Arts Academy Boarding High School: Visual Arts Major

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The Visual Arts program develops a student's capacity for expression through a correlation between the visual arts and an awareness of the student’s broader environment. Interlochen’s location, state-of-the-art studios, individualized instruction, visits from professional artists, and collaborative opportunities within and outside of the institution support this unique learning environment.

This program develops a young artist's technical and conceptual abilities through an integrated curriculum that fosters connections between disciplines, as well as between traditional and contemporary media. Creative practices, including flexible thinking, creative problem-solving, inquisitiveness, and perseverance through a broad range of experiences build the foundation for deeper understanding of the arts and innovation. Regular individual and group critiques develop and refine the artist’s personal vision within an intimate community of artists. Through an understanding of a wide-range of applications within the visual arts, students gain confidence and an understanding of empathy that prepares them to become artistic citizens and leaders in our constantly changing society.

Core Curriculum 

Students are required to sequentially take each of the four core visual arts courses. These courses meet four days a week for the entire Academy year and serve as an incubator where concepts and various techniques can be synthesized. While the first two courses focus primarily on skill building, the purpose of these four courses is to develop problem-solving skills, creativity and the student’s individual voice as a conceptual artist. 

Course Number



Course Title


Fall & Spring


Two-Dimensional Ideation


Fall & Spring


Visual Awareness


Fall & Spring

11, 12

Thesis 1


Fall & Spring

12, PG

Thesis 2

Students are also required to take two technique courses each semester, totalling four techniques for the Academy year. All new students are required to take Introduction to Photography and Digital Media, Sculptural Forms, and The Figure.  New students entering after ninth grade are required to take the Drawing and Painting Intensive classes in place of the 2D Ideation Core Course. All juniors are required to take two semesters of Art History: Ancient Greek through Renaissance and Baroque  - 21st Century. If there are open spaces, sophomores may enroll in this course. 




Course Title


Fall & Spring

New 10, 11, 12

Drawing and Painting Intensive


Fall & Spring


Sculptural Forms


Fall & Spring

9, 10, 11, 12

The Figure


Fall & Spring

9, 10, 11, 12

Introduction to Photography and Digital Media




Art History: Ancient Greek through Renaissance




Art History: Baroque - 21st Century

For information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.

How to Apply

  1. Prepare the materials listed here: portfolio requirements
  2. Complete the online application
  3. Submit your portfolio in the Academy Education Community

Though not required, a campus visit is recommended. You can tour the campus, visit classes, and possibly take in a performance or exhibition. You can meet and talk with students who are living the Academy experience. You may also arrange for a portfolio review.

Our admission representatives are here to help you in any way they can. If you wish to talk with someone about Academy programs, the application process, a campus visit, portfolio presentations, or other topics, they will be happy to work with you. Simply call 800.681.5912 or 231.276.7472 or email

Facilities and Resources

The Herbert H. and Barbara C. Dow Center for Visual Arts contains eight separate studios that provide all the tools needed for students to fully explore their own creative potential.

Digital Arts Studio: features 27-inch iMac computers with the Adobe Creative Suite. The lab is also equipped with scanners and photo printers including a 44-inch wide-format printer.

Photography Studio: includes a fully-equipped darkroom with enlargers that can handle standard 35mm film up to 4x5 film. This space also includes a lighting studio and a variety of cameras from pinhole to medium and large format.

Printmaking Studio:
 provides all the tools and equipment needed for a variety of different printmaking techniques such as etching, stone lithography, screen printing, wood-cut printing, linocut printing and collographic printing.

Fiber Arts Studio:
 set up for a variety of soft construction techniques such as weaving, felting, crocheting, piecing and stitching. The facilities also accommodate a variety of surface design techniques such as dying, batik, embroidery and papermaking.

Metals Studio: provides all the tools and equipment needed for a variety of different approaches to metal-smithing including cold connections, texturing, raising, soldering, casting and enameling.  
Sculpture Studio: accommodates work in a variety of three-dimensional methods including casting, welding, plaster and wood. This space is equipped with a Torchmate 2x4 CNC Router. Students have access to the sculpture patio for large-scale work.

