AP Art allows students to create unique portfolios

With AP submissions coming up, students share what their experience has been like in the class thus far

Baylen Monson and Abby Riggs

Walking into the AP Art class, the atmosphere is different from any other class across the school. Students can be found working on vastly different intricate art projects, with many working towards the final goal of submitting their work to a board of judges at the end of the school year. Rather than being guided by rubrics and requirements for each project, students spend the year creating a portfolio of 10-15 pieces based around a theme of their choice. 

The independent nature of the class has led many students to sign up. Senior Sydney Barge, who is taking the class for her second time, described that students have the freedom to make their work different each time.

“I felt like typical art classes weren’t challenging enough,” Barge said.”It’s pretty independent, the way that you’re able to work. It can be completely different from last year [and] you’re able to choose what you want to do.”

As part of the AP class, students have the choice to submit their work to the College Board on May 5. The College Board assesses each portfolio based on the student’s use of design elements, originality, composition and more. Aside from this basic rubric, students have the freedom to choose whatever theme and materials they want.

Senior Ashlyn Elliot explained that submissions aren’t limited to only completed pieces, and themes aren’t restricted either. 

“[The submission] can consist of sketchbook work, idea development, and final projects,” Elliot said, “It’s AP, I feel like they’ve seen it all, so you can have ideas beyond what might be considered school appropriate.” 

Not all students in the class choose to submit their work to the College Board. Junior Avery Gullach is among many who are taking the class not for college credit, but just for the experience. 

“I’m not submitting because this year was my first time taking the class and I didn’t want the stress of having to have ten finished pieces,” Gullach said. “I definitely want to take the class again and submit to the judges next year.”

Unique portfolio themes can be found from students all over the AP art classroom. Gullach’s portfolio is about the struggles and triumphs she has faced while growing up. 

“I’ve made some [pieces] about growing up and how you feel about your looks or reminiscing about family members,” Gullach said. “I’ve recently made one that’s an animation of a girl going from a younger girl to an older woman.” 

Elliot is using her portfolio as a way to combine two passions of hers: art and the environment. 

“My theme is humans and their interactions with the environment, and the ironies [of it],” Elliot said. “I chose this theme because I’m really passionate about the environment.” 

Elliot has completed several pieces so far, centered around specific topics such as forest fires and improper cigarette disposal, coral reefs, ocean pollution and the negative effects of fast fashion. 

With the May submission deadline quickly approaching, Elliot realized she has limited time to complete her portfolio. 

“I’m very concerned and very stressed,” Elliot said. “I’ll probably be cramming a lot of projects this month to hopefully [finish by the deadline].” 

After scoring a five on her portfolio last year, Barge is sitting in a unique situation as she faces the added pressure of trying to measure up to her past performance. 

“[Last year] I got an email saying I had gotten a perfect score, which I didn’t know was possible,” Barge said. “I was pretty excited but it’s also hard this year because I feel like I should do [just as well].” 

Although time management can be an obstacle for some students, the joy of being able to  approach the class however they want is what makes it worthwhile. This is especially true for Barge, who tackled a portfolio with a difficult theme last year. 

“Last year my theme was on grief and loss,” Barge said, “It was such a deep topic. I definitely was not as excited to do some of the pieces because it was so sad. This year, I’m trying to make it a bit lighter.”

Barge’s current theme is one she calls ‘Journey to Happiness’. She has created multiple pieces about the people from whom she receives support, and is aiming to highlight those in her life who have made a big impact.

Another favorable aspect of the class is the environment that it provides. Gullach emphasized that she likes the support she gets from AP art teacher Erica Matyak.

“If we’re having trouble coming up with ideas, she’ll sit there and talk with us about it,” Gullach said. “It’s a very chill atmosphere.” 

According to Barge, taking the class opens a world of possibilities to those who enjoy art. 

“I would encourage anybody who is really interested in the arts [to take the class],” Barge said. “AP is a great time to be able to experiment with different things.” 

(Visited 125 times, 1 visits today)