The arts are an integral part of Suffield Academy’s core curriculum, where teachers work closely with individual students to discover their interests and strengths. Education in the arts provides learners with non-academic benefits such as promoting self-esteem, motivation, aesthetic awareness, cultural exposure, creativity, improved emotional expression, as well as social harmony and appreciation for diversity.
At Suffield, I felt free and comfortable expressing myself and was able to truly enjoy art for art’s sake.Michelle Wan, Student
The arts free us from certainty and help develop a tolerance for coping with life’s ambiguities. Leonardo da Vinci once described the arts by categorizing people into three classes: those who see, those who see when they are shown, and those who do not see. Arts education therefore helps teach us to see. Suffield has a long and proud tradition in the performing arts and theater. Legendary faculty members, including Joe Connors and Gordy Glover, directed performances in the former theater barn behind Gay Mansion and played leading roles in the construction of the Jeanice Seaverns Performing Arts Center 30 years ago. The foundation built by many Suffield alumni and faculty members helped lay the groundwork for today’s thriving programs.
Studio Art 1 Studio Art 1 is an entry-level course designed to build a foundation from which a student may grow. Through the traditional disciplines of drawing and painting, students are made aware of the thinking that is fundamental to any creative activity. Through work in the studio, they learn to order and to discipline resources. The course deals primarily with the development of a concept and with its expression in graphic form. However, allowance is made for experimentation in other media, with appropriate emphasis placed on technical concerns. Experience gained in the important areas of creativity, imagination, and invention is soon put to work on independent art projects.
Advanced Studio Art In this class, students work to create visual pursuits designed around each of their particular interests. Focus is on two-dimensional art such as drawing, painting, print-making, and collage. Portfolio development is a large component of this course. Additionally, students will examine significant works of art and artists to help them make stylistic connections and enrich their own work. Individual approaches to subject matter and personal expression are stressed.
Ceramics This course provides students with a comprehensive set of elemental techniques with which to create a variety of finished sculptural and functional ceramic pieces. Hand-building techniques include pinch, coil, and slab construction; students also use a potter’s wheel. Students concentrate on wedging their clay, centering, creating basic forms, and further developing their skills. Throughout the course, students gain an understanding of glazing and surface decoration, discerning how these relate to pottery form. Interested students may acquire a knowledge of different firing techniques, as well as experience in loading and firing a kiln.
Graphic Design This course is framed around understanding the principles of design (contrast, repetition, alignment, & proximity) and will teach students critical skills in graphic design. Working in programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, each student will learn how to effectively analyze and create layouts to send powerful messages. Topics explored include logo design and development, typography, magazine layout, and template design. Students will finish the year by designing and creating the school art and literary magazine. They will also create a website showcasing their work from the year. Completing this course will equip each student with an understanding of their own design aesthetic and with the training to explore an interest in the design and advertising industry.
Introduction to Visual Communication Design With a hands-on approach, this course introduces students to the world of visual communication design. Analyzing how media is currently used in our society, students will begin to gain an understanding of how to effectively captivate an audience with new media. Through use of traditional studio materials, as well as digital media, this class includes an in-depth exploration of the principles of design, color theory, symbolism, and collage in order to empower students to convey a visual message in the 21st century.
Media Arts This course explores expression of art through the use of modern and innovative technology. In addition to the observation of society’s manipulation of image and video, students will be experimenting with creation through the use of Adobe Photoshop, GarageBand, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere, digital cameras, video production, and a variety of other innovative tools. Students will learn to express their own ideas through harnessing media, building on their ability to communicate in the 21st century. Working both individually and collaboratively, students will be tasked with creating projects that embody what they think is important to share with the world.
Photography This course involves a study of photography from the traditional analog to digital and experimental photographic techniques. The course begins with the 35 mm SLR camera and its component parts (what they are, how they function, and how to use them). It also includes composition and darkroom techniques (making and using solutions, film developing, printing, and darkroom manipulation). The course will evolve over the year as students apply their traditional training to working with digital SLR cameras and finishing the year with experimental photography.
Sculpture This is a course where students can develop their artistic voice through the creation of three-dimensional artwork. The class begins with fundamental 3D design projects to foster an understanding of balance and aesthetics while developing skills in construction and fabrication. The class continues by exploring both traditional and contemporary sculptural materials, from clay, wood, metal, and plaster to found object works and installation. Each project is introduced with direct instruction highlighting specific movements, artists, and schools of thought to provide historical context to the assignment. Various sculptural methods, including additive, subtractive, casting, and assemblage are employed to help each student achieve their artistic vision. Students are challenged to consider both their subject and the materials used to create their subject. Assignments explore different conceptual elements and styles from representational and figurative works to abstract objects. Consideration for the display and lighting of finished works are included in each assignment, and sight-specific projects require students to incorporate concept through location in both time and space. The course culminates with an independently developed project based in the materials of the students’ choosing.
