In Fourth Grade Art, students work on a long-term project called “Invented Civilizations.” The students first discuss elements of a civilization, such as: government, technology, economy, religion, ethics, culture, and language, among other things. Each student then invents his own civilization, be it past, present or future. Students begin the semester by taking notes about their civilization -- they then sketch their artifact, make a map, and create an invented historical document that would have emerged from their civilization. The students spend most of the term building an artifact made out of clay that reveals some important aspect of their invented civilization. This curriculum runs in tandem with the students’ study of ancient civilizations. In the case of their art project, they are not illustrating moments in history, but come to understand that an artwork, in this case an artifact, has a specific meaning, and reason for being created. The students create the relevant context, a civilization, in which the artwork is actually fabricated. In addition, this project marks the first time that students are asked to create a clay sculpture that is made over time and that is demanding and ambitious. In doing so the students are developing new skills in their use of clay. In addition to craft, independent thinking, problem solving and inventiveness are emphasized.
In Fifth Grade Art, boys focus on printmaking techniques. Boys begin the semester by looking at contemporary prints, as well as examples from Art History. The boys create a series of monoprints for their first project, including large-scale prints pulled on giant glass plates. Boys often work collaboratively to create these large pieces. Boys go on to create a series of relief prints using styrofoam, and collagraphs built up with cardboard, and a variety of material, which we print using the printing press. In creating multiples through printmaking, the students come to understand the predecessors of mechanical reproduction. In addition, learning about pattern, design, composition and color are an integral part of the project. Collaboration, independent thinking, inventiveness and imagination are emphasized.
In Sixth Grade we focus on developing students' drawing skills, working both from observation and imagination. We begin the semester by creating contour drawings and then use these skills in order to create surrealist drawings. We then study shading, drawing simple still lifes that include the basic forms of cones, spheres, cubes and cylinders. The class then studies one-point perspective, drawing both cityscapes and interior scenes. Students look at work from the Renaissance as well as contemporary art for inspiration. The semester culminates with stop-motion animation drawings in which they incorporate the technical skills they've learned while combining their own ideas about social issues. The class examines several stop motion videos and focuses on the video work of an Argentinian graffiti artist named Blue. In addition to focusing on social issues, the drawing animation assignment emphasizes themes of transformation, movement, and point of view. Understanding how to tell a story through the sequencing of images is key in the stop motion project. Teamwork, independent thinking, originality and problem solving are all emphasized.