The art program at Powhatan builds progressively on skills from kindergarten through eighth grade. Classes work with a wide range of age-appropriate materials and techniques, such as sketching, painting, sculpture, print making, crafts, and collage. Students also participate in particular projects for class plays, costumes and props, event posters, and seasonal decorations. Through the introduction of art history, integrated with grade-level content, students learn to appreciate a wide range of art forms and styles.
One of the highlights in the art department the past two years has been the Artist in Residence program. Through the generosity of the Bessette Family, artistic inspiration by a practicing artist has now become part of Powhatan students’ experiential education. Last year, renown painter John Barber was our artist in residence. Over his career spanning three decades, Mr. Barber has painted commissioned works of art for President Ronald Reagan, Walter Cronkite and Bunny Mellon. Although he has painted internationally and throughout the United States, he is best known for his paintings of the Chesapeake Bay and its local culture. Mr. Barber spent three days on campus meeting with classes and sharing his experience and technique. The value of programs such as this is immeasurable. Meeting an author, scientist, or artist in person forms a connection that reading about that person could never create. Being able to provide these types of experiences for our students is truly remarkable.
The Lower School art curriculum is designed to facilitate and support the creative development of students. With a primary focus in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture, we strive to balance each grade levels’ exposure to each fine art discipline. Over the course of their time in Lower School, art students will study the elements and principles of art in depth through process and product. From Pre-Kindergarten through first grade, Powhatan students explore materials and basic art skills with an instructional focus on process. Transitioning during first grade and continuing through fourth grade, our curriculum engages the process skills that students are developing and guides them toward a product oriented methodology. Students maintain a sketchbook which houses all of their planning and practice. Once they are prepared, students produce final pieces for their portfolios.
The Upper School art program is designed to offer a variety of complex projects. The works are more involved, with a range of steps and different techniques, to yield a more sophisticated result. The course is divided into three trimesters, allowing each student two trimesters of art a year. The third trimester may be used to make props and/or sets for the drama production of each particular grade. Powhatan values the artistic endeavors of all students and encourages all students who demonstrate talent or interest.
The opportunities for cross-curricular study are endless. For example, one of the most popular projects in fifth grade is Royston’s Regatta. It is a terrific example of a cross-curricular project involving both Art and History. Learn more by watching the video below:
Creativity is alive and well at Powhatan School!