Art: Summer at Penn | Ages 14-18

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Art Summer Program at Penn

Explore Fine Art at Penn

Each summer, the University of Pennsylvania School of Design offers an unparalleled four week intensive art program for artistically gifted high school students.  This pre-college art program prepares you for college admissions as you experience college life and expand your portfolio.  You’ll work in Penn’s art studios as you create art and develop your artistic expression. Finally, all student work is displayed in a final exhibition in Penn’s art gallery which takes place on the last Friday of the session.


Improve your portfolio and your artistic skills

Working with Penn faculty and other young artists from around the world, you will experiment with different disciplines, learn new skills and build your visual portfolio.

The curriculum is taken from undergraduate PennDesign courses and is sequenced and paced for the age and experience of the students. Summer high school students also use the same studios, resources, and dorms as undergraduate students, giving them a rare opportunity to live and work like real PennDesign students.

Please visit our student gallery.


Explore Philadelphia

Experience Philadelphia’s rich and historic art scene.  Philly is one of the world’s greatest art destinations; you can visit the world class museums, explore the rich culture, and visit some of the most historical sites in the country.  You’ll see the city as your inspiration through field trips and guided tours.

  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art – over 300,000 pieces of art are housed here
  • The Barnes Foundation – one of the world’s leading collections of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings
  • City Hall – the tallest masonry building in the world with world renowned architecture
  • The Rodin Museum – largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of France
  • Love Park – home to the Love sculpture, one of the most famous sculptures in Philadelphia
  • The Franklin Institute – one of the oldest science museums in the country
  • Magic Gardens – beautiful glass mosaics decorate the South street museum and educate visitors about Folk art and the history of South Street in Philly.

Choose one major course and one minor course.

Art Majors:

  • Animation Production
  • Digital Video Production
  • Drawing & Painting
  • Photography Studio
  • Sculpture Studio

Art Minors:

  • Advanced Video Lab
  • Ceramics & Wheel Throwing
  • Digital Photography Studio
  • Experiments in Video
  • Figure Drawing
  • Graphic Design
  • Sculpture

Friday Exhibition

The end of the session culminates with a final exhibition of all student work on the last Friday of the session.

“The Julian Krinsky Art program at Penn helped me realize that film is what I truly want to pursue. In a small class setting, I developed my technical skills and critical eye through our lessons, exercises, and conversations. Our main project, to create a short film, gave me a hands-on filmmaking experience, letting me work through the whole process from the initial idea to the final product. Adding to my experience and portfolio, the class helped prepare me for the college application process. Everything I did throughout the course made me even more excited to study film in the future.”   - Clara Hughes, student

Art students choose one major course and one minor course. Courses allow students the opportunity to specialize in an art discipline of their choosing.  They enjoy the variety and in-depth learning not typical of high school art classes.

The state-of-the-art studios and classrooms along with the latest technology and software also set the program apart.  From InDesign to Photoshop, students learn to use all the tools they need. Plus, professors help students understand what careers in art entail.  It’s priceless for students interested in art in college and as a future career.


