Arts at George School

Studying the performing arts or visual arts at George School will teach you to look at the world through a different lens, in a different light, and from a different perspective.

Yes, you may learn how to handle a paint brush, a potter’s wheel, or your own voice. You’ll also learn about dedication. You’ll learn that struggling with something but loving it anyway is not an alien paradox. You will be inspired by amazing teachers, most of whom are professional artists, and by plentiful opportunities to perform and exhibit, collaborate and critique.

At George School, studying the arts will help you to see the world with fresh eyes (and ears) and to realize how far your creativity can take you.

Our Alumni

Jody Lee Lipes ’00 explores the intersection of cinematography and Quaker morality.

More to Explore

Our Students

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What AriAnna Thomas gets out of woodworking takes many forms: knowledge, passion, confidence, and a beautiful coffee table.

Our Faculty

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Ceramics teacher Amedeo Salamoni finds joy in molding his students as well as clay.

Arts by the Numbers

41

Visual and performing arts course options.

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Annual exhibitions and student performances.

 

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Talented teachers, with lessons that inspire.

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Online galleries featuring student creativity.

Arts in the News

Arts Courses

Dance Studies and Performance Art 1-6

In Dance 1, a fundamental knowledge of dance vocabulary, basic steps, and body mechanics is developed. Attention is placed on proper body alignment, movement efficiency, strength, and flexibility. Students learn to combine basic steps into movement phrases, to dance to a variety of tempos, and to work in a range of styles. The basics of dance composition are also explored, along with creative movement and performance preparation. As students progress through the dance program, there is increased emphasis on kinesthetics and the development of core strength. Movement combinations increase in length and technical difficulty as students become more familiar with adagio and petit allegro and are better able to incorporate increased use of jumps and turns. Students explore effort/shape concepts, dynamics, rhythm, gesture, and motivation in relation to dance composition and do increasingly sophisticated choreographic projects. All dance students participate in a staged performance during the course of the year, which requires rehearsal time outside of class.

Students with previous experience in dance can prepare for an IB dance exam by taking Dance 2 or higher in both 11th and 12th grades.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

String Ensemble

This is a course in musicianship for players of string instruments. Through the preparation and performance of instrumental music, students learn elements of style, expression, ensemble technique, music theory, history of music, and music literature. The role of the performer and his or her responsibility to the composer, the audience, and fellow performers are ongoing themes in this class. A varied repertoire, ranging from Renaissance music to modern compositions, is performed not only by the full orchestra, but also by the string orchestra and various smaller chamber ensembles. Each student will participate in at least three different ensembles within this single class. To participate, a student must demonstrate familiarity with his or her instrument; read music fluently; and have a working understanding of key signatures, basic rhythm patterns, and meter. There are occasional evening and weekend rehearsals and performances. Students also take field trips and attend off-campus performances.

With permission from the department, a student may prepare for an IB Music exam by taking String Ensemble in both 11th and 12th grades while doing additional independent work.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Wind Ensemble

This is a course in musicianship for players of wind and percussion instruments. Through the preparation and performance of instrumental music, students learn elements of style, expression, ensemble technique, music theory, history of music, and music literature. The role of the performer and his or her responsibility to the composer, the audience, and fellow performers are ongoing themes in this class. A varied repertoire, ranging from Renaissance music to modern compositions, is performed not only by the full orchestra, but also by various smaller chamber ensembles. Each student will participate in at least three different ensembles within this single class. To participate, a student must demonstrate familiarity with his or her instrument; read music fluently; and have a working understanding of key signatures, basic rhythm patterns, and meter. There are occasional evening and weekend rehearsals and performances. Students also take field trips and attend off-campus performances.

With permission from the department, a student may prepare for an IB Music exam by taking Wind Ensemble in both 11th and 12th grades while doing additional independent work.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Vocal Ensemble

Students in this course receive training in vocal production and sight-reading while exploring a variety of vocal styles. Singers experience a varied repertoire of music from around the world, including, but not limited to, early to contemporary classical music and a cappella and vocal jazz. The ensemble performs on and off campus. Chorale members learn the music of the Community Chorus and perform in its annual concert also. To participate, each student must be able to carry a tune, blend well with other voices, and be enthusiastic about performing. The ability to read music, while helpful, is not a prerequisite, as this is part of the class instruction.

