Alternative Classes for Art Appreciation

The Art Appreciation class requirement is not a good use of time and effort and should be replaced with alternative tracks.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cover Image
By Sophia Li

Within the umbrella term of art, visual arts are arguably the most diverse but, unfortunately, the most underappreciated. Even in an arts-focused high school like LaGuardia, the visual arts department is less prestigious compared to performance arts like dance or theater. At Stuyvesant, the art department is also understandably not as acknowledged as the STEM departments are. However, there are still improvements that can and should be made. The single required Art Appreciation class, though a long-running requirement for the Stuyvesant diploma rite of passage, is a cover-up for the lack of visual arts in Stuyvesant. 

Art Appreciation is not a productive use of a significant number of students’ and teachers’ time and effort. The Met Project, for example, is notorious for its heavy grade weight in Art Appreciation and tedious workload. However, these efforts are often not carried out. The majority of students struggle with the artistic component of the Met Project, so some students submit underdeveloped artwork. This does not discredit those who put in full effort regardless of skill. Still, those students who don’t have an interest in the studio art aspect of the class should not be forced to turn in artwork they are not passionate about. 

Instead, it would be a better use of both the students’ and teachers’ time to offer a separate art history class, which is a hybrid class of art history and studio art, or even possibly an art elective, which is typically categorized as studio art. This not only gives a fairer chance for those uninterested and inexperienced in creating art but also gives more opportunities to those interested. For instance, many AP Studio Art students lament the lack of an intermediate class—except the Painting elective, which is extremely difficult for underclassmen to enter—between Art Appreciation and the more intensive AP class. 

Logistically, altering the art requirement is very achievable. This is evident as the proposal has been done before successfully: the music department offers Music Appreciation, Band, and Chorus. Art classes can all be single-semester classes except for AP Studio Art. The only concern is what will be feasible for the art teachers. However, by offering alternatives for the art requirement, art teachers would benefit from a reduced number of Met Projects to grade and more freedom to teach other art classes. 

It is also notable that giving freshmen the freedom to choose their classes is important. An art history class alternative could present an opportunity for students to then take AP Art History. There are currently no history APs or electives for freshmen, so this class could reopen that closed door. On the other hand, more studio art classes would not only help freshmen but enhance the Stuyvesant art department overall. Visual arts cover so many forms of art that more variation in the courses offered will improve the quality and capability of our art department. 

Every year, the entire freshman class is forced to take the class, meaning Art Appreciation is the overwhelming bulk of the art department classes compared to the two single-section electives and single-section AP Studio Art. It is much more effective to replace some Art Appreciation classes with alternative tracks, which adds to the limited diversity of art classes. Depending on faculty decisions and changes in the requirement, we could even possibly see more high-demand Painting or Comic Art sections or even a new exciting elective like photography, printmaking, or sculpting. Either way, more variation in art classes offered at Stuyvesant would directly improve our visual arts department; the Art Appreciation class requirement is holding us back.