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Fine & Performing Arts

Our fine arts program features a curriculum targeted to help you reach your artistic potential in drama, music, or the visual arts. At Chatham Hall, you can gain the skills of creative expression, as well as self-knowledge. Formal training, practical experience, and an academic approach will help you set high standards for your art and enable you to take risks in a supportive environment.

Graduation requirements
1 credit in Fine Arts from any discipline
  • Acting Techniques

    This course introduces students to basic acting techniques, including effective use of the voice, principles of stage movement, building and creating a character, and improvisation. The course is designed for students interested in exploring theatre as a means of personal development and expression, as well as for those who wish to study the craft of acting. Students will study the Twelve Guideposts outlined by Michael Shurtleff in his text, Audition, along with additional techniques as time allows. Students are expected to memorize lines, write journals, and perform for evaluation. 
  • Ceramics III

    One semester; .5 credit

    These courses allow the student to individually determine focus. Students learn how to wheel throw, continue in hand-building, combine both the wheel and hand-built challenges, and/or work on sculptural forms in class. 
  • Dance - Fall

    The Chatham Hall dance program offers classes in ballet and contemporary technique.  Ballet is the basis from which solid dance technique is built.  It builds strength, poise, and discipline, along with developing beautiful lines and musicality.  Therefore, the dancers will be taught ballet, primarily using the Vaganova Method, and expected to learn the steps, terminology, and dance history.  The students will also learn contemporary dance.  Contemporary dance incorporates aspects of ballet, jazz, and modern.  This style helps to develop the students’ use of rhythm and self-expression.  These dance styles will allow students to experience the performing arts, while encouraging creativity.  The students will participate in a performance at the end of each trimester and experience the joy, freedom, and sense of accomplishment that comes with being on stage.
  • Drawing & Design

    Fall semester; .5 credit (prerequisite for drawing, painting, and printmaking classes)

    Focus is on building perception, creative problem solving, composition, and color fundamentals. Skill development in drawing and design is stressed as well in both color, and black and white studies. Students learn to honestly self-evaluate and actively participate in group critiques. 
  • Drawing & Printmaking I

    One semester; .5 credit

    Focus is on drawing, linoleum block printmaking, and monoprints. 
  • Portfolio I (Fall)

    For the motivated, serious art student who wishes to essentially develop, with the guidance of the instructor, an independent study, focusing on her particular interests. Challenge is key. This course may encompass ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, design, and printmaking. Students may petition to be considered for Advanced Placement level in November. Selection is based upon the portfolio of work, drive, focus, and seriousness of intent. All students will prepare a digital portfolio for college submissions. 
  • Portfolio II (Fall)

    For the motivated, serious art student who wishes to essentially develop, with the guidance of the instructor, an independent study, focusing on her particular interests. Challenge is key. This course may encompass ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, design, and printmaking. Students may petition to be considered for Advanced Placement level in November. Selection is based upon the portfolio of work, drive, focus, and seriousness of intent. All students will prepare a digital portfolio for college submissions. 
  • St. Mary's Choir

    Full year; 1 credit

    Enhances Chapel worship services with well-prepared, high-quality choral music, teaches the students the skills to produce beautiful, healthy singing technique and excellent choral blend; and to cultivate an understanding and appreciation for a range of choral genre. The repertoire appropriately challenges the students’ singing ability. During the early part of the year, the choir concentrates on proper body alignment, breathing technique, free vocal production, choral intonation, and tuning. Through group work during rehearsals, students also learn to improve the transition between their registers and their resonance.
  • St. Mary's/Chamber Choir

    Full year; 1 credit – by audition only

    This course creates a choral music experience for our most advanced singer/musician through the rehearsal and performance of well-prepared, high quality choral music. Teaches the students the skills to produce beautiful, healthy singing technique, and excellent choral blend, and cultivates an understanding and appreciation for a range of choral genre on a much broader and challenging scale. The repertoire appropriately challenges the students’ singing ability. During the early part of the year, the choir concentrates on proper body alignment breathing technique, free vocal production, choral intonation, and tuning. Students are required to perform regularly during Chapel services. Membership in the choir is by audition. Students in Chamber Choir are also member of St. Mary’s Choir.
  • Winter Musical

    By audition only; .5
  • AP 3-D Art and Design

    Full year; by application and permission of the Fine Arts Department and the Academic Dean; 1 credit

