Meridian art students learn how to see and draw from life through a series of exercises. These range from examinations of negative and positive space, perspective, line weight, and contour line drawing. Most also do more creative and personal assignments such as maps which interpret their understanding of neighborhood, abstracting representational imagery, self-portraiture, and group pieces. Participants learn how to use watercolor, oil and chalk pastel, graphite, charcoal, acrylic paint, gel medium, Hodge Podge and recycled two-dimensional material. They also explore three-dimensional mediums, creating boxes in the tradition of Joseph Cornell, mosaics, wire sculpture, and block prints. Throughout the year, students learn about artists whose oeuvres relate to their current projects. Examples include Giacometti, Chuck Close, N.C. Wyeth, Calder, Monet, Manet, and Rembrandt.
Regular assignments utilize and bring together the elements of art such as line, color, texture, value, shape, form, and space as well as the principles of design such as balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, and unity. Students learn to apply these terms when studying and observing key artworks and practitioners. There is also a strong emphasis on art-making as a process. Students undergo brainstorming and reflection processes with each assignment, and they are continuously encouraged to explore and develop their individuality as expressive artists.
Meridian takes regular advantage of museums in the area, taking field trips to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Harvard's Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Asian Art, the Casa de la Cultura/Center for Latino Arts in Boston's South End, and many other local centers of arts and crafts. Following these trips, students frequently use what they see as subject matter for their own pieces or for purposes of interpretation and discussion.
In our music program, Meridian students learn skills of playing and performance, composition, critical listening, and analysis. Skills-based classes include guitar, singing, hand-drumming and beats, and ukulele. In these classes, students learn new techniques both individually and as a group, and they work toward performances at Exhibitions and other public events. Our music teacher, Laura Grill, arranges songs that students select, and she also works to expose them to artists and styles that they might not otherwise hear.
In songwriting and composition classes, assignments include a combination of freedom and creative challenge. Students may be asked to write a 30-second song with no lyrics that evokes rain, or to write lyrics for others’ music or music for pre-existing lyrics. They may also write songs or melodies based on poems, characters, or stories.
Other music classes focus on listening and music analysis. A recent course on heavy metal challenged students to identify the forefathers of the genre and create a heavy metal “family tree,” arguing for the inclusion of each artist or group. These classes focus primarily on student opinion and argument, encouraging learners to listen critically and express their tastes and arguments effectively.
Public performances often feature collaboration between classes; musicians play songs that the composers write, or arrangements are created for guitar, voice, and ukulele to work together. Students of all skill levels -- including beginners -- are welcomed and encouraged in the music program.
Along with these classes, many students are also part of the Meridian Band, an after school collaborative group.
This one-trimester elective gives students an introduction to writing fiction, poetry, and memoir. Given Meridian’s community-wide Spanish policy, there is also a unit on the theory and practice of literary translation. The course has a strong focus on workshopping and feedback, thinking critically about art, and responding to others' work in a clear, analytical, and helpful manner. Over the course of the year, students work together to create a literary magazine that features their own writing as well as that of their peers in the Meridian community. This project exposes students to the nuances of editing and publishing from the standpoints of both the publisher and writer.