Class challenges artists
With the college acceptance process becoming more competitive over recent years, many high schools have adopted more Advanced Placement courses for students preparing for four-year universities. Among this is Loyalton High, which added AP Studio Art to its schedule this school year.
Art teacher Laura Calabrese has taken College Board classes in AP Studio Art the last two summers and took the plunge this year to offer AP Studio Art 2-D with more than a handful of gifted senior artists this year.
Calabrese explained that a typical day in AP Studio Art consists of each art student working on pieces for his or her art portfolio, with tremendous freedom in exploring different art concepts while doing so. In the beginning of the school year, students made long-term goals; for the rest of the year they have created small projects, working their way toward completing a portfolio submission consisting of 24 pieces of art.
Unlike other AP classes, there is no actual test for AP Studio Art, because it is not an art appreciation or art history class and only focuses on the production process.
Instead, a student prepares a portfolio or collection of his or her artwork for judging. There are three different categories for portfolio submissions, the first of which is the breadth category, which consists of 12 variations of types of artwork. Next is the concentration category, containing 12 pieces that portray an intense study of a particular artistic idea. Lastly, the students create five piece for the quality category, which demonstrates the quality and consistency of their workmanship.
AP Studio Art students casually critique each other’s work and use other students’ successful portfolios or various works of art to guide their own artistic discovery process.
Each student’s portfolio, when completed, is submitted digitally. Six highly art-experienced individuals review students’ full portfolios on a computer, except for the quality pieces. The judges explore and discuss each piece of artwork and provide a final score on a scale of one through six; any score three and above means a passing grade and possibly college credit for an Art 1 class, giving the student a chance to begin college art classes at a more sophisticated level.
As with most Advanced Placement classes, Calabrese says that AP Studio Art also has prerequisites in that a student must complete one year of general art and one year of studio art before taking the course. The art students of this year’s class are Ashley Cabrera, Alex Folchi, Jasper Gonzalez, Kayla Gressel, Bethany McHenry and Kelsey Scheckla.
Calabrese mentioned that a lot of the work students do in class is traditional, focusing on personal experiences, ethnicity or personal interests.
“I’m able to see experimentation and visual exploration among the AP students that is really very exciting and artistically stimulating,” Calabrese said. “Students are finding areas of expression that far surpass those covered in a regular high school art class.”
Calabrese expressed the belief that this class will strongly contribute to each student’s educational experience in a positive way. She noted that the class encourages taking different viewpoints on problems, which will serve any student well in the future. Calabrese said she believes the class is a genuine asset to herself and LHS students, and she hopes she will continue to teach AP Studio Art along with her regular art classes.