    The course prepares motivated students for the Advanced Placement Studio Art Exam. Students must have taken through the third level of art classes, or an equivalent, to enroll. Students work in a variety of media and techniques to produce a body of work that best demonstrates a coherent plan of action or investigation, an underlying idea that has visual or conceptual coherence, a development of a visual language appropriate for the subject, an original stylistic approach, and clear mastery of the chosen media.  Students may select either the AP Drawing or AP 3-D Portfolio course.
  • Fiber - Art & Craft of the Quilt

    This semester long course is an introduction to the history, construction and art of the American art of quilting.  Students will explore both hand and machine piecing and quilting while learning to apply concepts of color and design to their pieces.  Students can expect to provide an average of $50 - $100 in materials for the course.
  • Fiber - Art & Craft of the Quilt

    This semester long course is an introduction to the history, construction and art of the American art of quilting.  Students will explore both hand and machine piecing and quilting while learning to apply concepts of color and design to their pieces.  Students can expect to provide an average of $50 - $100 in materials for the course.
  • MakerSpace Materials and Processes

    Throughout this course, the students will focus on the Design Thinking Process. The students will learn and apply various processes in The MakerSpace STEAM Lab using materials such as vinyls, plastics, woods, metals, and composites. They will learn to design their products by using various tools such as traditional drafting, Cricut design space, CAD / 3D Design Software, 3D Printing software, and other layout and design software. The students will experience processes involving Casting, 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, Screen Printing, and Wood Forming among others. Project planning, material selection, and cost analysis will be a focus of this course.
  • Portfolio II (Spring)

    For the motivated, serious art student who wishes to essentially develop, with the guidance of the instructor, an independent study, focusing on her particular interests. Challenge is key. This course may encompass ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, design, and printmaking. Students may petition to be considered for Advanced Placement level in November. Selection is based upon the portfolio of work, drive, focus, and seriousness of intent. All students will prepare a digital portfolio for college submissions. 
  • Dance - Spring

    The Chatham Hall dance program offers classes in ballet and contemporary technique.  Ballet is the basis from which solid dance technique is built.  It builds strength, poise, and discipline, along with developing beautiful lines and musicality.  Therefore, the dancers will be taught ballet, primarily using the Vaganova Method, and expected to learn the steps, terminology, and dance history.  The students will also learn contemporary dance.  Contemporary dance incorporates aspects of ballet, jazz, and modern.  This style helps to develop the students’ use of rhythm and self-expression.  These dance styles will allow students to experience the performing arts, while encouraging creativity.  The students will participate in a performance at the end of each trimester and experience the joy, freedom, and sense of accomplishment that comes with being on stage.
  • AP 2-D Art and Design

    Full year; by application and permission of the Fine Arts Department and the Academic Dean; 1 credit
  • AP Drawing

    Full year; by application and permission of the Fine Arts Department and the Academic Dean; 1 credit

    The course prepares motivated students for the Advanced Placement Studio Art Exam. Students must have taken through the third level of art classes, or an equivalent, to enroll. Students work in a variety of media and techniques to produce a body of work that best demonstrates a coherent plan of action or investigation, an underlying idea that has visual or conceptual coherence, a development of a visual language appropriate for the subject, an original stylistic approach, and clear mastery of the chosen media.  Students may select either the AP Drawing or AP 3-D Portfolio course.
  • Beginning Music Theory

    Full year; 1 credit

    Beginning Music Theory is intended for all students who are eager to develop a serious technical knowledge of music that will serve a variety of pursuits, including learning to both read and write music, and being introduced to fundamental principles of musical composition. Prior musical training is not required, as the course will establish a thorough foundation in elementary music theory and its application to musical practice. Nevertheless, the course content is highly technical in nature and is specifically addressed to students with a strong interest in both the origins and applicability of theoretical music concepts.
  • Ceramics I

    One semester; .5 credit

    Focuses on learning the three hand-building techniques; pinch, coil, and slab. Students learn the traditions in clay from prehistoric to the present and develop a solid understanding of what can be accomplished by hand. This course is a prerequisite for Ceramics II and III. 
  • Ceramics II

