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Visual Arts

…are woven into the very fabric of our students’ lives. On our walls, you’ll see beautiful classical and contemporary works alongside amazing student creations.

impressionistic-type painting of a child's face

Karyna Howell ’17

abstract black, white, and pink artwork

Sidney Hare ’18

skull ceramic piece

Greg Olszanskyj ’19

painting of a woman

Jacqueline Graham ’17


Elena Zipp ’19

Peter Pan-like figure on top of a tie-dyed background

Knox Heslop ’17

artwork of colorful hand reaching into blackness

Lauren Bikhazi ’18

geometric line art of volcano erupting

Knox Heslop ’17

abstract art of people swimming in space

Karyna Howell ’17

Artwork: colorful layers of thick paper cut into triangles

Wes Johnston ’17

construction paper artwork carefully shaped into a waterfall scene

Leah Button ’18

Artwork of person in bathtub

Olivia Gao ’17

watercolor of a waterfall

Kate Button ’17

Student Art Shines in Our Larimer Center Gallery

In 2016, middle and upper school art teacher Rob Mellor advocated for and created—with help from our facilities team—a pristine, well-lit space to showcase student work just outside the Larimer Center for the Performing Arts. Above are select gallery works from years past.

By Division

Beginning schoolers learn the joy of self-expression through art. Each year, our faculty and early childhood art specialist focus on a basic element of art—color, line, texture, form, value, or shape—and the creativity begins. For example, when three-year-olds illustrate the lines of a forsythia bush, they learn that two points anchor each line and that lines can be horizontal, vertical, or crosshatched.

Lower schoolers explore a variety of materials and techniques under the creative instruction of artist Kathryn Czarnecki, guided by the National Standards for the Fine Arts. Curriculum incorporates interdisciplinary and multicultural projects, art appreciation, and art history. Students enjoy field trips to museums and galleries, art exhibits of their own works, and nature field studies.

Through projects, middle schoolers strengthen their understanding of the elements of art and principles of design. Curriculum provides opportunities for exploration, experimentation, skill development, and expression. Our teachers also develop students' understanding and valuing of art, bolstering their artistic literacy.

Intro and intermediate Upper School classes led by contemporary artist and teacher Rob Mellor explore drawing, painting, printmaking, assemblage, sculpture, design, and color theory. Advanced classes provide students with a rich, rewarding experience, and a better understanding of strenuous studio practice and consistent production.

Kathryn Czarnecki
Lower School Art Teacherget to know kat

Rob Mellor
Middle and Upper School Art Teacherget to know rob

Dan Mitchell
Middle and Upper School Ceramics Teacherget to know DAN

Ann Wolfer
Middle and Upper School Art  Teacher, Yearbook Advisorget to know Ann

Upper-Level Specialties


Middle and upper schoolers may study the wheel- and hand-building techniques of ceramics—classes that, in addition to sculpting, cover global cultures, clay artists, properties of clay and glaze, the firing process, and studio equipment.

Digital Arts

Our digital-native students start to learn design and presentation software in the Lower School. Once in the middle and upper schools, they may further explore digital art via electives. Students can study photography, digital illustration, and design in a hands-on manner by creating the middle and upper school yearbooks, and Tesserae, the Upper School literary magazine. In the creative spirit of the magazine, Tesserae students—led by teacher Joel Long—are known for art-directing quirky staff portraits each year. Here, the 2016-2017 staff opted for a snap in the boiler room.

Visual Arts Stories in Fine Print Magazine

Livia Anderson sitting in front of her mural.

After three years of intermittent painting, junior Livia Anderson in August applied the last strokes on a vibrant mural dominating one wall of eighth-grade American Studies teacher Bill Tatomer’s classroom.

Livia—who received help from assistant artist and twin sister Leonie—started the mural the summer before eighth grade at the request of Mr. Tatomer. Now, her “client” couldn’t be happier with the final product: “I’m so fortunate to have this student-centric, curriculum-specific masterpiece in my classroom,” Mr. Tatomer said. “I’ll treasure it, and my students will get to appreciate it for years and years to come.”

Livia's mural features a famous World War II scene, plus imagery inspired by the westward expansion of the US.

In the following Q&A—lightly edited for length and context—Livia discusses how she made the mural, her productive struggle during the the three-year undertaking, how she persevered, and what she learned.

Why did you volunteer to paint this mural?
Most of the time I use small canvases, so completing an artwork of such magnitude was foreign to me. It was a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with new methods and mediums.

