Arts Education Advocacy


For three decades Mr. Torney has served as an Arts Education Advocate, working as a teacher and administrator with leading Visual Arts programs and art educators throughout New England.  He has worked primarily at the secondary school level, and with continuing education and university programs as well, both nationally and internationally.  He is available to advise and consult with Arts programs seeking excellence for their curriculums, facilities, and staffing, and is able to offer a wealth of experience and a broad and deep perspective on how programs and schools can achieve distinction in the Arts.

Like many in the profession, Mr. Torney has studied in the Arts throughout his lifetime. He attended Milton Academy – one of the very first private secondary schools to require study in the Arts as a formal graduation requirement – where the Arts were central to the elementary and middle school curriculums, and where he took academic classes in the Visual Arts throughout his secondary school education.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College, majoring in Visual Arts and with minor studies in both English Literature and Religion.  Mr. Torney began his career as a Teaching Fellow at the Hotchkiss Summer School, and spent his first five years as a professional Arts educator as a member of the faculty at the Pomfret School in Connecticut – a school that at that time was unique in its requirement of the Arts as a central element of its curriculum. 

Mr. Torney went on to earn a Master of Arts in Art Education from the Rhode Island School of Design, studying with such innovators as Professors John Chamberlin and Paul Sproll.  At RISD he wrote a 684-page thesis titled Visual Design: a disciplined-based studio art course that has since informed his curriculum writing and art philosophies throughout his career.

In 1991 he joined the faculty at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, becoming the Director of the Fine Arts Program in 1999, and the Head of the Arts Division in 2002 – a position that included oversight of the Music Program, the Dance Program (and its leading classical ballet program), the Theatre Program, the Fine Arts Program, and the Art Center at Hargate Gallery.  During his two-decades at St. Paul’s the Arts enjoyed a certain resurgence, with expanded student participation, an increased graduation requirement in the Arts, and itinerant growth in budgets, facilities, and staffing.  As program director he redesigned the foundations curriculum and he established the Advanced Placement Studio Art curriculum.  He ushered in the use of technology as an integral supplement to classroom teaching, publishing curriculums on-line and placing computers in every studio; and he oversaw the transition of the photography program from analog to also encompass digital imaging, with the creation of a new Mac lab technology studio - one of the first of its kind that since has served as a model for other secondary schools and universities.  He established the "Legacy Artwork" exhibition series, and implemented the Taylor Visiting Artist program.  In 2006 Mr. Torney oversaw the full renovation and redesign of the Fine Arts studios.  In 2010 the school commissioned an Academic Review of the Arts, and as the Division Head Mr. Torney invited Dr. Jessica Hoffman Davis, the founding director of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Arts in Education Program and author of Why Our High Schools Need The Arts, to Chair the external review committee.  The committee’s conclusions about the strengths of the programs were laudatory; and in a subsequent article published in the Fall 2011 St. Paul’s Alumnae Horae Magazine titled “A Model of Mattering” Dr. Hoffman Davis affirmed many of the elements that the school had long established, stating:

While too many schools reject the arts as expendable niceties, St. Paul’s School admirably holds to a view of arts learning as essential. Indeed, Ian Torney, Director of Fine Arts and Head of the Arts Division points out “that at a school like St. Paul’s…with so many students who know how to find the ‘right’ answer, the open-endedness, ambiguity, and creativity of the arts becomes of paramount importance as students search for their own personal answers.”  At a time when educators in the public sector struggle to convince students of the future benefits of a high school diploma and educators in the private sector struggle to get their students into the best colleges, St. Paul’s School reminds us that high school is not just a gateway to what comes next. The learning students do at this precipitous—for some even perilous—time in their lives has to matter in and of itself, and especially to the learner.

While at St. Paul’s Mr. Torney served as an exchange faculty member at Eton College, Windsor, England, where he gained experience with the International Baccalaureate studio art portfolio program.  Mr. Torney also served as a Master Teacher of Studio Art for the Advanced Summer Studies Program at St. Paul’s.  He established his studio at the Kimball Jenkins Estate and School of Art in Concord, NH, where he was an Artist-In-Residence and adjunct faculty. 

Mr. Torney went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Studies from the Art Institute of Boston in 2008, where he was subsequently elected to the MFA Alumni Council and where he has also taught as a Visiting Artist. 

