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.
Throughout the COVID era, the arts at St. Mark's have continued to thrive curricularly. Arts Department head Chris Kent is teaching theater arts remotely, while Director of Music James Wallace has been working diligently with St. Mark's students, producing music for regular chapel services, the uniquely virtual 2020 Lessons & Carols service, and some wonderful a capella vocal productions. The visual arts, taught by faculty veterans Barbara Putnam and Aggie Belt, have been particularly impressive. Ms. Belt's sculptors have created "cultural unity vessels" in which students combine pottery styles from different cultures to produce unique objects. There was also an extraordinarily creative output from Ms. Putnam's studio artists this fall and leading up to the Christmas break. The vast majority of these artistic endeavors have taken place remotely, so it is exciting to realize that the arts at St. Mark's are thriving despite all challenges.
This fall, veteran art teacher Barbara Putnam—entering her 42nd year on the St. Mark's faculty—assumes the mantle of Senior Teacher. This is an historic transition for the School, as Ms. Putnam will be the first woman to hold that title in the 150-plus-year history of St. Mark's.
On February 3, 155 students and faculty members will be going on the annual St. Mark's opera trip in New York.