• Berwick
Berwick Academy Visual Arts Departmental Vision
Grades 5-12

The goal of the visual arts curriculum is to teach students to see, reflect, and respond to the world with fresh eyes. Teachers in all three divisions present a vibrant arts curriculum which encourages the development of each student’s personal voice and presents challenges which cultivate original thought, creative problem solving and risk taking. This curriculum aims to develop the technical skills for a range of disciplines, materials and experience while providing both depth and breadth of artistic study at age appropriate stages of learning. At Berwick Academy,  studio spaces are safe places where students engage in collaborative and self-directed study, learn critical thinking skills, and where students gain artistic confidence and an appreciation and understanding of art. This understanding is augmented by an increasing awareness of contemporary artists and historical art context. Student artists are encouraged to connect with the greater community through gallery exhibitions, visiting artists and community art experiences at all levels of study.

Upper School

Students in the Upper School build upon foundations skills and knowledge of how artists use and employ the elements of art and principles of design. Study in the visual arts promotes research, independent thinking and encourages innovative approaches to creating art where meaning is forged through artistic choices.
The Upper School art curriculum begins with the Art of Seeing, the prerequisite course which provides the foundation skills and knowledge needed for further study. Students may then explore areas of interest by choosing from a wide range of trimester electives including studio art studies, ceramics, metalsmithing, photography, digital design and film. Students may also follow a track of study in fine arts, 2D design or 3D design courses leading to Studio Art Honors or AP Studio Art and advanced portfolio development. Upper School art students have been regionally and nationally recognized in art competitions and represented in national exhibitions, and are connected with the  Seacoast art community through exhibition and on site visiting artist workshops

Upper School Visual & Performing Arts Courses

List of 30 items.

  • Advanced Ceramics

    This course will build upon the knowledge and skills gained in Ceramics I.  Students will continue to develop their skills in wheel throwing, trimming, finishing and glazing.  Class exercises and projects will demand that students explore solutions to more complicated and challenging visual problems.  Students will demonstrate different glazing techniques to achieve desired appearance and aesthetic, as well as to express their creativity.  Students are encouraged to develop creative thinking and personal expression as well as skills, techniques and understanding needed to create quality work.
  • African Music

    This course is designed to introduce the student to some of the different ways Africans make music. Our goal is to put on a performance at trimester end.  We study the music of some of the tribal groups of Ghana and Zimbabwe. We learn hand-drumming, stick drumming, clapping games, songs, marimba music, songs of the mbira and even some basic dance moves. We also seek to appreciate the cultural world in which Africans create their music. 
  • AP Studio Art; 3D Design, 2D Design, and Drawing Portfolios

    The AP Studio Art course is designed to give students the challenges and opportunities found in a college-level foundations art course. Motivated and experienced students explore more sophisticated concepts of design and drawing; they build a portfolio of work that exhibits breadth, quality and concentration of a specific theme which acts as an investigation of a clearly stated visual idea. Students are encouraged and expected to develop their own original voice and process to making art which explores both content and form of ideation. AP Studio Art emphasizes the critical ongoing process of analysis, intuitive learning, and creative choice as made through the artistic process. The course is geared toward preparing an advanced placement portfolio for submission to the Advanced Placement Service of the College Board.
  • Ceramics I, II, and III; The Functional Object of Clay

    In the fundamental Ceramics I course, the emphasis will be on basic wheel techniques and the unique properties of the functional object. Students will also learn basic glazing techniques and surface treatments. Ceramics II students will be working more independently while further developing skills and techniques.  In Ceramics III, students will again continue to develop skills & techniques of production along with creating surface design and altered forms.
  • Chamber Chorus

