Fine Arts Philosophy
Through the study of art, students at The Laboratory Schools are encouraged to value and respond to their own perceptions, observations, emotions, and intuition. The Fine Arts Department works to ensure that at each level of our program, students not only build skills, but also become more comfortable and confident in meeting the challenges of aesthetic self-expression.
The fine arts teachers employ techniques that liberate and deepen our students' power of expression and challenge them to reconcile the powers of emotion and intuition with intellectual ability. In order to enable students to achieve success through creative effort, the visual arts teaches basic concepts which form the foundation for more advanced study. In the dramatic arts, students discover a heightened sense of awareness by developing their sensory perception and powers of observation.
Through the aesthetic education at The Laboratory Schools, students find new ways to perceive their world. The Fine Arts Department believes that the appraisal of art helps our students find a relationship between themselves and the lives and art of other individuals and cultures. By teaching aesthetic literacy, teachers expand their students' awareness of the world and their relationship to it.
Nursery/Kindergarten Fine Arts Program
Our arts program is designed so that children can explore the expressive potential of a variety of areas. Through guided exploration in the classroom, children use their experiences and knowledge to explore and express their ideas visually using a variety of tools and materials. In the words of the Reggio Emilia approach, they become able to speak in "a hundred languages." Whether it is with clay, paper, paint, colored pencils, markers, wire or glue, we want children to find out what materials can do and what they can do with them. They act out stories, experiment with language, and express themselves through song and dance. Children in nursery and kindergarten are given many opportunities to create meaning, communicate their ideas and feelings, to develop an aesthetic sensibility, and to enjoy the arts.
First Grade Fine Arts Program
First graders need to develop a sense of self-confidence and self esteem as young artists. A willingness to take chances with new materials and engaging in challenging projects help to reinforce this unfolding process. Mistakes are not taken as errors but as a way of looking at the working process in a new way. Students are encouraged to achieve independence in the various creative media and to express ideas in a visual format.
First grade projects alternate between a 2D and 3D format. Painting and drawing skills are routinely improved upon throughout the year; projects are both abstract and descriptive in nature. First graders are encouraged to improve fine motor skills and lengthen their ability to focus on their creative work. Students are expected to work independently by the end of the school year.
Second Grade Fine Arts Program
The second grade fine arts curriculum encourages students to achieve independence in working with the various creative media and to express ideas clearly in a visual format.
Second grade projects alternate between a 2D and 3D format. Painting and drawing skills are developed through observation, invented abstraction and fantasy. Color theory is introduced and students are expected to know how to use primary colors and to make secondary and intermediate colors. Three-dimensional perception and construction skills are enhanced through clay work and mixed media construction projects.
Third and Fourth Grades Fine Arts Program
In third and fourth grade, students' perception and knowledge begin to expand beyond their immediate personal environment to the broader context of the world around them. Students then move away from interest in art solely for personal expression toward a broader interest in art. With this background in mind, course units are most often based upon a central theme, which is developed within a societal, cultural, and historical context.
In the third and fourth years of art instruction, students will learn to construct handbound sketchbooks, masks, "found objects," and papier-mâché sculptures. They will create contour and gesture drawings, self-portraits, and landscapes. Students may participate in collaborative projects such as fabric painting, murals, and the use of art materials to transform furniture.
In the production of art, students use a variety of materials such as oil pastels, watercolors, acrylics and tempera paints, colored markers, printer's ink, India ink, pencils, papier-mâché, vine charcoal, and adhesives among others.
Fifth Grade Fine Arts Program
A primary focus of the fifth grade fine arts curriculum is the role of art as a language; a language stretching back to the pre-history of our species and uniquely suited to the expression of observations, ideas and beliefs. Art serves to make us aware of who we are as individuals and joins us to other people, other cultures and all eras in which artists explained their world and expressed their beliefs through visual means. The year-long fifth grade fine arts class allows students to balance the understanding and use of myth with observational skill and accuracy, expressing what they see and feel about their world with increasing freedom and clarity
What children are exposed to and learn in fine arts classes goes well beyond a listing of art projects: Fundamental questions of how students approach learning are addressed through the sequence of creative activities in which they participate.
Sixth and Seventh Grade Fine Arts Program
The Sixth Grade Fine Arts Program is part of a year-long rotational system. Two of the three quarter-long courses are in the Fine Arts Department.