With permission from the department and the ability to read music, a student may prepare for the IB SL Music exam by taking Vocal Ensemble in both 11th and 12th grades while doing additional independent work.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Community Chorus

This is a non-auditioned chorus open to all members of the George School campus community, as well as neighbors and friends from the wider community. Singers receive training in vocal production, exposure to music-reading, and exposure to a varied repertoire. The course meets on Sunday evenings for four months in preparation for one major concert. There are no meetings during the academic day.

The 2018-19 Community Chorus rehearsals will begin in January in preparation for their performance in May.

This course carries 1 credit.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Film Production

During this first-year film course, students pursue a variety of exercises designed to develop familiarity and skill with filmmaking. Skills covered include camera orientation, story development, basic shot composition, project planning and scheduling, basic editing, and post production. Limited-scale exercises in Term 1 build abilities for longer and more complex assignments in Term 2 and Term 3.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Advanced Film Production

During the second and subsequent years in the film program, students strengthen and refine their filmmaking skills and continue to develop new ones. More emphasis is placed on scripting and project planning, on targeting external audiences, on developing more sophisticated camera use and production practices, and on learning more advanced editing techniques. Collaborative effort is also stressed.

Students may take this course more than once.

Students may prepare for the IB Film exam by taking Advanced Film Production in both 11th and 12th grades. Juniors and seniors preparing for the IB exam must participate in the IB Film seminar, which meets for 30 minutes weekly and includes occasional field trips on Saturday or Sunday.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Theater Arts: Acting

This course provides training in acting techniques, including vocal production, movement, and the expressiveness necessary to interpret characters, both improvised and scripted. Students participate in ensemble-forming exercises that develop concentration, trust, observation, spatial relationships, and emotional expression. Students are introduced to script analysis through the study of monologues and scenes. Through a variety of exercises, students explore different acting styles specific to time period or dramatic genre. Continued work aims to fully develop emotional and intellectual resources for the creation of believable and accurate character interpretations. Participants are given the opportunity to stage Green Room productions.

Open to: Freshmen and sophomores

Advanced Theater Arts: Acting & Directing

This course, which has a specific focus on world theater, provides an opportunity for students to hone and improve the techniques developed in the Theater Arts: Acting course. Through a variety of exercises, students explore different acting styles specific to time period or dramatic genre. Collaboration is a key element at this level of study. Students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the wide variety of artists who contribute to a production (for example lighting, set and costume designers); this is done primarily through the eyes of the director. Participants are given the opportunity to stage Green Room productions and audition for Main Stage shows. Students may prepare for an IB Theater Arts exam by taking IB Advanced Theater Arts: Acting & Directing in both 11th and 12th grades.

Open to: Juniors and seniors

Theater Arts: Design & Production

The theater program believes that the theoretical approach to theater must be supplemented with practical experience. This lecture and laboratory course is designed to give students experience in backstage and shop safety, production techniques, and the terminology of technical theatre. Students will also be introduced to principles and techniques of various design elements in theatrical production. The collaborative nature of production is learned through active participation on backstage running crews. Participants are given the opportunity to stage Green Room productions and must serve on a Main Stage crew at least once a year.

Students may prepare for an IB Theater Arts exam by taking IB Theater Arts: Design & Production courses in both 11th and 12th grades.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Advanced Theater Arts: Design & Production

This advanced lecture and laboratory course is designed to give students a deeper experience in backstage and shop safety, production techniques, and the terminology of technical theatre. Students will further explore the principles and techniques of various design elements in theatrical production and may opt to take on leadership responsibilities. The collaborative nature of production continues to emphasize active participation on backstage crews. Participants are given the opportunity to stage Green Room productions and must serve on a Main Stage crew at least once a year. Students may prepare for an IB Theater Arts exam by taking IB Theater Arts: Design & Production courses in both 11th and 12th grades.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Theater Performance

Performance is the focus of this term-long course as members of the class participate in a Main Stage production. Shows are supported by the Theater Arts: Design and Production classes and a professional costumer. The goal is for students to demonstrate a range of physical, vocal, and emotional abilities in specific character portrayal. The course meets daily after school, so participants cannot take a sport concurrently but will not be required to take PE in the term of their performance class. Members of the Theater Arts: Design & Production classes may request enrollment in this class if they wish to participate in a leadership role as a member of the production team.

