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A-Pad? The New Changes to AP Studio Art

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

AP Studio Art is one of many AP classes offered here at Eagle Rock High School. This class, headed by the man in stripes, Mr.Oliveros, provides a challenging and creative environment for some of the best artists at this school. It involves not only exploration of different media, but also the demonstration of mastery of the medium that got them a ticket into this college level class in the first place. Every year consists of the same three part portfolio and 29 pieces that needed to be completed before the test. But, like they say, all good things must come to an end. And the traditional curriculum is in for a big change this 2019-2020 school year.

The previous AP Studio art test consisted of about 29 pieces. 12 of these pieces would fall under the “Range of approaches,” or “Breadth,” portfolio, which was a portfolio centered around experimentation and trying new techniques and mediums. The next 12 pieces belong to the “Sustained investigation,” or “Concentration,” portfolio, which focuses on the exploration of an idea or word and all the possible nuanced representations it can have. Lastly, they require the “Selected works,” or “Quality,” portfolio, which consists of 5 physical pieces that best demonstrate the best work the artist is capable of, which are then mailed off to College Board on the day of the exam.

However, this year the new exam has only two portfolios, the “Sustained investigation” and “Selected works”, and only about 20 or less pieces are needed to be turned in. Other changes include the concentration portfolio needing 15 digital images to be submitted, rather than 12 (though in previous years some of these images could also be images of details in the artwork or process images) and the addition of sections that require the artists to explain and talk about their pieces, ideas, or process. The overarching theme of this year’s test seems to be progress, and there is an emphasis on the process an artist undergoes to reach their final product. Finally, most dreaded by most of the artists in the class, the name of the class was changed from AP Studio Art (APSA) to AP Art and Design (APAD)

Gasps of shock and exclamations of disgust filled the art room when the name change was announced. The name APSA is so smooth it just rolls off the tongue, but APAD is the complete and utter opposite. Tania Casanova describes the name as her least favorite part of the change, declaring “I don’t want APAD.” When asking other artists about their experience with the change, a similar mixture of emotions and feelings can be heard when discussing this topic. Lesly Diaz, a second year veteran in the class, describes the change as “a bittersweet feeling,” and shares how the old system worked for her, since “you have 12 breadth photos, and you experiment with a lot, instead of going straight into a concept.”

This is also a popular complaint: the lack of experimentation. Without these breadth pieces, many artists felt as if their area to explore was completely cut off. But Mr.Oliveros assures his students that through the concentration portfolio, and even the quality portfolio, along with the exploration of different ideas and concepts, they will have plenty of space to show their creativity and experiment. Even though they don’t like many of the changes, one switch they appreciate is the addition of writing rationales in order to explain their artwork. Another APSA student, Samantha Acosta, shares that “I think it’s important for more complicated photos with a deeper meaning to be expressed properly.” This allowance for an explanation definitely allows for these artists to explain that have complex meanings that maybe can’t be figured out with just a look.

One things for sure, with these changes, these artists are in for a fun and interesting year. Under the guidance of Mr.Oliveros these artists will prove exactly why they are in this class in the first place. The changes of this test are no match for one of the most creative classes at this school that is filled with the most creative people.

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