Art: Connecting Ideas, Understanding the World

Children have multiple intelligences and individual learning styles. Therefore, YCIS Shanghai tries to support overall student growth, including intellectual, artistic, social, spiritual, and physical development.

Our Artist-in-Residence (AIR) programme is an opportunity for our students to interact and gain inspiration from professional artists on campus.

The AIRs lead various art activities within the school, from engaging in multidisciplinary projects to creating large-scale murals, allowing students to collaborate across year levels, with teachers, and with parents. Currently, YCIS Shanghai has two AIRs: one in Pudong and one in Puxi. This whole-school programme has run for 16 years and reinforces our motto that YCYW “will align with science and technology; with culture and arts; with love and charity”.

Our AIRs and specialist Art teachers are active outside of school and constantly learning and developing their professional practice.

One example is YCIS Pudong AIR, Ms Haruka Ostley, whose works are on display until November 27 in an exhibition titled ‘Duality’, showcasing drawings, paintings, photographs, video clips, and installations collected throughout her year battling cancer.  

Before becoming an AIR at YCIS Puxi, Ms Elena Hasnas worked for Yew Wah International Educational Kindergarten for over five years. Originally from the Republic of Moldova, she graduated with a BFA in Oil Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts. Ms Hasnas has more than 15 years of experience in the art field and art education. She groups her works in themed series, with mediums varying from charcoal, watercolour, gouache, oil, acrylic, and mixed media. 

It is not just our AIRs who continue to hone their craft and exhibit personal work. Mr Jason Schell, Head of Art at YCIS Puxi, has taught and made art in Shanghai for the last two years. Before coming to China, he worked in Mexico, where he taught and exhibited art and painted murals.

His solo exhibition ‘La Cava de Laoma’—meaning ‘Transpacific Migration' in English—recently finished on October 22, gaining much positive praise and attention.  

 Art is important for all ages. Creating, thinking, and making are not age-restricted. We continue to learn, create, and make throughout our lives. Working with our bodies and hands is crucial to our whole development. We learn about and experience the world through our bodies. Art is a way of keeping that connection – and is deeply rewarding. 

— Ms Belinda Vicars, 
YCIS Pudong Head of Art & Design

The core components of our Art programme underpin the child-centred approach from Early Childhood to Secondary, shaping accomplished learners who can confidently contribute across multiple disciplines. This way of thinking and understanding the world means our students can contribute and adapt to any environment.

Art develops and builds the ability to record and explore the world in visual forms through various materials and processes. Children express how they feel and experience the world around them through senses rather than language. Art can compress a complex idea, feeling, or atmosphere into a product encoded with meaning when properly applied. Visual information surrounds us, and art encourages students to become literate in how these signs can lead us to think or feel a certain way. 

Every child has a unique experience, and the Art programme at YCIS Shanghai is just one way the school supports student diversity. Ms Vicars explained:

All students are individuals, and we encourage the use of their experiences to help develop their work, whilst looking at other artists past and present. This process helps the students understand their place in our creative cultures. Creativity is a way of thinking that connects diverse ideas and helps them to make sense of the information.

At YCIS Shanghai, we hope to equip each student with skills and an international mindset to be competent and compassionate leaders by offering a true blend of Eastern and Western cultures. The Art programme provides an excellent opportunity for our students to explore, create, and thrive in a multicultural learning environment.

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