The visual arts program is dedicated to producing artists who embrace the complexity of the art world. Application of the Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM) offers a language for critical thinking while empowering students to navigate their way through the artistic process. Students throughout USM are exposed to the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) philosophy in conjunction with best-practice methods designed for individual courses. Our visual arts program allows students to make more choices about what they want to create and express through the art-making process and what mediums they wish to explore. As they progress through the school, students are given opportunities to work authentically as artists and experiences the art room as their studio.
The Lower School visual arts program builds upon students' innate curiosity and imagination through a studio model that focuses on the artistic process. Beginning in kindergarten, students are exposed to a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, collage, fibers, ceramics, and sculpture as well as related techniques, concepts, and content. They are invited to explore personal, innovative ideas and gain inspiration from a wide variety of historical and contemporary artists, other academic disciplines, as well as their local and global communities. In doing so, students learn how artists get ideas and how to take an idea from a concept to a realized work of art.
The Middle School program builds upon the choice-based model from Lower School while emphasising the need for self-expression and art appreciation. There is a focus on developing our Studio Habits of Mind: Envision, Observe, Develop Craft, Engage and Persist, Understands Art Worlds, Stretch and Explore, Express and Reflect. An understanding of the elements of art and principles of design are explored organically as Middle School students find their artistic passion and discover their individual voice as a visual artist. Students have the opportunity to explore a variety of art mediums based on their personal interests and strengths. Students are encouraged to take risks in their work, embrace failure, and advance their craft and their confidence.
In our Upper School studio arts courses, we continue to explore new and more advanced techniques in various 2D and 3D art forms. Once students learn best practices and techniques in the medium of the course, they are then given the freedom to create projects that express their individuality. In the Upper School, students gain a deeper understanding of the art world as they explore courses such as painting, drawing, ceramics, metalsmithing, photography, digital art, innovation and design, and AP Studio Art. Students have a rare opportunity in an independent school to work intensely in a single medium and produce a college-level portfolio.