The Middle School Visual Arts Program offers students a unique three-year venture characterized by group study and personal exploration. Each grade level focuses on an overarching theme:
Sixth Grade Art: The World through the Ages
Seventh Grade Art: Our City through the Ages
Eighth Grade Art: My Self through the Ages
Through these themes, students gain a context as to how art has developed globally, historically, locally, individually, and personally. Key artists anchor each unit of study and provide inspiration and a model for how art is traditionally and successfully made. Time is given for students to experiment with paints, materials, and art tools. On occasion, writing activities help students to reflect on what they have studied and created, and then to explain their opinions about their process and the concepts behind their work. Informal group critiques also challenge students to articulate their thoughts and to practice using art vocabulary.
As students progress through the Middle School Arts curriculum, they travel from the ancient to the contemporary. They examine the human impulse to produce images from scratch, exploring Early Cave Art, Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Wall Paintings (life-size portraits of oneself), and Greek sculpture. These studies form the foundation that students use to create their own art. For instance, sixth graders study commemorative Holocaust wood carvings inspired by the artist Herbert Savel, and then they create tributes to close relatives in linoleum cut prints. Seventh graders work on perfecting their graphite pencil shading and value skills while learning about gridding and the resizing of photographs in order to create the gallery of Kew-Forest historical black and white portraits that are displayed in the school’s main rotunda. They also work on building physical mobiles that represent their interests in popular culture. Eighth graders draw on their more developed analytical skills to create contemporary Olympic athletes-in-motion wire sculptures and ceramic constructions of how an animal adapts to its environment.
By the end of Middle School, each student forms a solid knowledge base of art through the ages and a set of skills that allow the student to create his/her own works that reflect this learning.