In 2018-2019 the course will be offered in Terms 1 and 3.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Musical Theater

Students explore the various backstage elements of musical theater production in this one-term course. They experience the interdependence of acting, singing, dancing, costuming, lighting, and set design. While the final public performance is a tangible result of a term’s work, the course emphasizes the process leading up to the performance. The ideals of ensemble and group support and development are modeled in all that is studied, from the audition process through the final curtain call. Auditions are held in the fall term. The course meets daily after school, so participants cannot take a sport concurrently but will not be required to take PE in the term of their performance class. Members of the Theater Arts: Design & Production classes may request enrollment in this class if they wish to participate in a leadership role as a member of the production team.

In 2018-2019 the course will be offered in Term 2.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Graphic Design

In this course, students will explore the formal elements of design, including composition, color, texture, and shape in the form of applied visual problem-solving exercises. Course work will incorporate these elements, along with learning the fundamentals of various software applications (such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop), image editing, and drawing. Advertising and marketing projects coordinate technical skills with organization, management, communication, ethics and teamwork. Projects will include: designing a magazine layout, t-shirt design, designing and re-designing logos, designing a set of CD’s, creating a social awareness poster campaign, commercial storyboarding, product advertising and event poster. This course may only be taken once.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Ceramics

Developing a practical understanding of clay objects while taking an aesthetic approach to ceramics is the primary goal of this course. Students develop skills in centering clay, throwing on the potter’s wheel, trimming, and glazing. Other skills introduced may include building with slabs and coils, pinching clay pots, creating small-scale sculpture, making clay stamps, making clay “prints” from linoleum blocks, and decorating with brushes and glaze pens. Each student’s work is exhibited with a critique at the end of each term. Students are expected to complete between four and ten pieces each term. In addition, they are expected to support classmates, to honor the work of all students in the class, and to contribute to classroom cleanup and maintenance.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Intermediate Ceramics

Students work to expand their knowledge of clay as an art medium and to improve the skills learned in Ceramics. They complete specific assignments and plan some of their own projects. Projects are more complex and require more time. Assignments might include covered pots, teapots, cups and saucers, plates, dinnerware sets and slab-built boxes. There is a great deal of flexibility within the assignments and some might include a written or presentation component. Craftsmanship, creativity, and an appreciation for the elements that are inherent in well-made functional pottery are emphasized in this class. This course may be taken as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts description

IB diploma candidates who would like to take ceramics as an IB Visual Art, but do not have previous experience in ceramics, should enroll in this class rather than the beginning ceramics class. They will be following a different curriculum than those who have previous experience on the wheel, at least during the first term. IB diploma candidates who are interested in clay, but concerned about having their first experience of ceramics in an intermediate class, can consider Materials and Methods of Sculpture as an alternative.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Advanced Ceramics

The advanced course builds on and perfects the techniques learned in the previous courses. Further exploration will focus on craftsmanship, creativity, design. Students will make both functional and sculptural works. Students will utilize a variety of slips, underglazes, and glazes, using more sophisticated application techniques. They will explore some ceramic art history and try different firing techniques. This course may be taken as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts description.

Open to: Juniors and seniors

Senior Ceramics Projects

In the fourth year of George School’s ceramics offerings, students are encouraged to develop a coherent body of independent work with periodic critiques to discuss progress, content, and process. In addition, they will try more advanced techniques such as making small editions utilizing slip-casting in plaster molds and utilizing a 3D printer designed to print with clay slip. This course may be taken as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts description.

Open to: Seniors

Materials and Methods of Sculpture

Sculpture students are introduced to materials and methods of working with three-dimensional forms, exploring the elements, principles and aesthetic concepts integral to three-dimensional design and to consider relationships between concept, process, materials, tools and technical skills. This course gives a historical overview of sculpture and covers various aspects of 3-dimensional works, such as the production of simple and complex forms, subtractive work, contextual considerations and found objects. Students are introduced to hand and power tools along with safe shop practices. Mediums and methods include plaster, clay, stone, metal, wood, casting techniques, wire forms and welding. Regular assessment promotes a solid theoretical and practical/technical understanding of the process of making sculptural forms. This course may be taken as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts description.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Advanced Sculpture I-II

Advanced sculpture further develops skills in spatial relationships, utilizing different materials, and safe shop practices. The application of these ideas is emphasized through collaborative work, site-specific installations, the understanding of the language of sculpture and documentation of process.

