work.
  • Photo 1 (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Formers. This course introduces students to basic techniques of shooting, developing, and printing pictures. Using black-and-white film, students will work on short term projects designed to develop their abilities to create vital and effective visual images. Enrollment limited to ten students.
     
  • Photo 2 (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite:  Photo 1. This course builds upon the photographic knowledge from Photo 1, expanding students’ understanding of the descriptive powers of photography and honing technical skills. Enrollment limited to ten students.
  • Photography Workshop (F)

    Open to Sixth and Fifth Formers. This is a term-by-term offering designed for students who have completed Photo 1 and 2 or Digital Photo and wish to continue photography at a more advanced level. Students will work with the instructor to design a syllabus suited to the student’s individual experience and interests. On rare occasions, a student who has not completed the prerequisites may take Photo Workshop to undertake a specific project, with permission of the instructor.
  • Portfolio Prep (F)

    Prerequisite: one advanced art course (Drawing, Painting, Printmaking), or with portfolio approval from the department. This course will allow students to focus on preparing and compiling a portfolio along college and university standards. Students will work independently to create works showcasing a strong range of techniques, methods, and materials. At the end of the term, students will exhibit their portfolio work in the Christopher Brodigan Gallery.
     
  • Printmaking: The Power of Print Media (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Before the digital printer, there was the manual printmaker. Ownership and authority are at the forefront of printmaking as a means to mass-produce works of art with a direct, repetitive printing process. A variety of techniques can achieve bold imagery as seen in German Expressionism, or as delicate as Japanese woodcuts. This is an introductory course to basic printmaking methods and techniques including monotype, collagraphy, etching, linocut, and woodcut. Printmaking is appealing to any artist because an image is created through scratching, carving, or drawing on a "plate" and then transferred to paper by hand or through etching press. Process-oriented projects will allow students to utilize personal imagery and ideas for self-expression and creativity. Enrollment is limited to six students.
     
  • Third Form Shop (Y)

    Third Formers will make a small piece of furniture. Students may do work which involves dovetailing, turning, mortise and tenon construction, cutting, planing and hand finishing. Because many of the basic processes in cabinetmaking are learned, this course provides a solid introduction to further, more ambitious work in the Upper School.
  • Upper School Shop (Y)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Each student in this course will undertake the construction of a significant piece of furniture. Examples of work done in past years include desks, lowboys, tables, grandfather clock cases, beds, chairs and cupboards. The exact project is chosen by the student with the advice and consent of the teacher.

    No previous woodworking experience is required. Students will be taught what they need to know in the shop.

    This is a full course of four scheduled classes and four preparations each week. Students taking Upper School Shop for the first time must take it for any three consecutive terms. Others may negotiate individual arrangements, including a term course or one for half credit that would require only half the time commitment stated above. Please consult Mr. Brown before signing up for such a variation on the regular full course.
  • Video (S)

    Open to Sixth Formers. In this course students will explore cinematic production. Using the medium of video and digital editing, they will produce a few short films. The emphasis is on creating a strong and expressive product, using the narrative flow of cinematic imagery and sound. Enrollment limited to nine students.
  • Video (W)

    Open to Sixth Formers. In this course students will explore cinematic production. Using the medium of video and digital editing, they will produce a few short films. The emphasis is on creating a strong and expressive product, using the narrative flow of cinematic imagery and sound. Enrollment limited to nine students.

Our Faculty

  • Photo of Monika Andersson
    Monika Andersson
    Visual Arts Department Head, Director de Menil Gallery
    978-448-7636
    Bio
  • Photo of Peter Benedict
    Peter Benedict
    Woodshop
    Bio
  • Photo of Melissa De Jesus-Akuete
    Melissa De Jesus-Akuete
    Art Educator, Co-Director, Christopher Brodigan Gallery, Dorm Head
    978-448-7386
    Bio
  • Photo of Kristen Donovan
    Kristen Donovan
    Bio
  • Photo of Jennifer Ho
    Jennifer Ho
    Visual Arts Faculty; Co-Director, Christopher Brodigan Gallery, Dorm Head
    978-448-7415
    Bio