Visual & Performing Arts

Our goal is to have students transfer their developing awareness of artistic value and cultural understanding to all areas of their life, learning and community.
The Visual & Performing Arts Department offers every student the opportunity to explore artistic creation in visualdramatic and musical mediums. Instructors guide students to connect their burgeoning skills with their ideas and personal experiences to begin to develop an artistic aesthetic. Students think critically and analytically regarding artistic choices, motivations and relevant theories throughout the process of creating art and through the completion of the final product. The department emphasizes the importance of studying contemporary and traditional approaches within each medium and its cultural development through history.

Art is incorporated into all aspects of the JCHS experience through collaboration with performing arts, gallery showcases, and site-specific art installations throughout our campus. Our goal is to have students transfer their developing awareness of artistic value and cultural understanding to all areas of their life, learning and community.
The Visual & Performing Arts Department’s mission is to see each student develop the ability to:

  • Engage in the artistic process to develop original pieces of art and performance
  • Process, analyze, and respond to artistic information using appropriate artistic vocabulary and themes
  • Relate and utilize historical and cultural information to contextualize their own work, and make historical and cultural connections to fine art and other academic disciplines
  • Analyze and think critically about their own work, the work of their peers, and the artistic works within the community and culture
  • Evaluate and offer respectful, constructive feedback regarding their artistic outcomes and those of their peers
  • Learn to work independently, as well as in a group
  • Develop the problem-solving skills necessary to bring a long-term project to a successful close
Click on any course name below to learn more.

Visual & Performing Arts Core Courses

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • Acting I

    Subject Area: Performing Arts
    Open to: 9, 10, 11, 12

    Acting I engages students in learning the skills of acting and storytelling. Through games, improvisation, and exercises, students learn the skills and techniques of concentration, developing given circumstances, sense memory, emotional portrayal, physical agility, vocal control and character development. Units include stand-up comedy, modern scene work, clown technique and acting for the camera. Students develop skills in observation and critique of the art of acting. Using the wonderful improv games of Viola Spolin and Keith Johnstone, the listening techniques of Meisner, the magic ‘if’ of Stanislavski, we learn to listen, work creatively, and build responsive, fearless physical and imaginative instruments.
  • Filmmaking

    Subject Area: Performing Arts
    Open to: 9, 10, 11, 12

    Filmmaking introduces students to the creative process of filmmaking - from conceptualization of story to production & post-production processes. Students will develop storytelling skills using the creative medium of film - from idea, to script, to storyboards. We will view and study the techniques employed by some of the most influential filmmakers of the last 100 years. Concepts and skills are developed through project assignments and will explore the technical aspects of filmmaking such as: visualization, camera movement and shot composition, special effects, lighting, sound, music and editing. Students will learn the skills necessary to successfully accomplish basic pre-production, production, and post-production processes. Advanced non-linear editing skills are introduced using Final Cut Pro, Motion, Adobe Premiere, and Adobe After Effects. Working both collaboratively and independently, students will learn the grammar and conventions of the medium by creating short narrative films.

    Please Note: A laptop (Mac or PC) with sufficient processing power and free disc space is required. If using a Mac, the latest version of iMovie or Final Cut X should be loaded. If using a Windows machine, a video editor (i.e. Shotcut or Premiere) that has sufficient capabilities is required.
  • Fundamentals of Photography

    Subject Area: Visual Arts
    Open to: 9, 10, 11, 12

    This course will provide students with an introduction to Photography’s fundamental principles and techniques using both digital and analog (film) methods. Our class will investigate the interrelationship between concept, subject and technique in order to create dynamic images in both color and black & white.

    Hands-on exercises, demonstrations, lectures and critique and are designed to clarify the technical aspects of photography while encouraging creative approaches to picture making. Camera operations, principles of design for composition, and expanding our visual literacy are among topics included.

    Please Note: Each student is required to supply their own DSLR camera.
  • Instrumental Ensemble

    Subject Area: Performing Arts
    Open to: 9, 10, 11, 12

    Distinct from some other arts and disciplines, we create ensemble music with joint responsibility, not as a lone player. In this performance-based course, we will be studying the “ensemble” (significant instrumental performing groups) as well as rehearsing and performing as an “ensemble” of our own. We will develop our own craft on our individual instruments whilst creating a collective repertoire of instrumental ensemble music.

    This course may be taken multiple times for credit.

