Upper School Visual Arts Courses
At The Pennington School, students learn to use art as a visual language through deliberate manipulation of design skills, concepts, and experience. Teachers encourage and nurture self-expression, risk taking, creative thinking, successful problem solving, and critical thinking. Three areas of media study are featured at Pennington: photography, drawing and painting, and ceramics. A photo lab with five enlargers, a clay room with five pottery wheels, a large electric kiln, and a raku kiln fired on-campus enhance artists' experiences at Pennington.
The Pennington Visual Arts program begins with Basic Art, a quarter course exploring various media and introducing the elements of art. Introductory and intermediate courses include instruction in the specific media of photography, painting, drawing, and clay and also develop skills in critical analysis and art history. Advanced courses are yearlong and media-specific, and are aimed at students serious about pursuing the visual arts after high school. College entrance portfolios are created under faculty supervision. Graduating art students have gone on to pursue the arts at schools such as the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology, the College of Ceramics at Alfred University, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the School of Visual Arts, and Rhode Island School of Design.
Exhibition and Competition Opportunities
On-Campus Opportunities: Student artwork is displayed in showcases in the academic buildings around campus. The Meckler Library houses art exhibits of student, parent, and faculty, and local artist works. The annual Arts Celebration showcases students' pottery, painting, drawing, and photography when Stainton Hall is transformed into an art gallery for a week in the spring. Student artwork is also included in the annual literary arts magazine; students submit photographs, drawings, and paintings to the editorial staff for review and selection for publication.
Off-Campus Displays: Art teachers at The Pennington School believe that it is important for their student artists to have exposure in the greater community. To facilitate this process, student artwork is put on display in local restaurants and coffee shops. Frequently, area exhibition venues feature student art shows in which Pennington artists find a warm reception.
Juried Shows: Student artwork is continually submitted to juried art shows throughout the year in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art. Not only have Pennington students had their pieces accepted into these competitive shows, but they also win awards on a regular basis. Recently two Pennington artists received first-place honors in drawing and painting in the Congressional Art Competition.
Students interested in the visual arts have many opportunities to explore art with trips to local art galleries, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Students have the opportunity to visit artists' studios and watch the artists in action, as well as to talk to them about their trade and techniques. Students of all abilities participate in the Empty Bowls project each spring, making pottery bowls, selling them in the community, and donating the proceeds to TASK (Trenton Area Soup Kitchen). Students may also participate in After School Art, an activity providing varied art experiences outside of the school day.