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Tubes of paint in the art studio

Visual and Design Arts

Within the Matthews Arts Wing, an airy two-story glass atrium with six dedicated studios, students are able to broaden and deepen their inquisitive, imaginative and analytical skills in the visual and design arts.

Courses are rich in hands-on assignments and supplemented by a broad introduction to theory, criticism and aesthetics. Students are free to dive into one or more areas of study and are encouraged to think critically and interconnectedly. A visit to to any of the studios will reveal emerging artists truly engaged in the creative process and exploring a variety of media and techniques as they refine and redefine ideas.

Architecture Project Close Up Shot


For most of us, the majority of our day is spent moving from one building to the next. But how often do we stop and think about the physical structures that we sleep, study and work in? What goes into the conceptualization of a school, and how does that differ from the needs of an office building? How are homes designed to both be aesthetically appealing and fully functional? Over the course of four years, students delve into these architectural challenges through the deconstructing, critiquing and designing of both well-known buildings and spaces seen only in their imaginations. 

Student working on their painting in the art studio

Painting and Drawing

Students in all divisions explore a wide range of mediums and techniques. Our youngest artists learn close observation and personal expression, progressing to the fundamental elements of spatial design, color theory, and techniques of both wet and dry mediums. At the advanced level, curriculum changes yearly, helping students unpack visual impact, content and communication of imagery. Across the curriculum, students explore personal, social and political themes while forming connections to other artists and disciplines.

Upper School Ceramics Close Up


Students in all divisions study historical and contemporary work as they begin to discriminate between aesthetic value and personal preference in their own work and that of their fellow students. They are challenged to find their own voice by incorporating their individual interests and passions. In a large, light-filled studio, students express their ideas by hand building, wheel throwing, or a combination of the two. 

Upper school students working with a camera for media arts

Media Arts

Students explore production, history and critical studies of filmmaking and video art. In both Middle and Upper School, students garner experiences in multiple filmmaking styles, utilizing the essential language necessary to become critical makers and storytellers. 

Furniture Design Student Sanding

Woodworking and Furniture Design

Students in all divisions work in a variety of mediums to produce creations that reflect their individuality and personal style. They first outline their idea in a sketchbook, then develop their designs in 3D modeling software before fabricating the final piece. Offerings are designed to ensure an appropriate experience for students in each division.

Photography Card Image


Students cultivate critical and conceptual thinking with a solid and immersive foundation in craft. Beginning in the wet darkroom, students develop skills that will qualify them to participate in advanced courses where concept, sequencing and art history enable them to visually articulate complex ideas and emotions. 

Want to learn more about visual and design arts at PDS?

Schedule a visit and see for yourself how our vibrant community is unlike anywhere else.

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