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High School / Pre-College

Art & Architecture: Summer at Penn

  • Ages 15–18
  • 4-Week Session
  • Residential: July 3–30
  • Day: July 5–29
  • For full academic details, please visit Art and Architecture at Penn

Explore the Arts and Architecture

The University of Pennsylvania School of Design offers a four-week intensive studio program in art and architecture.

Art students choose major courses in animation, drawing, filmmaking, painting, photography or sculpture. In addition, they select two-week projects in ceramic wheel throwing, figure drawing, filmmaking, graphic design, photography, printmaking and book arts, or Web design.

Architecture students follow full-day studio intensive every day and do not study a minor.

Working with Penn faculty from around the world, you will build your portfolio, experiment with new disciplines and improve existing skills. The curriculum is taken from regular Penn courses and is sequenced and paced for the age and experience of the student body. Classes are small and we expect individualization within projects.


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The animation course will focus on the fundamentals of animation, both analogue and digital. While learning the core principles that are applicable to all methods of animation, students will explore a variety of mediums, which may include hand-drawn, stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation. Projects will be designed to not only enrich the students’ techniques, but also to acquaint them with the intricacies of collaboration. Screenings of various animated pieces that reflect the best that each particular medium has to offer, will be shown weekly. Industry-standard programs such as Adobe AfterEffects, Photoshop, Flash, and Maya are present on all student workstations. Upon completion of the course, students will take home a DVD of the completed work. The University of Pennsylvania is very proud to have graduated animators that have worked on eight Oscar nominated animated films in the past ten years. These include but are not limited to A Bug’s Life, Toy Story I and II, and Monster House.

The architecture studio introduces the fundamentals of design through two-dimensional and three-dimensional exercises. Assignments in freehand drawing, technical drawing, and model building will allow students to explore various techniques and materials. A rigorous sketchbook will also be kept to further observational skills and record ideas. The studio begins with an abstract exercise to familiarize the students with the essentials of critical thinking and their creative strengths. The initial exercise is followed by a project in which each student designs a space on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Architectural readings, slide lectures, fieldtrips, and campus library visits will support the course. There will also be visits to local architecture firms.

In the University of Pennsylvania’s state of the art wood, metal and CNC shops and ceramic studios, students will discover the creative potential of three-dimentional form. Through this broad ranging course students may work with assemblage, additive and substractive construction, modules, hand-building, slip-casting and wheel-throwing techniques, as well as possible surface treatments such as paint, varnish, wax, varied embellishments, high fire glaze processes, china paints, and luster firing. This course offers an exciting opportunity for students to express their ideas in creating sculptural works of art. No experience is required. However, students with prior experience will be presented with advanced techniques and creative assignments. In addition, slide lectures, field trips, critiques, and exhibitions will support student’s artistic experience.

This studio class is an exploration of the techniques, materials and processes used in creating two-dimensional art. Working primarily from observation, students will study a wide range of concepts in order to reinforce their perceptive and descriptive drawing skills. Media will include materials such as charcoal, graphite, pastels, and ink. Attention is paid to the development of the eye and the mind, as well as the hand. In addition to drawing landscapes and still-lifes, students may study the analytical and emotive approaches to depicting the human form. Note that the nude model is occasionally used in this class as is appropriate to the study of anatomy and structure and function.

The painting major studio focuses on oil painting, its architecture and its processes. Students will work from direct observation of still lives, the figure, nature, and from the imagination. A basic knowledge of materials and a repertoire of techniques and methods will be offered. The small size of the class will enable individualization within the course with each student working at his or her level of experience. Students will be able to work on their projects inside and outside of class times during open studios.

This concentration provides students the opportunity to learn digital film-making tools and processes for the purpose of articulate self-expression. Skills in production planning, scriptwriting, and storyboarding, as well as shooting and editing will be taught by a full time University of Pennsylvania instructor. This course provide a balanced presentation of theory, technical skills, and practice, and work with concepts involving (but not limited to) developing a visual vocabulary; representation strategies and genres; point of view; and combining music, words, and image in both innovative and traditional ways. The students will occupy the Final Cut Pro digital video editing lab in Addams Hall. All materials and equipment MacPro dual processor workstations, Sony VX2000, VX2100, HC7 video cameras, Lowell light kits, Sennheiser microphones) are provided. Each student will have his or her own workstation. Students with any level of experience may participate in this concentration.

