Explore Our Curriculum

US Visual Arts

The Visual Arts Department is devoted to the recognition and development of each student's creative potential.  We see Art as a means of exploring, discovering, and expressing one's unique and valuable vision of the world.  Our Visual Arts courses do not merely emphasize skills; they ask students to examine meaning and intention in art making.   
 
Visual Arts Major Guidelines
 
  • The Visual Arts Major must declare their Visual Arts Major status to the Art Department Chair by the end of their sophomore year.
  • The Visual Arts Major is expected to take a visual arts class for all four years of High School.
  • The Visual Arts Major students are expected to apply for a CAS Visual Arts class.
  • Visual Arts Majors are expected to attend Sam Francis Gallery opening receptions and events and to act as ambassadors for the Visual Arts Department.
  • Visual Arts Majors will participate in special programs.  These may include meetings,
  • departmental critiques, gallery openings, field trips, and other related art opportunities.
  • Visual Arts Majors will act as curators on the Crossroads Campus and initiate ways to exhibit artwork around campus.
  • Visual Art Majors will attend monthly meetings with the Visual Art department chair to plan for events, exhibitions, and brainstorm ways to reach out to the broader community.
  • After School Filmmaking

    After School Filmmaking (also listed under Film).
    This will be a multilevel course open to students interested in a broad range of disciplines such as Directing, Acting, Screenwriting and Cinematography, and it will include in-depth units aimed at deepening the understanding of the collaborative nature of filmmaking.  Students will assist their fellow filmmakers in various roles as determined by the needs of each project.  The course will have a heavy emphasis on the development and execution of individual work.
  • CAS Filmmaking

    Crossroads Advanced Studies Filmmaking, 1-year art credit, prerequisite Filmmaking 3, portfolio review, and department approval. Open to advanced 12th grade students in their 4th year of Filmmaking at Crossroads (also listed under Film).                           
    CAS Filmmaking allows dedicated students to engage in college-level course work that requires them to further hone their technical skills and understanding of film grammar, as well as think critically about their own filmmaking practice and the further development of their unique directorial voices. The first semester of the course will include workshops, discussions, and short film assignments that delve into special topics and areas of interest intended to expand skill sets, broaden the student’s concept of the moving image, and encourage experimentation with form and style. At the end of the first semester, each student will submit a proposal for an original work of film/video to be completed in the second semester. The second semester will be devoted to pre-production, production, and post-production of their films, accompanied by written assignments that challenge students to develop individual artist statements and examine the creative, theoretical, and historical underpinnings of their own work.  Students will be expected to hit milestones including treatment/script drafts, storyboards, shot lists, floor diagrams, mood boards, production meetings, filming days, editorial deadlines, sound mixing, and final delivery of their films.

  • Filmmaking 2

    Filmmaking 2, 1-year art credit, prerequisite Introduction to Filmmaking or instructor approval (also listed under Film).
    In Filmmaking 2 students will build upon the foundation of skills they learned in Intro to Filmmaking in order to better understand how to effectively capture their own unique visions on screen. In Filmmaking 2 projects and assignments are geared toward the goal of helping each student sharpen their visual storytelling abilities both creatively and technically.  The course takes a deeper look at story structure, screenwriting, and character development, and includes a fair amount of scene analysis and group discussions about scenes from a broad range of film genres and practices. We will also cover a number of intermediate-level practical topics such as lighting setups, camera blocking, audio recording, and editing concepts. In the second half of the course we will dive into different units that explore documentary production and DIY/experimental film techniques that offer students the chance to work with actual film and hand-process their own Super 8mm and/or 16mm film.

