The life-affirming, creative disciplines of the arts allow us to explore, understand, and express who we are, as individuals and in relation to others and our world. The arts show us what has been, what is, and what may be, both in firm actuality and in the realms of belief and imagination. “If any one thing is certain in this world it is that art is there to help us live, and for no other reason,” writes John Russell in Meanings of Modern Art. “Art is there to tell us where we are, and it is there to tell us who we are. It gives pleasure, coincidentally, but primarily it is there to tell the truth. For hundreds of years, and on many matters of supreme importance, it had the edge over all other sources. It gave out the truth about this world and the next one. It told us what people wiser than ourselves were thinking. It told the stories everyone wanted to hear... Above all, it gave reassurance; it told us that experience was not formless and illegible, that man could speak to man without the obstructions of language, and that we were at home in this world, and with one another.”
At Cate, the arts are a means of discovery and self-discovery, a means for organizing observations, ideas, and feelings into engaging and effective form, and a way of communicating what we have seen, imagined, felt, and created with those around us. Cate students are widely engaged in the arts because Cate’s arts program is full of life and fun, rich and deep in resources, possibilities, and challenges, and very effective in helping students of all interests and levels of experience and ability to create and respond confidently, creatively, and effectively to the art which fills our community and our world in this visual age of new media, popular culture, and constant communications.
Cate’s art program is rich and varied, its arts teachers are enthusiastic, engaging, and expert, and our resources are extraordinary. Both breadth and depth are important here. We want students to be able to discover their interests and capabilities through ready access to introductory (Foundation Arts: Visual Art, Drama, and Music) and intermediate courses, and we also aspire to provide course sequences in all areas that allow an individual to move into real depth in any area of choice. Cate is by design a small school, but our commitment to the arts, and to artistic opportunity without limitation, was made at the very founding of the school and continues today. From the beautiful Art Loft to the Hitchcock Theater and up-to-date Wiegand Stage, from the state-of-the-art Digital Lab to the light and space-filled Ceramics Barn, Cate creates an environment within which the arts thrive.
On any day at Cate, a visitor can observe what serious and delighted students and devoted, capable teachers do, and see the results we achieve together. As art should do, it speaks for itself!
The quality and special standing of the arts at Cate are nowhere more clearly seen than in the annual Art Relay. For this event, students are nominated to participate, and the large numbers of student artists (who represent all media and include musicians and dancers as well) are divided up into teams. The leadoff member of each team receives a single provocative verbal prompt (examples from 2009 include “Houdini,” “conquer,” “miracle, and ”labyrinth") and then has 24 hours in which to create an artwork embodying his or her imaginative response to the prompt. This piece (and not the word, which remains secret) gets passed to the next member of them team, who then has 24 hours in which to create a new piece responding to the previous work. This goes on for two weeks, with one work leading to the next, changing mysteriously and creatively in response to the individual artistic thinking of the creators. Students may use any media and materials they wish. At the end of the relay, the pieces are (for the first time) placed in order and exhibited in the Bruno Gallery. Much of the work is visual, but digital and musical workstations present compositions and performances by dancers, songwriters, and filmmakers. Everyone is then able to see the progress of each of the six teams, and the show is invariably overwhelming in its interest value. It is truly remarkable to see how so many students all rise to the challenge in different, personal, and wonderful ways. The originality and quality of the relay pieces accurately reflect what students learn, do, and contribute to the arts at Cate.
"The foundation arts program exposed me to a world of art that I might not have ever encountered otherwise."