Visual Arts

Students currently in 8th-11th grades may apply.

The Visual Arts Department creates a supportive and challenging arts environment that enables students to experience, first-hand, the discipline, knowledge and dedication required in the visual arts field. Artist-teachers and visiting artists serve as mentors to the student artist, introducing students to art history, contemporary art, and the principles of artistic form. In two- and three-dimensional studio classes, students are encouraged to concentrate on technical proficiency, creative problem solving and self-discovery. This focused curriculum increases confidence and skill, and allows students to explore new possibilities and become increasingly self-directed. In critiques, students are able to exercise their aptitude at art analysis and more accurately assess their own work and the work of others.

Include with your completed application:
Upload a picture(s) of the following TWO completed activities:

Activity ONE:

Create a drawing from direct observation. Drawing from “direct observation” means creating a drawing while looking at the real objects (not from a picture). The drawing should be drawn in pencil on an 8½” by 11" white piece of paper (regular copy paper). We recommend that your composition fill the whole page and that you use a full range of value (value means adding the lights and darks you see, using shading in your drawing). It is also suggested that you light the subject with a strong, direct light source to create highlights and shadows. Upload a photo of your completed drawing with your application.

Choose ONE from the following options to draw:

    • Draw a pair of your favorite shoes, hi-tops, sandals or dress shoes.
    • Draw an arrangement of two or three things that you like to collect.
    • Look around for, and then draw, a subject that is challenging and complex– such as a stack of glass cups, kitchen gadgets or an interesting plant.
    • Create a self-portrait with dramatic lighting, by looking in a mirror (you could include your favorite sunglasses or hat).

NOTE: A second OPTIONAL drawing may be included. The subject of the drawing can be anything you would like to draw.

Activity TWO:
Starting with a piece of white copy paper, alter it to change its shape from a 2-dimensional to a 3-dimensional form (2-dimensional means flat, only having height and width, while 3-dimensional means the object also has depth, like a sculpture). You can cut, fold, tape, glue, or do anything else that you want to the paper. We want to see your creative solution, so avoid following a pattern that someone else designed, (like an origami piece for instance). You may want to light your finished piece with a lamp to bring out the highlights and shadows. Take two or three pictures of your piece, with your phone or a camera, from different angles so that we can see all sides of it. Then upload the pictures with your application.

Following a review of the applications, selected students will be invited to a live virtual audition and asked to upload a portfolio prior to the audition.

Portfolio Review:
Selected students will be asked to upload a digital portfolio of carefully chosen examples of work prior to the student's scheduled audition day and time. Images of the work can be taken with a cell phone or a camera. Please be sure that the images are clear and present your portfolio at its best. To avoid glare on the image, it is recommended that work that is framed and under glass be taken out of the frame when photographing. Here (click here) is a video that may be helpful, made by our photography teacher, about how to take high quality images with your cell phone and available light.

Students should submit outstanding original work that demonstrates commitment and investment, with an emphasis on work from direct observation. Consider quality before quantity; up to 10 pieces are requested. Include a variety of media and approaches (drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics and photography are all accepted). All work should have been created within the last two years.

At the Audition:

    • You will be asked to create a sculptural piece with items you have in your home.
    • You will be asked to produce a drawing from direct observation.
    • You will be asked to write a response to an image of an artwork.
    • Faculty members will talk with you about your two activities, the written artwork response, reading ability, and your academic strengths.


Photo of Ann Schwab

Ann Schwab

Visual Arts: 2-D Exploration, AP Studio Art Visual Arts


Exploring human relationships with both the natural world and the technological world that we have constructed, Ann Schwab’s work utilizes photography, mixed media, installation, audio and video to illuminate the conflation of these two worlds.

The natural environment often plays the role of a medicament in Schwab’s work. The beauty of nature functions as a root of strength, resurrecting the spirit. The existence of beauty is tenuous. The existence of the fragile natural world is a testament to its resiliency and power.

Schwab enjoys exploring the latent metaphors inherent within objects and the endeavor of creating relationships between seemingly disparate elements. Through multiples or installation, by pairing photographs with audio, sculptural objects or adding mixed media, conversations emerge between components, changing or amplifying the meanings of singular parts.

A NOCCA alum, Ann Schwab received her B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art, an M.F.A. from Tulane University and has studied at SACI in Florence, Italy. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including: a Maryland State Arts Council Fellowship, a Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship, a Surdna Foundation Fellowship and professional development grants from the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, the Creative Capital Foundation, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Anderson Ranch and the Surdna Foundation. Ann Schwab’s works have been exhibited nationally and internationally, are held in corporate, private and the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans collections.

Assistant Chair of Visual Arts at NOCCA, Ms. Schwab was selected in 2016 to join the ART21 Educator network, an innovative group of educators who enact creative strategies for teaching and learning with contemporary art. Ann Schwab has been honored three times in Who’s Who Among American Teachers, and has received Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for Teaching and recognition by the National Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in the Arts.

Her professional website is:

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