  • Filmmaking 3

    Filmmaking 3, 1-year art credit, prerequisite Filmmaking 2 (also listed under Film).
    In Filmmaking 3 the projects and assignments are more self-directed as the main focus of the course is each student’s discovery and development of his or her own artistic voice.  Though we will cover a number of specific areas of interest, the film projects and homework assignments for this course are mostly designed to allow room for unique interpretation and creative license. Students are free to explore and experiment with both traditional and non-traditional narrative structures and conventions.  One of the primary goals of the course is for students to understand how each decision they make in their individual artistic processes shapes the work that they create and the stories that they tell.
  • Filmmaking 4

    Filmmaking 4, prerequisite Filmmaking 3 or instructor approval (also listed under Film). Filmmaking 4 is an advanced course in which students in Grade 12 will build upon a foundation of skills in the visual storytelling genre in order to write, produce, film, and edit several short films of their own authorship.  The course will encourage each student to deeply examine their personal practice of filmmaking and understand how their use of the fundamental tools of production can help them achieve and realize their creative goals.  The course encourages students to think critically about the ways that each decision they make as a filmmaker plays an integral role in the pursuit of their artistic vision.
  • After School Photo

    After School Photography, 1-year art credit.
    This 1-year course is available to students in Photography 1, Photography 2, and Photography 3. Please see course description for each level. Please note: this class meets from 3:05 – 5:00 p.m.
  • Art Gallery Curatorial Project

    Gallery Curatorial Project, ½ year art credit. Available primarily to Grade 12, admission is based on teacher recommendation and approval of the Gallery Director.
    Students work with the gallery director to curate and produce an exhibition for the Sam Francis Gallery.  Responsibilities include interviewing artists and art professionals, studio and gallery visits, curatorial duties, and the production of an announcement and exhibition publication. The first quarter is devoted to learning fundamental theories and practices in organizing art exhibitions. The second quarter will focus on students developing a theme for their show and selecting appropriate artists. Second semester is devoted to producing the exhibition, planning the opening reception, hosting gallery talks and educating the public. After spring break, students will curate a “virtual exhibition” that will be presented on line and available to the school community. Please note: this is a year-long class that meets once a week.
  • CAS Studio Art

    Crossroads Advanced Study: Studio Art, 1 year art credit, prerequisites: Studio Art 3 and Art Major status. 
    Crossroads Advanced Study: Studio Art, 1-year art credit, prerequisites: Studio Art 3 and Art Major status. Admission is based upon presentation of portfolio and department approval. Open to grade 12.
    The Advanced Studio Art 4 class makes it possible for highly motivated seniors to do college-level work.  The first semester is devoted to students refining their painting, drawing, and design skills while completing a series of concept driven projects.  Students also work on developing an artist’s statement and portfolio for college admissions.  The class participates in a departmental-wide critique. In the second semester, students concentrate on developing a body of work that represent an independent, in-depth investigation of a specific theme.  Students are responsible for mounting and digitally documenting their second semester work for the Senior Thesis Show in May.  While a majority of work is completed during class, students should expect to work on art projects at home.  Weekly sketchbook assignments, critiques, gallery visits, and research assignments are important components of this class.  Please note: this class meets twice a week in 3-hour sessions from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Ceramics 1-2-3-CAS

    Ceramics 1, 1-year art credit.
    In this class, students become familiar with the basic techniques and concepts necessary to working within the ceramic medium.  Each project highlights specific technical approaches: coil building, slab construction, modeling/relief-carving, and mold-making.  In addition, each project emphasizes design concepts and personal expression.   There is an emphasis on creating forms using the potter’s wheel once students have learned the basics of hand building.  Slides and books are utilized, and field trips are planned whenever possible to acquaint students with historical and contemporary approaches to the medium.  Each student is required to participate in class critiques and to maintain a folder for homework assignments pertaining to each project.
     
    Ceramics 2, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Ceramics 1 and permission of instructor.
    Students continue to improve the basic skills acquired in Ceramics 1 while developing more ambitious projects.  These include extensive hand-building, wheel-throwing, and advanced mold-making.  Students are challenged to further develop their personal expression in this medium.  Each student is required to participate in class critiques and to maintain a folder for homework assignments pertaining to each project. Slides, books, and field trips enhance the student's understanding of the historic and contemporary approaches to this medium.
     