    Please Note:  Students enrolled in this course will be expected to own/rent/acquire their own instrument and to come in, with at minimum, introductory knowledge/skill on their instrument.
  • Materials and Methods

    Subject Area: Visual Arts
    Open to: 9, 10, 11, 12

    Materials and Methods focuses on guiding students through the essential elements of art by engaging them in exercises designed to develop their skills in drawing, painting, and printmaking. Students will explore different topics within each media as a means of learning to see the world around them, and to channel personal expression.  Subject matter will be assigned in a way that encourages generative responses while providing thematic structure.  The aim being for each student to reflect on their own interests and experiences as they develop ideas for their work, and develop their skills relevant to each media.  Each student will complete several individual works throughout the year.  Studio practice will be supported by group critiques, sketchbook work, as well as reading and writing assignments.
  • Sculpture

    Subject Area: Visual Arts
    Open to: 9, 10, 11, 12

    Sculpture is a hands-on studio art course about using different materials and methods to construct three dimensions. Students will work in a variety of sculptural modes including assemblage, casting, and additive and subtractive work. Over the course of the year, students will develop individual works that incorporate visual concepts such as line, shape, texture, repetition, balance, variety, movement, and light and shadow. Using wire, plaster, clay, paper, and found objects, students will explore the relationship between form and content, and learn to analyze and assess works created in the class through group critiques. Assignments will be given to promote imaginative inquiry and technical skill development. The course includes some reading, writing, and sketchbook assignments.

Visual & Performing Arts Elective Courses

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Acting II

    Subject Area: Performing Arts
    Prerequisite(s): Acting I (or 2 or more JCHS Productions and Departmental Approval)

    Acting II is a performance based class which extends and deepens the skills built in Acting I. Students will engage in advanced acting exercises for the stage and screen, including long form improvisation, Meisner technique, Michael Chekhov technique, directing and acting for film. Students will study advanced contemporary and classical texts, dialect and will complete an audition demo reel.
  • Advanced Photography

    Subject Area: Visual Arts
    Prerequisite(s): Fundamentals of Photography

    This course is designed for students to explore and refine their own personal methodologies and approaches to photographic image making. Our class focuses on visual literacy andlearning to see as artists. This is conscious act that requires thinking, analyzing, and decision-making both technically and conceptually. This is the driving goal of our course in both the work we create and how we learn to talk about photography. This process is built on a foundation of technical skill in both the traditional and digital darkroom environments. The understanding of key photographic principles and methods is achieved through assignments, lecture, demonstration, critique and presentation of artists’ work that culminates in a final portfolio piece.

    Students are given greater latitude and responsibility in this course to pursue their individual photographic interests with the goal of creating a personal portfolio of images. The assignments given at this level place an emphasis on individual style and vision while strengthening the students’ technical skills. Willingness to take risks in one’s imagery and the ability to work independently are key components at this advanced level of study.

    Please Note: Each student will be required to supply their own DSLR camera.
  • AP Studio Art

    Subject Area: Visual Arts
    Open to: 11, 12
    Prerequisite(s): Concepts & Processes, Advanded Photography or Advanced Filmmaking and Departmental Approval

    Students will elect to concentrate in one of the following:
    • AP Studio Art: 2-D Design
    • AP Studio Art: 3-D Design
    • AP Studio Art: Drawing

    The AP Studio program consists of three different courses and AP Portfolio Exams- AP 2D Art and Design, AP 3-D Art and Design, and AP Drawing- corresponding to college and university foundations courses. Students may choose to submit any or all of the AP Portfolio Exams.

    Students create a portfolio of work to demonstrate inquiry through art and design and development of materials, processes, and ideas over the course of a year. Portfolios include works of art and design, process documentation, and written information about the work presented. In May, students submit portfolios for evaluation based on specific criteria, which include skillful synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas and sustained investigation through practice, experimentation, and revision, guided by questions.

    Please Note: AP courses may require additional afternoon and/or weekend meeting times throughout the year.
  • Concepts and Processes

    Subject Area: Visual Arts
    Prerequisite(s): Materials and Methods or Sculpture

    Concepts and Processes builds upon the foundation established by the Materials and Methods course.  Students will expand on their technical skills essential to the requirements of each media as a route to express individual ideas and sensibilities with impact and authenticity. Students will be asked to reflect on their own interests and experiences as they discover and develop ideas for their work. In addition, examples of historical and contemporary artists and movements will be presented throughout the year in order to provide cultural context for myriad creative approaches. The media explored in the Concepts and Processes course includes drawing, painting, and printmaking, mixed media, and a unit focusing on creating art for a public audience. Studio practice will be supported by group critiques, sketchbook work, as well as reading and writing assignments.

Visual & Performing Arts Faculty

Jennifer Sturgill
Chair, Visual and Performing Arts
415.694.5772 x150

Marisa Aragona
415.694.5772 x106

Dr. Joshua Feltman
415.694.5772 x204

Masha Kouznetsova
Admissions Associate/ Sculpture 
415.345.9777 x112

Joe McDonald
Technical Director, Filmmaking, JTV
415.694.5772 x154

Claudio Silva
Theater Technical Director

Anne Marie Ullman 
Theater Director and Drama Teacher
415.694.5772 x313
Click here to see the complete Curriculum Map.

Visual Art at JCHS

Visual Art at JCHS
Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415.345.9777
JCHS is grateful for generous operational, programmatic, and financial support from:
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.