The visual art program at Corpus Christi School is an integral part of the curriculum for children in grades K through 8. The program prepares students for art and art history courses in high school and beyond by providing a strong background in art application, art history, and art theory. Throughout their career at Corpus Christi, students learn personal expression through art production; creative problem solving; recognition of the role and importance of art and artists in society, culture, and history; critical assessment of art works from aesthetic and cultural perspectives; and technical processes, as well as developing fine motor skills, confidence, and a personal sense of accomplishment. Art education shapes cultural awareness and provides students with a positive outlet for self-expression, as well as encouraging creative and critical thinking--values that in this day and age cannot be underestimated. The program is discipline-based and aligned with the California State Curriculum for Visual Arts as well as our School-Wide Learning Expectations. As students in a Catholic School, these young artists understand the incredible value of being able to create something beautiful out of practically nothing and happily share their artistic knowledge and talent with others.
As they progress through grade 8, students receive sequential learning experiences in an art education program that encompass art history, art criticism, aesthetics, and production. Art concepts are reinforced and strengthened through activities based on the elements of art and principles of design. Throughout the program, students engage in various forms of communication, utilizing a rich art vocabulary and a variety of technological resources. Through exploration of varied media, including drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles and sculpture, students learn basic art making skills while developing critical and creative thinking skills.
Art instruction lends itself to integrating with other subject areas. By aligning art lessons with the core curriculum, students strengthen their understanding of concepts and learn to make connections between art and other disciplines.
Students begin in Kindergarten by exploring a wide variety of media. They learn about shapes, colors, color mixing, and begin to develop their art vocabulary. The purpose of these activities is to help students develop awareness of, and appreciation for, skills in communicating through art. Students learn by creating, and exposing them to various materials and ideas gives them the confidence and creative thinking skills they will use throughout their lives.
In First Grade, students begin to learn about specific artists and their contributions to the art world. They learn art appreciation and gain a vocabulary to describe and discuss artwork. They also learn how to adapt this knowledge into art of their own production, using a wide variety of media.
In Second and Third Grade, students build on these skills as they begin to learn about the elements of art. More focus is placed on expression and mastery of materials. Creative thinking is encouraged--problem solving and group projects encourage students to develop critical thinking skills while expressing their unique ideas.
By Fourth and Fifth Grade, students are challenged to make their own connections in art as they study the work of various artists and cultures, and as they work towards self-expression in their original work. Critical thinking and problem-solving are encouraged. "Gallery walk-throughs" are part of the curriculum, and help students to exchange ideas about their art.
In Grades Six through Eight, students are encouraged to develop their own unique artistic voice, while making use of the tools and techniques they have acquired over the years. By the time they graduate from the 8th grade, students have an understanding of the elements and principles of art, color theory, a fluency with many art materials, a familiarity with the work of many artists and art periods, and an appreciation of the visual experience and the possibilities of creating works of art that are aesthetically pleasing and elicit emotion from the viewer.
We put on an all-school art show each year, the Corpus Opus, with every student's work exhibited. This past show included a monochromatic Cubist collage; "Canimals"-- recycled aluminum cans made into animals; a black-figure silhouette painting of sports heroes; Surrealist drawings based on the work of Rene Magritte; papier-mâché "hot air balloons"; Monet-inspired garden paintings; and a non-representational cut paper collage inspired by Matisse's "painting with scissors" style. The art shows are a wonderful way to get the school community together to share and delight in the students' work. Parents and siblings crowd around the exhibits, and the excitement is palpable.
Because we employ a spiral learning process, the curriculum is highly varied. This year, for example, we focused on more Modern Art, including Van Gogh, Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Klee, Magritte, Dalí, and Kandinsky. Cubism, non-representational art, Fauvism, and Surrealism, were covered. We try to incorporate local art happenings and exhibits as a way to reinforce what students learn in Art class. An exhibit currently at LACMA--Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky--was a perfect close to our year. Each year, students are exposed to different periods and styles, from Ancient Art to contemporary artists, giving them a broad understanding of past and current civilizations. When possible, students attend field trips, watch videos, and participate in Power Point presentations where discussions are encouraged to help them gain a deeper understanding of the material. We use a variety of technology to aid in the learning and creating process, including individual iPads, a Smartboard, and a document camera, which enables step-by-step demonstrations for the class. This technology also helps students to share their artwork and ideas with classmates, and connects them to art globally.