The Visual Arts Department offers a wide range of courses that promote a hands-on, experiential approach to art making that develops a sensitive familiarity with materials and methods. Students are given both formal and conceptual training to expand their visual literacy. Personal attention from a diverse and professional faculty helps the students gain greater confidence in their work and ideas. Because of the range and depth of the program and its emphasis on social responsibility, graduates are citizen artists in the truest sense.

  • 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
Academy Courses
  • Art History
  • Art and Technology
  • Art Fundamentals
  • Architecture
  • Ceramics
  • Computer Graphics
  • Drawing
  • Jewelry/Metalsmithing
  • Masterclasses
  • Mural Painting
  • New Genres
  • Painting
  • Performance
  • Portfolio/Senior Seminar
  • Photography (film and digital)
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
Summer Courses
  • Art Exploration (ages 13-18)
  • Ceramics: Clay Works (ages 13-18)
  • Drawing and Painting (ages 13-18)
  • Jewelry Workshop (ages 13-18)
  • Photography: Digital Photo (ages 13-18)
  • Photography 101 (ages 13-18)
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 must submit a portfolio of a representative number (10-20) of pieces that embody their own work. All submitted work must be the candidate’s original work and not in the Anime or Manga style. No modified or altered pieces will be accepted. Images of art works should be submitted via email, or as uploads to their online application, or as digital photo images of work in a bound folder.

Do not submit original works since we are unable to mail them back to you.

The portfolio must include:

      1. 4 drawings of objects from direct observation (not from photographs)
      2. 3 full human figure drawings from direct observation (not from photographs)
      3. At least 5 other works, using any medium, that focus on a single specific theme
      4. Brief responses to each of the following:
        1. Describe your beliefs about the role of the artist in today’s world.
        2. What do you expect to gain from your experience at Idyllwild Arts?
        3. Do you intend to pursue visual arts in college and/or as a career?
        4. Describe some of your previous experience with visual arts classes, projects, summer programs, and/or media you have an interest in.

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

For specific questions regarding the Visual Arts admission process, please contact:
Jara Ruiz-Anchia at 951.659.2171 x2347 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