Students in 4th-7th grade rotate through introductory classes in five studio art offerings, including painting and drawing, ceramics, photography, fiber, and woodshop. Each term, 8th and 9th grade students choose from a range of arts electives; some classes offer exposure, while others guide students toward mastery.
Studio Art Studio Art for 4th and 5th grade students focuses on the three-dimensional form to create "monsters." After studying the work of Tim Burton and working with wool, students create their own Burton-like monsters that embody a fear or a pet peeve. 6th grade students also design monsters; only they create sculptures, done first in felt and then in large-scale papier-mâché. 7th grade students study book arts and, over the course of the year, create their own books of poetry using printmaking, needle felting, collage and illustration.
Fiber Art Fiber Art for 4th-6th grade students allows young artists to learn to operate table and belt looms, read patterns, and follow weaving instructions. Time is also spent gaining facility on an Inkle loom and learning to knit.
Photography Photography for 4th-6th grade students involves building a camera obscura to understand how a negative is made. Students then design and build their own pinhole cameras to photograph "mystery images." Each student makes at least three black and white prints in the darkroom by the end of the term. 7th grade students begin to study composition, photographic terminology, digital photography, and digital image editing techniques. They learn about staged and candid portraits, rural and urban landscapes, and taking close-ups. Students select a handful of favorite images to edit and print for their book of poetry.
Woodworking Woodworking for 4th-6th grade students gets students busy planning, measuring, sawing, assembling, and sanding their own toolboxes. The class discusses the theory of mortise and tenon joinery and builds a simple woodworking mallet from natural materials. 7th grade students learn basic furniture making by building their own mortise and tenon benches. After observing detailed demonstrations, students begin to work independently.
Ceramics Ceramics for 7th grade students involves learning the three basic hand-building techniques: pinch, slab and coil. Students become familiar with different types of clay, pottery terminology, identifying and using pottery tools, machines, and glazing. Electric wheels are introduced, and students have the opportunity to learn how to fuse and slump glass.
Photography Students with a wide range of ability levels can pursue both digital and analog photography. While new students learn the basics of photography, more experienced students are encouraged to work independently. Children learn about proper exposures and making good prints. By the end of the term, students are expected to have four or five final prints that represent their own experience at North Country School or a finished project of their choosing.
Advanced Photography Students learn the basic principles of camera and darkroom use, as well as more advanced processing techniques. They create a portfolio of photographs related to a theme of their choice. Manual cameras, automatic film cameras, and digital cameras are used to create story-telling images, which are displayed and often included with secondary school applications.
Black and White Photography Students hone printmaking abilities and expand photographic techniques.Students new to photography can learn the basics, and experienced students are encouraged to work independently. The focus is on proper exposures and quality of prints. By the end of the term, they select four or five final prints that represent their unique experience at North Country School.
Portfolio Prep & Digital Photography Students learn about composition, photo selection, Photoshop techniques, and, ultimately, how to design independent projects. All students spend the first half of the term outside photographing and generating ideas for a final project. The second half of the term is spent inside, finishing projects that can be printed and displayed.
Independent Woodworking Students are encouraged to be creative and commit to the projects they propose.Students research designs, draw up plans, provide a materials list, procure supplies, and construct their projects.
Instrument Building This offering combines students' interests in woodworking and their passion for music. Each student proposes, researches, and designs a simple homemade instrument. Projects range from simple percussion instruments to intricate string instruments. Often we play these new instruments together.
Capstone Woodworking Project In this class, older students must carry out projects with a high degree of complexity using refined skill sets. Each student finishes the term with two functional and beautiful tools. Specific skills include bent lamination, mortise and tenon joinery, rabbet joinery, and complex layout and design challenges.
Advanced Ceramics Students explore and review the three basic hand-building techniques: pinch, slab, and coil; yet the emphasis of this course is on electric wheel throwing, making sets, and advanced glazing techniques. They work with several types of clay and glazes and have the opportunity to learn how to fuse and slump glass. Students practice loading and unloading the kiln and firing techniques.
Documentary Film This course is designed to capture North Country School in a documentary film created and edited by students. Together, they outline aspects of life at NCS, seek opportunities to capture activities on film, interview subjects, and use Flipcam and iMovie to edit their shots.
Advanced Fiber Arts Students first work on floor looms or card weaving and learn how to warp and weave on an Inkle loom. They learn the names of various parts and operations of looms and how to read patterns and follow simple instructions. Additional projects include knitting, felting, spinning, and basketry.
Mosaics Students complete independent landscape mosaics in the first half of the term before working collaboratively as a group. Together they complete a large-scale mosaic made from ceramic tiles, glass, broken pottery and dishes. This mosaic is prominently installed in the foyer of the main building.
Sheep and Wool Students learn the process of carding and dying wool. They work with both wet felt and needle felt to create a book that illustrates a word of their choosing.
Trash Fashion Students design and create an article of clothing from recycled materials that they then wear in an on-campus fashion show and photo shoot. They learn about fashion design, innovation, and problem solving in creating unique garments.