The Westtown Visual Arts program trains students to be empathetic and creative problem solvers who use art to be stewards of a better world. Our program balances the development of technical skills with conceptual development as student artists learn to take risks while developing their individual voice. An emphasis on learning through doing is central to our program while we develop habits of mind that are based on reflection, iteration, and individual growth. Westtown’s innovative curriculum teaches students to think and act like young artists and designers with projects that promote a multitude of individual responses and answers. Our students have a greater understanding of themselves, others, and the world they live in through the unique and holistic problems they will solve in these courses.
Westtown offers a broad range of specialized classes in the arts curriculum. Our students begin with exploratory classes in either 2D and 3D art. As they move deeper into their discipline, offerings include drawing and painting, digital art and photography, ceramics, sculpture, and woodworking. Advanced Studio Art is a capstone course for the visual art student. This summative experience brings together students from all visual arts disciplines to work as practicing artists building their own assignments, working in series, and defending their work. Throughout students’ progression through the program, faculty serve as mentors who support them as students develop their individual artistic voice.
The art gallery is housed in the Center for the Living Arts and features exhibits of professional and student artists as well as student-curated exhibits, collaborative installations, and events. The gallery is a vital extension of the classroom with a focus on the creative process. Recent exhibits have included sculptural installations, participatory design, painting, and photography.
Our arts teachers are practicing studio professionals with excellence in their specific fields. Westtown graduates have been accepted at some of the nation’s finest art schools and have gone on to careers in graphic design, photography, architecture, printmaking, and art education.
The McLear Artist-in-Residence Program
The McLear Artist-in-Residence Program was created in January 2019 to support a year-long artist’s residency in the Upper School visual arts department. Artists-in-residence are chosen by the Upper School arts faculty, and preference is given to artists working in the visual arts, particularly those exploring the intersections between art and science. The McLear Artist-in-Residence Program is a cornerstone of our approach to teaching the arts at Westtown. By giving our students a year-long exposure to a professional artist, we are encouraging authentic engagement in understanding that artist’s creative process. By focusing on the overlap of art and science, we are modeling for our students how art can ask questions, spark curiosity, and serve as a lens for the larger world.