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The Visual Arts Department offers a wide range of courses, which help build the student’s technique, creativity, and engagement with the world. Students learn how traditional and contemporary methods, materials and ideas shape their art-making. From Art Fundamentals through Senior Seminar, their training leaves them profoundly qualified and confident for both college and the world at large.

  • Exhibit at Melissa Morgan Fine Art Gallery in Palm Desert, and a multitude of other national galleries
  • Attend at least one Portfolio Day to show work to representatives of top colleges and universities
  • Meet representatives from top colleges and universities who visit the school
  • Opportunities to learn other art disciplines while attending Idyllwild Arts Academy
  • Learning about visual arts career opportunities
  • Enter Young Ceramicists Competition of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts
  • Compete for Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
  • Exhibit in senior shows, theme shows, and juried shows in the Parks Exhibition Center, a state of the art 2,000 square foot exhibition space
  • Take Masterclasses and work with professional artists from around the world when they show their works in the Parks Exhibition Center
  • Field Trips
Academy Courses
  • Animation
  • Art History
  • Art and Technology
  • Art Fundamentals
  • Architecture
  • Ceramics
  • Computer Graphics
  • Curatorial Studies
  • Drawing
  • Jewelry/Metalsmithing
  • Masterclasses
  • Mural Painting
  • Painting
  • Performance
  • Portfolio/Senior Seminar
  • Photography (film and digital)
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
Summer & Auxiliary Courses

Teens (ages 14-17)

  • Intro to Photography
  • Digital Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Jewelry Intensive
  • Art Exploration: Find Your Passion
  • Drawing & Painting Intensive
  • Computer Animation Intensive: Giving Pixels Life
  • Ceramics: Clay Works Intensive: Session I & II

Kids (ages 10-13)

  • Adventures in Art
  • Drawing and Sculpture
  • Art From Many Cultures
  • Magic of Art
  • Drawing & Painting for Jr. Artists

Learn More! 

Exhibitors in the Parks Exhibition Center have included:
  • Kim Abeles
  • Mark Abrahamson
  • Abraham Abramowitz
  • Renee Azenaro
  • Katie Bachler
  • Dore Capitani
  • Sunshine Cobb
  • Cosme Cordova
  • Jesus Cruz Jr.
  • Dean DeCocker
  • Lucky Dragons
  • Jorge Fernandez
  • Bobby Furst
  • Jill Giegerich
  • Mark Hagen
  • Mary Beth Heffernan
  • Lisa Holt and Harlan Reano
  • Shoshi Kanokohata
  • Sant Khalsa
  • Monica Landeros
  • Richard Laugharn
  • Jacalyn Lopez Garcia
  • William Loveless
  • Bryan Massey
  • Charlene Maxx Stevens
  • John David Mooney
  • Elsa Mora
  • Joe Moran
  • Rachel Murillo
  • Jeff Murphy
  • Vann Nguyen
  • Naida Osline
  • Linda Parnell
  • Luz Maria Perez
  • Alison J. Petty
  • Robert Rauschenberg
  • Maya Schindler
  • Fritz Scholder
  • Gordon Senior
  • Ben Shahn
  • Raymond Sloan
  • Phillip Smith
  • Tony Soares
  • Daniel Tackett
  • Juan Thorp
  • Jennifer Vanderpool
  • Alberto Varelo
  • Kara Walker
  • June Wayne
  • Holly Wilson
  • Wounded Lion
  • The Dirty Canteen collective
College Matriculation
  • ArtCenter College of Design
  • CalArts
  • Cooper Union
  • Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
  • New York University (Steinhardt School)
  • Parsons School of Design
  • Pratt Institute
  • Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
  • School of Visual Arts (SVA)
  • Tufts University/School Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA)
  • University of the Arts London
  • UCLA
  • University of Michigan
  • USC
of our students who apply are accepted.
Portfolio Requirements

Applicants to the Visual Arts Department must submit at least 7 pieces that give a clear picture of who they are as an artist. All submissions must be the applicant’s original work.

Images of artwork should be submitted as part of the student’s online application. In addition to the 2D requirements listed below, applicants may include painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, animation, architecture, printmaking, mural work, graphic art, creative technology, and video art.

Your portfolio must include:

  1. Two (2) direct observation drawings of objects or buildings (not from photographs) using pencil, charcoal, or pen.
  2. Self-portrait from observation, any non-digital medium.
  3. Two-Four (2-4) quick sketches or drawings from a sketchbook.
  4. Four (4) other works, in any medium.
  5. The following question is for 11th, 12th, and PG applicants only: Select one piece and write about your process, ideas, and challenges, etc.

*Please do not submit physical artwork.

**Each portfolio piece must include a title and/or a description of the type of project, materials used, and the size and date.

Brief responses to each of the following:

  1. What do you think your role as an artist is in today’s world?
  2.    What do you want to achieve both artistically and personally at Idyllwild Arts Academy?                                                                                                                                                     
  3. What motivates or inspires you artistically?

Helpful tips for a successful portfolio:

  • Images of pieces must be lit adequately and evenly.
  • Images of pieces must be photographed “straight on.”
  • Drawings must be flat and clean, and the page must fill the whole screen (no torn edges)
  • Images must be clear and in focus
  • Suggested format: in a Word document, PowerPoint, or similar format, include one image per page with the information beneath each image.

For specific questions regarding the Visual Arts admission process, please contact Christy Wilke at 951-468-7223 or


Our Visual Arts teachers’ ongoing professional practices make them well equipped to give our students hands-on instruction in painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, photography, digital design, gallery curation, and performance art. Idyllwild Arts Academy Visual Arts teachers have studied throughout the world, exhibited nationally and in England, Wales, and Italy, and have been honored with artist’s residencies in the United States and abroad. Our Visual Arts faculty has additionally included published authors, underlying the department’s commitment to training young artists in the essential skill of being able to speak about their work for public presentation.

Learn More…

Featured Alumni

Shepard Fairey ‘88
Creator of OBEY Clothing and the iconic Obama “Hope” poster

Matt Bissinger ‘88
Founder of Maker & Moss artisanal retail store, San Francisco

Matt Murphy ‘88
Designer and entrepreneur, founder of MMD Ideas + Action and Sel Magique companies

Amber Pairis ‘92
Director, Climate Science Alliance – South Coast

Matt Stroud ‘92
Head of Development for Executive Producer/Showrunner, The Voice

Clifton Alexander ‘96
Creative Chuck Norris/Owner of REACTOR Design Studio

Ava Berkofsky ‘96

Nate Lowman ‘97
New York-based artist

Hawkeye Glenn ‘97
Master Craftsman, Blacksmith Industries

Amelia Bauer ‘97
New York-based artist, founder of Amelia Bauer Studio

Marissa Dutton ‘00
Director of The Magnet Agency – New York office

Aaron Baum ‘00
Senior Visual Designer at Elements Design Group

Richelle Gribble ‘09
West Coast-based artist focusing on intersection between art and science

Mich Miller ‘10
MFA, Yale. Los Angeles based artist, co-founder of Print Shop LA

Sidney Morgan ‘12
Brooklyn, NY based Artist, owner of Sid Shoots

Jingze Cooper Dai ‘13
Project Manager and Art Educator

Lanxuan Florence Liu ’15
MFA in Print Media, Art Institute Chicago. Interdisciplinary artist exhibiting internationally

Li Hei Di ‘16
Artist exhibiting internationally, including solo exhibitions in France and China

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