In this fast paced course, students will move from the basic fundamentals of black and white photography to more advanced materials and processes of fine art, mural printing and large format photography. In addition, students will discover the expressive properties of color through the processing and printing of their own color photographs. No photography experience is required; however, students with prior experience will be introduced to advanced techniques and ideas. Students are expected to provide their own 35 mm cameras with manual override. All other photo equipment and supplies will be provided. Photography students will work in the lower level of Addams hall which houses three analog darkrooms and two Mac labs. The Photo major will concentrate on the analog laboratories, the print finishing room, film processing area, the seminar room and shooting studio. Students focused on photography may wish to choose the minors in Experimental Photography and Digital Photography.

*Students study this major for the full day and do not select a minor.

Art Minors

Digital Photography
This 2-week course will offer a brief introduction to digital photography. Both "point & shoot" and digital manual SLR cameras will be covered starting with the relationship between traditional photographic practice to digital image making. Methods of image input and output, basic color management and workflow will be covered. The examination of both historic and contemporary photographs will supplement our visual explorations. Photoshop CS5® will be our primary program as we work toward making a small portfolio of both B/W and color digital prints. The large Mac® lab in Addams hall holds 23 26-inch iMacs® each with a Wacom® tablet and stylus. There are flatbed scanners and film scanners, and a film output device to move from digital back to analog. Students will use the digital cameras in the equipment crib as needed but may also bring their own. These include the Fujis®, Nikon® D70s and D80s, and Canon® IV mark 2s.

Experimental Photography
Exploring alternative chemistries, large scale mural printing, large format photography and unconventional ways of using photography to create works of art are all possibilities within the experimental photography course. Students will have access to the analog labs and to the equipment in the photography crib.

Ceramic Wheel Throwing
Students in clay wheel classes will occupy Penn’s beautiful clay studios, located on the third floor of Addams hall. Under a view of the Philadelphia skyline students will develop new and hone existing wheel throwing skills, crafting utilitarian as well as non-functional vessels and sculpture. Stoneware, earthenware and porcelain clay bodies are available as is a comprehensive stock of glazes. Addams clay studios include two throwing rooms, one handbuilding room with a slab roller, extruder, Fordhams, work tables, and a kiln room with five electric and gas kilns and a glaze mixing area. In addition to the instructor and teaching assistant support for the ceramics students is provided by the University’s ceramics technician who will over see all the chemistry and the kiln firings.

Figure Drawing
The figure drawing minor class offers students the opportunity to understand the human form, that most quintessential of forms in art history, by studying and working directly from the nude model. The focus is on articulation through an understanding of anatomical structure and function. Students will investigate a broad variety of drawing techniques and materials. The model will be used as the sole element in composition and as a contextualized element. Parental permission is needed for students to enroll in this class.
Projects in filimmaking may include special effects, short narratives, blue screen work, music videos, and/or documentaries. Students will learn basic camera function and lighting techniques if filmmaking is new to them and will be exposed to rudimentary digital editing techniques. The more advanced students will work with the complexities of local and staged lighting, the integration of sound and effects, voice overs, and the organization of production team work. All students will work with the digital video editing lab workstations and the wide selection of cameras from the 1CCD hand-helds to the 5 CCD Sony cameras and the peripheral equipment of flood lights, booms, microphones, field monitors, and various capture devices. These are provided to all students enrolled in the film classes.

Graphic Design
Sometimes called Communication Design, the graphic design class begins to introduce the student interested in print media and visual communication to the foundation concepts of composition, typography and image manipulation. Projects may include personal identity packages, CD covers/inserts, poster design, packaging design, zenes or book covers.

Printmaking and Book Arts
The printmaking shop in the lower level of Morgan building housing presses and equipment for intaglio, etching, serigraphy, letterpress, and digital printing. Student projects in this class may include small editions of prints, a collected folio, mixed media prints, screenprints, broadsides, chapbooks or posters. Combining the prints with book craft may produce actual bound texts, non-traditional books, and unbound collections of work in traditional and non-traditional formats..

Web Design
The web is this century’s primary means of information gathering and dissemination. Having currency in this mode of communication will be come increasingly important to participants in the 21st Century. This minor class will over an introduction to creating and designing websites. Students interested in web design should indicate their level of experience and if possible for the experienced student to submit a link to a site he or she built. The web designers will work to built an interactive site in a 20-station PC lab with emphasis placed on Adobe Dreamweaver® and software such as Adobe Flash® and Adobe Photoshop®, possibly Adobe Illustrator®.

Experience Penn Campus Life and Activities

  • Stay in dormitories and eat in dining halls on Penn’s Campus in University City.
  • Explore Penn and Philadelphia through various planned excursions throughout the city.
  • Enjoy evening and weekend activities including recreational and cultural trips designed to provide a truly East Coast and Ivy League experience.
  • Learn from and interact with current Penn undergraduates who serve as Residential Assistants (RTAs) and live with students on campus to serve as a resource for academic and co-curricular activities.