Pacifica Arts

Home > The Arts > Philosophy & Approach

Philosophy & Approach

Pacifica ArtsThe curriculum of the VPA is a rigorous one, taught by instructors who are engaged in both their classroom work as well as the professional worlds of studio art, dance, choreography, theater, and film. Our students are taught the fundamentals of technique and theory by experts in their field, while also being challenged to create new works of their own.  They are then urged to share—before an audience of students or community members—their work as a natural part of the act of creativity. This cycle of practice, creation, and exhibition is fundamental for any successful arts program:  Classroom, Exhibition, and Critique. 


At Pacifica, the classroom is a special place where students are strongly encouraged to learn technique, tackle the creative process head-on, take risks, foster self-knowledge, and grow as artists. Through in-depth classroom instruction by artist-teachers, students are exposed to the fundamentals of technique, encouraged to fully explore these elements in a personal way, and to reflect on their work as well as the work of others. In other words, the classroom is the foundation for students for building their own technique and approach to their work, as well as developing a deeper understanding of the process.  It is a safe place where students can dare to fail, grow, and find their voice as artists.


We believe that public exhibition and performance are vital parts of the creative process, and all artists need to experience a public aspect of sharing their work. Pacifica has several opportunities throughout year for students to demonstrate their skills whether it be on stage, screen, or at an art gallery. The focus of exhibition and production is to create a dialogue and enhance the connection between artist and community. From theater productions to the Screen Film Festival and iSight, VPA students are encouraged to get involved and share their talents with an audience—contributing work that is substantial and meaningful for creator and audience alike. 


We believe reflection and critique deepen our knowledge of who we are as artists and humans. Not only is reflection built into daily classroom instruction, but is a large part of of the extra-curricular production process as well. The creative process is on-going, never ending, and not an end in and of itself. Each experience builds on the last, and propels an artist’s work into the future. Faculty and student-led critique sessions at the end of each production allow students, parents, guest artists, and teachers to celebrate their successes and build upon mistakes, as well as shed light on what can make future projects better. 

We welcome the fact that this process does not always result in applause or congratulations; more importantly, this process results in a determination to continue to explore, deepen students’ understanding, and courage to pursue their individual voice.

Fundamental Objectives of the Pacifica Visual and Performing Arts Department are to:

  • Develop in students the skills necessary to comprehend and respond to art, design forms, the visual environment, and to the relationship between form and content
  • Develop in students the language of aesthetics — including various art forms and their individual, historical, and cultural context
  • Heighten each student’s personal perception and awareness of the world and their reactions and responses to it
  • Teach skills necessary to use and manipulate materials while encouraging experimentation
  • Build a tradition of craftsmanship in all the artistic disciplines
  • Encourage students to observe, analyze, think, make decisions, and solve problems in the exploration of personal expression
  • Develop a collaborative dimension to the arts in a predominantly individualistic fine art culture
  • Develop opportunities for the Pacifica student to develop a breadth of learning across artistic disciplines
  • Develop opportunities for the Pacifica student to develop a depth of learning in a specific discipline
  • Develop an array of opportunities for the Pacifica student to apply concepts learned to production experiences

Pacifica Arts

Michael Balsley

There can be no bravery without fear, and there can be no discovery without rigorous inquiry. We welcome the fearful to become bold. We welcome the confident to become inquisitive. We are excited to welcome a new class of artists to our department every year. For more information on how you can be a part of the arts at Pacifica, please email me anytime!

Michael Balsley
Director of Visual & Performing Arts

B.A. English/Theatre Arts, Illinois Wesleyan University
M.A. Fine Arts, New York University

T: 310.828.7015 ext. 106

Bio & Contact

Connect with Pacifica Arts!

Pacifica Arts

Get all of the most up-to-the-minute arts happenings:

Like Pacifica Arts on FACEBOOK »

Follow Pacifica Arts on INSTAGRAM »

Get Pacifica Arts tweets on TWITTER »

Read the Pacifica Arts BLOG »