Is this your first mural-painting experience? What was that like? Will you do it again?
This was my first time painting a mural. It was exciting because I experimented with different tools, such as airbrushes, sponges, paint rollers, etc. If I’m ever given the opportunity to paint another mural, I’ll wholeheartedly accept. I’ll say, however, that I was unprepared when it came to time management, so that made it difficult to complete quickly.

It took me far longer than I expected, but I’m glad I completed it...If I’m ever given the opportunity to paint another mural, I’ll wholeheartedly accept. —Junior Livia Andersen, mural artist

How long did it take? Explain the process and timeline.
I began painting the mural in summer 2015, before I started eighth grade, and completed it this summer—so it took about three years. I finished most of the sketching and background painting during the first summer, but the details took me longer. I mostly worked on it when school was out for summer, which allowed for hours of uninterrupted work at a time.

How do you feel about the final product?
I’m quite proud of the mural, to say the least. It took me far longer than I expected, but I’m glad I completed it.

Explain the imagery you used. What inspired you?
I knew Mr. Tatomer wanted me to depict the American flag, but I challenged myself when it came to the other elements. I decided to pay tribute to Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, the famous 1945 photo by Joe Rosenthal. I also included elements of the westward expansion, such as bison and a steam engine, and “We the People” as a nod to the foundation of America.

You've taken several art electives with teacher Rob Mellor. How did your knowledge and skills influence this mural, if at all?
I used quite a bit of the skills I’ve learned. The two main principles I had to take into consideration were perspective and proportion, and I used my knowledge from art classes to do so.

What did you get out of the experience?
Throughout the creation of this mural, I learned so much and improved my artistic skills. I used new tools and mediums and depicted things I don’t work with often, such as the human form and geometric objects.

Visual Arts

Celebrating 150 Years in Our Classrooms

For the sesquicentennial, we asked Rowland Hall's teachers to find ways to incorporate our 150th anniversary into their curriculum. They rose to the challenge, creating fun and instructional opportunities for students, including art installations, math activities, spelling lessons, and service projects related to our school's history and/or the number 150.

Below are a few of the year's highlights. Check out photos and video from all the curricular activities on the Rowland Hall 150 website.


Upper School: Studio Art Installation


Art teacher Rob Mellor quite literally wove our sesquicentennial into his curriculum. His six-member Studio Art 3 class created a shallow installation of string secured by 150 nails. The 3-D line design incorporates color, pattern, random chance, and a large spiral as a nod to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty artwork at the Great Salt Lake. Students created connections from nail to nail and linked each symbolic year together to create an open tapestry. Mr. Mellor said the project entailed "classic problem solving within a group dynamic. Compromise, trial and error, concept and meaning."


Middle School: 150 Rube Goldberg Machine

Middle School students in Ben Smith's class took on the major challenge of creating a SeRuGoMa, also known as the Sesquicentennial Rube Goldberg Machine. They built the machine on three large cardboard numbers (1,5,0) and divided into teams to design and construct seven actions per cardboard number, each of which triggered a subsequent action. They shared their creation with fellow students and visitors on Grandparents Day in November and on Maker Day in May.


Lower School: Giving Back, 150-Style

Lower School students in the first and third grades used the sesquicentennial celebration as an opportunity for community service. Third-grade students knitted over 150 hats to donate to the House of Hope, while first-grade students completed 150 acts of kindness over the course of the year. We're especially proud of these big-hearted and generous Winged Lions, who even received a shout-out on KSL's morning news for their good deeds!


Beginning School: Birthday Bash

Our Beginning School students participated in a birthday bash on the 150th day of school. They prepared 150 beautiful butterflies as a gift to Rowland Hall, and then celebrated on the quad with singing and dancing.


Bonnie Phillips '60 Lives a Vibrant Life Championing Utah Artists—and the Golden Rule

Gallery Owner and Artist Traces Passions Back to Rowland Hall Education

Bonnie Phillips '60 and husband Denis founded the Phillips Gallery in 1965, and now it holds the title of the oldest-running commercial art gallery in the Intermountain West. Mature shade trees form a canopy over their tidy historic storefront that for 50 years has held its own against newer, bigger commercial buildings on the block. Much like its owners, it's comfortably elegant and teeming with fascinating stories.

The gallery holds a special place in Salt Lake as a factual framework for Utah art history. Artists Bonnie and Denis built their successful business by representing—and often befriending—other regional artists, including Rowland Hall alumni Lee Deffebach '45, Stephen Goldsmith '72, and Hadley Rampton '94. In the late 1960s, Utah Art and Sculpture magazine recognized the Phillips Gallery for "challenging the bounds of Utah taste through their intelligent promotion of less traditional art" and called the business "the first viable modernist and avant-garde concern in the Utah art market."

