AP Art Students Take Art to New Heights

Alex Amari ’13

During the first few days of school, a peculiar scent began emanating from the Upper School Arts Wing. Students proposed several explanations for the unpleasant odor, ranging from the building materials involved in the recently finished art hallway renovations to some sort of forgotten foodstuff that had somehow avoided detection during the summer months. As time passed, however, the smell became increasingly rancid, so much so that students dismissed even the worst Flik mishap as a potential cause of the odor. So what was the cause of the putrid aroma, you ask? We are happy to report that it was just Preston Park’s AP Studio Art project, which was discovered and promptly disposed of in the first week of school.

What is AP Studio Art? Who is taking it? Should we expect more disgusting Art Wing fragrances in the coming months? The Academy News has made it a point to find out.

When students taking the course walked into the art classroom on the first day of school, they were met with a mixed welcome from Mr. Cuneo: “Welcome to AP Studio Art. You are officially two months behind.” A short briefing ensued before the seniors began working on their summer projects for the class.

The summer assignment for AP Studio Art, introduced to students last spring, was described simply as BUGS! When we asked Preston about the concept for his summer project, he replied, “I basically just put roast beef in a water bottle and let maggots grow in it. I was hoping it could work somehow, but the art teachers threw it out, so yeah…” The prospective sculptor has recently been spotted searching for new organic materials for his project near the dumpsters behind the school.

Like other AP courses, AP Studio Art follows a curriculum loosely regulated by the College Board, culminating in a final examination at the end of the year based on the AP grading criteria. In the case of AP Studio Art, students spend the year working on a portfolio that will be graded anonymously by a team of College Board graders during the summer. Portfolios fall under three categories: 2-D Design, 3-D Design, and Drawing. Within each of these categories, students produce artwork for three equally weighted sections: Quality, Breadth, and Concentration. Due to the sheer amount of artwork required for the exam, AP Studio is considered a yearlong, major course.

So who are the students willing enough to dedicate such a considerable amount of time and effort to their artwork? Are they, as one student suggests, “a mindless rabble of hipsters looking for résumé boosters and writing expressionist plays at Panera in their spare time”? I can safely say that this is not the case.

While AP Studio is a class full of gifted artists, some students (myself, specifically) possess more imagination than talent. This is a class of ideas, and certainly a class with a sense of humor. Technical artistic strength in drawing, photography, sculpture and other art forms is essential for successful AP portfolios, but in and of itself will not guarantee a good score. Not all ideas must be as quirky as Preston’s, but students are encouraged to pursue originality as they put together their projects. Portfolios are most successful, Mr. Cuneo likes to remind students, when a sense of personality shines through, when an exhausted team of College Board graders finds something that makes them smile in a sea of repetitive high school art.

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