In the fall of 2012 Mr. Torney joined the Visual Arts faculty at his alma-mater Milton Academy, and was appointed Department Chair in the spring of 2013.  In 2014 he served on the Arts Academic Review Steering Committee, and within that process and as Chair he introduced many of the ideas he established at St. Paul's to his new school, as well as several additional innovations, including: Advanced Portfolio classes; the redesign of the foundations curriculum; the creation of cross-disciplinary courses with the Sciences and Humanities; the implementation of technology as both a supplemental and primary teaching tool; the expansion of the Film and Moving Image program; the establishment of a Maker-Space/Technology curriculum; the establishment of the "Legacy Artwork" exhibition series; the expansion of the Nesto Gallery Visiting Artist program in support of the Visual Arts; and the introduction of an outdoor sculpture exhibition program.  In the summer of 2014 Mr. Torney helped design and oversee a million-dollar renovation and redesign of the Art & Media Center - formerly the Science Center - which finally realized the longstanding goal of encompassing the entire program within one facility, and that includes a new state-of-the-art 2D and 3D Technology and Design Center.  He also oversaw the evolution of the student-led Art Association that became refocused as "ASC" or "Art with a Social Conscience."  In 2015 Mr. Torney was appointed to the Curriculum Committee at Milton - a select group of faculty charged with the reconsideration and redesign of the entire course of study at the Academy, including but not limited to: diploma requirements, academic and co-curricular credits, grading, assessment, exams, annual schedule, weekly schedule, and an immersion term among many wide-ranging topics.  

Beyond his undergraduate and graduate studies, Mr. Torney has participated in several art residencies, notably at the New York Studio School, the Humberside School of Art and Design in Hull, England, the Anderson Ranch Art Center of Snowmass, CO, and Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy.  He counts among his mentors classicist master painter Thomas Beuchner, and traveled with him to paint plein-air in Rome and Sienna, Italy, in Avignon, France, in San Francisco and in Sonoma County, California; and he has also been heavily influenced by his studies with contemporary landscape painters Eric Aho and George Nick.  He has traveled across most of Europe to paint, including summers living and studying in England, France, Italy and Spain.  Ever the student, he has taken continuing education classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Copley Society of Art, the DeCordova Museum School, the Great River Arts Institute, the South Shore Art Center, Bennington College, and has most recently studied Web Design at the Massachusetts College of Art, and participated in the Teacher Innovation Workshop at NuVu Studios in Cambridge, MA. Mr. Torney has also undertaken several professional development visits to many secondary school and university art programs, as well as international program visits to the the Royal College of Art in London, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the Florence Academy of Art in Italy, and the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Mr. Torney has studio work-spaces in the Art & Media Center at Milton Academy, and a summer studio nestled within the White Mountains in the barn of the historic Thompson House in Jackson, NH.  He actively exhibits his work annually, and is represented by the Millbrook Gallery and Sculpture Garden of Concord, NH - see his EXHIBITION RECORD here.

Mr. Torney has curated numerous student, faculty and professional artist exhibitions and group shows with hundreds of artists, first through his work with the Art Center at Hargate Gallery at St. Paul’s School, and currently as the Executive Director of the Nesto Gallery at Milton Academy.  He also serves on the Gallery Committee for Gallery 334 of the Milton Art Center, where he recently curated that institutions First Annual Juried Exhibition.  He has also recently been honored to serve as a juror for ArtScope Magazine's Centerfold Feature Artist.  See his CURATORIAL RECORD here.

Mr. Torney is an active member of both the Massachusetts and National Art Education Association, a member of the College Art Association, and has served in leadership roles with both the Art Association of New England Preparatory Schools (AANEPS) and the Independent School Art Instructors Association (ISAIA).  In 2016 he organized and served as Director for the annual ISAIA Conference hosted at Milton Academy and in Boston.  He has presented about his own artwork on several occasions, and symposium presentations have included: Visual Design - A Foundations Studio Art Curriculum; The Advanced Placement Art Curriculum; Leveraging a Gallery and a Visiting Artist Program; Project-Based Learning and Assessment; Design and Implementation of a Visual Arts Center - the Art & Media Center at Milton Academy;  Integrating Technology into the Visual Arts Curriculum; Cross-Disciplinary Courses in the Arts;  A New Advanced Independent Portfolio Curriculum; and Technology/Media/Design - an Arts Maker-Space.  He has been honored with an “Outstanding Teacher” award from the University of Chicago; his students have garnered numerous regional and national honors; and he has twice been named as an "Outstanding Educator" by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Mr. Torney has been invited to consult for several secondary school art programs, recently including the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, and Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School of Cambridge, MA.  Schools that have come to visit and learn from programs led by Mr. Torney include among others: The Hotchkiss School (CT), The Derryfield School (NH), Dwight Englewood School (NJ), Rutgers Prep (NJ), Trinity School (NYC), Brooks School (MA), Middlesex School (MA), Dexter-Southfield Academy (MA), Lakeside School (WA), and Portsmouth Abbey School (RI). Mr. Torney holds a broad and deep perspective about the studio arts discipline, and a wealth of ideas about the Arts as integral to a 21st Century education, and he is eager to carry that advocacy forward with other institutions.  

To learn more about Mr. Torney's philosophies on Art Education select TEACHING PHILOSOPHY, or also select CURRICULUM VITAE.  Recommendations are available upon request.