The Art & Design program will help you develop your visual literacy (your understanding and appreciation of artistic concepts such as the principles of design), creative problem solving, design-thinking (a focus on the process of making), and technical skills (craftsmanship). You’ll develop your knowledge, understanding, and skills in various materials and techniques through class projects, exercises, and outside assignments. You’ll collaborate, share and discuss your work in critiques, and prepare your work for exhibition. You’ll be encouraged to build a portfolio of your most successful work. Students of all grade levels can start the program with one or more of a variety of “Foundation”-level courses. These are all active, hands-on courses!
In our art classes, you’ll develop your Studio Habits of Mind, which are valuable skills in today’s competitive job market. You’ll develop your craft, becoming more technically skillful in using different tools, materials, and artistic processes. You’ll learn the proper maintenance for tools, materials, and your workspace. You’ll begin to see and embrace problems as opportunities, develop your focus, and persist and persevere at tasks. You’ll envision and imagine, thinking creatively, developing your ability to come up with new ideas. You’ll learn to plan well. You’ll express yourself, making art that conveys ideas, feelings, or personal meanings. You’ll observe, looking closely and carefully at things. You’ll become more and more sensitive to the natural environment as you work from observation, memory, and imagination. You’ll reflect on what you and your fellow artists have done. You’ll learn how to look at and talk about art. You’ll stretch and explore, reaching beyond what you thought you could do. You’ll learn to embrace opportunities, discover through play, and learn from your mistakes. You’ll work and interact with one another in the community that is the art class, and you’ll have a chance to share your work with your wider communities of school and family. Art classes can serve as a balance to your academic classes. Art-making is an enriching experience that can help to develop a well-rounded person (Studio Habits of Mind comes out of the framework of Studio Thinking designed by practitioners at Project Zero at Harvard’s School of Education.).
21st Century Learning Expectations
Consistent with the school’s mission and 21st Century Learning Skills, Art & Design students are engaged in modes of artistic and creative expression and critical thinking every day. They are presented with extensive opportunities for growth in creating, presenting, responding, and connecting. Students are encouraged to develop skills that teach them accountability, adaptability and tenacity in their academic, social, and civic interactions. Students will work both independently and collaboratively to solve artistic and conceptual problems, acquiring skills to generate their own questions and investigate independent topics of interest related to the concepts being taught. They will synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art, and they will convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. Students will apply a variety of problem-solving strategies, which may involve generating and conceptualizing artistic ideas through writing or brainstorming; organizing and developing these ideas through drafting, revising, and refining for presentation; working spontaneously and experimentally; and processing feedback from peers.
Students will participate in a classroom environment where they are nurtured to act with integrity in all academic endeavors and to exhibit respect for themselves and empathy for others. They will learn to speak honestly and respectfully to classmates and respect their opinions in discussions and in group critiques of student work. They will interpret meaning and intent in artistic work, and they will use the vocabulary of art in a way that demonstrates informed, critical decision-making, applying criteria to evaluate artistic work. They will exhibit responsible citizenship by maintaining their tools and work space; assisting and serving as resources for classmates; and considering the relevance of art in a local, global and digital society. Students will relate their artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding, studying the work of famous artists and artwork from different cultures and eras.
Some of Our Strengths
To give you a better idea of what students in our art classes have to look forward to, we've listed some of our strengths below.
1. The art program at Burlington High School is respected throughout the region. We strive to model current educational trends.
2. We have excellent facilities to provide a program which is considered accelerated by most high school standards. We have a major strength in our use of technology. Two twenty-station Macintosh computer labs, large-format printers, digital cameras, scanners, graphics tablets and the most current professional graphics software are well-maintained and used every day by BHS art students as tools in communicating their ideas and feelings.
3. The program is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of students. We strongly believe that ALL students can benefit from our art courses. The art courses complement and balance students’ academic work, and we try to make the subject relevant to both their other courses and to whatever they might choose to do in their futures. Students develop their problem solving skills, work ethic, cooperative effort, and creative thinking (all much-desired skills in today’s job market), as well as developing a concern for refined craftsmanship.
4. Our regular use of critiques, both group and individual, combined with the high level of expectation from our teaching staff, help our art students develop analytical minds and grow artistically, intellectually and personally.
5. We encourage our students to compete and present their work on local, state, and national levels, where they consistently perform well. We have exhibited at the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society, the Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition, as well as at other shows. We host our annual student exhibition in March, and a Portfolio Exhibition in the Spring (And please, come see the show!). Every year our students earn places at Worcester Art Museum’s Art All-State weekend, where they work on large collaborations with professional artists and other art students from across Massachusetts.
6. We make a point of exposing students to as many great works of art as possible, encouraging their participation throughout the year on a number of field trips to art museums, architecture firms, and art walk tours. Students have been to New York City to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, both of which they found inspiring. We’ve also gone on trips to the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
7. Our teachers are well-trained and experienced, and they are practicing artists themselves.
8. Students often have the same art teacher for two, three, and sometimes even four years. This is one of the only disciplines in which that might occur during their high school careers. Students can look to that teacher as a mentor, someone they trust to provide good advice about any number of concerns, including college. As they get to know the students well over the years, the art teachers are often asked to write letters of reference by seniors whether or not they plan to major in the visual arts.
9. The variety of courses we offer add both breadth and depth to the portfolios of students who intend to study art after high school. Students put together digital and slide portfolios during the school day to gain admittance to leading colleges and universities.
10. Many students who do not plan to major in art add the digital portfolio as a supplement to their college applications.
11. The art staff’s knowledge of post-secondary programs and careers in the arts is an invaluable resource for our students, parents, and guidance staff.
12. Each fall, art schools come from the east coast come to actively recruit Burlington art students. Slide presentations by these schools are conducted in the classroom, and representatives sometimes conduct reviews of student portfolios on the spot.
13. Our students are accepted to leading art colleges and universities such as the Massachusetts College of Art, Lesley University, Rhode Island School of Design, Pratt, Syracuse, the School of Visual Arts and others. Alumni are now working in a variety of art fields.
Background painting above by Sophia Lupo, BHS Class of 2019