Staying up until 3 a.m., spending 10 hours on one piece, and retouching paintings countless times. This is the reality for second semester AP Art students working on their portfolios.
AP Art and Design portfolio submissions consist of two parts: a sustained survey and selected works. Students must submit 15 digital images to document their parts and assemble five parts to send directly to the College Board AP program for analysis.
“The wallet has a bunch of hidden paperwork,” the Mackenzie Service manager said. “It’s not just 15 pieces, it’s so much more. This is your thesis and your growth, your exploration and development through it all. Wearing the story is difficult, but it’s also just the time and the expected quality of the pieces.
To create these pieces, students must first select a concentration or thesis. Most of the second semester of the course is devoted to developing the portfolio. The service focused on the concept of loss of motivation.
“The first step is to choose your thesis and figure out how something connects to your thesis,” Service said. “Sometimes painting a person’s face can be fun, but you have to figure out how to relate that to your thesis. You have to think ahead because if you started with something like faces, you would have to kind of relate everything to a face. I started with something that could take so many different paths, so I had the freedom to go where I wanted with it.
The thesis can be anything, as long as the entire portfolio relates to that concept.
“My focus is on the last moments of evening sun and the metaphor of time passing,” said Tatum Dutton, senior. “I was inspired to choose this theme because my favorite part of sunsets has always been the bright yellow sun cast at the end of the day.”
Other students, like senior James Washington, chose to focus on concepts related to growth and change.
“My focus is on the growth and development of three different people from different backgrounds,” Washington said. “I want to show how people who all started out as babies with different lives grow up and turn into different types of people. I chose this because it allows me to have three subjects instead of one, and I easily found all 12 pieces.
From there, materials and substrates are selected to complete the parts. Students face the challenge of curating the piece for four months until they have to submit it. Although it sounds simple, portfolios create a complex set of problems and tasks for second-half seniors.
“One of the biggest challenges for me has been time management,” Dutton said. “We have to produce a lot of parts in a limited time. It takes a lot of dedication, and it’s hard to put that time and effort into anything when I know I’ve already applied to college and am about to graduate.
Many students also struggled to maintain a sense of individuality and personal style throughout the creation of the pieces.
“It’s not just you sitting around and making art,” Service said. “You feel compelled to sit down and create your best pieces because of what it is. It’s objective, obviously, because it’s art, but you’re also looking for 5s on the portfolio of AP art and you almost feel like you’re saying, “this is what I have to do”. There is certainly a formula for that, but that takes away the purpose of art.
Finding time to work on parts presented major challenges.
“I would say for me each piece takes about three days since I can only work a few hours a day,” Washington said. “However, I don’t really consider a lot of pieces complete, because you can always add more. It’s an ongoing process.
Once the portfolio is complete, the pieces will be exhibited at the Senior Art Show at the end of the semester. During the show, viewers will be able to purchase coins.
“People can come and buy our parts,” Service said. “Seeing twelve pieces of your work on a wall with your name next to it will be really cool. There are so many talented people, and it’s amazing how everyone approaches the process because everything is so different. For us everyone, walking into a room and seeing an equal representation of the work is going to be awesome.
Overall, students seem enthusiastic about the feelings of satisfaction brought by completing the portfolio.
“My favorite thing about the process is finishing a piece,” Service said. “During the process of creating a piece and going back and forth between what looks good and what works sucks. you’re happy with it, you sit down and think, “I did this. That’s the best part, and it’s going to be amplified when we’re done with the portfolios.”