Lower School

Every grade in our Lower School takes 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. Throughout the Lower School years, students focus on the elements and principles of art and 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.

Middle School

In the Middle School Fine Arts program, students in grades five and six take a semester each of Studio Art and Woodworking. In grades seven and eight, 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, students learn to 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 their progress and quality of their performance.

Sample Middle School Curriculum

List of 2 items.

  • Grades 5 – 6 Studio Art

    This course covers fundamental knowledge, skills, techniques, and attitudes necessary to produce and understand visual art. A variety of artistic media is explored both in technique and through the lens of art history. Fifth grade assignments may include self-portraits, assemblage, collage, and aerial and one-point perspectives. Additional projects at the sixth-grade level include monochromatic painting, collage, sculpture using recycled materials, and a collaborative piece.
  • Grades 7 – 8 Studio Art

    Studio Art covers fundamental knowledge, skills, techniques, and the attitude necessary to produce and understand visual art. A variety of artistic media is explored across a range of subjects and styles. Seventh-grade projects may include abstract paintings, drawing from a still life, self-portraits in the style of an artist’s painting, landscape studies, and a collaborative piece. Additional projects at the eighth-grade level include charcoal still-life drawing, monochromatic acrylic painting, analogous painting, relief prints, and linear perspective studies.

Upper School

A wide variety of two- and three-dimensional art courses are offered in the Upper School Fine Arts program, including Studio Art, Drawing, Painting, Portfolio Development, AP 2D design, Photography, Graphic Design, 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 several opportunities throughout the year to show their work in a gallery setting to the school and community. Each year, the fine arts faculty in grades K-12 sponsor a winter and spring art exhibition for student work and host opening receptions. In addition, student work is submitted to several juried and non-juried art competitions and exhibitions throughout the year.

Sample Upper School Curriculum

List of 3 items.

  • Graphic Design

    This course introduces the interaction of text and image and the fundamental components of graphic communication. Students will develop and hone skills in working with text and images as they create solutions to a series of design problems. Visual literacy will be increased through exposure to contemporary design issues and graphic design history. Students will be expected to expand their proficiency in all aspects of the design process, including the use of formal design principles, type as image, creative brainstorming, conceptualizing, critical thinking, collaboration, and presentation.
  • Video Production/Filmmaking

    Video Production & Filmmaking serves as an introduction to the creating and editing of video and audio work. The course begins with the fundamental principles of audio and video and quickly moves to their application in visual/audio communications. This course incorporates the technical aspects of audio, lighting, and digital video production using the Adobe Creative Cloud. Students learn through a series of projects introduced throughout the semester. In addition, students take part in regular viewings and critiques of their projects and learn to develop the proper language to hold productive and constructive conversations.
  • Photography

    Photography is a semester-long course in which students create pictures and maintain digital photography labs and weekly journals. Basic photography is introduced early in the course. Students are taught the history of photography, digital printing, camera function, and photographic techniques. As the course progresses, students are exposed to more advanced aspects of lighting, composition, and subject matter. Additionally, creative and experimental photography allow students to explore the use of photography as a documentary and artistic medium. All of these skills can be used in a wide variety of career paths. Students maintain journals, documenting their camera’s technical features and capabilities. Group critiques follow major projects throughout the semester and help students develop the skills and vocabulary to contribute to productive and constructive review on one another’s work.

Art Exhibitions

Students have several opportunities throughout the year to show their work to the school and community in a gallery setting. Each year, the fine arts faculty in grades K–12 curates a winter and a spring art exhibition and hosts opening 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.

Visual Arts Chair

Sarah Isusi chairs the fine arts department at GSB. She is in her fourth year at Gill and teaches Upper School Studio Art, Drawing and Painting, Portfolio Development and AP 2D Design. Isusi holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Painting and a Master’s of Art in Teaching from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a Master’s 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 N.J. 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.

Meet the Team

List of 5 members.

  • Sarah Isusi 

    Chair, Fine Arts Department
    908-234-1611, Ext. 232
  • Robert Ort 

    Woodworking, Grades 5-8; Fine Arts, Upper School
    908-234-1611, Ext. 261
  • Cornelius Arnett 

    Sculpture / Ceramics, Grades 7-8; Fine Arts, Upper School
    908-234-1611, Ext. 229
  • Francesco Mazzotta 

    Photography, Video Production
    908-234-1611, Ext. 231
  • Bonnie Frith 

    Lower School Visual Arts & Middle School Fine Arts
    908-234-1611, Ext. 300
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a rigorous, meaningful and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.