Artistic expression is the result of a demanding process–a synthesis of skill, knowledge, and practice, always working toward a more personal statement and thus a greater self-awareness. The Arts Department teaches development of skills specific to each arts discipline. A teacher’s greatest gift to a student is to move him or her from concept to interpretation, and thus watch the student create original work. Students are welcome and encouraged to go beyond the one-year requirement, especially students who may wish to pursue the arts in college.The beauty of the arts curriculum at St. Mark’s is the ability for the student to cross over into several arts disciplines and, with the help of his or her advisor, pursue multiple interests. Rehearsals for play productions, for instance, take place after classes while music performance groups and departmental arts courses are scheduled within the school day. Having completed level one in an arts discipline prior to arrival at St. Mark’s does not guarantee placement into level two or higher. Placement in these cases is determined by audition or portfolio. The arts requirement may also be fulfilled by two years of participation in the St. Mark’s school choir, following successful yearly audition and advance permission by the Director of Music.


Studio I - Year

This course provides a foundation in observation and measurement skills and exposes students to a variety of two-dimensional media. Compositional organization and individual technique are explored extensively to direct the viewer’s eye and to create the illusion of depth. Pencil is the basic tool, used along with colored pencil, tempera, watercolor, and some basic print media, to include imagery in specific instances.  Subject matter includes still life, portraiture, and landscape; students  use the internet  to research particular topics.  Studio I assumes no prior experience in two-dimensional art but accepts students with considerable experience who have not worked extensively on large paper or from life.

Studio II - Year

Students in this course have taken Studio I or come with extensive experience in drawing from life and with working on large (22 x 30 or larger) paper. The course moves from knowledgeable description of objects or landscape into interpretation of what is seen, stressing risk-taking toward a more personal and expressive style.  Pencil, oil, watercolor, and linoleum are some of the media used.  (Prerequisite: AR20)

Advanced Placement Studio Art - Year

Following Advanced Placement guidelines, students work to further develop personal voice in a variety of media. Part of the second semester is devoted to a focused study, the topic and medium chosen by the student. The Advanced Placement requirements are demanding, and it is recommended that students take a winter term sports ACE to allow extra time necessary for portfolio preparation.  (Permission of the Department is required)

Ceramics I - Year

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 - Year

This course is offered to students who have taken Ceramic 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.

Ceramics III AP - Year

This course fulfills the requirements of the AP portfolio through extensive independent work.  (Available with permission of the Department)

Sculpture I - Year

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.

Photography I - Fall & Spring

This class combines the mechanical aspects of the medium with the creative decision making necessary for original work. Technical skills are taught for negative and print exposure, developing, printing and matting through a series of structured assignments and critiques. The creative potential of digital scanning and printing of images, along with traditional methodology, will be considered. Through this course students will develop a critical eye for artistic composition and fluid expression. A fully manual SLR film camera is required. NOTE: This is a semester class and does not fulfill the arts requirement.

Advanced Placement Art History - Year

This course offers a rigorous chronological survey of the world’s major monuments, sculpture, and two-dimensional works of art, placing them within their historical, religious, and social contexts. Students examine a work’s purpose and function, extending discussion and knowledge beyond style to include patronage and contract, religious custom, and history. The course follows the European tradition but includes the study of cultures outside the traditional canon. This course involves extensive reading and writing, a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a trip to one other museum during the year to see original work. (Open to Forms V and VI with Department permission.  Enroll­ment is limited.  Candidates should plan to elect an alternate course.  Form VI applicants must have an English grade of at least B and Form V applicants must have an English grade of at least B+.)

History of Music - Year

This fast-paced course surveys the major styles and great moments in the Western tradition mainly through listening, discussion and reading. Students develop careful observational skills as students study and compare the music of the major eras of over two thousand years of history. The study of music history opens a vivid catalog of human expression. The class features considerable listening to both live and recorded music and encourages attendance at concerts of all sorts.

Fall Term: Survey of major style periods through the eighteenth century, beginning with Hildegard and concluding with Mozart. 

Spring Term: Survey of major style periods through current times, beginning with Beethoven and concluding with a study of jazz and blues.

Music Studio -Year

Music Studio is about learning to practice effectively, setting attainable musical goals, performing, recording, and building musicianship. Students enrolled in the Music Studio class are scheduled for one private lesson each week supported by daily supervised coaching and practice sessions. Students also record their work for evaluation and as part of their portfolio. Periodic in-class performances, workshops, and public performances are scheduled. Students also perform for evaluation by members of the music faculty twice each year. Studio is an important way that students can begin or continue significant musical studies at St. Mark’s.  (Open to beginning, intermediate, and advanced musicians. Fee charged)

Advanced Placement Music Theory - Year

In Advanced Placement Music Theory, students who have substantial musical background develop specific skills in composition, analysis, and aural perception. Major composition projects include text setting, arranging for instruments, arranging for voices and a set of short, related works. This is a demanding yearlong course. (Open to Forms IV, V, VI who have completed Music Studio, or with Department permission.)

Advanced Studies in Music - Year

Students who have completed AP Music Theory may pursue further studies in harmony, analysis, and composition in Advanced Studies.  (Open to Forms V and VI. Permission of the Department is required.)

Theater I — American Theater - Year

This course spends extensive time on the basic principles of rehearsal and performance, while also covering important histo­rical and theoretical developments in each decade of twentieth-century American theater.  Areas covered include major contemporary American Theater companies and theories, Theater as a profession, method acting, voice and physical training, play reading, and the major components of a theater space.  There will be at least four scenes (realistic, comedic, dramatic, and absurdist) rehearsed and performed during the year.  The final project is the public performance of a “perfect scene.”  (Open to all forms)

Theater II — Advanced Theater Workshop - Year

This course further develops skills in rehearsal and performance, while introducing students to the art and craft of directing, the concept of ensemble performing, Shakespearean acting, contemporary dramatic theory and aesthetics, technical theater, advanced Theater research, and play reading. The student will have the opportunity to direct classmates, learning text analysis, dramatic structure, tempo, blocking, techniques of working and polishing a scene, costume and prop plots, and having the artistic responsibility over a scene. The course prepares a student to participate con­fidently in every facet of basic theater.  (Prerequisite: Theater I)

Theater III — Independent Study in Theater - Year

This course is an independent study designed for the student who has an unusually strong interest in theater and who wishes to go beyond the classroom in extensive extracurricular pur­suits or in academic projects not found in the classroom setting. With guidance, the student will pursue a more complicated theatrical project on their own. Previous projects have in­cluded researching and designing costumes and a set for a typical period; writing, develop­ing, and performing a one-person play; extensive researching and reporting on a theatrical period or playwright; researching a period or genre in the history of film; and writing a manual on high school stage management.  (Prerequisite: Theater I, II, or permission of the Department)