Every grade in our Lower School enjoys art as a yearlong course. Through studio practice, students learn about the language and history of art and gain an appreciation for creating and understanding visual art. Students focus on the elements and principles of art, and they learn about artists, styles, and mediums.
Cross-collaboration among the arts and other classes supports the progression of visual literacy, aesthetic sensitivity, and problem-solving at each grade level.
This collaborative approach provides students with a wide range of skill development, self-expression, effective communication, and discovery and joy inherent in the creative process.
In the Middle School, students in fifth and sixth grade take a semester each of Studio Art and Woodworking. In seventh and eighth grade, students can choose to explore sculpture and ceramics as well, furthering their experience in their chosen medium. Both two- and three-dimensional art courses offer practice in problem-solving and help students develop cognitive, affective, and fine motor skills. Students learn how to use the elements of art and principles of design to create successful works of art.
With guidance, they take responsibility for the use, care, and conservation for tools and materials and establish a productive work ethic.
As students develop confidence in their abilities to adjust and refine their work, they realize the importance of constant reflection on progress and quality of their performance.
A wide variety of two- and three-dimensional art courses are offered in the Upper School Fine Arts program, including Studio Art, Drawing, Painting, Honors Portfolio Development, AP 2-D Art and Design, Photography, Advanced Photography, Graphic Design, Digital Illustration, Woodworking, Advanced Woodworking, Sculpture, and Ceramics.
Constructive criticism is an integral part of classroom discussion and helps each artist more fully realize his or her creative potential.
All aspects of creating art, from generating ideas to the technical process, are included in instruction and practice. References to art history and contemporary art are integrated into every course.
Students have opportunities throughout the year to show their work to the community in a gallery setting. Each year, the fine arts faculty curate winter and spring exhibitions and host receptions for staff, faculty and friends to come together and celebrate the work of our art students. In addition, student work is submitted to several juried and non-juried art competitions and exhibitions throughout the year.
As a recent final project for their Portfolio Development course, students created large-scale, self-portrait collages. Students first created the background on canvas and then painted the portrait over this surface. For the background, students used a variety of materials, including scraps of patterned paper, dried flowers, newspaper, and pages from their class notebooks and from their own sketchbooks.
As part of Gill St. Bernard's AP Art and Design curriculum, Upper School students work with faculty members to build website portfolios around a personal topic of their choice. This sustained investigation allows students to think deeply about identity, perspective, and their creative process while providing a capstone experience for their growth as an artist.
Visual Arts Chair
Sarah Isusi chairs the Fine Arts Department and teaches Upper School Studio Art, Drawing and Painting, Portfolio Development and AP 2D Design. Isusi holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and a Master of Art in Teaching from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a Master of Fine Art in Painting from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Prior to coming to Gill, she taught International Baccalaureate Art and Design to Upper School students in Baltimore and later developed the Fine Arts program for a Charter School for Performing and Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She is an active member of the National Art Education Association, as well as the Center for Contemporary Art in Bernardsville, and the Print Center of N.J., where she shows her work annually. Sarah is excited about selecting and curating local art exhibitions and gallery talks in the F.M Kirby Hall and Gallery several times throughout the year.
Spotlight: Local Artist on Exhibit at Gill Returns to Talk with Students
Local artist Wes Sherman delivered a riveting talk on how he went from being a biology major in undergrad, to a flourishing sought-after artist represented by one of New Jersey's top galleries. He described his early artist influences and how he arrived at painting from nature. Sherman talked about the importance of networking, going to see art openings in galleries and museums, and having mentors. He encouraged anyone going into art in higher education to take courses in business, since being an artist is like being a CEO and owning your own business. He also described being represented by galleries is much like having stock in a company. Encouraging students to be their authentic selves, he told them to, "Create what matters to you." According to Fine Arts Department Chair Sarah Isusi, "Wes Sherman is a true gem in the NJ art community, and we are so fortunate to have his work and words inspire us all."