     
    Ceramics 3, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Ceramics 2 and permission of instructor.
    Students work towards greater technical skill as they develop a more advanced approach to working in clay.  In the second semester, students work with the instructor to design a concept driven, independent project.  Gallery visits, reading and research assignments, and folder assignments supplement studio work.
     
    Crossroads Advanced Studies: Ceramics, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: completion of Ceramics 3 and/or permission of the instructor.  Admission is based upon presentation of portfolio and department approval. Open to grade 12.  
    This Advanced Ceramics class makes it possible for highly motivated, advanced ceramics students to do college level work.   The first semester is devoted to students refining their technical skills while completing a series of concept driven projects.  Students also work on developing an artist’s statement and portfolio for college admissions.  The class participates in a departmental wide critique. In the second semester students concentrate on developing a series of works that represent an independent, in-depth investigation of a specific theme.  Students must supplement class time with extra studio hours each week.  This is arranged with the instructor.  Students are responsible for mounting and digitally documenting their second semester work for the Senior Thesis Show in May. Weekly sketchbook assignments, critiques, gallery visits, and research assignments are important components of this class.
    Ceramics 1, Ceramics 2, Ceramics 3 and CAS Ceramics may meet concurrently.
  • Introduction to Filmmaking

    Introduction to Filmmaking, 1-year art credit (also listed under Film).
    Intro to Filmmaking is intended as an introductory course in which students explore the art of the moving image across a wide variety of genres and approaches including narrative, non-fiction, and experimental films. Through in-class demonstrations, hands-on workshops, and creative short film projects, students will be introduced to the fundamental technical tools of filmmaking as well as the building blocks of film grammar and cinematic language. Through both individual and collaborative group projects we will learn the basics of camera usage, composition, classic film coverage, screenplay writing and formatting, audio recording, non-linear editing software, and more. (NOTE: students may edit using the software of their choice, but all in-class instruction will focus on Adobe Premiere). This course encourages students to explore all aspects of filmmaking and discover how they can use cinema to tell their own unique stories.

  • Figure Drawing 1

    After School Figure Drawing 1, 1-year art credit.
    In this year-long course, students work on honing their skills in both observation and drawing technique through attention to the nude human figure.  This class offers extensive practice in drawing gestures, as well as working on more lengthy poses.  Because critical, careful seeing is fundamental to all visual arts, this course complements and enhances any other visual arts class.  Students use several drawing media in executing their renditions of the figure models.  Please note: this class meets from 3:05 – 5:00 p.m.
  • Figure Drawing 2

    After School Figure Drawing 2, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Figure Drawing 1.
    Students who have had a year of figure drawing continue to face the challenge of depicting the nude human figure.  In this course students continue to develop their technical skills while pushing the creative and interpretive aspects of figure drawing.  Expressive use of line strength, quality and character, as well as the depiction of mood and emotion are emphasized. Offered concurrently with Figure Drawing 1.  Please note: this class meets from 3:05 – 5:00 p.m.
  • Gallery Curatorial Project

    Gallery Curatorial Project, 1/2 year art credit. Available primarily to seniors, admission is based on teacher recommendation and approval of the Gallery Director.

    Students work with the gallery director to curate and produce an exhibition for the Sam Francis Gallery. Responsibilities include interviewing artists and art professionals, studio and gallery visits, curatorial duties, and the production of an announcement and exhibition publication. The first quarter is devoted to learning fundamental theories and practices in organizing art exhibitions. The second quarter will focus on students developing a theme for their show and selecting appropriate artists. Second semester is devoted to producing the exhibition, planning the opening reception, hosting gallery talks and educating the public. After spring break, students will curate a “virtual exhibition” that will be presented on line and available to the school community. Please note: this is a year-long class that meets once a week.
  • Graph. Design 1-2-3-CAS