Ceramics Studio: a studio where students learn to mix their own clay, work with glaze chemistry and assist with firings. The studio features throwing wheels, a large spray booth, three electric kilns, two large gas kilns and two raku kilns.

Painting and Drawing Studio: 
spacious studios with large windows offering ample natural light and great views. Students have their own spaces in each of these studios with an easel and taboret or drawing table.

Exhibition Opportunities

Visual arts students have many opportunities to show their work throughout the year. Student work is displayed in prominent locations throughout the visual arts building and around the campus. The new visual arts building includes a 1,600 square-foot gallery that houses regular exhibitions including:

  • Annual Juried Student Exhibition – Each year, the visual art students nominate peer jurors representing each grade to select and curate the exhibition from student submissions.
  • Senior Thesis Exhibitions – Graduating seniors work throughout the year to develop an idea into a formal visual presentation.
  • Festival Exhibition – Open to all visual arts majors, the Festival Exhibition showcases a variety of student work.
  • Visual Arts Student Showcases – Student work is presented in the visual arts building and studios several times throughout the year.
  • Visiting Artist Exhibitions – The visual arts program regularly welcomes guest artists who exhibit their work in the gallery.
  • New Transmissions - A traveling Exhibition of student work from Idyllwild Arts Academy, Interlochen Arts Academy and Walnut Hill School for the Arts

Visual arts gallery live webcam

Student Awards and Honors

The visual arts faculty help students identify contests and prepare entries. Through the process, students build strong portfolios and records of accomplishment, which can provide an important advantage during the college application process. In the past two years, visual arts students have received numerous awards including:

The YoungArts Awards are the core program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. It is the exclusive nominating agency for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts program. The following students have recently received recognition:

  • Lena Jafery - Finalist (2014)
  • Marko Jevtovic - Finalist (2014)
  • Thomas Blair - Honorable Mention (2014)
  • Olivia Hagerty - Honorable Mention (2014)
  • Keara Dooley - Honorable Mention (2014)
  • Madison Brownson - Honorable Mention (2014)
  • Catalina Gonzalez - Honorable Mention (2014)
  • Carly Heathcote - Honorable Mention (2014)
  • Waseem Nafisi - Merit (2014)
  • Jami Shimon - Merit (2014)
  • Isabelle Rose - Merit (2014)
  • Duairak Padungvichean - Merit (2014)
  • Emma Hill, Finalist and Presidential Scholar Semi-Finalist (2013)
  • Alicia Krupsky, Honorable Mention (2013)
  • Mary Wirtes, Honorable Mention (2012)
  • Richard Siegel, Merit (2012)
  • Spencer Hinson, Finalist and Presidential Scholar candidate (2011)
  • Rebecca Cornwall, Finalist and Presidential Scholar candidate (2011)
  • Benjamin Cornwall, Merit (2011)

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program is one of the largest, longest-running and most prestigious competitions for young artists in the United States. The following students received national recognition in 2013:

Art Portfolio:

  • Emma Hill - Silver Medal: Art Portfolio
  • Katherine Watson - Silver Medal: Art Portfolio
  • Isabelle Rose - Silver Medal: Art Portfolio
  • Ao Li - Silver Medal: Art Portfolio

Individual Awards:

  • Kyungjoo Ha - Gold Medal in Mixed Media
  • YeJi Yang - Silver Medal in Drawing
  • Doyun Park - Gold Medal in Design
  • Doyun Park - Silver Medal in Sculpture
  • Ao Li - Gold Medal in Sculpture
  • Olivia Hagerty - Gold Medal in Ceramics & Glass
  • Olivia Hagerty - Gold Medal and Best in Grade in Sculpture
Arts Schools Network's On Your Way Talent Scholarship Program in Visual Arts:
  • Illya Mousavijad - Recipient of the 2014 scholarship award

