Creativity floods the room as a diverse group of students share a similar passion for art and transpose their ideas onto canvases every morning in room 506.
Advanced Placement Art Studio students work on a number of art pieces to eventually include in portfolios to be submitted for potential college credit. Unlike exams for other AP courses, students of AP Art Studio are given the timeframe of two years to refine their submissions, guided by their teacher Sandra McGinty. Of the eight students taking AP Art Studio this year only one, junior Sean Arce, is submitting a portfolio, which is the fewest submissions McGinty has ever had.
“The overall experience has been interesting, since I’ve never done something so easy yet so hard at the same time. I have my art teacher, Mrs. McGinty, to thank because she really provided feedback about my work in a nominal sense, while also taking into account time management and coordination with Mr. Phelps, who will be sending five of my pieces to the College Board by May 5,” Arce said.
According to McGinty, previous pass rates for AP Art Studio students have almost always been 100 percent. Consistent with her confidence in her students, she expects this trend to continue with Arce’s submission this year.
“These students are the best of the best,” McGinty said. “Most of them already developed a style of their own that they’ll carry with them to college. The class is a little bit more challenging than your average college class, so that when they go to college they might find it easier.”
The portfolio submission includes three sections: a physical collection of a student’s five best paintings submitted on canvases, an online submission of ten to twelve photos of a student’s ‘concentration,’ which encompasses the student’s specific focus, such as portraits or landscapes, and ‘the breadth,’ which demonstrates a student’s mastery of a variety of work using a number of medias. Class time is devoted to creating pieces that can eventually be used as part of a student’s portfolio.
“I like how McGinty often comes around during class and tells us what she likes about what we are doing and what we can improve upon. She really lets us do our own thing and trusts us to be independent. She frequently offers feedback, advice and even anecdotes from her own experiences as an artist and when she was an art student,” sophomore and AP Art Studio student Ariana Stratton said.
After working independently on a project with the help of McGinty, AP Art Studio students hang their pieces on the board for a class critique in order to receive the commentary and constructive criticism of classmates.
“Each one of us gets to say something about our work, so you could say something like, ‘I could have fixed this thing specifically’ and what you could have done better. When it’s the other classmates turn to talk about your painting, they try to help you with what you did wrong,” junior and AP Art Studio student Maria de Hoyos said. “I know that art is usually really competitive, but our class is really calm and everybody helps each other.”
Although the purpose of the critique is to point out areas of improvement for McGinty’s students, the process is maintained with an encouraging environment which benefits growth. According to several students, the independent nature of their work and positive classroom community supports their productivity.
“[The class is] small, but I like it. It makes the setting more intimate and you can have more one on one time with Ms. Mcginty and you get to know everyone more easily because you’re with people who share an interest with you,” senior and AP Art Studio student Toni Mack said.
Overall, AP Art Studio students express a genuine passion for art that extends beyond the classroom. Many plan to pursue art beyond high school, in college and as a career, which is indicative of the interest they currently express through their art pieces.
“I believe that while the general purpose of taking an art class is to fulfill a portion of your A-G list of requirements, AP Art [Studio] is a totally different beast. It’s more about growth, exploration, and hard work: hard work especially because as in other AP classes, hard work and practice is all you need to succeed. Being in a class that exhibits my forte in art, has made me contemplate how important devotion is to the success of my portfolio,” Arce said.