Art and the Natural World
Elective, Prerequisites: None
Students of all levels have the opportunity to learn habits of creative expression while mastering fundamental skills and techniques. As a result, while exploring their sense of self and sense of place, they gain an increased sense of confidence in expressing ideas visually and develop a deeper awareness of how artists work.
Art projects are often preceded by an immersive experience suitable to the season which provides rich fodder for self-expression. For example—fall semester students may float for a short distance in the tide during class, then play with ink, text, and watercolor skills for the following week to create an accordion book about their experience. Spring semester students may visit our marine touch tank, observing and handling the starfish, crabs, and sea anemones before creating a graphic strip that tells a visual story.
Assignments progress from shorter projects that build skills to longer, more independent work, primarily with drawing, painting, and printmaking. In addition to viewing artists’ work that relates to each project, local artists are invited to visit, show their work and answer questions.
This course is inclusive of all, whether a beginner or quite advanced artist. Each student comes with a different set of skills, knowledge, and experiences in art and in life; no matter where they are, they have much to offer others in this class. For example, when artwork is partially finished, students ask critique questions of their peers to gain perspective and support. While beginners develop basic skills, those with more experience are offered added challenges.
Throughout the course, students choose and practice elements from the eight “studio habits of mind”—develop craft, engage and persist, envision, express, observe, reflect, stretch and explore, understand art worlds (Harvard University’s Project Zero). Students are expected to complete weekly homework assignments and participate in class discussions and oral critiques. When projects are finished, a written assessment, artist statement, critique, and/or presentation provide reflection and closure. Students are assessed on the quality of their art making process and their finished artwork as well as effort and participation in class and with visiting artists.