High School
Departments & Courses, In Brief

High School Courses

Visual Arts

Dalton’s Visual Arts program is unique in its breadth and focus. We offer two dimensional, three dimensional, digital, and multi-media art courses. These courses develop visual perception, aesthetic judgment, and technical skills in a variety of media. 

The visual arts curriculum enriches the students’ program with a genuine studio experience. Working with their teachers, students engage thoughtfully in the creative process. Faculty members guide students with Senior Initiatives in Visual Arts. Teachers assist students in preparing art portfolios for college admission.  Some students go on to attend art and architecture schools while others study art to broaden their liberal arts college experience.

All students are encouraged to experience an art course.  We value and encourage each student to engage in the creative process with purpose, rigor, and commitment.
 
REQUIREMENTS AND INFORMATION
Students are required to take 2 full year credits of an art for graduation. This requirement includes electives from the Dance, Theatre, Music, or Visual Arts Departments.

All introductory (generally Level 1) Visual Arts courses are open to high school students without prerequisites.
 
Overview of Visual Arts course offerings

2-Dimensional Art Courses:

  • Drawing 1
  • Drawing 2
  • Painting 1
  • Painting 2
  • Painting, Collage and Assemblage 1
  • Painting, Collage and Assemblage 2
  • Photography 1
  • Photography 2
  • Watercolor Painting

3-Dimensional and Media Art Courses:

  • Architecture 1
  • Book Arts 1: Papermaking and Handmade Books
  • Book Arts 2: Papermaking and Handmade Books
  • Ceramics 2
  • Introduction to Digital Fabrication: Art and Design
  • New Media 1
  • New Media 2
  • Drawing 2

    Working from skills developed in Drawing 1, students increase their range of media, complexity, scale, and independence.
     
    Prerequisite: Drawing 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

    Requires Preapproval
  • Painting 2

    Working from the fundamentals of color learned in Painting 1, students develop a personal style by studying the work of master painters through art history.  Students experience a hands-on approach to art history by experimenting with authentic materials and techniques such as egg tempera, gilding, and glazing.  The course covers prehistoric cave paintings, Egyptian scrolls, Early Greek black figure technique, medieval gilding, Early Renaissance egg tempera, High Renaissance glazing techniques, and Impressionist pastel painting.  Students look at paintings through slideshows and museum visits, discovering artists whose style they want to emulate.   One assignment uses a portrait model so that students can  compare figure styles throughout art history.  The chronological presentation of information helps students to order and make sense of art historical movements.  This combined study of master artworks and a consistent painting practice helps the students develop a personal direction in their painting.
     
    Prerequisite: Painting 1, Painting, Collage and Assemblage or Watercolor Painting
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

    Requires Preapproval
  • Painting, Collage, and Assemblage 2

    Students continue to make art with a variety of unusual media. Assignments include 3D still life, wire sculpture, collage, kimono design, a design for a gameboard, Japanese screen paintings, and drawings inspired by Self-Taught artists.
     
    Prerequisites: Painting, Collage, and Assemblage 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

    Requires Preapproval
  • Photography 2

    Students have the opportunity to further refine and increase their understanding of exposure, development, and the finished print. During the first semester, they explore portraiture, documentary photography and sequential imagery, with the option of printing 11" x 14". Students also experiment with digital photography, mixed media techniques, and medium format film. They use Holga cameras and do large-scale color printing from digital files. In addition to film cameras, students photograph with digital cameras and use Adobe Photoshop to manipulate their images before printing them. Class trips to museums and galleries supplement the curriculum. Students also give a visual presentation on a photographer of their choice.  Class critiques occur after the completion of each photographic assignment.  Assignments are photographed outside of class time. A digital / 35mm camera with manual controls is needed for this course.  See Ms. Zexter if you need to borrow a camera.
     
    Prerequisite: Photography 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

    Requires Preapproval
  • Book Arts 2: Papermaking & Handmade Books

    Students work with nontraditional materials to develop the text, imagery, and sculptural aspects of the book. They continue to develop their bookbinding skills and learn new techniques.
     
