Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Instruction in the visual arts far surpasses normal classroom art projects. Our focus is to educate students not only about the history of art and techniques but also contemporary artists and movements as well as career opportunities in the arts. 

The Visual Arts at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy encompass the Elements of Art and Principles of Design through exploration, technique, application, craftsmanship and critique.  Students apply knowledge through a variety of media, including graphite, acrylic paint, pastel, watercolor, clay, collage, photography, digital art and printmaking. Art history is consistently integrated into the curriculum and applied to each unit of study. 

Lower School

Preschool and Lower School students attend weekly art classes, learning about famous artists and the fundamentals of art through experimentation with a wide variety of materials. Each year, students visit a local museum, gallery or studio, including The Chrysler Museum, the Chrysler’s Glass Studio or The Peninsula Museum of Fine Art and have exposure to a wide range of artists and styles of work. 

Flowers painted by middle school students

Middle School

In Middle School, art is an elective. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate and transfer their knowledge of the elements of art and the principles of design in numerous projects. New techniques and materials continue to be introduced, and personal expression and exploration is encouraged throughout each yearlong course to enable students to gain an understanding and appreciation for the arts.

Award-winning painting at the Upper School student art and photography show

Upper School

The Upper School Visual Arts Program encourages students to discover and build upon their creativity with a variety of artistic techniques and art mediums. Students have the opportunity to grow from foundational skills to Advanced Placement Studio Art. Two- and three-dimensional projects assist in developing a comprehensive understanding of the elements and principles of art and design. Art history is also regularly integrated into projects.


Upper School student participating in a visiting artist workshop

Visiting Artist Workshops

Interested middle and upper school students participate in visiting artist workshops sponsored by the Suffolk Art League. Professional artists lead full-day workshops to expose students to various artistic styles to help them develop new skills and explore career opportunities in the arts.

Beyond the Classroom

To experience the art world beyond the classroom, students travel to local museums, galleries and studios. In Upper School, art students participate in an annual art trip to gain further inspiration and an appreciation for the arts. Past trips have included student tours of the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn museums in Washington, D.C., as well as the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Exhibits and Competitions

Students enter local, regional and national exhibits and competitions each year to learn and grow as artists. Every spring, NSA hosts an annual student art and photography show, “Portfolio,” for Upper School students, where they learn to prepare and set up an exhibition and gain a deeper understanding of the judging process. An evening ceremony is also held to present awards for outstanding work.