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 Major Studios:

  • Animation Production
  • Drawing & Painting
  • Photography
  • Sculpture & Ceramics
  • Video Production

Art Elective Studios:

  • Digital Photography
  • Figure Drawing
  • Figure Sculpture
  • Graphic Design
  • Mural Painting

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: Summer at Penn allows you to develop your own curriculum by pairing a major studio with one supplemental elective studio. Major Studios meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00am – 12:00pm and Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00am – 4:00pm, allowing you to immerse in the medium of your choice. Elective Studios meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, in order to give you a diverse learning experience.


Art Major Studios

  • Animation Production Studio – The Animation Production Studio 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, you will have access to industry-standard software including Adobe AfterEffects, Photoshop, and Flash, and Autodesk’s Maya. In addition, you 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 you will take home a DVD of your 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.
  • Drawing & Painting Studio – The Drawing & Painting Studio Major focuses on an exploration of the techniques, materials and processes used in creating two-dimensional art. Working primarily from observation, you will study a wide range of concepts in order to reinforce your 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, you may study the analytical and emotive approaches to depicting the human form. Note:  a nude model is occasionally used in this class as is appropriate to the study of anatomy,structure and function.
  • Photography Studio – This film based Photography Studio Major 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 your 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, you 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 & Ceramics Studio – The Sculpture & Ceramics Studio Major provides you with foundational skills in three-dimensional design and fabrication in both a traditional and contemporary context. You will 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. Learn and investigate multiple surface treatments such as paint, varnish, wax and varied embellishments. 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 artistic experience.
  • Video Production Studio - Dive deep into the pool of possibility. Explore technologies and strategies of producing Digital Video in the Video Production Studio Major. 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. You will work individually and in small groups to develop skills and concepts and 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.  Receive a comprehensive portfolio DVD of completed projects and Vimeo files of your work at the end of the program.

Art Elective Studios

  • Digital Photography – This elective course is designed to teach you the fundamental tools and techniques of digital photography. Throughout the course you will be exposed to a thorough introduction and understanding of DSLR cameras, Photoshop SC6, Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, flatbed 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 your ability 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.
  • Figure Drawing - Students enrolled in the figure drawing elective course 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. You 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 to enroll in this class.
  • Figure Sculpture – This elective is an introduction to the practice of figure sculpture and the various creative and conceptual components of three-dimensional production via modeling the human figure using clay. Projects are designed within a traditional and contemporary context and allow you to learn to manipulate form and space by exploring basic media and techniques. Participate in vibrant dialogues and critiques and partake in field trips in order to learn and explore the various aspects of sculpture as a medium.
  • Graphic Design – The graphic design elective course introduces you to print media and visual communication. Discover the foundational concepts of composition, typography and image manipulation. Working on individual computer stations, you will have access to industry-standard software, 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, Zines and book covers. You will also have the opportunity to create the advertising design for the Art: Summer at Penn final gallery exhibition.
  • Mural Painting - This summer mural program will introduce students to contemporary muralism and mural making in the mural capital of the country!  Students will explore how the mural process is embedded in a social and urban context.  The city is our classroom as we explore how murals have changed the face of the city.  Students will understand the process of mural making through visits to mural sites and the creation of hypothetical projects of their own.

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.

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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