    Prerequisite: Book Arts 1: Papermaking and Handmade Books
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

    Requires Preapproval
  • Ceramics 2

    Students work on individual assignments based on previous experience and explore increasingly ambitious forms.  Advanced techniques are introduced as students explore multi-part forms and focus on the formal and technical challenges of complex forming strategies.  Glaze formulation, working with porcelain, and increased involvement with kilns and firing are part of the curriculum.
     
    Prerequisite: Ceramics 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

    Requires Preapproval
  • Architecture 1

    Architecture is an imaginative discipline that journeys between the everyday and the extraordinary. In this course students will be exposed to new ways of seeing and thinking through creative design processes that allow architects to shape and control the built environment. Students should be prepared to learn through both intellectual and hands-on engagement. The course will be composed of drawing and model-making exercises of varying lengths that culminate in a final project. Architecture is a very process driven field that requires (at different times): discipline and procedure, the occasional and surprising ‘inspiration’ and openness to trial and error.  

    Prerequisite:  None
    Full Year Course, 0.5 credits
  • Book Arts 1: Papermaking & Handmade Books

    Students create books with paste paper, Japanese marbled paper, stamped paper and other handmade papers. These books incorporate Western and Eastern binding structures from different time periods. After developing skills in bookbinding with paper and book cloth, students use leather and sheepskin as cover materials. Students may alter old books, giving them new life as sculptural objects. They can also scan photographs and artifacts to create family albums or baby books. 

    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 0.5 credits
  • Data Visualization

    Through today's fog of overwhelming data, visualizations provide meaning. This course trains students to collect, organize, interpret, and communicate massive amounts of information. Students will begin wrangling data into spreadsheets, learning the basic ways professionals translate information into comprehensible formats. They will explore charts, distinguishing between effective and misleading visualizations. Employing principles from information graphics, graphic design, visual art, and cognitive science, students will then create their own stunning and informative visualizations. From spreadsheets to graphics, students in this course will practice the crucial skills of using data to decide, inform, and convince. There is no computer science, math or statistics prerequisite for this course, though students with backgrounds in those areas will certainly find avenues to flex their knowledge in this course.

    *Cross-listed in Mathematics and Technology

    This course is offered through our partnership with Global Online Academy (GOA). 
    Fall Semester Course, 0.50 credits

    Requires Preapproval
  • Digital Photography

    In an era where everyone has become a photographer obsessed with documenting most aspects of life, we swim in a sea of images posted on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other digital media. To that end, why is learning how to use a digital camera important and what does taking a powerful and persuasive photo with a 35mm digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera require? Digital photography explores this question in a variety of ways, beginning with the technical aspects of using and taking advantage of a powerful camera and then moving to a host of creative questions and opportunities. Technical topics such as aperture, shutter, white balance, and resolution get ample coverage in the first half of the course, yet each is pursued with the goal of enabling students to leverage the possibilities that come with manual image capture. Once confident about technical basics, students apply their skills when pursuing creative questions such as how to understand and use light, how to consider composition, and how to take compelling portraits. Throughout the course, students tackle projects that enable sharing their local and diverse settings, ideally creating global perspectives through doing so. Additionally, students interact with each other often through critique sessions and collaborative exploration of the work of many noteworthy professional photographers whose images serve to inspire and suggest the diverse ways that photography tells visual stories. Prerequisite: Students must have daily access to a DSLR camera.

    This course is offered through our partnership with Global Online Academy (GOA).
    Spring Semester Course, 0.50 credits

    Requires Preapproval
  • Drawing 1

    This intensive drawing course trains the eye to see.  Through a deliberate process, the student acquires the ability to perceive three-dimensional form accurately and render it convincingly in two dimensions. This course helps students to understand the world around them by learning to grasp visual relationships and interpret what they see.  Drawing is a primary building block that will help students in any further artwork and in many other fields as well.  This course is appropriate for all levels of development.

