The Visual Arts programme at Island Academy seeks at all grade levels to provide an environment in which visual communication skills can be developed in order to enrich the basic human desire to be creative.
The curriculum develops and extends visual communication skills in the areas of drawing, painting and graphic design, preparing the student for success at the CXC level examination in grade 11 and for Visual Arts in the International Baccalaureate.
The continued success of Island Academy students in regional and national competitions and in post-secondary studies abroad is a clear indication of the strength and diversity of the programme in meeting a variety of creative needs. But success in examinations and competitions is in our view secondary to the building of lifelong appreciation of visual art in general and the enjoyment of oneís own creative expression.
How do we approach the building of these skills?
Well, someone said it better than we can: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” (Albert Einstein)
At Island Academy, we start with the belief that visual curiosity, imagination, inspiration and creativity are innate and instinctive rather than acquired or taught; and it is well-known that the visual arts and its various media are particularly intuitive to young children. There are many artists who strive to see the world through the freely inquisitive and imaginative eyes of children; and in our opinion it is the most accomplished artists who manage to rediscover the world over and over again as if it were the first time. In this sense the artist and the child are very much alike.
To a greater extent, and in a more evident way than other curricular subjects, Art not only offers the possibility of free individual discovery and expression, but also keeps a record of the process. For the educator of students at both lower and secondary levels, this subject is then clearly one of the most valuable and effective means by which children can discover and understand themselves and the world around. In schools, Art also tends to be the subject that raises the most questions about the traditional roles and relationships between teacher, student and school. A child’s artwork cannot be appreciated and graded according to the typical competitive, timed and reward-based schooling system. It is our view that an Art teacher should see outside of these parameters, and more like the true artist, give greater importance to the processes than the results. Guide rather than insist. Encourage rather than restrict.
To some extent the Island Academy Art programme disputes the conventional focus on results and time-restricted examinations, as well as the importance given to competitiveness among students and the fixed authority of the teacher. This approach therefore naturally emphasizes the importance of creating the right environment, rethinking time management, and encouraging students’ autonomous expression and communion with their more immediate community. From a teacher’s point of view, establishing this kind of comfortable, safe space and favoring a sensible pace (in fact the kind of environment in which many artists wish to work), will naturally lead a child to be freely creative, learn in a more meaningful way, as well as gain confidence, a natural sense of morality, responsibility and respect for others.