Visual Arts

The Visual Arts Department at North Shore Country Day is composed of a group of artist-teachers who support the development of the whole child as a visual, global citizen by focusing on big ideas and inspiring a spirit of service. Each division supports student-artists’ growth by using techniques and tools from contemporary practices, design thinking, global perspectives and social justice initiatives. Throughout their art education at North Shore, we ask students to see themselves as artists whose experiences and imagination can be used to cultivate their personal and collective voices.

Our classroom communities expand opportunities for student-artists to confidently envision, engage and persist in their creative practices. As artist-teachers, we strive to provide project objectives that invite a diversity of student voices and ask learners to creatively ideate, revise and reflect on their successes and failures. Constructive critique is an important component of our pedagogy, because one-on-one and group feedback situate artworks within larger contexts, highlighting ways art can be interpreted and presented. Outside of our classrooms, rotating student work is on display throughout the year in all divisional spaces, including in student and professionally curated exhibitions in North Shore’s John Almquist Gallery.

Across divisions we recognize the importance of caring, collaboration and material exploration. Taking into account each student-artist’s developmental stage, we encourage artistic risk-taking while emphasizing the safety and care of self and others. Student-artists work together to generate, make and install artworks, so we continually emphasize how to honor a shared workspace. In the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools we use materials such as painting and drawing media, metals, found materials, clay, digital technologies and ephemeral processes. Sound, smell, taste and movement are also used to activate our spaces.

As a key throughline in our scope and sequence, we present student-artists with diverse art histories and contexts that inspire them to connect locally and globally through service and creative action. We cover contemporary topics as well as art histories that have been overlooked by the Western artistic canon and incorporate themes such as geography, race, gender, equity and class. When learning about artists and their practices, we underscore the role of ethics and respectful treatment of imagemakers, images, viewers and collaborators. Critical citizenship is further cultivated through investigating and synthesizing the visual vocabulary of one’s lived experience. Ultimately, we strive for our student-artists to take on the role of a researcher and activist who uses artmaking for thoughtful changemaking.
North Shore Country Day School is a junior kindergarten through 12th grade, college-preparatory school founded in Winnetka, Illinois in 1919.  With rigorous academic pursuit as the cornerstone, North Shore provides many opportunities for all students to excel – in the classroom and the laboratory, on the stage and the playing field, in their communities and beyond.