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Art History and Studio Art

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Emily Schumacher: “The most exciting aspects of teaching art are the personal connections I form with my students through my shared enthusiasm of the subject matter.” 





Teaching art allows me access to the joyful experience of sharing my lifelong passion with students. As a practicing visual artist, I strive to transfer my excitement of the subject matter through challenging, hands-on projects. My students are introduced to a wide range of two- and three- dimensional mediums throughout the year, which equips them with a versatile toolbox to express their ideas. I emphasize the development of strong observational drawing skills, along with a thorough understanding of the elements of art which inform both abstract and realistic ways of working. Group critiques build critical thinking skills and teach students that art is a flexible, personal endeavor with many solutions. Experimentation, risk-taking, and collaboration are encouraged and rewarded in my classroom. Trust is built within this playful, inclusive environment, empowering my students to discover their strengths and take pride in their individuality within the vulnerable space of art creation.

In the Upper School, I provide my students with a strong foundation in Art History with a class designed to accompany their studio practice. Students learn about artists, techniques, and ideas spanning the ancient world through modern times. My students are presented with compelling, age-appropriate material that excites and challenges their thinking. Class projects foster academic excellence through a combination of imagery analysis, writing and drawing assignments, and group and individual presentations. We look closely at works of art that have complex social lives and are tied to cultural shifts throughout history. Artwork comes alive during visits to the de Young, Asian, and Oakland Museums. My students gain new perspectives on material taught in other subjects such as History and Latin, and draw upon their own diverse experiences during our lively class discussions. These young scholars retain more than a collection of facts; they develop appreciation and awareness of how visual culture shapes their world.


The upper school art program encourages inventive thinking and personal expression through exploration of art history and studio art. Students will view, experience and ponder works of art from prehistory through ancient Greece into the present day. Students will build their abilities to understand, interpret, and appreciate art through questions, activities, and experiments that evoke a personal response. As they gather information gleaned from the world around them, they will begin to formulate their own ideas and views on art. Students will make meaningful connections to areas of study in Art History by applying similar art-making techniques to their own practice in studio art.

In sixth grade, students will move through units on Prehistory and Ancient Egypt, Asian Art and Archaeology, The Age of Impressionism, and The 20th Century. Their studio practice will include drawing from observation, paint-making, Chinese brush painting, Hindu thresholds, Japanese woodblock prints, plein air pastels, and action painting. Students in seventh and eighth grade will encounter the art of the Classical World, Africa and Mesoamerica, the Renaissance, and the 19th and 20th Centuries. Their studio practice will involve Roman-style mosaics, illuminated manuscripts, African mask making, techniques of archaeology, and surreal landscapes.

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