Senior AP art students complete 24 art pieces for graduation

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Ashleigh Atasoy

[vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/92767977″ width=”200″ height=”300″] As the end of the year approaches and most activities are beginning to wind down, the Art Department is in the middle of its most hectic time of the year. For seniors in Advanced Placement art classes, the end of the year means the coming of a deadline they have awaited for two years. AP Art 1, which juniors typically take, is a class that begins the long process toward submitting 24 art pieces by the end of senior year and AP Art 2.
While the work is split between the two classes, creation of art by the students is at a high level, RBHS AP Art teacher Abbey Trescott said. This year, the submission deadline for all pieces is May 8th, and the preparations are underway for students to submit their pieces both online and through the mail to the College Board for review, as it is an AP class just like any other.
“What happens is they set up an online portfolio where they upload all their images and write their dimensions and medium and all that stuff and artist statement,” Trescott said. “Then Betsy Jones [head counselor] comes in, and she sits down with us and does the packing part with our physical portfolio … She’ll come in during our block, and they’ll have all their pieces ready, and she brings the portfolio bags and all the paperwork we need for the college board, and she walks us through, step by step, and then ships it for us.”
College Board requires the online submission of 24 art pieces. According to the board, of the 24 pieces, five must be physically sent in by the end of AP 2. At RBHS, students work on their first 12 pieces in AP Art 1, which typically encompasses a variety of media, skills and subjects, showcasing a diverse range of art. Then, the following year in AP Art 2, students pick a specific subject focus and medium, called their concentration, to use for the last 12 pieces. This unites the final dozen pieces to be a sort of story.
“For my concentration I used chalk pastel on sandpaper, so I’d do these big 24 by 18 pieces that all revolved around phobias or fears, [that] can be irrational or rational,” senior AP Art student Jessica Lambert said. “For example, I’ve done a piece on the fear of green, or I’m currently working on a piece of the fear of drowning. So they can be a real, actual, solid fear that could actually happen or ‘you’re actually afraid of the color green?’ So it’s just how we portray them. I also did a fear of color, for example: a [colorful] ribbon is actually coming and twisting itself around a black and white person, but then fear of drowning, you’re actually drowning and so you can represent things in different ways.”
With the deadline just two weeks away, many students are worried about finishing up their pieces in time. Senior Wynter Bresaw is among a rare number of students who opt to take both AP 1 and AP 2 in the same year. Moving to Columbia at the end of her junior year, Bresaw was unable to take AP Art 1, forcing her to fit both AP 1 and 2 into her senior schedule in order to obtain college art credit.
“It’s really difficult to be doing both classes because I get sidetracked, and I’ll focus on one piece instead of the two pieces I’m supposed to be doing,” Bresaw said. “I’m really behind because I wasn’t prepared like most AP 2 students who were coming out of AP 1. I’ve had to do 24 pieces rather than the 12 that most students are doing, and it’s really overwhelming.”
Infographic by Madeline Kuligowski
Infographic by Madeline Kuligowski
Even though students choose their own concentration pieces at the beginning of the year, by the end, after dozens of hours spent working on the 12 pieces, the process can become tedious and over-done. Because of this, Lambert believes there are both positive and negative aspects of the concentration focus.
“In the beginning you’re like, ‘Ok, I’m loving my medium. This is great. I’m powering through my pieces,’ [but] the last four or five pieces you have to do you’re just kind of like ‘I’m so tired of this medium [and] I don’t want to do it anymore,’ so it’s harder to get your stuff done, but I mean with all your experience with that medium, you get better at getting things done quickly,” Lambert said. “You can knock out a piece in a week, or even a couple of days, so it becomes easier and harder, all at the same time.”
In her three years of teaching at RBHS, Trescott has learned and implemented new ways to ease the stress for her students. These changes came after she noticed the high number of students who would cram pieces into the end of the year, reducing the quality of the pieces and elevating the stress levels especially of the seniors.
“Last year I had a girl who did five concentration pieces in the last three weeks of school, … [but] this year we’ve been better at trying to keep things on track,” Trescott said. “I tried something new where I implemented a critique grade, and so they get a grade for having at least 75 percent of their work done for critique which helps them to make the deadline on time, because it’s sort of like a pre-deadline. So that’s helped, compared to the last two years when I taught the class.”
Despite the high stress levels of the program, ultimately both Bresaw and Lambert believe the experience is well worth the time and effort they put into their work. During the two-year process, students develop skills that will stay with them long after AP Art, Lambert said, both life skills and artistic skills. Influenced by her time at RBHS in AP art classes, Lambert hopes to one day continue in art and become an art teacher herself.
“I’ve learned to get my stuff done rather quickly because we have deadlines just around the corner. [I’ve learned] to try things. Sometimes you can be very successful with an absolute mistake. Because it’s art, you never really know what can happen sometimes. [The Rock Bridge art community has helped me] decide to become an art teacher myself, so the experiences of [AP Art]: learning how to get things done quickly and in a timely manner, and being able to experiment and grow in your horizons and different types of art, it’s just a great experience.”
By Ashleigh Atasoy