Art Majors

  • Animation Production - The animation major focuses on the fundamentals of traditional and digital animation. Explore the core principles of animation while you experiment with a variety of mediums including hand-drawn, stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation. Projects are designed to enrich individual techniques while discovering the intricacies of collaboration. Working on individual computer stations, students will have access to industry-standard software including Adobe AfterEffects, Photoshop, and Flash, and Autodesk’s Maya. In addition, students will have the opportunity to work in a dedicated animation studio on campus equipped with a multi-plane, motorized down-shooter camera mount, and adjustable lighting displays that are connected to a digital capturing station. Upon completion of the course students take home a DVD of their completed animated work. The University of Pennsylvania animation graduates have worked on numerous Oscar nominated animated films including A Bug’s Life, Toy Story I and II, and Monster House.
  • Digital Video Production - Dive deep into the pool of possibility. Explore the technologies and strategies of producing Digital Video.  Discover the treasure of your own vision in an intensive production workshop where the learning experience is personalized, engaging, and, above all, fun.  Digital Video Production provides individualized instruction in HD Video camerawork, Adobe Premiere Editing and Effects, Lighting and Sound Design, and Classical / Experimental story strategies that support the telling of your own stories using the language and tools of film and new media.  Students work individually and in small groups to develop skills and concepts, you’ll be amazed by what you can create in just four weeks while shooting in the fantastic settings and gothic backdrops of Philadelphia and The University of Pennsylvania.  Each student receives a comprehensive portfolio DVD of completed projects and vimeo files of their work at the end of the program.
  • Drawing & Painting - The drawing and painting major focuses on an exploration of the techniques, materials and processes used in creating two-dimensional art. Working primarily from observation, students will study a wide range of concepts in order to reinforce their perceptive and descriptive drawing and painting skills. This studio class will include materials such as charcoal, graphite, pastels, ink and oil paint. Attention is paid to the development of the eye and the mind, as well as the hand. In addition to drawing landscapes and still-lifes, students may study the analytical and emotive approaches to depicting the human form. Note that the nude model is occasionally used in this class as is appropriate to the study of anatomy and structure and function.
  • Photography Studio - This film based photography course will start with a survey of traditional processes beginning with manual 35mm SLR camera operations, film processing and darkroom practices. Large format cameras including a Hassleblad medium format and a 4×5 view camera, and studio lighting will be introduced. Digital photographic options will also be incorporated into the workflow by utilizing image/negative scanners and basic photo editing software. A wide array of non-traditional photographic techniques will be presented to provide a toolbox of processes that will expand student’s vocabulary as image-makers. Emphasis will be on exploring and mastering these different approaches in order to identify how these different processes can affect both the aesthetic value and the meaning of an artwork. Throughout the course students will be guided toward the creation of work that is both technically and conceptually sound while presenting a unique artistic vision. Shooting field trips combined with the examination of historic and contemporary photography will supplement the visual explorations.
  • Sculpture Studio - Sculpture studio provides students with foundational skills in three-dimensional design and fabrication in both a traditional and contemporary context. Sculpture student’s experiment with a variety of modes of production including assemblage, additive and subtractive constructions, hand-building and slip casting to produce a diverse set of projects that explore the medium.  Student’s learn and investigate multiple surface treatments such as paint, varnish, wax and varied embellishments. Students embrace three-dimensional creative potential in the University of Pennsylvania’s premier wood, metal and computer navigated cutting (CNC) shops and ceramic studios. Field trips to museums and art galleries supplement the visual discoveries and support the student’s artistic experience. 

