Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Artists have the power to teach and heighten awareness through their work. Visual arts students at ‘Iolani School learn the responsibility of ethical, respectful and articulate representation and self-expression.

Each ‘Iolani School student develops a unique artistic voice through a process of self-discovery. They learn to develop concepts and manipulate form and style as they master artistic media. ‘Iolani's Visual Art program strives to develop artists who are skilled, confident and self-aware.

Students have opportunities to learn from other artists and share their own work. Visiting professional artists conduct in-class workshops. Students take field trips to museums and galleries. Student artists share their work in exhibits on and off campus. They create art in cross-disciplinary projects in other subject areas.

The Lower School art curriculum allows students to explore a variety of media, techniques, cultures, and styles. Students create work in both 2D and 3D. Lower School artists in each grade level participate in interdisciplinary units of study that include an art component.

The Upper School art curriculum begins with exploratory classes in grades 7 and 9. Seventh graders take six-week Art sequences, and ninth graders take quarter-long sequences. Students in grades 8-12 may opt to enroll in a semester-long elective course in Mixed Media, while students in grades 9-12 have elective options in Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, Sculpture, Photography, and Mixed Media. Students in grade 12 may elect to enroll in Advanced Placement Studio Art Drawing or 3D Design. With the exception of AP Studio Art, all art courses offer the option of advancing three levels. The levels move from foundations and exploration of techniques and media to more advanced work. At all levels, students critically analyze their work and the artwork of others through reflection, shared observation, and constructive oral discussion. Mixed-level classes encourage valuable peer exchange of knowledge and perspective.

‘Iolani students participate in many state, regional and national arts competitions and often achieve distinction.

Twenty-two Upper School students had works of art on display at the Hawai‘i State Art Museum for the 51st Annual Hawaii Regional Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition, which considers thousands of statewide entries. Please view those pieces in the slideshow below.


'Iolani students received a total of 30 Gold and Silver Key Awards for the 2014-15 school year, including an American Visions Award nominee (Oil Spill by Kyra Tan '19, pictured right), a 3D Craftsmanship Award, and two Portfolio Awards.

The American Vision Award is the highest honor in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program, which is the longest-running and most prestigious student arts recognition program in the United States. 

The Tam & Young Arts Chair brings professional artists renowned in their fields to instruct students in workshops. The Dave Roberts Endowment offers qualified students a special opportunity to enroll in a pre-college program following their junior year. Throughout the school program (especially in Art, Religion, History and Foreign Language) students take field trips. Art students visit the Honolulu Museum of Art, The Contemporary Museum, Hawai‘i State Art Museum, and other galleries and exhibits. The arts are infused in the life of the campus. Student art from current and past years adorns offices, display cases, lobbies, hallways and classrooms in permanent and temporary exhibits on campus. Fine art appears in student publications, and almost every building and courtyard on campus has art on display.

The ‘Iolani Visual Arts program operates on the assumption that everyone has a unique way of seeing, thinking and feeling. From there, it encourages students to question and seek new relationships between ideas and materials.