Advanced Program for High School Students

RISD’s Advanced Program for High School Students is an intensive, collegiate-level program for students completing grades 9-12. This immersive online experience is designed for students who are interested in pursuing art and design in college.

Program Overview

The pandemic of COVID-19 dramatically changed the world that was familiar, causing us to see and notice things in new and surprising ways. The role of artists and designers is, and has always been, to comment and reflect on cultural changes, but also to anticipate and inspire changes to come. This plight has brought renewed emphasis on the critical role artists and designers play during times of world complexity and uncertainty.

In a time where stringent rules and rigidity take precedence for reasons of safety, we call for creative young people to access a more ‘pliable mindset’ – applying art and design methodologies to chart new territories of creation, processing and problem solving. In forging fresh methods of creating, we open our brains to opportunities beyond art-making – we are planting the seeds for creating active solutions in the face of crises.

Under these circumstances, artists are given permission to shake up the ‘traditional’ ways of making, encourage full-blown experimentation and fresh, forward thinking that leads to real innovation. Come join us online this summer and learn how to create your vision for a better world!

How Does One Create in Times of Uncertainty?

During each 4-week session students develop work in response to our current conditions, their own experiences, and their imagined futures. Working within a series of prompts, students are challenged through research, material and method exploration to develop work that reflects issues around creativity during times of world distress.

From addressing the practical challenges of working with limited space and materials outside of a traditional studio, to learning how to find inspiration in the mundane, to developing and sustaining an active art-making practice, students will work independently and through peer connections to understand how constraints can inform exceptional outcomes.

Summer 2020 Program Dates

Session I: Essential Fundamentals: June 22-July 17 (REGISTRATION CLOSED FOR SESSION I)

Session II: Featured Topics: July 20-August 14

By choosing to enroll in both sessions, students will have the opportunity to develop a broad variety of work for their portfolio.

These courses are not offered for college credit.

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Online Learning

Throughout the program, students will interact with their instructor and peers through our online course management system, RISD CE Link. The instructor responds to student images and discussion posts, invites students to share in progress work, presents projects and ideas, and connects one-on-one and in small groups – providing direct support to advance learning.

These courses are asynchronous, which means:

  • You’ll schedule your own study, research and creative time. Are you a morning person or better at night? You get to decide when is the best time to do your work.
  • You’ll have access to course content any time of day or night.
  • No daily class schedule or attendance taken. However, you are expected to log into the site daily to participate in discussions, post images, watch demos and tutorials and keep pace with assignments.
  • Virtual interactions include responding to prompts, delivering presentations and discussing ideas with the group. Because these are not real-time/live events, you have time to gather your thoughts and prepare your insight into your own work as well as give feedback on the work of your peers.
  • You’ll learn how to navigate an entirely online course – which we anticipate as a part of a new normal for most colleges and universities.

The essential elements for success – a passion to create, willingness to try new ideas and being open to working differently – do not change. However, some students may struggle as they learn to work independently within tight deadlines, long-term projects and written assignments. These students may need additional support from family members, tutors and/or other resources not provided by the program. Each student will be assessed and graded on their engagement and performance.

All Skill Levels Welcome. You Should Attend If You:

  • Are serious about studying art and design
  • Are considering a college track in art or design
  • Are interested in developing meaningful work that addresses socially relevant issues and ideas
  • Would like to develop skills and work building towards your college application portfolio
  • Want to develop a strong studio practice to enhance your ability to work more independently
  • Would like to increase your visual arts language and ability to communicate verbally about your work, and the work of others
  • Want to gain an understanding of contemporary art and artists to inform your own work
  • Want to engage with experienced instructors who are professional artists and designers
  • Are looking to connect with like-minded peers from all around the world

What You’ll Be Doing

In both sessions you’ll create work that includes concepts, sketches and finished pieces that convey your unique viewpoint, solutions and ways of making art.

Session I: Essential Fundamentals is comprised of three courses:

  1. Experiential Drawing,
  2. Exploration in Design, and
  3. Art During Crisis – Contemporary Issues

These courses focus on how best to express your ideas and concepts through impactful visual communication. Additionally, you’ll strengthen connections to your own interests and passions by exploring the work of contemporary artists and designers. There will be demonstrations, lectures, presentations, critique, and feedback, all working to strengthen your core skills. Each of the three courses will require about 10 hours per week of dedicated time, 30 hours per week in total.

Session II: Featured Topics is where you choose one course and spend four weeks exploring a specific discipline in depth. Featured Topics courses are an opportunity to focus on a singular area of study to harness your skill sets in a particular medium. Students engage in investigatory research while also learning methods and materials. There will be demonstrations, lectures, presentations, critique, and feedback, all working to deepen your knowledge of your chosen discipline. Featured Topics courses will require about 20 hours per week of dedicated time.

While not a requirement, we strongly suggest that students planning to take a Featured Topics course take Essential Fundamentals in the prior session.

Learning Outcomes

The primary goal of this program is to provide an educational experience that allows students the opportunity to focus on a passion, reflect on contemporary circumstances, and experience the pursuit of art and design topics in depth. This immersive and intensive online experience will help students as they learn to be self motivated, nimble, creative and critical thinkers. Learning outcomes include:

  • A strong understanding of foundational principles in drawing and design
  • Knowledge of contemporary thinking in art and design, especially as it pertains to responses to crisis
  • An understanding of art and design processes, such as iteration, materials exploration, and relationships between concepts and form
  • Ability to utilize visual language to express ideas and give critical feedback to others
  • Ability to work in productive relationships with a diverse community of others, including collaboration with instructors and peers
  • Ability to manage personal time and be self motivated in planning and executing work
  • A body of work including concepts, sketches and finished pieces that may be included and/or can inform your college application portfolio

Session I: Essential Fundamentals (June 22 – July 17) (REGISTRATION CLOSED FOR SESSION I)

In this first four-week, online session students register for one schedule that consists of three individual courses: Experiential Drawing, Exploration in Design, and Art During Crisis – Contemporary Issues, each taught by a separate instructor.

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Session II: Featured Topics (July 20 – August 14)

In the second four-week, online session students will pick a specific, single area of interest and immerse themselves in the topic. Projects will take on a longer trajectory and require thinking, research, planning and iteration as you hone skills and explore specific mediums and modes of expression.

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