The goal of the art program at Holy Child is to give every student the opportunity to explore his/her inner being through various media. All students in the Lower School take art once a week and Middle School students take art twice a week throughout the year.
The visual arts are important to the development of the whole child. In kindergarten the elements of design are introduced. Design concepts are expanded and reinforced in each succeeding grade. Students learn about materials, artists, styles, and cultures throughout the elementary grades. Skill building is an ongoing process, with increasingly complex concepts added as the boys and girls gain in expertise and knowledge.
The art program in the Lower School fosters creativity and develops an awareness of the world. In the Middle School, the study of art is multilayered. The foundation is laid by the study of color, form, symmetry, spatial relationships, and various media. By teaching students real techniques, we give them the tools with which they can create many different kinds of art. Some projects are explorations of color or form. We might study an artist and create a work “in the style of” that artist. More depth is added when students create projects that are connected to their studies in literature or history. Through this experience they can come to understand that art is an expression of people’s lives and times. The re-creation of a Mayan pyramid and the design of a coat of arms on a shield are examples of such projects. Designing layouts for newspapers written in math or English class may seem superficial but brings students to the understanding that art is necessary to organize information and make it accessible. The creation of the art of different cultures deepens the students’ understanding of how art reflects culture. It is hoped that each student will learn to express his/her inner self through the opportunity to play and work with paint, paper, plaster, or pastels.
Underlying the serious fun of art is the development of skills that are valuable in any discipline. At all levels they are listening and following directions, developing fine motor skills, developing organizational skills, and focusing to complete a project.
In order to give each student a stronger experience, the teacher works with individuals throughout the class time; thus she has a good idea of their individual ability. In this way she also develops each student’s ability to think critically, assess himself or herself, and self-correct. It is difficult to assess any endeavor as personal as art; therefore the teacher takes into account many nonartistic aspects of the class, such as the ability to maintain a steady work ethic to complete a project in a timely manner. It is, however, the heart of the work, the response of the student to the assignment, that is the standard the teacher seeks to honor as she assesses a developing artist. The joy of art at Holy Child is evident in our hallways, lined with projects created by student artists.
Over many years’ time, our art curriculum has grown to reflect the underlying themes at each grade level. In sixth grade, it is ancient history. In seventh grade, the theme is heroes. In eighth grade, the theme is understanding oneself. In order to maintain that structure, the art teacher develops her project ideas in concert with the content area teachers.