Stuyvesant Offers AP Art and Design

Stuyvesant will be offering AP Art and Design for the first time.

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For the upcoming 2021-22 school year, Stuyvesant will be offering Advanced Placement (AP) Art and Design for the first time. The course, also known as AP Studio Art, will be Stuyvesant’s second art AP in addition to AP Art History and will be taught by art teacher William Wrigley.

The class focuses on creating artwork revolving around a theme chosen by the artist rather than honing in on artistic techniques. “It’s going to be a lot more broad in terms of the materials that it uses,” Wrigley said. “It’s going to give students the opportunity to think about their own artwork as more of a statement of self, more of a statement of their own mindset and their own ideas, not just as a demonstration of how facile they can be with the material.”

AP Art and Design involves creating an art portfolio over the course of the school year. “It’s going to be a little less focused on basic skill-building than it is more like finding your voice and looking more independently to build a portfolio,” art teacher Karen Leo said.

Instead of a culminating exam typically taken for an AP course, AP Art and Design requires an art portfolio of 15 photographs to determine a final score. “[It is] 15 photographs that demonstrate what the finished work tends to look like, how you make them, how your process works, [and] your sketches,” Wrigley said.

As reflected in the curriculum, the class will allow students to individually express themselves. “I work with students to think about their own relation to their technical skills, [...] to the materials that they’re using, [and] the concepts that they are working with,” Wrigley said. “[We will start] with a few guided projects [...] how everybody can figure out their own artistic focus, and from there, we apply their artistic focus to a theme or essential question they come up with, and they start to build their work.”

To take the course, Wrigley emphasizes that students possess a strong interest in art rather than pursuing it for another AP course. “This is a class for students who really are confident in their art-making and want to push the boundaries of what they make, want to figure out a way to use the skills they have and build those skills, but also apply those skills in ways they haven’t done before,” he said.

Though the course is offered to anyone who has taken Art Appreciation, it is recommended for students with art experience outside of Stuyvesant. “It should be a rigorous, studio art class for students who are probably more advanced [and who have had] some experience,” Leo said. “The hard thing about that for our school is that we don’t have a lot of art classes for kids to build up their skills [and] get to that level.”

Many students also recognize the rigor of the course. “Even [for] in-class projects, art can take anywhere from 6-15 hours to finish a piece,” junior Cadence Li said. “So I just don’t think that it’s responsible for a junior to be ‘I’ll just put on an AP Studio Art for an easy AP.’”

Some were surprised to hear that AP Art Studio was offered for the upcoming school year. “It seems like Stuyvesant offers every AP except the ones that are related to art,” Li said. “I was really surprised that AP studio art was offered as an elective because I assumed that was something Stuyvesant would never end up doing.”

Some students are drawn to AP Art and Design due to the hands-on aspect of the course. Freshman Erica Chen, who is thinking of potentially pursuing graphic design in the future, hopes that AP Studio Art can help build up the required skills. “When I took art appreciation, I really liked that aspect of drawing, so I wanted to do the same in future classes,” she said. “I was planning on taking art electives, [and] AP Art and Design is considered an elective [...] and it’s an AP, so it’s even better.”

Similarly, sophomore Emily Young-Squire is interested in the aspect of making art rather than studying it. “The fact that it’s more about creating art makes me want to take it a lot more than art history because if you’re taking an AP art course, the main focus of it should be the art itself, and not so much the history,” she said. “I really want to revolve around art techniques and how to draw really realistic art, or how to draw in a certain style.”

Though the course is currently a senior-priority course, many hope that AP Art and Design will eventually be offered to sophomores or juniors. “I would totally be open to the idea of sophomores to get more art electives because I was pulling my hair out realizing that all the art electives were reserved for juniors and seniors,” Li said.

Many responded enthusiastically to seeing a new addition to the art courses Stuyvesant offered. “This is a great time for the art department and we really want to make sure that we are serving as many of the students as possible in many ways and just being more visible,” Wrigley said.

Junior Daniel Lyalin, who identifies as STEM-oriented, believes that the course offers an opportunity for students who are more art-inclined. “When I saw AP studio art, I felt really good for a lot of people who are not as STEM-focused as I am and who’d enjoy [it] a lot more because I think art courses [in Stuyvesant] are, to be respectful, a little bit lacking,” he said.

Others hope that Stuyvesant will offer more art courses in the future. “I see a lot of upperclassmen being like ‘why is [AP Studio Art] only offered now?’ and they regret it not being offered earlier,” freshman Lesley Lo said. “The more options you get, the better it is [for all students].”

While AP Art and Design is limited in space, the introduction of the course may be a step toward further expanding the art courses offered at Stuyvesant. “Since it’s a full-year course, there’s only one section of the course [and] it’s going to be hard to get into,” Leo said. “[But] I would really love to see this to be the beginning of offering more [art] electives.”