    Graphic Design and Animation 1, 1-year art credit.
    Using digital tools, students learn how to create expressive design, 2D art, and animated work in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Adobe Animate. Drawing skills are not required. During the first semester students learn how to combine digital photography, illustration, and type to convey messages and concepts. Projects are designed to increase awareness of how visual information is taken in, as well as how it is translated into art. During the second semester, students will learn the basic principles of animation, adding the elements of time, pace, and motion to their visual vocabulary. Through animation of type, 2D characters, and designs, students learn storyboarding and communication through sequential imagery. Students create their own soundtracks to accompany their animated work. Sketchbook assignments, gallery visits, and critique are important components of this class.
     

     
    Graphic Design and Animation 2, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Graphic Design and
    Animation 1, portfolio review, and consent of instructor.
    In the first semester, intermediate students deepen their engagement with digital art, design, and animation through a series of short animated “studies” that provide practice in the essential skills of animation – cycles, eases, expressive motion, and pose to pose principles. In the second semester, students further study sequential image making. Depending on their goals and interests, students can choose to develop interactive design driven work, or to further explore experimental or character animation. Sketchbook assignments, gallery visits, and research assignments are important components of this class.
     
    Graphic Design and Animation 3, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Graphic Design and
    Animation 2, portfolio review, and consent of instructor.
    Third year students are given the opportunity to hone their skills in the area of Graphic Design and Animation that interests them most. Areas of focus could include graphic design for print, motion graphics, character animation, experimental animation, stop motion animation, digital illustration, green screen video compositing, or interactive art. Students respond to a variety of prompts and self-directed projects in preparation for the CAS level course. Maintaining a blog, gallery visits and research assignments are important components of this class.
     
    Crossroads Advanced Studies: Graphic Design and Animation, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Graphic Design and Animation 2 or 3. Admission is based upon presentation of portfolio and department approval. Open to grade 12.
    In this college level, advanced class students define an area of concentration, develop a timeline for completion, and work towards a portfolio of work and thesis exhibition. Proposed thesis projects must make substantial use of the technology and techniques developed in levels 1, 2 and 3. Students are responsible for designing and implementing the installation of their work in the gallery and digitally documenting their work for the Senior Thesis Show in May.  While a majority of work is completed during class, students should also expect to work on projects at home, or during prearranged times in the lab. Keeping an artist blog/tumblr site, gallery visits, research assignments, and writing project proposals are important components of this class.
     
    Graphic Design and Animation 1, Graphic Design and Animation 2, Graphic Design and Animation 3, and Graphic Design and Animation 4/CAS may meet concurrently.
  • Photo 1

    Photography 1, 1-year art credit.
    This 1-year course emphasizes the development of visual awareness and personal expression through the medium of photography.  Basic technical skills, such as familiarity with the camera and its controls, film processing, and printing are learned. Students will explore the connections between analogue and digital photography. Elements of digital photography will be introduced second semester. The class will look at and discuss historical as well as contemporary photographic images. Students complete a series of projects in which they apply photographic technique to areas of personal interest.  Critiques follow each project.Students will complete a presentation on a photographer in addition to visiting an art exhibition.
  • Photo 2

    Photography 2, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Photography 1 and consent of instructor.
    This 1-year course is geared towards students already conversant with the basics of photography who wish to increase their knowledge of shooting and printing.  Working deliberately, sometimes with a tripod, the class investigates technical controls such as composition, low light, and motion.  Students are encouraged to work on topics of personal interest while honing their technical skills.  Students look at and discuss photographers from the present as well as the past. In addition, techniques relating to digital imaging are explored. These include digital camera operation, film scanning, introduction to Adobe Photoshop software as a tool for image enhancement, and ink jet printing techniques.  Analogies are made between the darkroom and the digital platform.
  • Photo 3