A further exploration of three-dimensional form-making. Enables the student to develop artistic expression and a greater understanding of contemporary sculpture. Emphasis may include permanent/nonpermanent materials: clay, plaster, metal, wax, fabric, wood, stone, or found objects. Both additive and subtractive methods will be employed. The first two terms specifically address the technical aspects of the discipline and the development of a conceptual language. This provides the groundwork for third term independent projects.

This course may be taken as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts description.

Open to: Juniors and seniors

Painting and Drawing

In this course, students will build a foundation in basic painting and drawing. Various concepts, materials, and techniques involving painting and drawing will be assigned and explored. Drawing will be used as both a means of preparation and as an independent mode of expression. Students will also be introduced to the fundamentals of painting. Through various assignments, students will form an understanding of the relationships between color, form, shape, texture, value and composition. Effort and conscientious completion of all requirements are considered for the assessment of assignments.

This course may be taken as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts description.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Advanced Painting and Drawing I-III

The focus of this course is directed towards creating a unique body of work in painting and drawing. In class, students will work on strengthening their painting and drawing skills while developing a unique and personal vision. Students will be encouraged to explore and develop their personal interests and ideas. Throughout the course, students will be introduced to a variety of sources and materials to explore different media, methods, processes and possibilities to create art. The instructor will give brief slide lectures and conduct demonstrations as needed. In addition, the instructor will give individual guidance through one-on-one discussion with each student as projects are developed. Students are required to maintain a sketchbook and work outside of class. This course may be taken as AP or IB Visual Arts. Please see the AP or IB Visual Arts description.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Senior Studio in Painting and Drawing

The focus of this course is to develop and complete a comprehensive body of work consisting of paintings and drawings that addresses a centralized theme with a written artist statement. Throughout the course, students will advance and evolve their aesthetic, concept, personal ideas and technical skills. Students are responsible for developing their portfolios by creating works that reflect their own individual voices. The instructor will give brief lectures and conduct demonstrations as needed. In addition, the instructor will give individual guidance through one-on-one discussion with each student as projects are developed. The development of the student’s body of work will culminate in an independent exhibition at George School. An ability to work independently on art projects is essential in this intensive class. Students are required to maintain a sketchbook and to work outside of class. Prior experience with a wide range of art materials is expected to showcase an effective and high quality portfolio. This course may be taken as AP or IB Visual Arts. Please see the AP or IB Visual Arts description.

Photography

Basic analog photography concepts, processes, and techniques lead students toward mastery of 35mm camera operation, exposure, and darkroom procedures. In addition to technical skills, students explore the aesthetics of photography through critiques, presentations, and written assignments. Student work is entered in regional and international photography contests and exhibited throughout the year in the George School galleries. Assessment is based on the quality of work, effort, and timeliness. Students are provided a 35mm manual camera for this course, and projects are shot outside of class time. Film and chemicals are provided; all other materials are provided for a $100 fee. If additional materials are needed, they may be purchased in the school bookstore. Since technical difficulties could arise that require students to spend free periods in the photo lab, students taking an overload are advised against taking this course. This course may be taken as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts description.

Open to: Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Advanced Photography I-III

Technical skills acquired in Photography are further refined. In addition, experimental techniques are introduced, ranging from historic and antique processes to digital imaging. Students experiment with studio lighting, digital imaging, non-silver processes, hand-coloring, toning, and mixed-media. Participation in class critiques is required as images created by students are analyzed for aesthetic, conceptual, and theoretical concerns. The latter part of the course is focused on portfolio development as students work to develop their individual voice through the photographic medium. Student work is entered in regional and international photography contests and exhibited throughout the year in the George School galleries. Since the curriculum changes every year, students are encouraged to take this class more than once. Materials for this course may be purchased in the school bookstore. Since technical difficulties could arise that require students to spend free periods in the photo lab, students taking an overload are advised against taking this course. This course may be taken as an Advanced Placement course in the senior year or with special permission from the instructor. Students may take this course in their junior and senior years as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts and AP Studio Art descriptions for more information.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Digital Imaging and Design