Indeed, Bonnie has done more than establish an alluring storefront: she's cultivated a community of creatives and served as an ambassador for Utah arts, according to Hadley, a gallery fine art consultant. Phillips Gallery almost exclusively shows pieces by Utah artists, and clients visiting Salt Lake from major art centers such as New York City or Los Angeles "are just blown away by the quality and variety of work here," Hadley said. Salt Lake is lucky to have Bonnie, she added. "Our community here is very strong...she has definitely contributed in a big way."

Denis and Bonnie grew up in different Salt Lake neighborhoods and met after college, yet both credit the daily presence of art in their youths for what would become a mutual passion. Bonnie fondly remembers Rowland Hall as a "warm and friendly place" where teachers appreciated and nurtured her love of art. One of those teachers was the late George Fox, a beloved Rowland Hall art educator for 32 years—read more about him on page 40 of the Spring 2012 Review. With a laugh and a shudder, Bonnie recalled a memory from the so-called "A Building" on the old Avenues Campus: she watched Mr. Fox make the risky climb to the top of the foyer to open a light well so students could enjoy the sun.

"I remember the light streaming in through the huge Avenues Campus windows, illuminating the art on the walls," Bonnie said. "Some was student work and other was by professional artists—but it was all honored."

Nearly seven decades later, much of the art now illuminated on Rowland Hall's walls is there thanks to Bonnie—she has loaned the school 114 paintings from her personal collection with the hope of enriching students' educational experiences, just as the school once enriched her childhood. The collection appropriately includes 17 pieces by Bonnie and seven by her husband.

In the Beginning School, 19 loaned works contribute to the calm, beautiful environment carefully cultivated by Principal Carol Blackwell. In one piece—an untitled 2002 acrylic painting by prominent Utah artist and Rowland Hall parent Willamarie Huelskamp—a red stag turns to look behind him, toward a sliver of red moon. The other pieces also depict colorful, creatively interpreted insects, animals, and plants. Such works enlighten our youngest learners, who appreciate art's intrinsic value and worth: "Children can observe shape, color, emotional qualities, and intangible traits such as kindness," 4PreK Teacher Kate Nevins said.

For Bonnie, Rowland Hall nurtured some of those good, intangible traits. She grew up with grandparents of mixed religions and remains grateful that whether at home or school, adults around her emphasized a message of inclusion: "At Rowland Hall, we began school every morning singing hymns together in chapel," she said. "It didn't matter what your religion was at home, we all sang together. It was such a wonderful way to open our hearts and minds to learning for the rest of the day. It was truly spiritual."

Years later, Bonnie combined her passion for art with the lasting impression of kindness and spirituality to form the Golden Rule Project, an organization based on the law of reciprocity—do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The ideas that led to the Golden Rule Project first percolated in Bonnie's mind as Edna Traul's fourth-grade student at Rowland Hall. Mrs. Traul had students memorize and recite poetry, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the golden rule. "The pledge seemed sort of exclusive, whereas the golden rule had a sense of fairness," Bonnie said.

The lessons intrinsic to the golden rule continued to simmer in Bonnie's heart, and with the help of her mother, Jane Dooly Porter '36, the Golden Rule Project became a reality in 2003. Two years later, Bonnie worked with Urban Crossroads Center and then-State Senator Fred Fife to introduce a state resolution asking lawmakers to consider the rule as they carried out their duties. Now, the project is a thriving nonprofit that combines art, mindfulness, and communication. It encourages people to incorporate the principle into their daily lives, in part by promoting the rule's many artistic representations found across faiths, philosophies, and teachings.

When Ms. Porter died in 2008, she donated her spacious, art-filled house at 1229 East South Temple to the project. Her memory lives on through the home, nicknamed Jane's House, a place designated for diverse gatherings and discussions.

Jane's House has expanded the Golden Rule Project, but art remains at the heart of the message. Beautiful variations of the golden rule hang in schools and organizations nationwide, including the Utah State Capitol. Each formulation is a unique two-page, framed diptych, measuring 21 inches by 13 inches (golden mean proportions), and letterpressed on paper hand-marbled by local artists.

Bonnie said she believes deeply in the principle. Each night, she assesses her day by asking herself, "Have I done unto others as I would have them do unto me?" The Rowland Hall community certainly thinks so. In 2009, the school inducted Bonnie into the Alumni Hall of Fame for her countless hours of service to the community.