     Photography 3, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Photography 2 and consent of instructor.
    This course is designed for those who are comfortable with shooting and printing and wish to explore the medium further. Much of the focus of the class is for each student to develop a portfolio and a cohesive body of work. Students investigate more complex ideas about the meaning of photographs through discussion of visual media, concentrating on conceptual or idea-based image-making.  The class addresses a variety of expressive options including camera format, film type, print size, juxtaposition, manipulation, contrast, and collage.  Creative experimentation is emphasized and encouraged.  Students have the opportunity to work on a more independent basis. Students will visit and review photography exhibitions as a class. In addition, techniques relating to digital imaging as well as more experimental techniques are explored.  These include digital camera operation, film scanning, various forms of image manipulation, introduction to Adobe Photoshop software as a tool for image enhancement, and ink jet printing techniques.  Analogies are made between the darkroom and the digital platform.
  • Sculpture 1

    Sculpture, 1-year art credit.
    This class serves the needs of beginning sculpture students.  Students work with a variety of media exploring 3-D art through group and individual projects.  Additive and subtractive processes are introduced. Materials include: wire, rope, plaster, paper products, modeling clays, wood, found objects and organic materials. Students are instructed in the safe use of hand power tools. Emphasis is placed on the conceptual possibilities of sculpture and expressing a personal point of view. A managed creative lab book or website is required and developed with ongoing entries documenting all creative activities. Students participate in the Upper School Gallery showing, presentations, and field trips.
  • Sculpture 2

    Sculpture 2, 1-year art credit, and prerequisite: Sculpture 1.
    This class serves the needs of advanced sculpture students.  Students build on what they studied in the Sculpture 1 course, strengthening skills, and understanding concepts in 3-D design. Spatial iconography is investigated and expands to include aspects of functional and stage design. Student’s exposure to skills is more involved and material processes are expanded with the introduction of mold making, casting, woodcarving, and concrete work. Basic building practices with lumber products and technical drawing for fabrication will be introduced.  A homework creative lab book or website is required and developed with ongoing entries documenting and facilitating all creative activities.  Students participate in the Upper School Gallery showing, as well on-campus public art projects, presentations, and field trips.
  • Sculpture 3

    Sculpture 3, 1-year art credit, and prerequisite: Sculpture 2.
    This class is designed to serve the needs of advanced individuated sculpture students.  Students continue to build on what they studied in the Sculpture 2 course, strengthening skills and understanding of concepts of spatial iconography.  Students refine their mold making, casting and wood carving skills. They are introduced to metal welding, stationary power tools, CAD, and orthographic drawing systems.  A homework creative lab book or website is required and developed with ongoing entries documenting and facilitating all creative activities Students participate in the Upper School Gallery showing, as well as on-campus public art projects, presentations, and field trips.
  • Studio Art 1

    Studio Art 1, 1-year art credit.
    This class forms the foundation of the Visual Arts program.  It gives students the basic vocabulary of visual language and encourages self-expression.  The principles of composition and the elements of art (line, shape, color, value, texture) are explored through a wide variety of media (pencils, pen & ink, print-making, water color, acrylics, pastels, charcoal, collage, etc.).  The relationship of subject matter, form, and meaning is studied through critiques and examples from the history of art.  Weekly sketchbook assignments, critiques, gallery visits, and research assignments are important components of this class.
  • Studio Art 2

    Studio Art 2, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Studio Art 1 or a comparable class.
    In this course, students work in depth on improving their formal drawing, painting and design skills.  A variety of multimedia 2D techniques and concepts are explored.  Students are encouraged to investigate their own assumptions and point of view in order to begin to develop a personal style. Weekly sketchbook assignments, critiques, gallery visits, and research assignments are important components of this class.
  • Studio Art 3

