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 Michel Varisco

Michel Varisco

Visual Arts: Chair, Photography Visual Arts
Work Phone: (504) 940-2884


Michel Varisco’s work explores the relationship between the natural world and man-made through photography, video, sculpture, printmaking and installations. She received her MFA from Tulane University and studied in France (Cleveland Art Institute) and Cortona, Italy (University of Georgia) and has taught at NOCCA|Riverfront since 1996. Teaching honors include several National Foundation for the Advancement in Teaching in the Arts awards and numerous Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for Teaching. In 2017, she was a featured artists in Prospect.4 Biennial. Public arts commissions include “Turning, prayer wheels for the Mississippi” via the City of New Orleans and “Fragile Land Rotunda” via the Arts Council of New Orleans on behalf of the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Varisco’s work is exhibited and published internationally and is included in public, private and corporate collections in the U.S. and abroad such as the National Library of Paris, The Ogden Museum, the Surdna Foundation collection and more. Selected exhibitions include The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, The Acadiana Center for the Arts, El Paso Museum of Art, the Huntington Museum of Art, Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, Armory Center for the Arts, Gallery 1646, Den Hague, (Netherlands) Soho Photo Gallery, NY, The United States Embassy in Moscow, Russia, The Pingyao International Photography Festival, China. She has received awards through the Louisiana Division of the Arts, The Surdna Foundation teachers fellowship, and the Rauschenberg Foundation artist residencies. Varisco is a founder and former Vice President of the New Orleans Photo Alliance and is represented by A Gallery for Fine Photography.


Her website is:


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