Portfolio Plus Program

  • 2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by David Johnson.
    2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by David Johnson.
  • 2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by Joe Angeles.
    2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by Joe Angeles.
  • 2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by Joe Angeles.
    2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by Joe Angeles.
  • 2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by David Johnson.
    2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by David Johnson.
  • 2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by Joe Angeles.
    2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by Joe Angeles.
  • 2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by David Johnson.
    2015 Portfolio Plus Program. Photo by David Johnson.

The Portfolio Plus Program invites high school students to take college-level art and design courses. Students spend their mornings learning the fundamentals of drawing and their afternoons pursuing a studio concentration of their choice. With guidance from Sam Fox School faculty, students work throughout our intensive three-week program to develop strong portfolios for college admission. Studio work is rounded out by organized trips to museums, visits to artists' and designers' studios, and workshops.

This program is recommended for rising juniors and seniors in high school. Upon successful completion, you will earn 3 college credits and may receive letters of recommendation for college admission.


Each weekday morning, all Portfolio Plus Program students take part in an introductory Drawing course. Working in a variety of media, students learn to recognize and manipulate fundamental elements of composition, line, form, space, and modeling. In order to translate a subject in three dimensions to the flatness of paper, students must challenge themselves to perceive the everyday with true attentiveness Demonstrations and illustrated lectures supplement studio sessions and outside projects. As part of the course, students visit the Prints and Drawing Room at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

During the afternoon session, Portfolio Plus students pursue a studio concentration, which reflects the degree paths offered through the Sam Fox School's Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Students choose from the following three courses:

Communication Design: Visual problem solving is the root course, which immerses students in the study of communication design—its theory, methodology, and practice in historical and contemporary contexts. Applying elements of two-dimensional design, students gain experience in visual hierarchy, composition, typography, color, and image making. Projects focus on the relationship of formal language to content and expression. This course integrates a broad exploration of traditional and digital tools, with studio assignments supported by workshops aimed at developing computer skills.

Fashion Design: This studio concentration offers a mutlifaceted course of study focused on the intersection of clothing and culture. Students first learn to conceptualize and illustrate their designs two-dimensionally, developing their visual communication skills. Sketches translate into wearable artworks, with a focus on construction, proportion, and form. Students' work culminates in a final garment constructed from alternative materials. Throughout the process of making, students begin to understand the reciprocal relationship between fashion and contemporary culture.

Studio Art: Visual art has historically been associated with media such as paint, graphite, bronze, and clay. However, a monumental shift occurred in the early 20th century that introduced nontraditional materials and embraced new approaches to artistic production, the effects which continue to shape the landscape of contemporary art. In this course, students survey the history of expanded approaches to art making, analyze contemporary models of working across disciplinary boundaries, and explore ways of incorporating similar practices into their own work. While lectures, videos, and discussion frame inquiry, the focus of the course is on making. Experimentation is encouraged through a series of smaller explorations, culminating in more developed works. Students are introduced to nontraditional materials, as well as new approaches to traditional ways of working, with particular emphasis placed on the conceptual implications of material choices and process.

In addition to the drawing course and studio concentrations, a series of weekend workshops in the areas of printmaking, photography, and book-making provide students opportunities to explore additional media and techniques.

Course work is complemented by additional events and activities, including:
- Wednesday Guest Lectures by artists, designers, and curators.
- Artwork documentation workshop.
- Presentations on topics such as research, portfolio preparation, and the college admission process.
- Field trips to Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, The Luminary, Firecracker Press, fort gondo compound for the arts, and local artists' and designers' studios.
- Design and installation of a final exhibition of work.


John Early
Program Director; Lecturer, Studio Art
John Early is an interdisciplinary visual artist whose work documents the dynamics of permanence and change in the world around us. Two of his current projects include a self-published artist's book of snapshots from Florence, Italy, and a sculptural installation created as part of the Modern Segregation Program Initiative headed by WashU's American Culture Studies program. As an instructor, he strives to make the studio a laboratory for experimentation and risk-taking to help students build confidence as makers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, he has lived in St. Louis for the past twelve years.

Amy Auman
Lecturer, Communication Design
Amy Auman is a visual designer, writer, and educator. She enjoys integrating images and typography to tell compelling stories in a variety of forms, from the messages a brand sends, to the narrative behind a data set, to a set of images within a book. Her background includes book design and information design, but much of her current work is focused on branding and identity. Auman is passionate about the way design can make the world around us easier to navigate and understand. In class, she encourages design thinking through deep investigation using both traditional and non-traditional media, including the computer as a tool to manifest ideas. Projects range from illustration to design to communicate a desired intent.

Adrian Cox
Lecturer, Drawing

Adrian Cox is a painter whose practice involves creating an evolving narrative that centers around a cast of grotesque protagonists. Thematically, this work critically examines the concepts of the Natural, the Monstrous, and the Beautiful. He has exhibited work nationally, including recent shows at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, and Zg Gallery in Chicago, with forthcoming exhibitions at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco and beinArt Gallery in Australia. His approach as a drawing instructor involves fostering classical skill sets and encouraging students to use timeless techniques to address contemporary ideas in their work. Cox is originally from Georgia, and has been living in St. Louis for six years.

Liz Guilmet
Lecturer, Drawing

Liz Guilmet is an artist currently living and working in St. Louis, and has exhibited her work internationally, including in Greece and Italy. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan in 2008 and a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art from WashU in 2014. She will be teaching drawing for the Portfolio Plus Program. Some of her recent work is both a celebration of the forgotten relics of natural history, and a return to wonder by reanimating the curiosities.

Robin VerHage
Associate Professor, Fashion Design
Working regionally, nationally, and internationally, Robin VerHage has designed costumes for more than sixty theatre and opera productions. She collaborated with Jim Henson at Muppets in NYC, as well as with companies such as Laterna Majika (Prague, Czech Republic) and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. As an associate professor of fashion design in the Sam Fox School, one of her favorite assignments is teaching Introduction to Fashion. Two University grants (from the Kauffman Foundation and I-CARES) have generously supported her studies in sustainable fashion design.

Tuition, Room, & Board

Tuition for the Portfolio Plus Program is $4,678; an additional $100 should be budgeted to cover the cost of supplementary supplies. Many students bring extra spending money for purchases such as snacks, entertainment, souvenirs, etc. You will be notified upon acceptance to the program, and a non-refundable deposit will be required to confirm your admission. If a student withdraws from the program after classes begin, no portion of tuition will be refunded.

You will live in one of our secure modern residence houses and participate in organized weekend activities with other members of pre-college programs. There are study rooms, kitchenettes, laundry facilities, floor lounges, and a computer lab available for use. Program Assistants (PAs) living in the halls to provide advice and information, in addition to leading weekend activities and ensuring the rules and regulations of the program are maintained. A meal plan will allow you to enjoy a variety of food choices available across the campus.


The application deadline for the 2016 Portfolio Plus Program has passed. Application information for the 2017 Portfolio Plus Program will be available in fall 2016.


The deadline for scholarship applications for the 2016 Portfolio Plus Program has passed. Scholarship information for the 2017 Portfolio Plus Program will be available in fall 2016.


For more information, please contact:

Mariana Parisca
Admissions Counselor

Courtney Cushard
Coordinator of Special Programs