Visual Arts

Visual Arts Overview

The visual arts are an integral part of Suffield Academy’s curriculum. When you walk into the Tremaine Visual Arts Center, you will find artists pursuing a variety of interests—from painting and drawing to drafting, photography, ceramics, and sculpture. The foundation of the teaching philosophy in the arts department is the belief that everyone has potential. Here, self-inquiry begins and fundamental skills are taught and learned. Teachers work closely with individual students to find their strengths. Students work independently, but with close faculty mentoring, and explore and develop their own ideas. Artistic expression is believed to be the impetus of self-expression, which is the cornerstone of a liberal arts education. At Suffield, we believe educational processes that deny humanity's artistic nature limit what and how we learn. The visual arts program encourages students to examine the artist's methods and learn how the artist thinks. The curriculum is supportive of both students with less experience tapping into their creative resources and those with remarkable talent.
Suffield’s visual arts curriculum teaches students to:
  • Acknowledge the artists within themselves
  • Appreciate the arts and make them a part of life
  • Acquire fundamental skills and develop authentic artistic expression
  • Understand that the skills needed by the artist are related to those used by scholars in other disciplines

Course Descriptions

List of 9 frequently asked questions.


    Term: Full year
    Studio Art I 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.

    Term: Full year or term by term
    Students enrolled in these advanced courses devote full time to creative art projects in the two- and three-dimensional media of their choice: drawing, painting, woodworking, sculpting, and architectural and mechanical drawing. However, along with the traditional materials, students may also choose to work with a variety of new substances, including plastics, metals, and fiberglass. Individual approaches toward subject matter and personal expression are stressed. Students can also qualify for honors study in any medium. Prerequisite: Studio Art I and permission of the department chair.

    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.

    Term: Full year or term by term
    This course is designed to allow students to continue to explore different methods of construction in both pottery and sculptural forms. Methods of construction covered will be large scale coil, advanced slab construction, throwing on the potter’s wheel, mold making, and slip casting. Students will finish their works in a variety of kilns and nontraditional methods.

    Term: Full year
    This advanced course is for students who have taken photography multiple years or have demonstrated mastery skills of both darkroom and digital photography in their work. A highly conceptual course, students will be pushed to explore their personal eye and interests as photographers. Exploring topics such as photojournalism, advanced wet process darkroom printing, large format digital and darkroom printing; this course will visit museums and offsite workshops regularly. Students interested in pursuing photography in college will be well equipped to do so after taking this course. Prerequisites: A portfolio that is approved by the instructor, previous photography courses, and both a 35mm film SLR and digital SLR camera.

    Term: Full year
    This course involves a study of photography from the traditional analog to digital and experimental photographic techniques. The course begins with the 35mm 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. It is recommended that students have their own 35mm SLR camera as well as a Digital SLR camera (not required).

    Term: Full year
    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. Prerequisite: Successful completion of an introductory art course.

    Term: Full year
    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 iMovie, Garage Band, Final Cut Pro, 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 a final project; creating a multimedia project to share a message of importance to the Suffield community.

    Term: Fall
    This course will encompass the basic history of this art form and then evolve into architectural drawing from observation of existing buildings on our campus. Emphasis will be on the observance of style and setting. With this study as a basis students will then move to model-making where each student will experience wood working machinery and tools. The final project will be a scale model of a stick frame house based on blueprints and construction plans. Prerequisite: Studio Art I.

Visual Arts Office

List of 4 members.

  • Bill Butcher 

    Chair, Visual Arts Department
    Drake University - B.F.A.
    Drake University - M.F.A.
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  • Erica  Caginalp 

    Assistant Director of the Library
    Alfred University - B.F.A.
    SUNY New Paltz - M.S.Ed.
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  • Melinda Fuller 

    University of North Carolina - B.F.A.
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  • Jenny Graham 

    Hartford Art School - B.F.A
    University Connecticut - M.A.
    Read Bio
Suffield Academy   185 North Main Street   Suffield, Connecticut 06078   Phone 860.386.4400  |  Fax 860.386.4411