An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

Fine Arts

All students are required to take at least three semesters of fine arts, choosing among visual arts classes, musical ensembles, or theater courses. Ensembles include Summit Singers, Academy Chorale, Academy Symphony, Honors Sinfonia, and Upper School Jazz Band, all of which produce two performances a year. More than half of the Upper School student body performs in the fall Pops Concert, which is a highlight of the year for students, faculty, and families. The Honors Music Seminar, for students in Grades 11 and 12, focuses on music analysis, composition, music history, and theory. Visual arts courses emphasize personal expression through drawing, painting, ceramics, photography, and video arts. After introduction courses are completed, a variety of intermediate classes are available to students to reinforce and strengthen their skills in a medium of their choice. These electives culminate with the Senior Art Seminar course, the most advanced visual arts course in which students pursue independent projects and build a portfolio for college applications. Theater courses focus on acting, directing, production, and design. Theater productions include a student-directed one act play series, a fall drama, and a spring musical.

Theater

theatrical Arts

The course will begin by looking at excerpts from Aristotle’s Poetics and the earliest structures of western theater. Once the “stage” has been set with a concrete understanding of the emergence of theater as an art form, the course will shift to a “hands on” exploration of the theoretical and practical aspects of theatrical performance through the mediums of acting (acting theory, monologues, and scene work), directing (directorial theory, creation of directorial concepts, and scene work), and design (exploring different design aesthetics – realism and non-realism – of scenery and costumes). The core texts of the course will be based in iconic theoretical pieces from each area (i.e. Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Peter Brook and Bertolt Brecht) that will be augmented by specific pieces of dramatic literature chosen by the students as necessary for each unit (ranging from the realistic style of Arthur Miller to the absurdist style of Samuel Beckett). The bulk of the reading and work will be happening during class time, but there will be some out-of-class required homework assignments.

Advanced Theater: Acting

Advanced Theater: Acting builds off of the concepts studied during the acting unit of Introduction to Theatrical Arts. The focus will be an in-depth study of two major actor training methods: Stanislavski/Uta Hagen and Sanford Meisner. The course will spend the first quarter on an in-depth study of these methods, their theories, practices and exercises in order for students to master the understanding and execution of those skills. The second quarter will be spent putting those skills to work through monologue and scene work. The culminating product will be a public performance where students will create a showcase of their work and offer a post-performance discussion for audience members to ask questions about the process as well as the performance.

Advanced Theater: Design (Not offered in 2019-20)

This course builds off of the concepts studied during the design unit of Introduction to Theatrical Arts. The focus will be an experiential in-depth study of three major design areas: scenery, costumes and lighting/sound. This elective will be both theoretical and practical. Students will study and practice what precisely goes into effective design (the practical as well as the aesthetic), how to communicate and collaborate with directors, actors and other designers by creating designs in all areas and in multiple styles (realism, symbolism, etc) for several productions. They will also learn the practical/hands on skills of design by focusing actual lighting instruments, creating and recording cues, learning the program Q Lab, building platforms and flats and the fitting of costumes. The culminating project will be a full design (scenery, costumes and lighting/sound) for one piece of dramatic literature complete with scale model and full color renderings to be presented and possibly displayed.

Advanced Theater: Directing

Advanced Theater: Directing builds off of the concepts studied during the directing unit of Introduction to Theatrical Arts. The focus will be an experiential in-depth study of three major theater directors and their theories on stage direction (Peter Brook, Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud). Each unit will be divided into two sections: theory and practice. Students will read, study and discuss the directing theories of these artists and then put those theories into practice through directing and staging scenes from selected pieces of dramatic literature. This process will allow each student to intellectually understand the material and then to master the execution of those skills and ideas. The culminating project will be a fully fleshed out directorial concept of an existing text complete with a fully blocked and staged scene from that piece that embodies their vision for the text.

