MPH Apply Now

Visual Arts

At Manlius Pebble Hill, art and creative expression are revered and not limited to formal instruction time. Our art program is about more than the sharing of a skill; it is about creating an atmosphere of openness and exploration. Upon entering the Kathleen and Daniel ’56C Mezzalingua Arts and Athletics Complex, you will find the Mafrici Family Gallery, which showcases the work of our student artists.

Students are encouraged to create and display original works in a variety of media and to become literate, lifelong aestheticians. The incorporation of art history into classes, hosting of visiting artists, and student visits to museums and artist workshops help to develop each student’s perspective on the arts. Emphasis is always placed on respectful nurturing of individual creativity. The medium of choice ranges from traditional art materials to photography, film, and computer-generated art. Routinely, nearly 10% of MPH’s most talented students will continue a formal study of art at the nation’s leading art institutions; recent graduates have attended The Art Institute of Chicago, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Rhode Island School of Design.

Yet MPH students vary widely in the intensity with which they pursue the fine arts, from those who are experimenting and stretching themselves to learn new ways of self-expression to those who have committed themselves to the life of the artist. The fine arts program is flexible enough in breadth and depth that all students can have the art program they need, whether it is one that permits sampling from the array of course offerings or one that is focused on sophisticated portfolio development and college-level critique.


Courses for Graduation Credit

*1 credit alone or in combination with Performing Arts.

First Semester 

Introductory Courses

Introduction to Photography

This class introduces students to the basic technological, compositional, and editing skills necessary to be a successful photographer. Through a series of games, field trips, and photo shoots, students learn everything from shooting in manual and decisive moment, to influential photographers and designing a photo shoot. Students frequently collaborate with one another to generate ideas and craft photo shoots. The primary learning is centered around control of the camera, understanding of light, value and composition, collaborative skills, and building creative confidence. In addition, students gain a strong working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop. This is a very active class, and students will frequently engage in activities that require considerable movement. Students would benefit from access to personal cameras, but they are not required. This class is highly recommended as a basis to further studies in Art and Design.

Elemental Studio (Can be taken multiple times)

Elemental studio is a 2D (two-dimensional) intensive class that deeply dives into technical skills and idea generation. Through a series of exercises and projects, students build their speed, confidence, and quality of art production. The primary learning for Elemental Studio is the development of technical skills and an introduction to reflection. Students are provided with the opportunity to experiment with different mediums and materials. Major assignments are student driven with a significant element of critique and reflection. Students are introduced to the art elements, design principles, and post-modern art principles. This class is highly recommended as a basis to further studies in Art and Design.

Advanced Course

Advanced Portfolio Preparation (Can be taken multiple times as a Junior & Senior)

Students work with their instructor and their peers to develop a portfolio of work based on their particular interests and skill set. Students work heavily with creating work that explores a particular concept. The Portfolio Preparation class experience is specifically tailored to the individual student’s goals and abilities. Assignments vary based on student needs and goals. Students will also have their work critiqued by college admissions professionals and university professors. Students will also travel to National Portfolio Day to gain insight and feedback on their work and creative process. The portfolio can be submitted to colleges or universities for Art and Design majors, or as a supplemental to colleges or universities for non-majors who wish to show colleges another aspect of their dedicated interests and abilities. Students may also enter their portfolio in competitions. 

Second Semester 

Introductory Courses

Art History

In a March Madness bracket-style competition, students will evaluate the work of pivotal artists. Students will learn about the biographies, art practice, and movements of each artist. The class is designed as an interactive experience that allows students to explore art history through games, lectures, and a competitive bracket. Students will understand the historical and stylistic implications of the artists and their movements by analyzing and interpreting works of art through the lens of the artist and the time period in which they lived. In addition, students will compare and contrast the brackets of art and the different art movements to encourage a deeper understanding of how different types of art came to be.

Introduction to Design

Students are introduced to the basics of design and design thinking. Students are challenged to creatively solve problems and create useful or desirable products. Students work collaboratively as a design team to find and solve unique problems with the end user in mind. Students do everything from build a boat, to walk on water, to design and sell t-shirts. The primary learning is rooted in design thinking and collaborative problem solving. This is a very active class and students will frequently engage in activities that require considerable movement and collaboration.


Advanced Courses

Advanced Studio Concentration (Can be taken multiple times)

Advanced Studio provides opportunity for students to experiment with different mediums and test different ideas in an environment that supports experimentation and creative risk taking. This class is independently driven, and assignments differ by individual based on particular student needs. Students will engage in a series of exercises to further develop reflection, idea development, and experimentation.  In addition, students are challenged to consider not only how their work is made, but how their work is experienced. Students will engage in “Coffee and Conversation,” a salon style conversation that offers students the opportunity question the larger artwork.  Primary learning is centered heavily in reflection on work, process, and creative risk taking.


Photography 2   (Can be taken multiple times – Prerequisite: Introduction to Photography)

Photography 2 builds on the foundation of Introduction to Photography. Students dive deeper into camera control, editing, controlling the quality of light, and photo shoot design. In addition, students will learn studio lighting, how to use professional grade equipment, and how to measure light to make the best aesthetic decisions to fit your idea. The class will also create larger photographic series with an emphasis on both concept and technique. Students will practice careful editing and have ample opportunity for creative experimentation. This is a very active class and students will frequently engage in activities that require considerable movement. Students would benefit from access to personal cameras, but they are not required.