College Matriculation

After graduation, Academy visual arts students attend leading programs, including:

  • Art Center College of Design
  • Boston University
  • California College of the Arts
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cleveland Institute of Art and Design
  • College for Creative Studies
  • Glasgow School of Art, Scotland
  • Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Maine College of Art
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Massachusetts College of Art and Design
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design
  • The University of Michigan
  • Pacific Northwest College of Art
  • Parsons The New School for Design
  • Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
  • Pratt Institute
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
  • School of Visual Arts
  • The Cooper Union
  • University of the Arts London
  • University of California Los Angeles
  • University of Southern California
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Yale University
Three visual arts majors from the Academy class of 2014 were accepted to the highly selective Cooper Union, and others received generous scholarships to top programs throughout the country.

College Recruitment

Top art colleges and universities across the country and abroad actively recruit visual arts majors and regularly send representatives to Interlochen. These one-on-one portfolio reviews help students make connections and informed decisions during the college selection process. Representatives from the following schools have recently visited Interlochen:

  • Art Academy of Cincinnati
  • Art Center College of Design
  • California College of the Arts
  • Cleveland Institute of Art and Design
  • College of Creative Studies
  • Corcoran College of Art and Design
  • Cornish College of Arts
  • Glascow School of Art
  • Kansas City Art Institute
  • Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Maine College of Art
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Massachusetts College of Art and Design
  • Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design
  • OCAD University
  • Oregon College of Art and Craft
  • Otis College of Art and Design
  • Paris College of Art
  • Parsons The New School for Design
  • Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
  • Pratt Institute
  • Ringling School of Art and Design
  • San Francisco Art Institute
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • School of Visual Arts
  • Studio Art Centers International, Florence
  • University of the Arts, London
  • The University of Michigan School of Art and Design
  • Watkins College of Art, Design and Film

Recent Guest Artists

Wayne White* is an artist, art director, illustrator, puppeteer and much more. He began his career in New York City where he worked as an illustrator for major publications and later became a groundbreaking designer and art director for television and music videos, earning MTV and Billboard Awards for his music videos and three Emmy Awards. Wayne is now widely recognized as a fine artist and has created paintings and public works that are displayed around the world.

Ellen Lupton is senior curator of contemporary design at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City. Lupton also serves as director of the Graphic Design MFA Program at Maryland Institute College of Art, where she has authored numerous books on design processes.

Kara Rooney* is a New York-based artist, writer and critic. She is the associate art editor for The Brooklyn Rail, and faculty member at School of Visual Arts where she teaches art history and aesthetics.

Judith Burton is professor and director of art and art education, Columbia University Teachers College. Before that she was chair of art education of Boston University and taught at the Massachusetts College of Art. She received her Ed. D. from Harvard University in 1980.

Michelle Bates* has shown work in solo exhibitions around the U.S. and abroad. She has photographed for newspapers, album covers, performers, artists, and many others. Michelle teaches at the Photographic Center Northwest, Newspace, Maine Media Workshops, the Julia Dean Workshops in L.A., and International Center of Photography, among others. Her book, "Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity" was published in late 2006.

Alessandra Torres* has been the recipient of awards including: the Jacob K. Javits Memorial Fellowship, a scholarship to attend The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and a travel grant to participate in sculpture exhibition with the Akademie Kunst Industre in Holland. Alessandra is a sculpture professor for the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Cornel Rubino* is a winner of awards including the Communication Arts Award, the Abby Award for Artist of the Year in Atlanta, and recognition from the Society of Publication Designers. Rubino is a contributor to several national magazines. He has created numerous posters for clients including nationally recognized arts organizations and non-profits. He has also lectured at numerous museums and colleges.

Arthur Ganson* is recognized for his kinetic sculptures and has held residencies in science museums and served as an artist-in-residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work has been featured in one-man shows at the MIT Museum, Harvard's Carpenter Center, the DeCordova Museum, and the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York.

(*held guest artist exhibition)

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