    Chorus is a performing ensemble open to all students who are interested in singing.  The group will perform both on and off campus as opportunities arise. Music is selected based on the needs of the group and will explore a wide variety of musical genres, from classical to contemporary. The course will emphasize proper vocal and choral techniques and the musicianship skills necessary to create a first class vocal ensemble. Students who are interested in musical theater or who are currently taking private music lessons are strongly encouraged to enroll.  Any student who intends to audition for the Southern Maine District Festival or the Maine All State choruses must be enrolled in this course. Any student who intends to audition for the Maine District I Music Festival or The Maine Allstate music festival ensembles must let the instructor know within the first two weeks of school and must be enrolled in a performing ensemble to audition.
  • Dance and Composition

    This course introduces students to the practices and processes of creating dance choreography as a form of human expression. Use of weight, space, music and dynamics are addressed and explored through improvisational exercises. Students engage in an inquiry based approach to movement, providing opportunities and challenges to stretch the creative mind. No previous dance experience is necessary. Both new and veteran dancers will gain a deeper understanding of the creative process and will develop as movement artists.
  • Design I, II

    Design is the process by which the artist selects the elements of color, shape, texture, image and text and arranges them in a desired order. Through this course, the student artist will gain an understanding of this process through various challenges to integrate principles of design into his or her work. Student artists will explore a range of materials (drawing, painting, collage, and artist’s books) and themes in hand-rendered and digital work.  Throughout this course there will be an emphasis on technical proficiency and process by which ideas are developed.
  • Digital Video Production

    In this 2-trimester course students will examine the components of successful digital video production while working to develop their own styles and techniques as they create projects of various lengths and formats. Focus will be centered on pre-production essentials, gaining familiarity with tools and techniques, understanding and following copyright law, media integrity, screenwriting, and post-production. Tasks may include: project research, storyboarding, shooting original footage, lighting design, effectively selecting shot composition, capturing quality production audio, directing talent, integrating effective music and sound/visual effects, and above all, successfully working with other professionals in a creative environment. 
  • Drawing I, II

    Students will explore as broad a spectrum of drawing as possible by using a variety of methods and materials. The goal of these courses will be to accurately translate visual perceptions onto a two dimensional surface. As the student becomes proficient, the course will emphasize the development of individual style and experimentation. Students will also explore the basic elements of composition, rendering three dimensional form, and spatial organization.
  • Electronic Music I, II, III, IV

    This is a hands-on course, designed for beginning to advanced musicians interested in learning how to create, record and make music using a computer. Students will use LogicProX, a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software, and iMacs. Each subsequent level of this course builds on the skills of the previous level. Sample projects include creating ringtones, short video soundtracks, and original music. Levels II, III, and IV will delve deeper into the understanding of audio/sound design and engineering, electronic composition, and multi-media production as related to music. Students do not need to understand how to read music notation or play an instrument to be successful in this class.
  • Exploration in New Media

    This trimester elective is a course designed to teach some of the digital fundamentals of new media (Photoshop/Blender/Other) and engage students to apply these tools and techniques in innovative and self-directed projects. The course will focus on concepts and best practices to efficiently produce art work in new media and students will explore digital imaging, rendering and sculpting through a series of assignments. This course is recommended for highly motivated students curious to explore new media and interested in learning more about digital art and its applications. For beginning or intermediate digital art students.
  • Fabrication Design I, II, and III

    Fabrication Design is a studio art course which promotes student-driven exploration and creative problem solving by using the technologies available in the fabrication studio and the digital media lab. In this class, students will investigate the intersection of emerging and traditional art-making strategies. While the instructor will provide elemental project prompts, the assignments will be interpreted personally depending on individual student interests. Sample prompts might include “how can you design a three dimensional object that is lit from within?” or to design a net-zero art object. Students in this class will learn the material and tool skills needed in the fabrication studio (laser cutter, CNC router, and 3D printer) and learn how to utilize these skills as designers of both digital and hand- made art objects and forms.
  • Independent Study in Applied Music

    Under certain circumstances, students can receive credit for music lessons on campus.  This program is intended for students with a strong interest in music as a major. Students wishing to take lessons for credit must indicate this to their assigned Berwick Academy instructor, and a signed contract must be established outlining the goals to be achieved. 
  • Jazz Ensemble

