by Isabella Krell '11, Senior Communications Officer
"Art challenges students to see the world differently, to explore their artistic and cultural understandings, to reach beyond perceived boundaries, to analyze and problem-solve, and to recognize possibilities. Most of all, it teaches students to ask questions."
- Amanda York, IB Visual Arts teacher
There are many reasons why students choose to study visual arts. The world today needs creative thinkers and requires collaboration across disciplines. "People," explains IB Art senior Marcos A., "need to look at things in many ways in order to be successful." Interdisciplinarity is a way of thinking, doing, and relating to the world. Classmate Luisa M. believes she has learned how to do that through her experience as an IB Visual Arts student. "Art is as interdisciplinary" and something that "changes as you change," she states.
International Baccalaureate (IB) Visual Arts is a rigorous research-based program that is also very student-centered. It puts discovery at the forefront of a holistic learning experience. "The course," says Maja, second-year IB Visual Arts student, "challenges your creativity and your technical skill; it challenges you on an individual level. It forces you to get involved with your thoughts and your struggles and to create something meaningful to you and others."
Under the guidance of High School Visual Arts Teacher Amanda York, Graded's IB Visual Arts students hone their creativity and problem-solving skills as they work toward technical proficiency and confidence as artists. They experiment with and critically reflect upon a diverse variety of contemporary techniques and media to express their ideas, in addition to analyzing and contrasting the visual arts from multiple perspectives and contexts. Research, investigation, and reflection on artists, art history, and ideas across cultures and disciplines are at the core of their learning experience. For senior Eduardo K., the IB Visual Arts program has "taught [him] to place [him]self in other people's shoes."
Over two years, students learn to understand the creative process by developing a body of artwork, seven to ten pieces, unified thematically or through related ideas. In the classroom, students have the freedom to explore media, techniques, and ideas, while teacher Amanda York helps to facilitate learning. "Art is not created in a vacuum," says Ms. York. "Exploring the work and ideas of other artists, thinkers, and disciplines throughout history and across cultures is essential to their learning experience. We focus on developing an understanding of the creative process and turning a kernel of an idea into an artwork. For the students, it's a little like learning to walk: they are eager to see quick results but get frustrated with the process, fall often, and sometimes it's painful. Creativity requires perseverance. It also helps to become comfortable with ambiguity because they must learn how to move forward without the certainty of knowing where they will end up. That also takes courage. Students discover new aspects of themselves; they learn to trust themselves and trust in the process of learning."
Ultimately, students implement what they have learned during two years in their Final Exhibition, the culmination of each student's IB Visual Arts experience. Students must apply their knowledge about the curatorial practice to share their artwork with the public. Each artist writes a curatorial rationale explaining the exhibition concept, how each artwork relates to that concept, and the impact of their curatorial choices on the overall presentation.
"Art is one of those things that you want to be physically present for," says Ms. York, "so I wasn't sure what to expect when we moved to distance learning so early in the process. I'm still struck by surprise and then admiration for this group of students who continued to show up, stick together and even thrive. The diversity in the artwork, ideas, and approaches reflect their styles and personalities; it is a testament to the authenticity that these students bring to their work."
This year's IB Visual Arts Exhibit highlights the work of ten seniors who will go on to an array of post-secondary pursuits, including the fine arts, education, architecture, design, economics, business, and environmental studies.
Under normal circumstances, student artworks are showcased at Graded's Lemann-Tully Art Center for several weeks. This year, due to the pandemic, the IB Art Senior Exhibit has a new virtual home. A video interview accompanies each student's work and conveys their process, concept, and art story. We hope that you enjoy this tour showcasing our senior artists. We are very proud of the incredible work they have produced.