Visual Arts


The goal of the Visual Arts Department is to create a supportive and challenging arts environment for students. This allows them to experience first-hand, the discipline, knowledge, and seriousness that can lead them to a career in the visual arts. Artist-teachers and visiting artists serve as mentors to the student artist, introducing students to art history and the principles of artistic form.

In two- and three-dimensional studio classes, NOCCA visual art students are encouraged to concentrate on technical proficiency, creative problem solving and self-discovery. This focused exploration increases confidence and allows students to stay open to new possibilities and to become increasingly self-directed.

We encourage students to investigate and create art that responds to issues they feel strongly about ––to “say something” ––particularly in response to their weekly home assignments. College recruiters are actively seeking applicants who demonstrate a developing artistic vision and voice, who have thought about what they want to say and how they are saying it, and can speak about their process as well as demonstrate it.

We accept that some of the issues that are important and meaningful to our students may also be controversial. And that some of the resulting work, especially early in a student’s NOCCA career, may lack refinement. It is art’s role to question and provoke, as well as to inspire. Learning to do this thoughtfully and effectively takes practice.

All home assignments are subject to group critiques. The effects of a student’s attempt to give voice to ideas that they are passionate about, including the unintentional or unanticipated ones, are an integral part of critique classes. Within the thoughtful enquiry of a group discussion with trusted mentors and peers, students learn to refine both the technical and conceptual aspects of their work, to make considered choices and to articulate their ideas. Through this process they develop their aptitude for art analysis, and hone their ability to more accurately assess their own work and the work of others. With the knowledge they gain at NOCCA, students leave with a portfolio that reflects work that is technically sound and that expresses their personal point-of-view.

Audition Expectations

Include with your completed application:

Two drawings: one technical drawing with specific requirements and one personal expression drawing. Both drawings should be drawn in pencil on 8 1/2 by 11″ white paper. The technical drawing should be drawn directly from observation. Its subject matter can be either: A) pair of tennis shoes/boots; or B) an arrangement of kitchen tools/utensils. The personal expression drawing can be your choice of subject matter. In both drawings, be sure to use the entire page, consider composition and use full range of value. Drawings submitted with the application will not be returned. Selected students will be asked to advance to the Audition Process.

Audition Process:

Portfolio Review: Selected students will be asked to present a portfolio of carefully chosen examples of work during Portfolio Review Week. This is separate from the student’s scheduled audition day and time. Students will be notified of a portfolio drop-off day at NOCCA. Students should submit outstanding original work that demonstrates commitment and investment with an emphasis on work from direct observation. Consider quality before quantity; 10-15 pieces are typical. Include a variety of media, including work in color. All work should fit into a large portfolio or envelope with your name, address and phone number labeled on the outside. Do not submit framed pieces. Sculptural work and works on canvas may be included but should be represented by a photograph or a digital print. Do not send the actual sculptural work or canvas. Portfolios will be returned to students at the end of the audition. The remaining portfolios cannot be stored and will be discarded.

Drawing From Observation: You will be required to produce a drawing during the audition.

Practicum Drawing:

Students will be given materials and instructions for creating a practicum drawing from a still life on site. Materials will include a piece of copy paper, a 2B pencil, and eraser and a view finder (we ask that you do not bring your own supplies). Auditionees will draw for a minimum of 45 minutes.

Art analysis:

Students auditioning for visual arts will be given 10 minutes to choose an art reproduction and answer questions related to the image.

In the interview with faculty, students will be invited to share their thoughts about the art reproduction.

Interview: Faculty members will talk with you while reviewing your portfolio, drawings and reading ability, and evaluating academic strengths.

After completing the practicum drawing and the art analysis, auditionees will meet with visual arts faculty to discuss:

 • their drawing and how they went about developing it

 • the writing about the art reproduction they chose to analyze

 • why the want to attend NOCCA and what their experience in art encompasses

 • students will be asked to take their portfolio home and will be told that they will receive notification of the faculty decisions in the near future.

Students currently in 8-11th grades are eligible to apply.

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