Since the school’s founding, art has always been a basic element of the whole-child curriculum and program at The School in Rose Valley. Grace Rotzel, principal of SRV from 1929–1967, wrote:
“There are two views of education; one, that a man should be educated to be what he is, and the other, to be what he is not. The progressives took the first view, and therefore adopted the broad definition of art as concerned not only with form, color, and movement in a variety of media, but with the uniqueness of the individual.”
A whole person, in SRV’s view, is not only familiar with the art of the world, but has the opportunity to make art regularly for personal expression and fulfillment.
Students make art in every classroom in the school, and art materials are provided in nearly every room to be used in conjunction with other curriculums and during choice times. Art is also integrated, as much as possible, with what children are learning in other subjects. For example, a kindergartner’s discovery of a baby snapping turtle in the sandbox one fall inspired turtle research in books and the science room, drawing turtles to encourage closer observation, and then making turtles with clay in art class. So in many ways, every room in the school is an art classroom.
Art is also a weekly special subject for children from kindergarten and up. The Art Room is both a classroom and a studio. It is well equipped and stocked with plentiful materials and supplies for easy access to children. Like all great studios, it bears the marks of creative use in which the process is valued at least as much – if not more than – the end product.
Students are exposed to a wide variety of media and methods in art class at SRV, including painting, drawing, nature journaling, collage, sculpture, printmaking, and clay. Textiles are a featured medium at SRV — the children make felt from the wool of our own sheep, forming it into various object or decorations for our walls. Children’s art is featured prominently in classrooms and common spaces at SRV.
Art appreciation is a major element of the curriculum, so the Art Room is fully stocked with evidence of the work of famous artists and folk art from different cultures. The Art Room library has dozens of beautiful books about individual artists, artistic movements and genres, and art from various cultures and eras. Discussions of the art they learn about, and of their own work, occur every day in the Art Room meeting area.