Acting: Techniques This is a general introduction to the acting skills and techniques used in varied dramatic settings, from classical to contemporary, from tragedy to comedy. Students will understand the concept of believability and establish that concept as the groundwork in acting. The core project of this class focuses on character development. Students will develop and explore a character of their own creation through a series of improvisations with classmates. The core elements of character, conflict, objectives, tactics, and obstacles are rooted in this process.
Acting: Ensemble Building on the base established in Acting: Techniques, students will work with texts written in the realistic style and explore techniques developed to train actors for performance in contemporary plays. Special emphasis is given to scene study and ensemble performance work.
Acting: Special Topics This is a topic course that will cover alternative and more advanced acting techniques. Such topics include: advanced improvisation, acting for film, auditioning, and playmaking. This course will culminate in a student performance showcase.
Advanced Vocal Techniques and Staging This is an advanced class in music performance and theatrical staging. It will serve as part vocal master class and part theater studies. Students will study proper vocal health and the physical mechanism of singing. They will also look at the understanding of song and the interpretation needed to bring the music to life on stage. This course covers a wide variety of music genres including pop, rock, classical, and musical theater. It meets year-round and provides the Suffield community with three performances each year. This is an audition-based class.
Chamber Ensemble This group is for strings, woodwind players, and pianists interested in playing classical chamber music. It includes music arranged for various sized ensembles from duos to as many as a dozen players.
Chamber Singers This is a small group of mixed (male and female) singers. Basic music reading skills and vocal technique are covered while working through a vast range of challenging choral literature. Anyone who would like experience singing in a mixed ensemble is encouraged to join.
Jazz Ensemble This groups serves as an introduction to playing jazz with an emphasis on learning how to improvise. Basic styles, musical forms, and scales are introduced.
Advanced Jazz Ensemble This group is for students who have some background in improvising in the jazz idiom. The emphasis is on small group (combo) playing with most of the time spent on improvising and the scales and theory involved in that discipline.
Music and Media Music and Media is a non-performance based introductory course that requires no prior knowledge of music or a musical instrument. The course explores music through every aspect of your life; the music you listen to on your phone, the jingles from TV ads, even movie soundtracks. Throughout the year-long course, students will create exciting projects such as writing their own theme song, creating their own short film with mood music, and even creating their own music video or video game soundtrack. Students will learn basics of music recording, sound production, and music theory to guide their creative choices throughout the course. If you like music and want to learn more, this course is for you!
Music Theory & Composition Honors This class moves quickly through the basics of music into tonal harmony, analysis, and simple composing. The curriculum includes listening and development of skills through dictation. It also delves briefly into serialism and other techniques and uses Siblelius and GarageBand software.
Private Lessons Private instruction by adjunct faculty is offered on most instruments. Students will receive information about sign-up and cost with registration materials that are mailed in early June. Students are expected to take lessons for a full year, practicing and attending lessons regularly.
Public Speaking This class will study the principles of public speaking. Students will critically examine their own and others’ speeches through interactive practice. This class studies oral versus written communication in order to help students prepare speeches that are easier to deliver and understand. The class focuses on understanding the key parts of an argument and drafting clear and concise arguments, which translates directly to other academic assignments.
Recording Basics This class serves to introduce students to the basics of the recording studio. Topics will include microphone types, uses and placement, use and care of equipment, and an introduction to ProTools. The basics of live recording, mixing, and mastering will be covered, and students will help record the winter guitar show.
Tremaine Visual Arts Center is a bright, uplifting 7,000 square foot space that is the home of Suffield’s Department of Visual Arts. The sky-lit upstairs studio is used for painting, drawing, and digital media courses. The bottom floor of the building has an extensive ceramics studio, the Violich Photography space and darkroom, and the Lee Roberts ’74 Gallery. The Ceramics Studio is located on the lower level and houses a variety of ceramics classes along with workshops and open studios.
The Violich Photography space is home to a state of the art dark room and studio.
The Jeanice Seaverns Performing Arts Center is the site of Suffield’s theater, which is used extensively for dramatic and musical productions, dance performances, guitar shows, and other meetings and performances throughout the year. This 8,400 square foot theater has sophisticated lighting and sound systems.
The Set Design Shop is attached to the Jeanice Seaverns Performing Arts Center. This 2,400 square foot workspace is used to build theater sets and has hosted woodworking and architectural classes. It has sophisticated equipment to support all of these purposes.
The Williams Performing Arts Studio is home of Suffield’s dance program and also has a professional recording studio.
The Guttag Music Center houses eight acoustically engineered spaces for private study and music lessons. The Guttag Center also has offices for Suffield’s performing arts teachers. Private Music Rooms are acoustically engineered spaces for independent practice and private study.