Dwight’s Art Collection: Teaching Tools That Inspire Infinite Creative Sparks

The Louvre. The Uffizi. The Dwight! 

A walk through our Main Campus reveals a remarkable collection of artwork by students, parents, alumni, and world-renowned artists. In addition to adding beauty, these pieces are intended to spark conversations, enhance learning, and inspire the next generation of artists. 

With over 200 pieces spanning different media in Dwight’s collection, which Chancellor Stephen Spahn began building in the late 1960s, our School is a living, teaching museum. The breadth is most impressive with pieces ranging from Goya etchings — a complete set of 40 from La Tauromaquia — Audubon prints, Pre-Raphaelite drawings, and antique maps, to sculpture from the 11th Century Angkor period in Cambodia, African masks, Tibetan thangkas — 18th and 19th Century religious paintings on fabric — and so much more from different eras and parts of the world. 

Every piece is a teaching tool, including the latest additions by contemporary artist Sharon Horvath. For example, students in grade 2 visited Ms. Horvath’s works  installed in the lobby of our new brownstone at 21 West 88th Street and drew inspiration from one in particular, entitled “Out There Or in Here.” 

Students investigated the composition of this artwork (made of pigment and polymer on canvas), with particular focus on the use of color (made of pigment and polymer on canvas) before creating their own works aligned with their “How We Express Ourselves” IB unit of inquiry. Using Google Earth, second graders mapped their journey from home to school, etched their paths into styrofoam, and made a series of relief prints on paper. For our Fall Art Exhibition, their prints were hung in the Spark Lab nearby Ms. Horvath’s works, for all to see, including the artist herself! She joined us for the event to share some insights into her process and was delighted, in turn, to see what the students had created.

Our Fall Visual Arts Exhibition
In addition to the relief prints, a bounty of student artwork was installed for the Exhibition, stretching from the foyer of our new brownstone and Spark Lab to the Quad, illuminating slices of the rich IB visual arts curriculum across the Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma Programs. Sample works created by students in every grade showcased what they have been exploring during the first trimester. An exhibition guide detailed what students had investigated, how they translated or applied what they learned to create their own pieces, and what they hoped to communicate, demonstrating their developing skills across media, traditions, and techniques. 

A range of pieces by students in Art Spark, Dwight’s after-school program, was also part of the Exhibition, including individual works and a collaborative hanging sculpture in progress. The latter, made of five laser-cut felt works and entitled “Global Vision,” is installed in the lobby of 21 West 88th Street. 

Curated by faculty — Kate Frey, Gabrielle Hanlon, Kevin Rosenberg, Ellen Sayers, and Justyn Ambrose, Head of Visual Arts — the exhibition provided just a glimpse of the subject matter students study and a glance into their emerging talents.  

The Visual Arts Journey 
Every Dwight student embarks on an educational journey in the visual arts beginning in Preschool and Kindergarten with exposure to the fundamentals. Young students are encouraged to express themselves through a range of hands-on learning activities that help them begin to acquire skills in sensory exploration that they will use and expand throughout their years at Dwight. With each successive year, the inquiry-driven IB arts curriculum connects with and extends the transdisciplinary themes and topics that students explore. Students delve deeper into critical studies of the art world, artists, artworks, and audiences from cultural, political, historical, and social perspectives. 

Additionally, Dwight students benefit from our location in New York City, which offers an extensive array of some of the world’s finest museums, galleries, and studios in which to study and experience art as consumers. 

At all levels of learning, our students are provided with opportunities to make artworks across a wide range of traditional and contemporary expressive forms. As they acquire a range of skills for art-making — sensory, tactile, manipulative, and technical — students see the importance of how meaning is created and represented in their own work and begin to develop their personal styles and expressive voices.

The breadth of expressive forms students explore at Dwight includes:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Ceramics
  • Textiles and fiber
  • Mixed- and non-traditional media
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  • New media: virtual/augmented reality, laser etching, and CAD/CAM
  • Photomedia
  • Printmaking  
  • Sculpture
  • Graphic design
  • Designed objects
  • Film
  • Portfolio preparation  

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t possibly do justice to everything that students investigate and learn through our rich visual arts curriculum and extracurricular activities! What we can say is that they receive a world-class education, have countless opportunities to explore and express themselves — and infinite creative sparks of genius!