    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 0.5 credits
  • Filmmaking

    This course is for students interested in developing their skills as filmmakers and creative problem-solvers. It is also a forum for screening the work of their peers and providing constructive feedback for revisions and future projects, while helping develop critical thinking skills. The course works from a set of specific exercises based on self-directed research and culminates in a series of short experimental films that challenge students on both a technical and creative level. Throughout, we will increasingly focus on helping students express their personal outlooks and develop unique styles as filmmakers. We will review and reference short films online and discuss how students might find inspiration and apply what they find to their own works. Prerequisite: Students must have access to an HD video camera, tripod or other stabilizing equipment, and editing software such as iMovie, Premiere Pro, etc.

    This course is offered through our partnership with Global Online Academy (GOA).
    Fall Semester Course, 0.50 credits

    Requires Preapproval
  • Introduction to Digital Fabrication: Art and Design

    This course is an introduction to digital fabrication, focusing on 3-D printing and laser cutting. Using Fusion 360 and Adobe Illustrator, students will move through a complete design process from creating a 3-D CAD model to printing and assembling their completed physical objects. In addition to skill-based instruction with the software and tools above, students will develop creative 2-D and 3-D design projects to help them begin to think about how to leverage the unique affordances of this method of working in support of their projects in art and design. Individuals with a current interest in art or design with no previous experience in digital fabrication are strongly encouraged to take the course.

    *cross-listed with Visual Arts 

    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit
  • Introduction to Digital Fabrication: Art and Design

    This course is an introduction to digital fabrication, focusing on 3-D printing and laser cutting. Using Fusion 360 and Adobe Illustrator, students will move through a complete design process from creating a 3-D CAD model to printing and assembling their completed physical objects. In addition to skill-based instruction with the software and tools above, students will develop creative 2-D and 3-D design projects to help them begin to think about how to leverage the unique affordances of this method of working in support of their projects in art and design. Individuals with a current interest in art or design with no previous experience in digital fabrication are strongly encouraged to take the course.

    *cross-listed with Visual Arts 

    Prerequisite: None
    Semester Course, 0.5 credits
  • New Media 1

    Students work with digital tools in an art and graphic design context. These tools include: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, pressure sensitive tablets and stylus pens, computer driven vinyl cutters, iPads and digital paint applications,  Adobe Flash (for animation), and Google SketchUp. "Hands-on" methods are woven throughout the digital curriculum: stickers for laptops, heat transfer designs for T-shirts, screen printing, and product labels for food packaging. Assignments are grounded in the work of relevant fine artists and graphic designers.

    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 0.5 credits
  • New Media 2

    This course expands upon skills and concepts from New Media.  Students are supported in developing their artistic voice through challenging assignments in lettering, pattern design, digital photography, branding, and motion graphics.
     
    Prerequisite: New Media 1
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

    Requires Preapproval
  • Painting 1

    Using acrylic paint, students complete a highly structured series of assignments that teach the fundamentals of color theory.  Each student will identify the hue, intensity, and luminosity of an observed color and replicate these qualities by mixing paint.  Assignments become increasingly complex as the student masters each assignment and learns to paint detailed still-lifes and portraits. Understanding the subtleties of paint application is an important aspect of the course.  Initial assignments are painting with thick impasto paint, using only the palette knife (no brushes) to apply paint to the surface.  Later assignments use brush methods such as under painting, layering and blending.  After completing this course, the student will be able to mix colors and paint artworks that create the illusion of form, space, and light.
     
    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 0.5 credits
  • Painting, Collage, and Assemblage 1

    Students take an experimental approach to making art with a variety of unusual media and unique assignments. Subject matter includes still life, landscape, and portraiture, with an emphasis on color and composition, Using acrylic paint, found objects, wire, clothespins, and collage papers, students create ticket sculptures, altered books, clothespin sculptures, box constructions, paintings, collages, and other inventive works of art. Additional assignments develop compositional skills, personal imagery, and confidence in aesthetic choices.