    One semester; .5 credit

    These courses allow the student to individually determine focus. Students learn how to wheel throw, continue in hand-building, combine both the wheel and hand-built challenges, and/or work on sculptural forms in class. 
  • Drawing & Printmaking II

    One semester; .5 credit

    This course offers an in-depth exploration of drawing and printmaking, encompassing linoleum prints, monoprints, etchings, and woodcuts. 
  • Drawing & Printmaking III

    One semester; .5 credit

    This course offers an in-depth exploration of drawing and printmaking, encompassing linoleum prints, monoprints, etchings, and woodcuts. 
  • Environmental Art

    Any student who is willing and interested in exploring the natural world to create unique pieces of art should take this class. Students will be outdoors using materials such as: rocks, sticks, leaves, pebbles, mud, ice and snow to design, build, construct different art forms. Experimentation and group work will be emphasized along with discussions and sketchbook entries. This class is globally relevant because students are learning how to appreciate the natural world, how to use organic materials to create art and it is a sustainable class. The materials used in Environmental Art are provided to us naturally. Andy Goldsworthy books and videos will be used as inspiration and motivation.
  • Painting I

    One semester; .5 credit

    Explores and examines color theory and mixing. Students are then challenged in subject matter, techniques, and scale of paintings to complete five major canvases. 
  • Painting II

    One semester; .5 credit

    Present a continued challenge in painting. Topics and direction are determined individually with the instructor. Watercolor studies and monoprint work may also be included in these courses.
  • Painting III

    One semester; .5 credit

    Present a continued challenge in painting. Topics and direction are determined individually with the instructor. Watercolor studies and monoprint work may also be included in these courses.
  • Photography I

    Fall semester; .5 credit

    Focus is on introducing students to the art of photography. The content of the course includes the history of printmaking, leaders in the world of photography, camera functions, exposure, black and white photography, color photography, presentation and the exploration of career opportunities. This course gives students an opportunity to explore digital photography, the techniques of Adobe Photoshop CS5, and the integration of the iPad.        
  • Photography II

    Spring semester; .5 credit (prerequisite: Photography I)

    Further explores the artistic and technical aspects of photography and digital printmaking. This course allows students to improve their skills and techniques using Adobe Photoshop CS5 program, and the iPad as a photographic tool.  Students work on photo essays, independent projects, and exhibit their work. 
  • Portfolio

    Full year; 1 credit

    Porfolio I
    For the motivated, serious art student who wishes to essentially develop, with the guidance of the instructor, an independent study, focusing on her particular interests. Challenge is key. This course may encompass ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, design, and printmaking. Students may petition to be considered for Advanced Placement level in November. Selection is based upon the portfolio of work, drive, focus, and seriousness of intent. All students will prepare a digital portfolio for college submissions. 

    Portfolio II
    For the motivated, serious art student who wishes to essentially develop, with the guidance of the instructor, an independent study, focusing on her particular interests. Challenge is key. This course may encompass ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, design, and printmaking. Students may petition to be considered for Advanced Placement level in November. Selection is based upon the portfolio of work, drive, focus, and seriousness of intent. All students will prepare a digital portfolio for college submissions. 
  • Private Voice Lessons

    Full year; (voice students by audition only)

Our Faculty

  • Photo of Kristen  Morrison
    Kristen Morrison
    Visual and Performing Arts Chair; Walker Buck Dorm Advisor; Yoga Instructor
  • Photo of Cameron Ayres
    Cameron Ayres
    English & Creative Writing Instructor; Theatre Department Director
    434-432-5240
    Bio
  • Photo of Rachel Balsley
    Rachel Balsley
    Director of Digital Strategy
  • Photo of Michelle Cressida-Bliss
    Michelle Cressida-Bliss
    Director of Music; Student Activities; International Student Coordinator
    Bio
  • Photo of Donna  Franklin
    Donna Franklin
    Dance Instructor
  • Photo of Sheppard Morrison
    Sheppard Morrison
    Latin Teacher; English Teacher; Quilting Teacher; Associate Director of Residential Life for Staff
    434-432-5546
    Bio
An all girls boarding and day school in Southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers Advanced Placement courses, global study and travel, as well as project based learning. Our athletic teams regularly compete at the State level and our exceptional riding program is nationally recognized. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.  
800 Chatham Hall Circle | Chatham, VA 24531 | 434.432.2941 | admission@chathamhall.org