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Family and Community Guide for High School Visual Arts

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for students studying high school visual arts. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

See all the Family and Community Guides here.

Where can I learn more?

  • As always, the best place to learn about what your child is learning is from your child's teacher and school. The Colorado Academic Standards describe goals, but how those goals are met is a local decision.
  • The Colorado Academic Standards were written for an audience of professional educators, but parents and community members looking to dig deeper may want to read them for themselves. Visit the Standards and Instructional Support homepage for several options for reviewing the Colorado Academic Standards.
  • If you have further questions, please contact the content specialists in the Office of Standards and Instructional Support.

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Visual Arts (adopted 2022)

Colorado High School Art programs have varying resources and curricular options for students to investigate the many areas of the visual arts (including but not limited to drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, art history, digital and graphic arts, design, ceramics, fibers, metals, wood working, performance and installation art, or career and technical education).

The Visual Arts Standards in the High School years focus on deeper understanding of the intent and purpose of art and the art-making process. Students “tell their stories” through art making and the study of art, learning advanced studio processes and investigating tools and materials that support their own artistic vision. Reflecting on and documenting the art making process is an essential element of the visual arts standards in high school. Students examine their art making practice in relationship to other makers (both past and current) and cultures. Career opportunities and the arts’ relationship to society (technology, media, issue-based/conceptual art, art appreciation) are also explored.

Expectations for High School Students:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Use research, inquiry, and observation to gather information and determine meaning within the visual language and academic vocabulary artists use to construct and deconstruct works of art; recognize the complexity and multiple contexts of art across time and cultures; know that the artmaking process helps to develop skills of perception and independent reasoning while increasing knowledge.
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect: Use informed criteria and personal discernment to evaluate works of art and design considering variables that influence how a work is perceived, with the ability to articulate and identify particular points of view. 
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Establish a practice of planning and experimentation to advance concepts and technical artistic skill; demonstrate growth and proficiency in traditional and new media.
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer: Research and analyze the ways visual artists, designers and scholars express personal views and beliefs and how these perspectives have a social context that enlarges the meaning of an artwork beyond the individual maker.

Throughout High School, You May Find Students:

  • Develop observational skills to synthesize and interpret communicated meaning, connecting and comparing ways artists articulate the human experience across time and cultures.
  • Research, explore, and document various ways to understand and design a work of art.
  • Using various planning tools and models to envision, explore, model, and design a work of art.
  • Practice techniques and improve skills by testing media to consider constraints and the potential of materials. 
  • Continue to explore levels of skill in media and meaning making and resolve problems by persisting through revisions and learning from failures.
  • Exploring and responding to changing ideas and values about art and design created throughout time and across various cultures.
  • Critiquing works of art using a process of description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation.
  • Documenting and apply skills from learning about art to various careers incorporating visual communication
  • Analyze how works of art created in previous times and other cultures can influence the work of practicing artists today.