Assessments in acrylics: the ins and outs of AP Studio Art

Charlotte Guy and Emily Mulderig

Many Wilson students are all too familiar with the stress that comes with AP exams, but for AP Studio Art students, their test doesn’t involve any last minute studying. In fact, it’s not a test at all. Rather, it requires them to take art pieces from their years of craftsmanship to form one portfolio that demonstrates their unique creative abilities.

Students choose one of two AP tracks – either AP 2D Design or AP Drawing and Painting, but follow the same guidelines in submitting their works. Within the portfolio process, students address breadth and concentration in the 24 pieces they will submit to the College Board. For breadth, students showcase a variety of techniques and approaches to demonstrate their mastery of many mediums. Concentration is a focus portrayed throughout these artworks. “Concentration is what you mostly spend your AP year doing because you get a focus, a theme, and you basically expand it on it throughout the whole year. And this is something you’re not really thinking about before you’re an AP student,” said AP Drawing and Painting student Julia Arnsberger, who is focusing on social activism.

Student artists cultivate their ideas from a variety of sources, some of which are very personal. AP 2D Design senior Dahbia Bensaada found inspiration for her detailed, mandala-like designs in the culture of her father’s Muslim heritage. AP Drawing and Painting junior Linxuan Wong uses the internet for guidance and inspiration. “I am not taking [weekend art classes] anymore so I start[ed] watching YouTube and Instagram to see how other people do art, and that helps a lot for me.”

As most of us prepare for final exams in the coming days, AP art students are way ahead—they have been uploading photos of their works for the College Board since March. Students select five to physically send in and the remainder are photographed and submitted electronically. Student artists said that choosing those specific five is one of the hardest parts of the process.

Wilson’s art teachers are passionate about fostering these young artists’ abilities, and often fund materials out-of-pocket. Unfortunately, students often end up having to chip in as well. Bensaada has experienced this first hand when creating intricate geometric patterns that require special markers which the school doesn’t provide for her. “One of the problems with art is that it’s very self-funded, where you can do it but it’s going to cost you money,” she said.

Of the handful of AP art students we interviewed, none were planning on attending art school, though all are preparing to study art in higher education in some way or another—whether majoring or minoring in visual art and/or planning to attend art school for graduate school. Each student stressed that Wilson art teachers were very encouraging. “[They] were very supportive of me, they gave a lot of suggestions,” said Wong.

Wilson students continue to inspire and amaze the community with their incredible creativity cultivated here, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.