Visual Arts

Interior Masthead

students in fine arts class

In our increasingly visual world, the art studio is an integral educational component to any academic program in preparing our students for “The Whole of Life.” Developing a visual awareness and acuity; critical judgement and thinking skills; discovering, practicing, improvising, and refining art making techniques are all vital parts of the process.


Lower School

What happens in our lower school visual art studio? In the manner of Friends, we begin each class with a moment of silence. During the school year, we discuss the Quaker Testimonies (SPICES: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship) and how we can practice them in our visual art studio. Lessons are introduced in ways that address a variety of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. In addition to an introduction/familiarization with art materials and techniques, safety and vocabulary, we emphasize how to listen and follow directions, and how to show respect (for oneself and others, the materials and our art studio.) I strive to provide our students with a lively environment that invites inquiry about visual artworks, speaking about art and learning how to offer opinions, and most of all, the celebration of creativity and discovery.

Middle School

Middle school art classes at Friends Select School offer students the opportunity to learn and practice skills in drawing, painting, sculpture, two and three-dimensional design, mixed-media, printmaking and illustration. Through the study of art and design, students gain a better understanding and appreciation of their own art, a product of their creative expression.

Middle school art classes are based on the development of the student. Students’ personal connection to each and every project, creative process and exploration of materials are tools used to inspire self-expression thereby achieving a positive experience in the art studio.

5th Grade- Materials and Process Exploration

6th Grade- Discovering Modern Art Movements

7th Grade- Contemporary Art Themes 1

8th Grade- Contemporary Art Themes 2

Middle School Gallery

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Upper School

Visual Arts Courses

Art Foundations

Art Foundations is a prerequisite to all other visual arts courses. This class provides students with the tools and understanding of media used in two and three-dimensional art. Students are introduced to the basic elements of drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and digital media. Key concepts include line, shape, texture, value, and color. Students alternate between working from observation and creating more conceptual and design-based projects. The class will teach students to recognize and work with the visual language of art and design.

Drawing and Painting

In Drawing and Painting I, students combine their creative ideas with technical exercises to become proficient in composing two-dimensional imagery. Students work with an array of drawing and painting materials while exploring line, shape, composition, tone, and perspective. Projects range from direct observational studies to imaginative sketches and collage. Prerequisite for this class is Art Foundations.

Drawing and Painting II

Drawing and Painting II will offer students an opportunity to continue to develop their artistic voice through their exploration of image making. The class will look at different types of two-dimensional design, painting, illustration, narrative art, collage, and mixed media art. Students will have the opportunity to work on large paintings. Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting I and students must submit a portfolio for review.

Photography I

In Photography I, students study and become familiar with the functions of the digital camera. The class focuses on the formal elements found in photography: line, shape, value, texture, movement, light, perspective, pattern, scale, and mood. Students develop an understanding of controlling light, exposure, and composition and learn the Adobe Photoshop application as a technical means to edit and enhance digital photographs. Each student must have her or his own camera (DSLR cameras are preferred to point and shoot cameras.) Prerequisite: Art Foundations.

Photography II

This course will enable students to utilize the skills acquired in Photography 1 to consider more conceptual ideas for their work and practice more advanced aspects of photography. Students might also explore other digital exercises like animating their photos and incorporating various printmaking techniques into some of their images. Prerequisite: Photography I.


This course emphasizes metalsmithing skills, jewelry design and glass. Students will be introduced to the history, science and design of metals as well as appropriate skills in sequence. Techniques to be explored will include stone cutting and setting, raising, forging, soldering, lost wax casting, photo etching and chain making. Among the projects students will work on, will be making a silver ring with cut stone, box construction, making a forged bracelet, making a raised chalice or bowl, making a linked chain and making a cast ring. The last quarter of the year, we will investigate glass casting, stained and fused glass. Students will be responsible for projects, quizzes, and short papers.

Advanced Metals/Sculpture

Advanced Metalsmithing is a continuation of building skills and learning techniques in metalworking. In the second year, students will investigate lapidary, advanced stone setting, hinge building, chain construction, metal clay, as well casting in glass and metal. An in-depth study of actual silversmithing will include the construction of spoons, large bowls and candlesticks. This will give students experience with larger metal work. Field trips to local studios, foundries and museums will help students create a fuller understanding of metal and jewelry design. The last quarter will be devoted to the study of sculpture. By exploring world sculpture and design, students will create three-dimensional objects that reflect their place in a three-dimensional world. Areas to be covered will include additive and subtractive sculpture, bas-relief, stone carving, mold making, and environmental sculpture. Prerequisite: Metalsmithing/Glass

Documentary Filmmaking

Through the production of short autobiographical or biographical videos, this elective will introduce students to the practice of digital filmmaking. The value and importance of each student’s unique voice and perspective will be emphasized. Class periods will be used to go over practical filmmaking techniques such as DSLR video recording, sound recording techniques, and editing software. Class-time will also be set aside for the screenings of documentary films. Outside of class, students will work individually and in “film-crew” teams to complete a number of specific assignments designed to build their practical filmmaking skills. These assignments and classwork will generate a catalogue of media from which the students will construct their final documentaries. It is preferred that students have their own DSLR cameras. However, instruction will also be given on the video functionality of smartphones and tablets, and those are acceptable cameras to complete the assignments outside of class.

Digital Media

While the photography and film classes draw students out into the real world with their cameras,

this course will dive deep into the possibilities of the digital realm. Taking Adobe Photoshop as our starting point, we will first explore reflecting and abstracting the world through digital collage, while revisiting the key concepts learned in Art Foundations. From there, we will use Adobe After Effects, Illustrator, and other applications to explore digital animation and design; ultimately seeking to expand the known world in unexpected ways through the digital realm.

Portfolio Preparation

This semester long course is designed for advanced students interested in pursuing higher levels of artistic exploration. This course is for students that want to put college portfolios together for art school entry or for creating supplemental pieces for their college application. Students are expected to exercise a high degree of personal responsibility in this course. We will explore illustration, figurative sculpture, as well as creative problem solving in drawing and painting. In addition to their work in a variety of media, essays, sketchbooks, critiques and presentations are components of each student’s evaluation. The development of individual portfolios, artistic philosophies and artistic historical knowledge will be products of this course. The course will provide regular review of students’ portfolios and guidance in preparation of an art portfolio for college. The Prerequisite for the course is seniors that have completed an advanced 2D or 3D level class or approval by the instructor along with the department chair.


Students will explore a broad array of form, content, techniques and concepts, that are used in creating three-dimensional objects and sculpture. Materials covered will be paper, fibers, stone, metal, glass, ceramics and recycled materials. Through looking at world sculpture and design, students will create 3D objects that reflect their place in a three-dimensional world. Areas to be covered will be additive and subtractive sculpture, bas relief, stone carving, mold making, sacred space and environmental sculpture. Students will have the opportunity to explore the vast collection of public sculpture in Philadelphia. In addition, they will analyze the creative process of sculptors currently working in the field.

Contact Us

Fred Kogan

Titles: Visual Arts Department Chair, Middle School Art, Grade 8 Advisor

How We See Philly

Upper School Art Club interviews and then paints with students in grades PK-12 for our mural, How We See Philly. The mural is now installed in the dining hall!

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