Advanced Theater: Production and Performance (Not offered in 2019-20)

Advanced Theater: Production and Performance builds off of the three major units studied in Introduction to Theatrical Arts (Acting, Directing and Design) as well as furthers the practical and theoretical applications from Advanced Theater: Acting, Directing and Design and culminates in a fully experiential investigation of the art of theatrical production and performance. The theoretical and practical applications will be implemented and explored through the final project/product of this course. This project will be a fully immersive student driven, directed, produced, acted and designed production that will be performed once during their class period and once at an evening performance both of which are open to the public.

Visual Art

Ceramics

This course will develop and extend the knowledge of ceramic technique, and process. Ceramics students will be expected to complete projects designed and introduced by the instructor and also projects of their choosing. Projects will expand student knowledge of historical and contemporary art practices and challenge students to invent and create solutions. Students will be expected to display discipline, problem-solving skills, artistic and conceptual risk-taking and originality. This course may be repeated as many semesters as will fit a student's academic goals.

Drawing

This course will introduce students to creative and foundational processes in observational and experimental Drawing. Through the use of various mediums including, graphite, charcoal, pastels, inks, and watercolors students will develop and extend their skills and approach to image making. Students will be expected to complete a series of exercises and projects designed by the instructor. Projects will range from basic introductory methods to complex techniques in achieving accuracy, depth, and personal creativity. Students will also engage in class critiques and at home sketching assignments in order to develop an understanding that creativity and confidence in art is cultivated through practice. This course may be repeated as many semesters as will fit a student’s academic goals.

Painting

This course will introduce students to creative and foundational processes in observational and experimental Painting. This includes the review of compositional basics, color theory and the use of drawing as an essential element of the course. Students will learn how to construct their own canvases and will be expected to complete a series of exercises and projects designed by the instructor. Projects will range from basic introductory methods to complex techniques in achieving accuracy, depth, and personal creativity. Students will also engage in class critiques and at home sketching assignments in order to develop an understanding that creativity and confidence in art is cultivated through practice. This course may be repeated as many semesters as will fit a student’s academic goals. 

Costs: Students should expect to purchase most required supplies, which are available from the instructor.

Photography

This course will cover manual camera operation, black and white film processing, enlarging, and digital photographic processes. Students will develop and extend their knowledge of both digital and darkroom photographic technique using professional tools and software including a dedicated, state-of-the-art, digital iMac computer lab with Epson printers, and a traditional darkroom. Photography students will be expected to complete projects designed and introduced by the instructor, as well as projects of their choosing. Projects, class discussions, and critiques will expand student knowledge of historical and contemporary art practices and challenge students to find and explore their unique creative voice. This course may be repeated as many semesters as will fit a student’s academic goals.

Printmaking

This course will introduce students to creative and foundational processes in Printmaking. The class will explore a range of printmaking techniques, including but not limited to, the use of: stencils; collagraphs as well as relief, reduction, and transfer printmaking processes and various mono print applications. We will also explore the possibilities available to explore these processes in new media utilizing the Design Lab as a supplemental classroom. Students will be expected to complete a series of exercises and projects designed by the instructor. Projects will range from basic introductory methods to complex techniques in achieving accuracy, depth, and personal creativity. Students will also engage in class critiques and at home sketching assignments in order to develop an understanding that creativity and confidence in art is cultivated through practice. This course may be repeated as many semesters as will fit a student’s academic goals. 

Costs: Students should expect to purchase most required supplies, which are available from the instructor

The Extended Image

The Extended Image is a mixed media studio course that addresses issues of Abstraction, Representation, and Conceptualism. Using skills learned in Painting and Drawing students will develop deeper understandings of shape, color, composition and intent. With concentrated emphasis on conceptual development and technical exploration this studio course provides students the opportunity to investigate the development of individual ideas within a communal learning environment.

This course will engage art making in experimental and immersive ways and will be designed to assist students to begin making connections between their own work and larger global themes and issues.