Dooly-Phillips Family Rowland Hall Alumni

  • Peggy Dooly Olwell '33 (Jane's sister and Bonnie's aunt)
  • Jane Dooly Porter '36 (Bonnie's mother)
  • Bonnie Phillips '60
  • Ellie Olwell Roser '60 (Peggy's older daughter and Bonnie's cousin)
  • Carol Olwell '62 (Peggy's youngest daughter and Bonnie's cousin)
  • Ben Phillips '87 (Bonnie's son)


Immigrant Stories Live on Through Second Graders' Ancestor Dolls

If you've been a second grader at Rowland Hall, or had a child or grandchild in second grade at Rowland Hall, chances are you remember the ancestor dolls project. It's been a staple of the springtime curriculum for at least 15 years, and while the core aspects of the project remain the same, the ancestor stories reflect historical changes and evolving global patterns. Second-grade Teacher Katie Schwab noted that this year, more students' ancestors immigrated directly to the western part of the United States, whereas in the past, most made a stop at Ellis Island first. One thing that hasn't changed? The ancestor dolls project teaches young students about the immigrant experience. "It moves them one step closer to appreciating and having compassion for those that are different from us," Ms. Schwab said.

Here's how it works: Second graders are given a questionnaire that they fill out, often with the help of their parents, to guide them in choosing one of their ancestors as a subject for the project. If they choose someone who is still living, they may interview them directly, but often it involves other family members relaying stories of relatives who have passed away. The students learn where their ancestors were born; when, why, and how they immigrated to the United States; and what aspects of the transition were the most challenging. Prior to this research, students have been reading books about the immigrant experience, told from a child's perspective—one example is Molly's Pilgrim—so they have some familiarity with the topics.

After the research is complete, students prepare a narrative about their ancestors' experiences, which they use to give oral presentations to the class. And of course, when they give their presentations, the ancestor dolls themselves are the stars. Ranging from clothespin-sized figurines to plush creations that resemble stuffed toys, the dolls are made to look like recreations of the featured immigrants. Second graders describe the process of making a doll as fun, but also stressful, and one of Ms. Schwab's students said, "If your doll is absolutely perfect, Katie will suspect your parents made it." They added that having a picture of the ancestor to use as a model can be helpful, especially if the person is no longer alive.

Sitting in on the students' oral presentations, and seeing their ancestor dolls, you can feel the enthusiasm these children have for the project. Second-grader Henry D'Amico happily shared the story of his great, great, great grandfather, James Ivers, who moved to the United States from Canada in 1863. He made the journey in part because he was the second son and his older brother would inherit the family farm, so he needed to go elsewhere to find work. Henry's doll looked remarkably like a picture of Mr. Ivers' dressed as a legislator, with a long felt robe and head made out of clay.

Representing a dramatically different experience, Emma Barkes is an immigrant herself, as her family moved from England when Emma was almost four years old. She chose her mother, Helen, as the subject for her ancestor doll project, and shared that the biggest challenges her mother experienced were making new friends and learning to drive on the other side of the road. The body of Emma's ancestor doll was plush—stuffed with soft batting, she explained—and Emma hugged it close during her presentation, much like you would expect a young girl to hug her mother in real life.

While the students presented their ancestor stories and showed off the dolls they have created, their classmates soaked it all in. They were each responsible for keeping track of the name, country of origin, and reason for moving for each ancestor story. Then they traced the journeys out on a map of the world, noting who came the farthest, and any relevant patterns.

The ancestor dolls project achieves multiple curricular goals, ranging from foundational researching and writing to practicing public speaking. It is connected to several other second-grade projects, such as the memento stories students write earlier in the year, when they find an item from home and share its history (which in Henry D'Amico's case, was a mining lamp that belonged to his ancestor James Ivers). The students also participate in a book drive each spring, collecting items for the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center. A representative from the center came to speak to the second graders this spring about the refugees who benefit from these donated books, and the students made connections between the stories of immigrants they've read about, their ancestors' journeys, and the modern-day experiences of people who come to this country.

Ms. Schwab is rightly proud of the way the ancestor dolls project opens up her students' eyes. "When I first introduce the idea that they all have ancestors that came to America long ago, they don't believe me," she said. "'We've always lived here' or 'We came from Sandy, Park City, or St. George' is a typical assumption." By the time the presentations have concluded, students have gained insight into their personal history, as well as a greater appreciation for what their peers' families have experienced. Ms. Schwab said that over the years, she has been most surprised by "the students' ability to truly understand and empathize with the struggles and sacrifices families make and have made to come to America for better lives." That's a lesson worth learning not just in second grade, but at any age.


You Belong at Rowland Hall