    This course is an auditioned performing ensemble that meets twice a week, simultaneously with Symphonic Band.  In the process of learning the fundamentals of jazz, the group will make a musical journey from Congo Square in New Orleans to Kansas City, to Chicago, and beyond to the land of Roland Kirk and Charles Mingus.  To be part of this ensemble students must be enrolled in Symphonic Band.  Auditions for Jazz Ensemble take place in September. 
  • Mbira Dzavadimun; Mbira of the Ancestors

    The mbira is an ancient instrument played by the Shona people in the Zimbabwe area of eastern/southern Africa.  The course will be about learning how to play one of the traditional songs for mbira. We will learn by rote and by notation. We will also learn marimba music that is very closely related to the mbira. Paul Berliner’s classic book of ethnomusicology scholarship, Soul of Mbira, will help us to put the music in context. Instruments provided by the school. 
  • Metalsmithing I, II, and III

    In the fundamental Metals I course, students will learn the basic procedures and practices of working with nickel, copper and brass. Using conventional techniques such as sawing, hammering, heating, and soldering, students will create small sculptures and a variety of decorative objects and jewelry pieces. Metals II students will further develop conventional techniques. Emphasis will be placed on design principles and development of personal style.  Metals III students will be challenged to apply knowledge to design and create more complicated forms.
  • Music Survey

    This course is a survey of popular music spanning through the ages. Students in this class will compare the performances of current performers such as Lady Gaga and Hip Hop artists to the performances of Mozart, Tuvan throat singers, and Elvis Presley. This course will explore the popular music of modern and ancient cultures through listening, discussion, and using resources such YouTube, Skype and live performance. Elements of music technology may be used to enhance the learning and creative experience.
  • Painting I, II

    Painting is a course designed for both the beginner and advanced student who desires proficiency in working with varied painting media such as oil paint, acrylic, and watercolor. Students will work from direct observation of still life and nature, as well as their imagination and will be encouraged to develop their own personal style or voice. Successful completion of Drawing is recommended.
  • Photography I, II

    In this introductory course, students will explore the art of photography through digital practices, film mechanics, and alternate processes. Emphasis in the first half of the trimester will be placed on light, metering, and camera mechanics. The second half of the class will focus on editing photographs digitally, composition, aesthetics, and imagery. Students will have access to both 35 mm SLR and DSLR cameras as well as adobe software and a wide format printer.  
  • Printmaking: Relief Printing I, II

    In this trimester course, student artists learn the techniques and processes associated with relief printing.  Collography, woodcut, and linocut will be introduced. Learning will be enhanced through the study of the print in art history as a means of artistic expression. As students become proficient in the technical aspects of the course, they will be encouraged to develop personal direction and individual style in their work. 
  • Public Art

    This class is meant to help students understand how artists can create art to communicate with their community about issues in which they are personally invested.  Students will look at the work of current artists for inspiration and context. This is fundamentally a project-based studio class, with both independent and collaborative work.  The art that students produce will be site specific and meant to interact with an audience outside the classroom.
  • Sculpture - Mixed Media; Three Dimensional Forms in Space

    This sculpture course will explore a variety of media including paper, wood, and natural and found objects. Using conventional and non-conventional techniques, sculptures will be created working from life and from the imagination. There will be an emphasis on technical facility, conceptual learning, and the development of personal style.
  • Sculpture in Clay; Hand Building and Surface Techniques

    This course explores the world of hand building in clay. The student will explore both additive and reductive techniques as well as a variety of surface designs and form alteration.
  • Spring Ensemble

    This course is open to students who are already proficient on an instrument. Depending on the particular students who are able to schedule this class, we may have one or more small ensembles, grouped by skill level and/or instrumentation. Students will study and perform folk, Celtic, classical and contemporary music. Emphasis will be placed on ensemble skills and musical interpretation, and the participants will study elements of music theory and history relative to the pieces they perform. The class will perform off-campus at assisted living facilities in the community and give in-class recitals.  Any student who intends to audition for the Maine District I Music Festival or The Maine Allstate music festival ensembles must let the instructor know within the first two weeks of school and must be enrolled in a performing ensemble to audition.
  • Studio Art Honors

