Senior Grace Kirk displays art work from her AP studio art portfolio. Photo by Maya Bell.

Senior Grace Kirk has been interested in art for as long as she can remember: however, for a while it has been more of a hobby. But it wasn’t until her first year of Advanced Placement (AP) Studio Art that she really started to embrace art and the ways she could use it.  

“Up until until junior year I was pretty much an amateur and wasn’t really sure if it was gonna take me where I needed to go in my life,” Kirk said.  “After my skills started improving and I started to make art I could actually be proud of, I feel like that’s when I started to feel like an actual artist.”

At RBHS, AP Studio Art is broken into two courses that span two years.  In total, a student must complete 24 individual art pieces.  The design of the class is set up to “create a portfolio of college-level work and submit it for evaluation.”  A qualifying portfolio, can help students earn college credit and/or advanced placement, the College Board said.  

Furthermore, there are three categories a student can submit their art to earn credit.  AP Studio Art 2D, Studio Art 3D and Studio Art Drawing all offer different guidelines.  Among these, AP Studio Art 3D saw the lowest percentage for a five, the highest score possible, which was only given to 12.1 percent of students who submitted their work.

“Selecting a theme to work with for an entire year is quite challenging,” art teacher Abigail Gorsage said. “The concept needs to be broad enough to be explored in various visual representations, while remaining cohesive, but not too broad that [it] lacks the visual connection and could be confused for a second range portfolio.”

While 24 pieces may seem daunting, Kirk was up for the challenge.  She took the course because she wanted to give herself time to make art and to have a space away from the stress from other classes.  Additionally, a lot of the desire to take the course comes from the pride of being able to have finished work that she can be proud of and enter in shows. While Kirk said AP Studio Art is definitely rewarding, that isn’t the best part for her.

[quote]“I think my favorite part of the class has to be the community of artists,” Kirk said. “It’s amazing to be able to come to class and spend time doing amazing things with equally amazing people and just being able to be comfortable in the environment you’re in.”[/quote]

Despite the rewards, the feeling of accomplishment and the receiving compliments for a finished art piece, there is definitely a cost to such a rigorous class. Kirk said the most difficult thing about AP Studio Art is definitely time management. As an upperclassman, Kirk said her focus has been on getting into college and doing what is best for her path.

“It’s definitely been a struggle to have a balance between academics and art because I want so much to just devote all of my time to making art, but I can’t because my other classes demand so much of my time,” Kirk said. “It’s been hard to sort out my priorities and understand how I can complete all the work for my art because just making one piece alone takes so long, let alone all the other pieces I need to make for my concentration in the pieces I want to make for fun and for myself.”

With such high requirements in a limited time frame, art teacher Carrie Stephenson said she tries and keep the AP Studio Art 1 artists on a strict timeline of only five to six class periods for each project.

[quote]“They are expected to work outside of class. It’s hard because motivation, especially in second semester, can be hard to find, as most of our artists are stretched pretty thin with their other courses,” Stephenson said. “I try to choose projects that are fun and intriguing for second semester. If we can entice the artists’ imagination and creativity, motivation should follow.”[/quote]

As Stephenson said, it is an expectation for artists to keep up with their work and put in time outside the classroom. Like Kirk, Jadie Arnett is another senior balancing her art and the college application process. Arnett said to utilize her time, she works during her AUT as well as her AP Studio Art 2 class.  She also brings her pieces home and works on them for one to three hours depending on how much she needs to get done.  

“The time limits and getting everything done [is the hardest part about the class],” Arnett said. “You have to be motivated to do it, and coming up with 24 different and original ideas [is hard].”

From a teacher’s perspective, Gorsage said there is no way to complete this amount of artwork solely during class time. Even as a teacher, Gorsage admits teaching time management is a difficult task.

“It is no easy feat. I set deadlines for projects; I check in with students, but that doesn’t always help. In many cases, art might be something that a student is passionate about, but it is also typically viewed as the fun, care-free elective,” Gorsage said. “Therefore, it sometimes takes the backburner to other AP-level courses or classes that are also very time-consuming. The problem with this perspective on art is that it is not the type of work that can be completed in the eleventh hour, like cramming for an exam. The art-making process takes time and finesse, especially to reach the caliber of advanced work.”

Are you in AP Studio Art? What is the biggest challenge? Let us know in the comments below.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a fantastic opportunity that RBHS and the College Board offer. I think it’s really important for an organization as large as AP to recognize that non-traditionally studious activities take enormous amounts of dedication and intelligence, and to validate that.

  2. I have so much respect for people with artistic talents and skills. I am always impressed with what one’s creativity and hard work can produce. I had never thought about the time commitment required to create a piece of art that is a true reflection of one’s abilities and how art is unlike other classes with cramming for exams. I can’t wait to see what all of these amazing students are able to accomplish in the future.

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