Application Requirements

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The Visual Arts Program is dedicated to helping students meet the challenges of contemporary art making through assigned lessons that address critical thinking and problem-solving, the consideration of historical parallels, and the application of rigorous studio art practices. All students are assigned studio classes, based on the interests they indicate on their application forms. The department offers studio classes in ceramics, digital media*, painting (acrylic only – no spray paint)*, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. In addition, all students participate in required classes of figure drawing, design, and a lecture/guest artist(s) seminar course entitled “Art and Culture”. Special workshops and performances by a number of distinguished visiting artists may be offered, along with field trips to local museums, private galleries and artists’ studios. Studios are open in the evenings for students to complete class projects and accomplish personal work.

*Please note: There are a limited number of spaces for Digital Media and Painting majors and not all requests can be accommodated. Do not expect to participate in both. If you indicated Painting as your first choice major, you must then select a second choice minor that is not Digital Media.

Students currently enrolled in grades 8 through 12 are eligible to apply. (CSSSA is open to students entering grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 next fall 2024. CSSSA is also open to students who are graduating from high school in the spring of 2024. You can still do the program the summer after graduation.)

First & Second Choices


Color theory, composition, scale and diverse painting approaches are important components of study and exploration for painting students at CSSSA. Problem solving with respect to materials and content/concept is emphasized. A variety of painting surfaces, including canvas, are used. High quality acrylic paint are provided in all painting studios.


Through the use of linoleum, dry point on plexi, monoprints, woodcuts, and other experimental mediums, printmaking students develop a broad understanding of the historical and innovative paths artists have taken to produce substantial works of art. Photographic and book arts techniques are occasionally applied as a means of integrating broader concepts within the discipline.


Students in this area learn to incorporate scale and form, varied contemporary materials and personal narrative as a means of developing major works that pertain to contemporary sculptural forms and ideas. Instruction in the use of equipment and materials is included in the general classroom work. Slide lectures and discussions augment the development of practical skills


Working with clay at CSSSA introduces students to the techniques and concepts that constitute contemporary sculptural ceramics. Topics covered include various hand-building, glazing and firing methods as well as conceptual development and ceramic history past and present. Students construct large hollow sculptures through the process of coiling and cylinders and learn basic glaze chemistry as under-glazes, colored slips, and line blends. Individual experience, interpretation, and understanding of the material helps students experiment with the medium of clay as a fine art.

Digital Media

The goal of the Digital Media studio course at CSSSA is to give students an understanding of techniques and concepts surrounding digital arts, digital photography, graphic design and digital book making. Software covered during the course will focus on the Adobe suite, utilizing photo, design and video software. Students learn digital imaging and photography, digital printing, traditional book binding techniques, as well as video/motion arts. This course is digital media based, but has a focus on combining analog and digital processes.


Photography at CSSSA is a rigorous course of study built around idea-driven projects and creative observation. Classes are designed to provide students of varied experience with a basic foundation and understanding of traditional film-based photography techniques including: exposure control, black & white film development, film scanning, black & white and color darkroom printing, digital archival pigment printing, and archival processing techniques.


Drawing at CSSSA is an intensive course focused on drawing through observational and creative techniques. Students will explore drawing through a variety of media and will push themselves to experiment and to develop new ways of working. Though all Visual Arts students study drawing, this course is an opportunity to explore the practice with greater focus.

Required Courses

Figure Drawing

All students take rigorous figure drawing sessions, augmenting their studio classes, in which the basic elements of form and volume, light and shadow, gesture and contour, texture and scale are all addressed. Time is spent on alternative drawing concepts and applications. Materials include charcoal, pencil, ink and brush, collage, etc.


All students take a course focused on the manipulation of abstract visual elements such as color, shape, scale, and texture to create dynamic and thought-provoking compositions in 2 and 3 dimensions. Hands-on projects emphasize experimentation with the materials and challenge students to develop personal solutions for basic design problems. Assignments build creative problem solving and visual literacy skills that relate to students' studio disciplines and to the world of applied design.

Art & Culture

All students attend the Art and Culture course that meets two afternoons per week over the four-week program. Art and Culture brings major artists from throughout the nation to a forum of presentation, discussion and interaction. Challenging material presented in the course helps stretch the student to a more developed sense of all of the arts.

Studio Courses

The program is designed to give each student a comprehensive 2-D and 3-D experience in the Visual Arts. Indicating a first and second choice of interest will assist the schedule programmers. Studio courses meet for either two or four days a week. All effort will be made to give applicants their first choice studio course as a 4-day course and their second choice studio course as a 2-day course, but at times applicants may be scheduled into a 4-day course for both their first and second choices.

Program Instructors

Shari Bond, Department Chair

Shari Bond, Chair of the Visual Arts Program, is an artist and educator. Her latest body of work focuses on the landscape of Los Angeles, a selection of which has been shown in group exhibitions at the George Billis Gallery in Culver City and the Frumkin / Duval Gallery in Santa Monica. Ms. Bond is Technical Faculty and Associate Director of the Photography Facilities at the California Institute of the Arts. In addition, she teaches Foundation, Color, and Digital Photography at Chapman University, and has taught at the University of California, Riverside and Orange Coast College. Ms. Bond holds a BFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts and an MFA in Photography and Integrated Media from the California Institute of the Arts.

Visual Arts Faculty

The California State Summer School for the Arts Visual Arts Faculty is made up of practicing professional artists from throughout California and the United States. It includes ceramicists Jacqueline Laurita Cortese and Ryan Flores; design artists Megan Broughton and Miranda Hoffs; digital artists Sage Paisner and Geir Foshaug; drawing artists Tim Lokiec and Carl Pomposelli; painters Patricia Fernández, Hadley Holliday, Steve Hurd and Jay Stuckey; photographers Greg Hayes, Brica Wilcox, and Christopher Velasco; printmaker Donna Brown and Amber Fawn Keig; sculptors Cara Chan, Ignacio Perez Meruane and Keith Rocka Knittel. In addition a support staff of Master of Fine Arts graduate students are employed to assist in the studios.