In the Westridge Lower School, art is prioritized along with core academic subjects because of the critical role it plays in students’ development both as people and as learners. “Art is so important! It is not extra. It is not fluff. Throughout time, art has been a huge part of learning how to learn, learning how to make mistakes, and learning how to listen to your own voice,” says Trimarchi.
Trimarchi wants her classes to be a combination of creative exploration and classical art foundations in the elements of art (line, shape, color, texture, space, and value) and the principles of design (balance, movement, variety, contrast, pattern, repetition, and unity). Student projects can be tied to one or several of these principles or elements, art history, global art, or design. But their overarching goals are to give students real experiences with creativity that build confidence in both their voices and working with their hands.
The year typically begins with some observation and drawing work, but paint, clay, collage, printmaking and even textile weaving soon enter the creative mix. Along with in-class projects, all students keep their own sketchbooks, working on a 5-part series of drawings each quarter (this quarter there were drawings of an art reproduction, an object, a person, nature, and a creative exploration of their choosing.) In addition, students complete one “sketchbook challenge” each month―selecting random words from the classroom “idea generator” and combining the words or concepts into a masterpiece of their vision.
Here is a sampling of Lower School student artwork (class and sketchbook) from the first quarter of school this year: