AP Art Studio provides rigorous but self-mandated, creative environment

Ashton Nichols | Staff Writer

IMG_7160Photo by Ashton Nichols

AP Art Studio blends the art of student’s futures with imagination.

At the end of the school year, students taking Advanced Placement Art Studio submit 12 themed pieces of artwork and five breath pieces (additional pieces that show the artist’s technique) as their AP test.

Senior Sami Jo Geisel’s concentration is a self reflection of herself. It is a series of self portraits describing who she is and herself in several different ways.

“(The concentration) can be a theme, a series of objects, it can be whatever you want,” Geisel said. “I’ve rewritten it several times because I’m still figuring it out. I know what I want to do is just a bunch of self portraits and they all have different meaning. It’s basically growth and transformation with myself. I’m telling my own story through different disorders, through different experiences, through just knowing and learning about myself and healing myself through different things. It’s a big collection of me in the sense of what I am doing.”

According to senior Anna Doerflein, some themes are the corruption of the food industry, beauty standards, hazing, childhood dreams, things people are scared of, and different people in society.

“Everyone has lots of different ideas,” Doerflein said. “It’s really what interests them, and what they want to do. I’m drawing different graveyard statues, and making it about life and death. Right now, I’m mostly focusing on the technique aspect of it.”

Producing artwork can also emotionally affect its maker, said AP Art Studio teacher Beth Eline.

“Creating artwork can be very cathartic,” Eline said. “You can deal with difficult things in your life, or you can just be exploring a new technique, a new idea. A lot of times there is a drive to get out an idea. There is something inside that makes you want to do this. And there is an emotional search that can come from that creating.”

Giesel said she feels like she uses her stress as an outlet for her creative flow by remembering that art is an ambition to her.

“I really have to remember how fun it is for me and how passionate I am about it,” Geisel said. “This isn’t actually work — this is just fun for me. I enjoy doing this.”

Taking pictures before taking a break is another thing Geisel does to help remind herself to push through stress.

“I always take a picture, so I can look back and be like, ‘Wow! I got that much done, that’s pretty cool’,” Geisel said. “And then I feel a little bit better about myself as I have less to do.”

With the classroom environment being similar to an independent study, students can take their own leadership and learn to achieve their own goals. Doerflein said she feels like students know how to achieve these goals without using a teacher to do their work.

“Most people sit there and work, but some people talk about ideas and tips and trips to work with whatever mediums they’re doing,” Doerflein said. “Sometimes we do class critiques, which is basically where we critique the person’s artwork as they are doing it, or we’ll look at how many pieces they have done, and how it is fitting in with their theme in general so far, and what they should continue to do or go back and fix in the old pieces.”

Eline said she tries to improve her classroom environment for her students by displaying posters, and playing music to help put her students in the right frame of mind.

“I like to display student artwork, so projects that we would currently be working on right now,” Eline said. “I would have past work from students displayed, different ways that different students handled the project, just to let them know we’re not cookie cutters here. You have the ability to take the project, but infuse yourself into it.”

With 18 years of teaching experience, Eline said she is appreciative of the art that surrounds her every day.

“I can’t imagine my life without art,” Eline said. “Whether it’s teaching art, whether it’s creating art, whether it’s viewing art, I don’t know what life would be like. It would be a very boring, dismal place.”