The art of digital imaging through the use of Adobe Photoshop is explored in this course. Students create images with 35mm Digital SLR cameras. Students focus on a theme, design, and publish a hard-cover book in the fall term based on their summer project. Students learn to edit and manipulate their images in Adobe Photoshop by participating in hands-on demonstrations and completing technical exercises. Participation in class critiques is required as images created by students are analyzed for aesthetic, conceptual, and theoretical concerns. The latter part of the course is focused on portfolio development as students work to develop their individual voice through the photographic medium. This course may only be taken once. Paper and ink are provided for a fee of $75 per term. Student work is entered in regional and international photography contests and exhibited throughout the year in the George School galleries. This course may be taken as an Advanced Placement course in the senior year or with special permission from the instructor. Students may take this course in their junior or senior years as an IB Visual Art. Please see the IB Visual Arts and AP Studio Art descriptions for more information.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Woodworking and Design

Students begin the year by learning how to work with and maintain a variety of traditional hand woodworking tools. In the first term, each student designs and builds a small box using traditional joinery techniques. In the second term, students learn to use power tools safely. Throughout the remainder of the year, each student is guided through the process of designing an original piece of furniture. The class includes trips to museums, local studios, and the Philadelphia Furniture Show. Students also have opportunities to exhibit their work in area shows.

There is no IB option in Woodworking.

Open to: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Advanced Woodworking and Design I-II

Building on skills developed in Woodworking and Design, students continue to develop patience, hand skills, safe power tool use, and the ability to “see” on paper and create in wood. Each student must design and build at least one piece of furniture of high quality. Some students spend the entire year on a single project, while others complete more than one piece. Either approach is acceptable as long as the student’s commitment to doing his or her best work is apparent in the final product. Students may take this course more than once.

There is no IB option in Advanced Woodworking.

Open to: Juniors and seniors

IB Visual Arts

Students may take IB Visual Arts in their junior and senior years. Students may choose from painting and drawing, ceramics, sculpture, and photography programs. It is recommended that students stay in the same art program for two years, but students may request different art classes in the junior and senior year with permission from the instructor.

The IB exam contains three components: a Comparative Study, a Process Portfolio that documents their work, and an Exhibition of the student’s IB Visual Arts work. In the Comparative Study, students will discover, explore, and compare artwork to enrich their knowledge of art. In the Process Portfolio, students will explore and research their artistic theme while documenting their creative processes. The Exhibition component is a display of the student’s work, which needs to be completed by the end of the second term of their senior year. The Exhibition is curated by the student with his or her instructor’s support.

Students enrolled in IB Visual Arts are required to attend the IB Seminar which includes visiting artist lectures and workshops that takes place on Thursdays during the Arts Block. Several field trips to galleries, museums, and craft shows will be facilitated on Sundays throughout the year.

Open to: Juniors and seniors

AP Studio Art

Juniors and seniors may take AP Studio Art as part of Digital Imaging and Design, Advanced Photography, Advanced Painting and Drawing II, III, or Senior Studio in Painting and Drawing courses. An ability to work independently on art projects is essential in this intensive class.

The AP Studio Art Exam consists of a comprehensive portfolio that addresses three components: Quality, Concentration, and Breadth. In the Quality section, five actual works that demonstrate the highest quality of work will be submitted by mail to the college board. In the Concentration section, students will submit twelve digital images of their body of work with a centralized theme. In the Breadth section, students will submit twelve digital images of their works demonstrating an understanding of a variety of visual art issues. Five works for the Quality section may be chosen from Concentration or Breadth. Due to the rigorous requirements, students will be required to have a strong portfolio before enrolling in this course. Students are required to maintain a sketchbook, create summer work and work outside of class.

Open to: Juniors and seniors

Our Faculty

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Maureen West finds inspiration in the honesty and energy of her theater arts students.

Our Faculty

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Danielle Picard-Sheehan opens the eyes of her students to the artistry of the world around them…and vice versa.

Our Faculty

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Ceramics teacher Amedeo Salamoni finds joy in molding his students as well as clay.