Ethics in the Arts

The mission of the Ethics in the Arts program is to explore ethical issues in the arts, through art making and art viewing. This program encourages ethical dialogue and reflection around ethical questions that arise organically when interacting with art. Through hearing from visiting artists and exploring art through dynamic activities, participants engage in meaningful exploration of fundamental concepts that enrich their understanding of themselves, the world, and their relationships with others.

The Ethics and the Arts program supports participants as they broaden their awarness of ethical issues and use their unique voice to explore ideas through art and dialogue. Some questions that often arise are:

  • Identity: What role does a person’s identity have in their art and our viewing of their art?
  • Risk-Taking: What does taking risks look like for artists, and when does this cross an ethical line?
  • Responsibility: What obligation, if any, do artists have to others, like their subjects, viewers, and the general public? How should we engage with an artwork? Can there be plagiarism within art?
  • Intention vs. Impact: How should we navigate tensions between the impact of the art and intention of the artist? What should we do when an artwork is offensive or harmful?

About Our Summer Program

The Ethics & Art Summer Program invites rising 7-12 grade students from throughout New Jersey to engage in a creative and innovative summer experience that will teach the foundations of ethics and ethical thinking through hands-on art making guided by professional artists and trained ethicists.

This year's theme is public vs. private art. We will explore the ethical issues that arise when an artist creates art for oneself, a broad audience vs specific audience, and commissioned work. Visiting speakers will share ethical dilemmas they have experienced as artists, including as street artists and muralists. We will go on a field trip to Philadelphia for a walking and learning tour through the Mural Arts Project of Philly. Our visiting artist this year will be a local muralist who will work with participants to design and paint a mural on campus. Lunch will be catered each day.

Program Highlights:
  • Students will engage in a two-hour (optional) meeting with the mural artist in April or May (dates to be determined by participant availability) to develop ideas for the mural project
  • During the July program, students will work with the mural artist to paint the mural on campus, working in small groups of 3-4 at a time.
  • On Wednesday during our July program, participants will go on a field trip to the Mural Arts Project in Philadelphia
    Throughout the program, visiting speakers will present ethical dilemmas raised by public art for participants to discuss
  • Participants will engage in additional art projects and activities to explore the ethical dimensions of public vs private art
  • Participants will develop ethical thinking and dialogue skills through different interactive activities and dialogue circles
Meet our visiting artist: Caren Frost Olmsted is the owner and principal of CFO Design, which she founded in 2003. Her projects are wide and varied, and she loves it that way - large and small scale murals, corporate, educational, project management, and art direction. Specializing in collaborative mural projects, each day holds the promise of something different- new people, new art, new challenges. Olmsted’s works have appeared on national television and print media, as well as numerous galleries, schools, businesses and homes across the country.  Olmsted holds a degree in Theater Design from Bates College, and a degree in Art Education from Appalachian State University, and holds a New Jersey State Teaching Certificate.  Prior to CFO Design, she worked for several years in professional theater as a Set and Lighting Designer, and four years as an Art Educator.
Olmsted is a member of, and teaches through Morris Arts and The Center for Contemporary Art.  She is the founding co-chair of ARTsee Open Studio Tour, and served as the Cultural Arts Chair on for the Parks and Recreation Committee of Bernards Township. Her studio is in Basking Ridge, New Jersey where she lives with her husband and two sons (whom Olmsted considers her most spectacular creations).
As part of this program, participants can expect to:
  • Explore the intersections between art and ethics
  • Examine their personal identity and values
  • Develop a robust understanding of public vs. private art and the ethical issues that is raises
  • Experience different forms of public art, from visiting speakers and our resident expert artist
  • Engage in various art activities and dialogue circles that encourage positive risk taking
  • Feel empowered as ethical thinkers and artists
  • Develop critical and creative thinking
  • Enhance collaboration and communication skills

Participation Details

Please save the date for Summer 2023!
July 10-14, 2023 (grades 7-12)

TIME: 9:00 a.m.– 3:00 p.m. (option for open studio from 8:30-9:00 a.m. and 3:00-4:00 p.m.)

LOCATION: Kent Place School

WHO: This program is open to rising 7-12 grade students.
  • This program is open to KPS and non-KPS students.
  • This program is coed, and capped at 16 participants per program.
  • Students who participated in past summer ethics and art programs are invited to attend, as each summer offering is uniquely different.
COST: TBD(lunch and materials are included)

Participants who enroll are asked to commit to the full program.

2023 Facilitator

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  • Ms. Ariel Sykes

    Ariel Sykes is the Assistant Director of the Ethics Institute at Kent Place School. She is a skilled educator and teacher trainer with fifteen years of experience working in philosophy and education. Mrs. Sykes is an endorsed practitioner of the IAPC (Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children), the world’s oldest organization devoted young people’s philosophical practice.

    Mrs. Sykes holds a BA in Philosophy of Education from Mount Holyoke College and an MA in Philosophy and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to joining the Ethics Institute, Mrs. Sykes taught a variety of education and ethics courses at local colleges and universities, ran after-school and summer philosophy programs for kids, and developed a philosophy in the art museum program with the Montclair Art Museum.

Want to Learn More?

For more information about our Ethics Institute programs or if you have questions about the registration process, please do not hesitate to reach out at
42 Norwood Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901   |   (908) 273-0900
The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School is a first-of-its-kind institute at the primary and secondary school level. We believe that promoting the process and practice of ethical thinking and decision-making prepares people of all ages to be effective leaders and compassionate citizens.