Sixth Grade Visual Arts Program
The quarter-long Sixth grade visual arts curriculum quickly reviews knowledge, communication and technical skills and successful learning behaviors explored during the year-long fifth grade fine arts program and then assertively moves to extend student visual arts understanding by exploring the expressive "Power of the Artist." The curriculum is constructed to encourage students to investigate ways in which seemingly "non-visual" phenomena become the subject matter of visual expression and are given artistic form. This is accomplished by exploring the formal ways in which artists create meaning in their work. Success is evaluated by the artist's ability to clearly communicate their meanings to an audience.
Sixth Grade Oral interpretation
The goals of oral interpretation are to stimulate and increase students' confidence in various forms of verbal communication and expression. Students learn that good communication goes far beyond words; it includes body language, voice inflection and concentration. Through direct instruction and practice, students learn skills that help them overcome natural inhibitions. By participating in theater games, students learn the value of risk-taking and spontaneity within a controlled environment. Through a method similar to musical notation (punch, pause and color), students learn the value of emphasizing key words and using other effects to convey meaning and expression.
Activities and projects include group poetry dramatizations, simulated newscasts, and story telling.
Seventh Grade Visual Art
The goals of the art program in the seventh grade are to promote visual literacy, foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world of art, and provide students with the necessary tools for self-discovery. Students are encouraged to communicate their feelings and ideas through visual expression and to analyze, interpret, and evaluate their own work as well as the efforts of others.
Through the use of a wide variety of media, students learn to define, recognize and employ the various elements of art and the principals of design. They also develop important skills in the care and safe use of art supplies and equipment. Projects include figure drawing, self-portrait painting, mask making and puppet construction.
Seventh Grade Oral Interpretation
Students continue to develop and explore various modes of verbal expression. They learn to think of their speaking voices as instruments that must be strengthened and cared for through daily exercise and instruction. The course culminates with a public performance in which students share the various skills they have acquired in class.
Students build their public speaking and acting skills through a series of individual assignments. These assignments include an introductory speech, a persuasive speech, a memorized poetry recitation and eurhythmic performance, and a story theater project. The instructor evaluates each assignment according to clear criteria and vocabulary developed through pre-assignment exercises and activities.
Eighth Grade Related Arts Program
The Eighth Grade Related Arts Program is an elective program comprised of quarter-long courses. Courses offered in the Fine Arts include: Oral Interpretation, Photo Multimedia, and Visual Art.
Eighth Grade Oral Interpretation
In Eighth Grade Oral Interpretation, students learn formal skills in public speaking and acting. They develop powers of persuasion through writing, preparing, and presenting campaign speeches and public service announcements. In the drama component, the students learn that the foundation for effective acting is creating a character that performs various actions with specific intentions. They engage and develop this concept with group exercises in which the same dialogue is performed within different, contrasting contexts. Finally, the students integrate all of their various speaking and acting skills by creating a dramatic character, discovering his or her intentions, and delivering a memorized monologue.
Eighth Grade Photo Multimedia / Photo-Technology
Photo Multimedia is a quarter-long course in the 8th grade rotation. Students use Photoshop to create photo collages by merging photos they shot with fully manual cameras and scanned images.
Eighth Grade Visual Art
In Visual Art, students strengthen their perceptual and aesthetic awareness through exposure to a wide variety of media and to the art of different cultures and historical periods. Students also develop awareness of art's position and purpose in various societies and cultures by sharing art history presentations with their classmates. In addition, students communicate their own feelings and ideas through art projects in a variety of media. Projects include perspective drawing, architecture, and collage.
High School Fine Arts Program
Study in the Fine Arts plays a vital role in the education of the total individual. Experience in the visual and dramatic arts enables self-expression and constitutes a powerful tool for self-discovery and development. It functions as a basic language and provides an essential bonding agent that connects and socializes us.
High School courses include but are not limited to: art history, painting, sculpture, mixed media, photography, and theater. Students may choose from a variety of courses all providing opportunities to partake in problem-solving approaches that stimulate the ability to see, to express, and to invent. Students cultivate an understanding, enjoyment and appreciation of the arts through study and practice in the studio, dark room, and theater. Fine Arts studio classes provide students the opportunity to nurture their art making skills and allow them to work toward developing and refining their own individual style and aesthetic awareness.