    Studio Art 3, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Studio Art 2 or department approval.
    This class emphasizes experimenting with conceptual approaches to art-making, supported by a technical advancement in rendering skills. The class requires each student to develop a portfolio of a cohesive body of work. Students will be working in a variety of media and related conceptual approaches. Painting and drawing skills will continue to play an important role as students translate concepts into works of art. Approaches involving: conceptual art, public art, sculpture, installation, multi-media and digital media, may be explored.  Readings, research, and out-of-class assignments supplement studio work. In addition, students will be encouraged to find creative ways to exhibit art works on campus and take a serious interest to independently view art exhibits off-campus. 
  • Themes in Art History Paleolithic and Romantic

    Themes in Art History: Paleolithic to Romantic, 1-year academic/art credit. Open to grades 10, 11, 12. Class is NOT offered 2018-2019. This class will rotate with Themes in Art History: Modernism and Beyond (also listed under Electives).
    This two-semester course follows the development of art within the context of western culture from the Paleolithic to the Romantic period, exploring both the works of individual artists as well as larger themes and stylistic trends.  While primarily focusing on the visual arts, this class will also touch upon poetry, philosophy, and drama. The class is made up of slide lectures, readings, discussions, oral presentations, and in-class writing.
  • Themes in Art History Modernism

    Themes in Art History: Modernism and Beyond, 1-year academic/art credit. Open to grades 11 and 12. Class is offered 2018-19. This class will rotate with Themes in Art History: Paleolithic to Romantic (also listed under Electives).
    This two-semester course focuses on the rise and fall of Modernism in Europe and America, exploring both the works of individual artists as well as larger themes and stylistic trends.  While primarily focusing on the visual arts, this class will also touch upon poetry, philosophy, and drama. The class is made up of slide lectures, readings, discussions, oral presentations, and in-class writing.
  • Yearbook

    Yearbook Production, 1-year art credit (also listed under Publications).
    This year long class has the exciting responsibility of producing the Upper School’s annual yearbook. Students are involved in all aspects of desktop publishing, including theme and concept development, cover design, page layout and design, photography, story writing, and caption writing. Students gain professional level skills in photojournalism, design, and proficiency with industry standard software like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. This class sharpens real world skills such as deadline management, teamwork, and leadership skills.
  • CAS Sculpture 4

    Crossroads Advanced Studies Sculpture 4, 1-year art credit, prerequisite: completion of Sculpture 3 and/or permission of the instructor.  Admission is based upon presentation of portfolio and department approval. Open to grade 12.
    This course advances the aesthetic and social components of a 3-D art study in a material creative practice. The themes and the form of students work productions will be refined and contextualized through independent and guided research of artists, theories and historical narratives. Students will explore social practice, envisioning experiences in the community, public art, instructional models, and collaboration. This class will focus on completing a CAS Senior Thesis – a long-term independent project, culminating in a required group exhibition in the spring.  Students will design their presentation and conduct the installation for this art exhibition.
  • CAS: Photography

    Crossroads Advanced Studies: Photography (Students must have a 35 mm film camera with manual controls or a DSLR digital camera), 1-year art credit, prerequisite: Photography 3.
    Admission is based upon presentation of portfolio and department approval. Open to grade 12.
    Advanced Photography makes it possible for highly motivated, advanced photography students to do college level work.  Students continue to refine their skills while developing their own body of work.  We work on developing an artist’s statement and a portfolio for college admission.  Students participate in a department wide critique.  In the second semester, students concentrate on developing a series of images that represent an independent, in-depth investigation of a specific theme.  Students are responsible for mounting and documenting their work for the Thesis Show in the spring.  Critiques, research, short papers, and gallery reviews will be an important component of this class. In addition, techniques relating to digital imaging are explored.  These include digital camera operation, film scanning, Adobe Photoshop software as a tool for image enhancement, and ink jet printing techniques.

Our Faculty

Middle and Upper School: 21st Street Campus | 1714 21st St., Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: (310) 829-7391
Elementary School: Norton Campus | 1715 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: (310) 828-1196
Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences provides a unique K-12 program built on a progressive, developmental model of education.