Offices & Resources

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

While some students come to the school with extensive visual arts experience, others have never picked up a pencil before. All learn in a dynamic setting to develop their observational skills and a personal voice through a variety of media.

Courses range from the introductory level in Photography, Sculpture, Ceramics and Studio Art, through the AP level in Studio Art and Art History. Some students elect to pursue a single topic or medium in depth through independent study, once they have completed basic courses. Many students prepare portfolios as part of their application to liberal arts colleges or to specialized art schools such as RISD, University of Chicago, and Alfred University. The courses are demanding; the atmosphere is collaborative and supportive.

On canvas or paper, using a potter’s wheel or camera, St. Markers are encouraged to give free rein to their artistic side, and to bring a critical and appreciative eye to the world around them.

Student Artwork Exhibited on Campus This Spring

All year long, an abundance of student artwork has been on display all around campus. Currently this spring, visual art creations by St. Markers can be found in and around Taft Hall and throughout the corridors—particularly in the gallery space between the dining hall and the front reception area.

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"Peter and the Starcatcher"—Winter Play This Week

This Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (March 1, 2, 3) the St. Mark's Theater Department will be presenting the 2017 Winter Play. This year the production is Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice. Each performance begins at 7:30 PM in the Putnam Family Arts Center's Blackbox Studio Theater.

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Music at St. Mark's: Winter Student Showcase

On Tuesday evening, February 21, the St. Mark's Music Program presented the Winter Student Showcase on the stage of the Putnam Family Arts Center's Class of 1945 Hall. Nine students and seven different instruments were featured.

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Barbara Putnam


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Studio I

The ability to observe critically and to record what you see is a skill that naturalists, architects and designers have historically relied on in their fieldwork. Digital technology has created a “grab and go” approach to our thinking with little risk. Working with pencil, paper, linoleum, carving tools, and drypoint, we learn to record the visual world with accuracy and the unique “voice” of each individual’s hand. Joining composition, contrast, line, surface and color, we will investigate our surroundings and explore new directions in the development of ideas. A core principle of this course is that art is a language of communicating ideas that can be used to investigate important issues, be they scientific, mathematical or social. Studio I assumes no prior experience, but accepts students with considerable experience who have not worked extensively on large paper or from life.

Studio II

Students enter this class with extensive drawing and observational experience and a working knowledge of color theory. We shift from knowledgeable description of the observable world towards interpretative thinking and working. Risk-taking is encouraged in the process of developing a personal, expressive use of materials, technique, craft, and a deeper exploration of content. Drawing media such as colored pencil and watercolor are explored along with print media such as dry point and color reduction woodcut. (Prerequisite: Studio I or Permission of the Department by portfolio)

Advanced Studio Art

Students focus on issue-based assignments that expand the concept of drawing and printmaking through experiment, choice of materials, and combining media. Students research and develop an in-depth independent project that investigates specific content or a visual idea as they work towards 2-person exhibitions in the spring. Each student in this class is expected to develop a portfolio for college. It is recommended that students take a winter term sports ACE to allow time extended time in the afternoons to establish and form new directions in their work and thinking. (Permission of the Department is required)

Ceramics I

This course uses clay as a means of exploring issues of creative problem solving. Assignments range from abstract sculpture, figurative, to the traditional functional pottery forms. Techniques include coil, slab, extruded, press molds, reductive carving, wheel throwing and all explore possibilities with surface texture and glazing. Students will be introduced to the basics of electric and Raku firing. Through structured assignments and self-designed projects, students increase self-awareness, self-confidence and discipline by means of the basic processes of working with clay and the challenge of visual expression.

Ceramics II

This course is offered to students who have taken Ceramics I or with previous clay experience that equals a year-long class. This course emphasizes individual expression in clay and will involve advanced work in the wheel and hand building. Students will be encouraged to design their own ideas for some projects, staggered with specific assignments that will build breadth to their ceramic portfolio.

Advanced Ceramics

This course will involve advanced ceramics work with hand-building and wheel work. Hand-building techniques include (but are not limited to) coiling, extruding, pressing and reductive carving. Wheel work will range from functional thrown-work to sculptural. Assignments are designed to challenge student technically, aesthetically and conceptually. Through extensive independent work, students will design and create an exhibition of work that shows their exploration and development of personal ideas. A Fall or Winter Ceramic ACE is encouraged for a deep dive into creating art. (Prerequisite: Ceramics I and II and/or Department permission)

Sculpture I

This course is an introduction to sculpting in various materials; This course is an introduction to sculpting in various materials; including plaster, clay, wire, alabaster stone, wood and found objects. Assignments range from the abstract to the realistic. Students will be challenged to investigate decisions made in the creative process and problem solving that affect the communicative qualities of their work. By studying the Principles and Elements of Sculptural Design and by hands-on experience with a variety of material and tools, students will acquire technical skills and confidence in self-expression.

Advanced Art History

This course offers a rigorous chronological survey of the world’s major art and architectural achievements from antiquity to the present, placing them within their historical, religious, and social contexts. Students learn to think and write as art historians by developing observational skills and by researching patronage, contractual agreements, religious ritual, engineering, and cultural history. They synthesize these elements into persuasive written and oral arguments. The course follows the European tradition as well as explores global cultures and new media. Art History involves extensive reading and writing, a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a trip to other museums during the year to see original work (Open to V and VI Formers, and IV Formers by Departmental permission—prior coursework in history is helpful, but not required).

* Cross-listed with History and Social Sciences


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