Northwest Academy celebrates twenty years of academic and artistic excellence
It is a momentous year for Northwest Academy, as we celebrate twenty years of inspiring young minds through academics and arts. We have grown from humble beginnings with 26 students whose parents took a leap of faith in the vision of our founder, to a robust, well-rounded program serving a student body of 225, and ranked as one of the top independent schools in Portland.
How amazing and how wonderful that civic leaders and arts institutions, parents and philanthropic foundations rallied around a core of compelling ideas to build a school that fundamentally changes lives. The teachers and students of Northwest Academy are engaged in a process that is deeply transformative, and our students graduate with a capacity for creative work and an understanding of themselves that will carry through life. We are moving with such speed and determination into our future that it is a pleasure to pause for a day to reflect on all that brought us to this moment.
About the Artwork
Both art pieces seen in the invitation to Northwest Academy’s 20th year Celebration are from the student art archives of Sean Cain, Visual Art Department Chair.
The painting by Madeleine Knox – graduate in 2012 – was made as part of a color study project where students were asked to simplify or abstract a “master” artwork with regard to color with the ultimate aim of understanding both the color palette/harmonies that the artist used and the general proportions of the color areas. Students had a lot of leeway in interpreting those directions and were able to bring quite a bit of personality to their abstractions. The artwork that was used by Madeleine is Van Gogh’s The Zouave.*
Sean’s drawing and design students do numerous color studies, in some cases coming up with their own compositions and in some cases “borrowing” someone else’s, but always with the goal of developing an intuitive understanding for color relationships. Sean explains “I used to teach the theories, but then I realized or came to believe that doing projects that helped students develop a feel for using color was getting better results (and more investment from students) than forcing them to attempt to employ theoretical, Josef Albers type stuff.”
The screenprint made by Emily Tate – graduate in 2005 – is from much earlier in Sean’s tenure here. He says “I recall that particular assignment being fairly basic with the goal of layering color in a reduction print. One thing I remember about that piece is the fuzzy upper right-hand edge of the yellow form was a mistake in that it wasn’t printed correctly, but somehow it works with the sharp edged black circles.” Sometimes the unexpected can actually enhance a work.
If you want hear more about how Sean Cain teaches visual art to Northwest Academy students, listen to this podcast.