The art program builds on the natural creativity of children, while developing the skills and concepts that form the basis of art making. Art experiences are framed by four guiding principles:
- respond to the emergent interests of our students
- integrate with classroom content and learning
- take inspiration from our forested campus; often nature-based
- value a process-oriented approach to artistic expression
Broad exposure to a repertoire of art media and materials builds art-making skills while also developing an awareness of the artistic vocabulary of line, shape, color, form, texture and composition. In this project-rich environment which encourages collaboration and critical thinking, students develop confidence as creative agents and an individual and expressive artistic voice. The process of art making is emphasized as students plan, draft and revise their artworks. Guided by their process, students experience risk-taking and grow in their confidence.
Our stimulating art program is bolstered by exposure to the work of other artists. Through field trips to area museums and visiting artist demonstrations, students are able to observe new techniques, gain exposure to others’ creative processes and develop an appreciation for different techniques and artistic styles. Additionally, each year we host an Art of Discovery exhibit courtesy of Bellevue Art Museum and the Junior League of Seattle. A variety of artwork is temporarily displayed on our campus, with our parent/guardian volunteers serving as docents to connect our students to the art at a developmentally appropriate level.
Each spring student artwork is exhibited in a gallery setting as part of our annual Art Festival. In addition to the opportunity to create anew, this celebration recognizes the rich artistic creativity of our students. Each child has work of their choosing on display as part of a stunning collection, showcasing the depth and breadth of artistic media, styles and creative exploration. Seeing one's work displayed in a public space encourages students to appreciate, respect and value themselves and their peers as creative agents.
In our early childhood classrooms art is all about exploration. Often combined with other content areas such as science or literacy, students are set on a voyage of discovery. Classroom teachers create opportunities for students to work with a variety of media and an assortment of tools. Students are able to think critically and ask questions, such as: What happens when salt is sprinkled over a still-wet watercolor painting? How does painting with tempera differ when using a small brush, a large brush, a cotton swab or a corn cob? What happens when I mix red and yellow? Through this process, students are learning about their world and also beginning to see themselves as artists.
Art in the primary level builds on prior explorations, providing students with more focused opportunities to explore a varety of techniques and media while learning basic foundational skill development. Exposure to a set of core media types such as clay, watercolor, pastels, tempera, drawing and printmaking are revisited, allowing students to increase their comfort and confidence levels and bring new interests and abilities to their art work. In the older primary level classes, students experience the benefit of our culture-rich location with visits to local art museums and studios. This provides an opportunity to critically view artwork discussed in class as well as extend and expand upon art concepts.
Creative exploration continues in the intermediate level as students are able to utilize the core set of media in new ways. With their developmental growth comes new opportunities to look at more complex techniques, building on their prior experiences with new-found knowledge and skills. As with the younger classes, art experiences integrate with and complement classroom content, supporting and augmenting academic learning. Using art as a language through which to express ideas and gain understanding enriches the learning process. Working independently, with a partner and in small and large groups, students are able to collaborate and share ideas, encouraging flexible thinking and a problem solving approach to the creative process.