EXPLO Summer Programs offer over a dozen summer courses in visual and performing arts for students entering grades 2-12 in Boston, New York, and Chicago. With challenging curriculum built specifically to develop skills for the future, learn more about how your student can apply for a summer of spirited adventure: 



This summer, enroll in an immersive summer with a range of innovative courses and electives in the visual and performing arts.  We know students thrive when they're passionate about what they’re exploring — which is why we are on a mission to give students practical and real-world advice from artists. Whether that's how to sustainably pursue a career in the arts, storyboard long-term projects, or market your designs to major metropolitan areas, you'll leave this summer with a better idea of what your future looks like.



You'll collaborate with leading artists in the film, graphic design, drawing, painting, and documentary industry to learn about expression through sensitive and controversial topics with peers from all over the world.


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The kids who make the conscious decision to attend EXPLO are the type of people who will invent the next Facebook, put humans on Mars, or become the leader of their country.

- Malik D., EXPLO Student

You might: Learn how to give an effective acting critique from Producer, Director + Media Personality (not to mention Andy Cohen's asst.) Daryn Carp. Prepare a professional presentation and portfolio of your final architectural designs at Pinehills Living. Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to gain inspiration for your drawing or graphic design portfolio.  Discuss the power of photography and videography as a means of storytelling the current political climate.

Opportunities are boundless so that you can find yourself future bound.



By both performing and directing, discover how different directors’ perspectives can completely alter the meaning of a script, and how an actor’s performance can bring a script to life. Whether you’re an accomplished director or you’re stepping on stage for the first time, embrace the opportunity to not only explore the crafts of acting and directing, but also stage a performance for the EXPLO community. Curriculum differs by program.

Acting + Directing   (Grades 10-12, EXPLO Chicago)

• Acting for the Stage + Screen   (Grades 8-10, EXPLO New York)

Acting + Improv   (Grades 4+5, EXPLO Boston)


An EXPLO Advisor for courses related to stage and screenplay, J.V. Hart is an American screenwriter best known for his literary films Hook, Dracula, and Frankenstein.


Start with classical animation exercises in 2D, such as the bouncing ball, to practice core skills like arcs and squash + stretch. From there, design an eye-catching character and a walking animation sprite sheet. Jump into Maya and manipulate a 3D model to create the illusion of life. Through these experiences and more, hone your creative process and cultivate a foundation on which to further explore the field of animation. Curriculum differs by program.

3D Animation for Game Design   (Grades 10-12, EXPLO Chicago)

Video Game Level Design   (Grades 8-10, EXPLO New York)


Dive into experiential exercises, hard-lined scale drawings, and the creation of ¼ architectural scale models — the studio fundamentals you will use as part of a real world project that will give you an understanding of design and building, as well as the challenges of real estate development. As part of a design team, take on a challenge from an architectural firm to prepare a proposal for a new building. Curriculum differs by program.

Architecture   (Grades 10-12, EXPLO Chicago)

Architecture   (Grades 8-10, EXPLO New York)

EXPLO gave me the ability to actually connect with local architects and learn about problems facing the future of land and buildings. I left feeling more confident that I could actually pursue something like this as a career.


Drum by drum, and sample by sample, build a library of sound that that you can use to create your own beats. Using professional music layering and production software, learn how to make 8- and 16-bar loops, how to arrange them, and how to create house, hip-hop, and dubstep tracks. Deconstruct your favorite tracks in order to determine how the artist created it in the first place. Oh, and while you’re there, grab samples that you can use as a starting point for your own work.

Mixing Music + DJing   (Grades 6+7, EXPLO Boston)

Stephen Levitan, an EXPLO Advisor for courses related to music making, is a music producer and eight-time beat battle champion. He is the Co-Founder of Beat Making Lab


In individual writing assignments, work on style, character development, dialogue, image, and point of view. Most importantly, develop your own writing voice. Through small group feedback and peer editing sessions, grow through critique, and bring your writing to the next level. Explore how to gain experience as a writer and learn where to submit work for publication. Curriculum differs by program.

Short Story Writing  (Grades 8-10, EXPLO New York)

Creative Writing  (Grades 6+7, EXPLO Boston)


Combine unusual flavors and break out of the traditional baking paradigms. Try adding new elements into your cupcakes like with a savory jam, fruit puree, or intensely-sour frosting, and surprise the judges with an unexpectedly delectable experience.  In our battlefield, you’ll be outfitted with innovative baking techniques, an arsenal of ingredients, and the scientific know-how to understand how everything fits together.