    Prerequisites: None
    Full Year Course, 0.5 credits
  • Photography 1

    In this introductory black and white photography course, students use the camera as a tool for making art.  They learn how to use a 35mm SLR manual camera, process negatives, print photographs in the darkroom, and mat to produce a finished piece of artwork. Students work on a long term assignment called "Studies in Composition" in which they explore the formal aspects of art such as perspective, texture, pattern, shadow, and line. Other assignments include depth-of-field, blurred motion, self-portraits, double exposure, night photography, and scavenger hunt. Digital photography is introduced at the end of the year. Assignments are photographed outside of class time. A 35 mm film camera with manual controls is needed for this course. See Ms. Zexter if you need to borrow a camera.
     
    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 0.5 credits
  • Visual Art Studio: Critique and Portfolio

    In this upper level course, students working in a variety of media across the visual arts department will share and discuss the direction of their studio work through a process of critique.  Students will spend most of their class time developing projects and a body of work independently under the guidance of their chosen faculty members.  Students will gather weekly for one period with the entire  group of juniors and seniors for critiques, artist presentations, and demos/workshops.  Students will be guided through the process of developing a creative practice that involves independent research, the viewing of new work related to their interests, and some engagement with the history of their craft.
     
    This course will culminate in a year-end show of completed work as well as an edited portfolio of this work.
     
    This new course is a shift in the Visual Art course structure and sequence and is for students who wish to enroll in a level 3 or level 4 course in a studio (eg Book Arts 3, Drawing 3, Painting 3, Ceramics 3, New Media 3, Photo 3, PCA 3) or have taken two years of any visual art and wish to move into more rigorous and independent studio practice.
     
    Prerequisite: Two years visual art credit and Departmental Approval
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

    Requires Preapproval
  • Watercolor Painting

    Watercolor is a vibrant and exciting medium well suited to self-expression. In this class, students develop their understanding of this transparent media.  After gaining control of the basic tools, students explore a variety of painting methods and concepts. In the second half of the course, students create paintings that illustrate individual ideas in landscape, figurative, spatial, and still life formats.

    Prerequisites: None
    Full Year Course, 0.5 credits
  • Woodworking

    Students design their own assignments and draw accurate plans for them.  To realize their designs, participants use a variety of hand and power tools to shape and join wood.  The properties and appropriate qualities of various kinds of wood are discussed. The first assignment is to design and build a lamp.  The second assignment is to build a small table or box in which the joinery is the focus of the design. Function, craftsmanship, and finish are explored.

    Prerequisite: None
    Full Year Course, 1.0 credit

Faculty

  • Photo of Mira Gelley
    Mira Gelley
    Middle and High School Arts Chair, High School Visual Arts Teacher
    University of California, Irvine - B.F.A.
    Art Institute of Chicago - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Ellen Stavitsky
    Ellen Stavitsky
    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher
    Brandeis University - B.A. Magna Cum Laude
    Harvard Graduate School of Education - Ed.M.
    Pratt Institute - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Carol Bowen
    Carol Bowen
    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher
    Mount Holyoke College - B.A.
    Rhode Island College - M.A.
    Tulane University - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Nick Grasso
    Nick Grasso
    Middle and High School Visual Arts
    Lewis & Clark College - B.A.
    Rutgers University - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Linda Hanauer
    Linda Hanauer
    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher and Middle School Art Department Chair
    Cornell University - B.S.
    Teachers College, Columbia University - M.A.
  • Photo of Tammy Logan
    Tammy Logan
    Engineering and Art Teacher
    School of Art and Design Purchase College - B.F.A.
    Yale University - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Ashley Mendelsohn
    Ashley Mendelsohn
    Architecture Teacher
  • Photo of David Rubin
    David Rubin
    Visual Arts Teacher
    University of Wisconsin, Madison - B.S.
    Cranbrook Academy of Art - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Melissa Zexter
    Melissa Zexter
    Middle and High School Visual Arts Teacher
    Rhode Island School of Design - B.F.A.
    New York University/International Center for Photography - M.A .
212.423.5200 | info@dalton.org
(K-3) 53 East 91st Street, New York, NY 10128
(4-12) 108 East 89th Street, New York, NY 10128