AP Art curriculum

Posted: March 4, 2012

The inner workings of AP Studio Art

It’s harder than it seems

Jeffrey Riley, Talon Staff Writer

An Advanced Placement class without a test. Sounds too good to be true. No review in May, and no three-hour long session of hand-cramping essays is what the AP Studio Art students can be assured of avoiding as AP exams approach toward the end of the year.

As May approaches, it’s common for many MA students to have one thing on their mind: AP exams. The months of rigorous work, a mind-numbing amount of flipping flash cards, and a few sleepless nights all prepare students for the fateful morning when their knowledge is put to the test. While this is all taking place, AP Studio Art students have a different method of evaluation.

The goal of the class is ultimately to put together an impressive portfolio that will be looked at subjectively by a trained board of graders. This portfolio consists of three main categories: Breadth, Concentration and Quality. These categories are specifically designed to examine the spectrum and excellence of the individual’s work. Breadth focuses on the versatility of the artist and gives the student the ability to experiment with media they have previously left untouched.

Concentration revolves around a central theme. AP Studio Art students spend the first portion of the year developing and creating an artist statement. The artist statement encompasses the idea, theme and thought process behind the artwork in this portion of the portfolio.

Quality is the student’s opportunity to show off and provide the graders with some of their best work. This category “permits the student to select the works that best exhibit a synthesis of form, technique, and content,” as stated by the College Board website.

After these three categories have been thoroughly executed, students can begin on the final product, their portfolio. Although the class is absent of an exam in May, dozens of hours are spent outside of class trying to meet the requirements by the deadline. Completing the portfolio provides long hours in the art studio and at home trying to meet the deadlines and requirements.

“I’m up until morning some nights trying to complete my pieces,” senior Audrey Jerome stated. “I’ll be starting from scratch or putting final touches on them at 1 a.m.”

Another strange aspect of the class is the freedom provided to the artists during class. Occasionally Nathan Stromberg, AP Studio Art teacher, will want to cover some material, but often times the students will guide themselves during the 80 minutes.

Because the media from artist to artist may be so different, the artists are responsible for completing their pieces at a rate to keep them on track for the deadline.

The prerequisite for engaging in AP Studio Art is completing the Fundamentals of Art class. While the idea of no test in May possibly seems appealing, don’t make the mistake of thinking the class is easier than others. The grueling hours spent with a brush in hand, or clay-crusted fingers is a challenge in itself, let alone having every piece submitted be judged by a panel.

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