    Studio Art Honors is a full year course offered to serious and advanced art students who are interested in portfolio development and advanced visual discovery.  Students will build upon existing technical skills, and will engage in advanced study of art that includes research, reflection, journaling, and sketchbook, which will culminate in creating a body of work. Studio Art Honors will focus on how we create meaningful imagery through thematic inquiry and discovery. 
  • Symphonic Band

    This course is designed for students who have acquired a degree of music proficiency and musicianship on a concert band instrument and wish to continue performing within a traditional band setting. Students should have some degree of ability in reading music notation and have a seriousness of purpose in advancement of their total musicianship. Students participating in Symphonic Band will be required to perform in concerts at least twice per year. Music will be selected from traditional and varied band repertoire of intermediate to advanced levels (grade III-V). In an effort to keep a balanced instrumentation and to play the level of music expected in a symphonic band, instrumentation will be limited to traditional band instruments, which include flute, double reed, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, low brass and concert percussion. Instruments such as guitar, piano, and drum set, are used only occasionally in the concert setting and students who play those instruments will be asked to learn or double on another instrument. Students wishing to participate in band who do not currently play or own a band instrument should contact Ms. Sanders for an interview and information on instrument rentals. Students enrolled in this course may audition for the Maine District I Music Festival, Maine All-State Concert Band, Orchestra or Jazz Bands. 
  • The Art of Seeing; An Introduction to Visual Ar

    Learning to see and learning to manipulate materials are two essential ingredients for success in the arts. Through a variety of methods and media, students in this foundation studio course will learn to translate their perceptions into representative visual art. In this course, students will now shift focus to the principals of design. This understanding will form the foundation for further study in two-dimensional and three-dimensional work.

    Note: Berwick Academy offers a two-week intensive summer Art of Seeing class, for students who wish to complete this required art course outside of the academic school year. The Art of Seeing summer course is treated like other summer coursework in that it is recognized in completing academic requirements, but does not appear on our transcript, receive credit, or work into the GPA.
  • Theater Tech

    This hands-on course offers students the opportunity to engage in the behind the scenes workings of a theatrical venue. Designers today work with highly technical equipment in order to recognize an artistic vision. This course explores the creative process behind technical design, offering a unique opportunity for integration of arts and sciences. In class, we cover staging, lighting and sound equipment, the fundamentals of technical design, and the implementation of design in a theatrical production. 
  • Ukulele Ensemble

    Ukulele is a course designed for all students with a desire to learn to play the ukulele. Students will learn basic music theory related to learning to read ukulele tablature, chord charts and basic notation for a variety of music genres. The course will stress learning chord positions and strumming techniques to facilitate the learning of a voice- accompanying style. Fingerpicking, contemporary techniques and soloing styles will be covered. 
  • World Music

    The World Music course is an overview or introduction to music from around the world and specifically studies of ethnomusicology and cultural influences in music. Students will go on a tour of the world and experience many cultures with a hands on approach to playing traditional ethnic instruments, listening to recorded and live music, talking with musicians and teachers via Skype, and getting a flavor of the culture with traditional foods. The focus of this course is music and students will be immersed in the lives and people of each culture that is covered.

Serving Maine, The Seacoast of New Hampshire, and the North Shore of Massachusetts

Berwick Academy, situated on an 80-acre campus just over one hour north of Boston, serves 600 students, Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Deeply committed to its mission of promoting virtue and useful knowledge, Berwick Academy empowers students to be creative and bold. Berwick strives to graduate alumni who shape their own learning, take risks, ask thoughtful questions, and come to understand and celebrate their authentic selves.  Founded in 1791 and rooted in a tradition of college preparation, our culture of innovation prepares students for a complex and dynamic world.