Video Arts

This course will cover the core concepts of video production including camera operation, storyboarding, audio capture, lighting, editing and post-production. Students will develop and extend their knowledge of video and time-based media using professional tools and software including a dedicated, state-of-the-art, digital iMac editing lab. Video Arts students will be expected to complete projects designed and introduced by the instructor, as well as projects of their choosing. Aesthetic, technical, historical, and conceptual issues will be addressed through lectures, hands-on demonstrations, in-class exercises, projects, screenings, and discussion and projects will challenge students to find and explore their unique creative voice. This course may be repeated as many semesters as will fit a student’s academic goals.

Video Storytelling

What makes a great film, television series, or podcast? Beautiful imagery and dynamic audio are vital components, yet it is the story that keeps an audience captivated. In Video Storytelling, students will deepen their knowledge of video and audio production while creating unique projects that explore storytelling from various perspectives. This semester-long, studio-based course will offer hands-on learning through intermediate level equipment and editing software demonstrations, film screenings and analysis, and peer-to-peer critique. Video Storytelling will cover all aspects of visual and audio storytelling from workshopping project proposals, to storyboarding, cinematography, audio capture, and post-production project completion. Students will be challenged to incorporate new technical skills into their video production toolbox while conceptualizing and completing multi-step creative projects individually and as members of a small film crew. While this course will approach video from a fine art perspective, it is appropriate for all students who are interested in experimenting with storytelling techniques through a multi-disciplinary approach.

Honors Art Seminar (Semester I/II)

This course is an intensive confrontation of the creative process. It may be selected only with instructor permission, by seniors who have firmly developed skills in one or more art disciplines. Students will produce a portfolio of work that may be used for college applications, competitions, scholarship applications, and exhibitions. Visiting artists, lectures, slide and video presentation. Only seniors who have completed both fall and spring semesters will install an exhibition in the Harry M. Drake Gallery at the end of the course. Students are required to meet as a class in periodic scheduled ions, visits to museums and galleries, and critiques supplement studio work. blocks, in addition to individual studio hours.

Music

Academy Chorale

In Academy Chorale, emphasis is placed on learning a diverse repertoire of quality choral music for mixed ensemble. The chorale will perform in several school and community concerts during the year. Opportunities for selected auditioned Chamber Chorale are also available.

Summit Singers

In Summit Singers, emphasis is placed on learning a diverse repertoire of quality choral music for Treble voices. Summit Singers perform in several school and community concerts throughout the year. Meets two mornings per week before school, 7:20-7:55 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Opportunities for select auditioned Summit Chamber Singers are also available.

Academy Symphony

The Academy Symphony orchestra is open to players of string, woodwind, brass, percussion, and keyboard instruments at intermediate to advanced levels. A wide variety of high quality literature from classical to pop and film music is played while the students develop musical and ensemble skills and technical proficiency. High emphasis is placed on team spirit and attention to detail. The Academy Symphony will give two concerts during the year. Participation in the concerts is required.

Honors Sinfonia

The Honors Sinfonia is an ensemble open to advanced string, percussion, wind, and keyboard players grade 9-12 by invitation of the department only. In addition to learning and performing the full repertoire of the Academy Symphony, the Honors Sinfonia will work on their own, advanced literature which will be performed in the Pops Concert (fall semester) and Spring Concert (spring semester). Team spirit and attention to detail are prerequisites as well as a high technical proficiency and demonstrated ability to learn music quickly, independently, and thoroughly. Participation for the whole year is encouraged due to the cumulative nature of the program; otherwise continuous work on the instrument needs to be demonstrated (see instructor). Participation in the concerts is required.

Jazz Ensemble

Honors Music Seminar I/II

The Music Seminar is designed to teach students to recognize the various musical styles from different historical music periods, and to apply fundamental musical elements including melody, harmony, rhythmic structure and form. Musical analysis and composition are also studied. This course is offered to faculty recommended Juniors and Seniors interested in pursuing further in depth muscial study and application. This course is strongly recommended for students who are interested in continuing their musical education in college and who wish to prepare for the Advanced Placement Examination in music theory.