Art Minors

  • Advanced Video Lab - The Advanced Video Lab is a supplemental course for students enrolled in the Digital Video Production major that are interested in extending their major curriculum. Students who add the Advanced Video Lab will be able to work more substantially on concepts and techniques presented in the Digital Video Production Major. (Note this option is for Digital Video Production Majors only.)
  • Ceramics & Wheel Throwing - Students will learn the necessary skills to create basic pottery forms on the potter’s wheel as well as various possibilities for surfaces treatments using slips, under glazes, and oxides. Students will craft vessels and sculptures.  Student work in stoneware, earthenware and porcelain clay bodies as well as a comprehensive stock of glazes. The clay studios include two wheel throwing rooms, one handbuilding room with a slab roller, extruder, Fordhams, worktables, and a kiln room with five electric and gas kilns and a glaze mixing area. In addition to the instructor, the University’s ceramics technician oversees all the chemistry and the kiln firings.
  • Digital Photography Studio - This class is designed to teach students the fundamental tools and techniques of digital photography. Throughout the course students will be exposed to a thorough introduction and understanding of DSLR cameras, Photoshop SC6, Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, flat bad scanning, image processing, color management, studio lighting and numerous output options. The new technologies we are engaged with are critical for all photographers and we aim to stimulate each student’s to apply these skills by making content-driven work. Shooting field trips combined with the critical examinations of historic and contemporary photography will supplement our visual explorations.
  • Experiments in Video - Students explore the potentials of found footage, innovative editing strategies, site specific video installation, and the use of visual and audial effects in this exciting video workshop minor. New camera technologies such as the Go Pro offer opportunities to acquire footage in previously unheard of places – in the water, for example – to create works more like poetry than story – short works that evoke emotion, excite, inspire. Screenings of video art and avant-garde works supplement our in class experiments.
  • Figure Drawing - Students enrolled in the figure drawing minor will learn to understand the human form, the most quintessential of forms in art history, by studying and working directly from the nude model. The focus is on articulation through an understanding of anatomical structure and function. Students will investigate a broad variety of drawing techniques and materials. The model will be used as the sole element in composition and as a contextualized element. Parental permission is needed for students to enroll in this class.
  • Graphic Design - The graphic design class introduces students to print media and visual communication.  Students will discover the foundational concepts of composition, typography and image manipulation. Working on individual computer stations, students will have access to industry-standard software’s including Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. Past Graphic Design projects have included personal identity packages, CD covers/inserts, poster design, packaging design, T-shirt design, zenes and book covers. Students will also have the opportunity to create the advertising design for the Art Summer at Penn final gallery exhibition.
  • Sculpture - This course in an introduction to the practice of sculpture and the various creative and conceptual components of three-demission production. Projects are designed within a traditional and contemporary context and allow students to learning to manipulate form and space by exploring basic media and techniques. Projects are designed around learning a variety of fabrication methods including mold making, carving and the use of found objects. Students participant in vibrant dialogues and critiques and partake in field trips in order to learn and explore the various aspects of sculpture as a medium.

University of Pennsylvania Faculty

Students enrolled in the high school Art program learn from world-renown faculty from Penn’s School of Design. Classes are kept small to ensure you will receive personal attention from each faculty member.

Matt Courtney

B.S., The University of the Arts

M.F.A., Kent State University

Ceramic Artist. Teaches ceramics. Taught at The University of the Arts, Tyler School of Art, Cleveland Institute of Art. Ohio Arts Council Artist Fellowship (1993); Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship (1990). Solo exhibitions include Nexus Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2000); Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA (1999); The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA (1996, 1987); In Collaboration Gallery, Akron, OH (1996); The Sculpture Center, Cleveland, OH (1994).

Deirdre Murphy

B.F.A., Kansas City Art Institute

M.F.A., University of Pennsylvania

Deirdre Murphy’s work is represented by the Gross Mcleaf Gallery in Philadelphia. Her drawings and paintings have been exhibited at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Melanee Cooper Gallery, (Chicago), Vita Gallery, (Portland, OR). Group exhibitions include The Painting Center (NY), The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Abington Art Center, Phoenix Gallery, (NY); Bowery Gallery, (NY); Portland Institute of Contemporary Art; Tacoma Art Museum, Washington. She has received the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts grant and a Leeway Grant recipient.

Matt Neff

B.F.A., Indiana University
B.A., Indiana University, Art History

M.F.A., University of Pennsylvania

Mixed Media Artist and Printmaker. Manager; Common Press and Print Shop. Teaches Printmaking.

Selected Exhibitions:  Meet Your Printmaker, Washington Printmakers Gallery, Washington, DC; Synthesesia, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA; New Books, Print Center, Philadelphia, PA; AIGA Awards Exhibition, Always By Design Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2009). Perspectives, Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia, PA; Design Philadelphia, Rotunda, Philadelphia, PA; Art Crush, Curated by Jenny Jaskey, Philadelphia, PA;  Sugar Craft, Kasia Kay Gallery, Chicago, IL; Live With It: Artist and collecting series, Photo West Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Emerging to Established: 25 Years of the Center for Emerging Visual Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Curated by Kate Ware, Philadelphia PA; In Praise of Apathy, Bebe R. Benoliel Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Natural Selection, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore Maryland; Beyond Kiosk Ramp project, Curated by Christoph Keller, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA (2008). 28 Degrees, Icebox Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Naked Paper, Tower Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Flicker, Tower Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Mixed Media, Mixed Company: Conjunctions at the Common Press, Rare Books Library, UPenn; Folio 2007, University of Pennsylvania Print Shop Project Space, Philadelphia, PA; En Masse, Bebe Benoial Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; CFEVA New Work, The Galleries at Moore College, Philadelphia, PA; Sugar Buzz, Curated by Susan Hoeltzel, Lehman College, Bronx, NY (2007). Awards: Perkins Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania (2008). Center for Emerging Visual Artists Career Development Fellowship (2007). Larry Shpritz Award for Excellence in an Artistic Medium; U. of Pennsylvania (2005).

