student mixing paint.


Visual Arts

The visual arts at BB&N promote creativity, self-expression, and growth while fostering an inclusive community.

We value technical skill, conceptual depth, and interdisciplinary collaboration empowering students to connect authentically.


At the Lower School, students explore key questions and engage in hands-on projects, utilizing creative materials to foster self-expression and innovative thinking. The Middle School curriculum focuses on creativity, skill development, and self-expression, providing a solid foundation for artistic exploration. The Upper School invites students to delve deeper into specific disciplines while also exposing them to new mediums and techniques. As students gain confidence in their abilities to see and make, they also gain an awareness of the impact of the arts on the world both within and beyond BB&N.

Visual Arts

At the lower school, students are taught by instructors who are practicing artists in their individual disciplines. Projects are often integrated with the social studies curriculum and may incorporate visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The visual arts program aims to offer children opportunities for self-expression, creativity, innovative thinking, and the development of confidence and pleasure in the creative process. During the Beginner year, students work with their homeroom teachers using a variety of creative materials. In Kindergarten through Grade 6, students work more formally with art teachers to develop basic skills in visualization, observation from nature, design, painting, and three-dimensional construction such as ceramics.

At the upper school, students learn the creative process and fundamental principles necessary to architectural design. Emphasis is on design as a process — identifying and solving problems, generating multiple solutions, and experiencing the role of collaboration and group reflection. Through a variety of group and individual assignments, students investigate the relationship between space, form, structure, and site with a view towards ecological thinking. Students learn basic drafting and model-making techniques to realize their ideas.

At the middle school, ceramics aims to create a relaxing and supportive environment to explore three-dimensional art using hand-building clay techniques. Students express their ideas through specific projects exploring their identity while also gaining understanding of the unique properties of the materials. 

At the upper school, ceramics encourages students to express themselves by working with a medium that allows for experimentation with many variables – throwing, building, glazing, technical development and discovery. Clay classes are grounded in conceptual issues and fundamentals of forming and firing using timeless methods of making and firing, including the potter’s wheel, while drawing influences from historic and contemporary works. 

At the lower school, students are given opportunities for self-expression, creativity, innovative thinking, and the development of confidence and pleasure in the creative process.

At the middle school, students learn how to use a variety of drawing and painting media: pencil, colored pencils, watercolor, pen, collage, stencil, acrylic paint; create a portfolio of artworks based on a theme of personal significance; and gain exposure to art historical references.

At the upper school, students learn to make increasingly sensitive and considered visual decisions. Students work primarily from observation and develop skills in translating what they see. It is vital for students to have a solid foundation in the formal aspects of art making in the early stages of their development, and, as they progress, to find their own voice and path. They learn technical skills while simultaneously finding the freedom to express themselves as individuals. They are exposed to a broad range of contemporary and historical precedents in art.

At the upper school, photography take students from beginning explorations of light, form, line, and frame through to complex assignments on portraiture, self-portraiture, documentary, and conceptual projects. All students gain thorough traditional darkroom skills and versatility with color photography using our Digital Imaging Lab. BB&N students who love photography can take it all four years, deepening their skills and honing their own visual sensibilities and passions. A hallmark of our program is our use of Boston with our day long shooting field trip in the fall and visits to museums and galleries throughout the year.

At the upper school, film and video combines elements of film history/appreciation with a hands-on approach to narrative movie making. Using cameras, tripods, lights, and microphones, students work in collaborative groups to plan, shoot, and edit short projects that are then screened in class. All editing takes place using Final Cut Pro on a suite of dedicated editing stations. An emphasis is placed on implementation of storytelling structure though team efforts. Work is screened in class for discussion and during selected assemblies during the year.

At the lower school, woodworking begins in Grade 1, where work with paper-making, origami, and cardboard helps children learn to visualize three-dimensional forms and understand how different parts fit together to become a whole. In woodworking shop, students learn to use a variety of tools in safe and effective ways; they work on projects such as pine birdhouses and replicas of Egyptian sarcophagi.

At the middle school, students learn printmaking by exploring five techniques: engraving, linocut, monoprint, stencil, collograph. Students create a body of work around a theme of personal significance; explore a range of imagery, from literal to symbolic and non-representational; and create a culminating digital portfolio to curate and reflect upon work.

At the upper school, the wood program takes place in a well-equipped, historic Wood Studio. The studio is one of America’s oldest venues of Sloyd Education. In the studio, students are provided with a unique opportunity to gain a solid foundation in woodworking and design skills. Students design all of their own projects while developing a repertoire of standard and advanced woodworking techniques including the safe and proper use of the power tools in the studio. Projects range from wood turning and cabinet making, to the construction of large furniture pieces. Advanced students explore lathe turning, carving, steam bending, and other advanced woodworking and cabinet making techniques to create a portfolio of individualized projects.