Cupcake Challenges  (Grades 8-10, EXPLO New York)

Figure Drawing + Portraiture

Observe how shadows emphasize the jaw, the placement of the eyes on the face, and the way the hairline gently curves around the ear. Practice an array of drawing techniques, from short gesture drawings to longer figure studies. Using different materials, create figure drawings to define highlight and lowlight in a portrait. With close attention to the human form, create a diverse portfolio of work that will reflect a new mastery of the body and the line.

Figure Drawing + Portraiture  (Grades 8-10, EXPLO New York)


EXPLO advisor for courses related to drawing and painting, Melissa Marks, MFA from Yale University, has over 20 years of experience as a professional artist, having solo exhibitions in both London and New York City. Her work has been featured at the MoMA, The Drawing Center, and at Artspace.


In this course, learn the fundamentals of fashion design. Your primary focus will be fashion craft and creation: build skills in illustration, pattern and garment construction, and reading textiles. Look closely at the business of fashion design, engage in trendspotting, and explore merchandising and styling. Curriculum varies by program.

Fashion Design  (Grades 10-12, EXPLO Chicago)

 No-Sew Fashion Design  (Grades 6+7, EXPLO Boston)

"My fashion design class has taught me so much more than I could think of. I now know how to hand stitch, how to design, and how to sketch for different silhouettes."


With a small team, create a short film from start to finish. Begin with the creative planning process—generate ideas, develop the narrative, and tell stories through images. Work on plot and structure, character development, storyboarding, and screenplay writing. Get comfortable with professional equipment and editing software, learn about camera techniques, framing, staging, lighting, and sound.

Filmmaking Studio  (Grades 10-12, EXPLO Chicago)

Writing, directing, and shooting a film is something I didn't think was possible in three weeks. It was awesome showing our film to the whole program at the end. It really felt like we had an opening night as a whole production team.

Improvisational Theater

Explore the space of the stage as you compete and cooperate in a variety of improv games that challenge your wit. Teamwork and support are keys to success as you follow in the footsteps of comedic stars like Amy Poehler (originally from Upright Citizens Brigade ) and Stephen Colbert (originally from The Second City). In this class, you will hone your improvisational skills within a creative and supportive environment.

Improvisational Theater  (Grades 6+7, EXPLO Boston)


In this course, look into the relationship between environment and human behavior, designing interior spaces that are evocative and functional. To start, examine the work of top interior designers and visit select historically distinctive spaces in order to build a visual vocabulary and understanding. In the studio, explore proportion, lighting, furniture, texture, and materials.

Interior Design Studio  (Grades 10-12, EXPLO Chicago)

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Ashley Johnstone Kidwell, EXPLO Advisor, works as a Lighting Designer at Nautilus Entertainment Design. She conducts critiques and offers guidance on interior space, color, light, and function.


The course begins with an introduction to the camera as a tool. Once familiar with a camera’s capabilities, we will start to think about how to approach a visual story. Investigate how to express time, emotion, and visual beauty in a single frame. Learn how to sequence images together to tell a deeper story than words can express. Explore how light is both a compositional and a narrative tool. Using a sketchbook, capture visual ideas that will later inform your photography. Explore all aspects of a visual story—concept, discovery, sequencing, and presentation. Curriculum varies by program.

Photography  (Grades 8-10, EXPLO New York)

Digital Photography  (Grades 6+7, EXPLO Boston)

Visual Arts

Painting, building, sketching, layering, drawing, forming, twisting, stacking! Become part of the EXPLO art show where you can imagine and create brave, bold, and beautiful art like you’ve never created it before. You’ll receive all the supplies you need — like paints, paper, canvases, pencils, ink, and more — and explore classic genres. You’ll practice different techniques and will be free to experiment with abstract and figurative art pieces through mixed media and non-traditional materials.

Visual Arts  (Grades 4+5, EXPLO Boston)


Survey classics old and new, from Phantom of the Opera to Wicked and Hamilton, to understand what makes audiences connect with a production. Working in ensembles, you’ll perform in the cast while we enact scenes through character portrayal, voice projection, and improvisation. Present a show tune on-stage with your ensemble in front of a supportive audience.

Musical Theater  (Grades 8-10, EXPLO New York)

Program Dates

Session One

June 28 – July 18, 2020

Session Two

July 19 – August 8, 2020

Interested in learning more about how you can have a summer of challenging and spirited adventure?
Let's Do This!