Ellen Reynolds

Ellen Reynolds is an independent video maker with specializations in documentary, childrens’ media, and dance-film. Over a period of 25 years she has lead and implemented production initiatives at The University of Pennsylvania; taught production skills there and through the community oriented Scribe Video Center; and has supported countless numbers of individuals and groups in utilizing the tools and processes of digital media. 
Her sustained goal has been the empowerment of individuals via engagement with media production and study. She communicates techniques and processes with exceptional clarity to learners at all levels of capacity and knowledge. In her role as an instructor she establishes curricula and workflows conducive to experimentation, expression, learning, purpose, and joy. 
She is based in both Philadelphia and Florianopolis, Brasil.

Karen Rodewald

B.A., University of South Florida

M.F.A., Tyler School of Art

Photographer. Teaches photography. Taught at University of the Arts; University of South Florida. Active member of Vox Populi Gallery. Solo exhibitions include Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia (2000, 1999, 1996, 1995); Moore College of Art & Design, photo gallery (1998); Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia (1995). Group exhibitions include The Print Center, Philadelphia (1999); Dean Daderko’s Studio Apartment, Philadelphia (1998).

Campus Life at the University of Pennsylvania

Live in Penn’s famous Quad with students from across the country and around the world.  Experience the University City District and its dozens of restaurants, shops, recreational facilities and entertainment venues.

Wharton School of Business
Wharton School of Business
JKCP at Penn
JKCP at Penn
Slide 8
Slide 8
JKCP at Love Statue at Penn
JKCP at Love Statue at Penn
Penn Campus 2
Penn Campus 2
Penn Campus
Penn Campus

Trips & Activities

Evening Activities – Students who reside on campus participate in evening activities.  Each evening students participate in either an on-campus or off-campus activity. Typical activities include:

  • Game night
  • Dances
  • Movies or the Mall
  • Bowling
  • Casino Night
  • And more

Saturday Trips – Residential students who stay more than one week can choose between two Saturday trips.  Students leave in the morning, travel in an air conditioned coach bus and spend the day at their destination of choice. Students will visit the attractions in small groups and a counselor.  You can download the 2014 summer weekend trip schedule here. Typical weekend trips include:

  • Washington D.C.
  • New York City
  • New Jersey Beaches
  • Amusement Parks
  • And more

Typical Day

7:45 A.M. — Wake-up. You’ll be living in the famous Quadrangle dorm on the Penn campus.

8:15 — Breakfast. Use your Summer Penn Card for breakfast on campus at 1920 Commons, Starbucks, Einstein Bagels or 3C.

9:00 — Morning Class at Your Major. 

12:00 — Lunch. Join your fellow students at one of Penn’s dining facilities or at few local options with your stipend.

1:00 — Afternoon Class in Your Minor.

4:00 — Afternoon Activities. Your choice of activities. The studio is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday from 4 – 7.  You can use this time to work on your projects or any other activities like play Frisbee in the Quad, catch some rays, email friends, hit the gym, or visit the bookstore and area shops.

6:00 — Dinner. Most evenings we eat together in the dining hall.

7:00 — Evening Activities. Scheduled activities on campus or in town like: Movies, dances, bowling, sporting events, and more!

2015 dates

  • July 5 - August 1 (Residential)
  • July 6 - July 31 (Day)

Residential Tuition: $5,975

Day Tuition: $3,550

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