AP Art Studio: The Fine Art of Creativity


Artwork by Dani Rodriguez

Abby Scutch, Editor in Chief

12 concentration pieces. 12 breadth pieces. 5 best pieces of artwork. This is the list of works that AP Art Studio students submit to the College Board after a year of a rigorous, college-level art class.

In order to to take AP Art Studio, a student must take a foundation course at FHC such as Art Survey or Intro to Art. Also, Drawing and Painting 1 is recommended because the class works with full figures and explores the use of several mediums.

Artwork by Dani Rodriguez
Artwork by Dani Rodriguez

During senior Daniela (Dani) Rodriguez’s sophomore year of high school, she decided to work toward her ability to take AP Art Studio.  To achieve this goal, she has taken the following classes throughout her high school career: Intro to Art, Drawing and Painting 1, Crafts 1, and Photo 1. After earning such a large amount of art credits, Dani became eligible to take this rigorous art course – and she decided to take it again for a second time for the current school year.

“I really enjoy drawing with almost every medium,” Dani said.  “These include ink, watercolor, and graphite. I also enjoy digital art, too.”

Art teacher Neven Allan had a background in the field before she became a teacher at FHC. In college, she concentrated in Art Education and Oil Painting. She then had her own design studio where she served as a textile designer for several furniture companies. Now, she has another studio in downtown Grand Rapids that is a part of the Grand Rapids Pottery Studio.

Artwork by Dani Rodriguez
Artwork by Dani Rodriguez

“Because I instruct so many different art classes, I teach the idea of creative problem solving,” Allan said. “I want my students to zig and zag, push and pull, and take risks.”

Allan said that every student should learn the skill of creative problem solving because “life does not give a word bank or exact problems, but rather problems to solve.”

The students taking AP Art Studio plan to either major or minor in an art related field, or they really enjoy art enough to take it as a college-level course.  

Within the AP Art program students can pursue a concentration, which is not directed by Allan. Each student comes up with his or her own problem to solve where they create twelve pieces that relate to that particular situation.  This can be difficult. The students decide what mediums they would like to use to express their ideas and show growth within the twelve pieces. The mediums could be photography, three dimensionals, sculpture and ceramics, drawing and painting,  or mixed media. Therefore, the concentrations are totally wide open to their interests.

AP Art Studio students also create twelve breadth pieces that shows mastery of mediums, which is something Allan directs them with through skill building.

At the end of course in May, instead of taking an exam like other AP courses, students will submit a digital portfolio online with their 12 breadth pieces, their 12 concentration pieces, and physically send in 5 of their best pieces of artwork which are reviewed by the AP Board. They receive their scores in July, which determines if they have earned college credit.

“The MBA is just as important as the MFA,” Allan said. “A lot of companies and corporations are looking for students that have a strong creative problem solving background as well as an art background because they are not prescribed and have the chance and opportunity to look at things in a new way. They are comfortable with asking why, pushing the envelope, and questioning what has always been done.”

Artwork by Dani Rodriguez
Artwork by Dani Rodriguez

Allan continued to explain that art students from FHC have gone onto the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, and have even begun their own business in photography as early as before their freshman year of college.

Dani became an FHC student when she was in eighth grade after moving to Michigan from Mexico with her family.  The thought of expanding her art education at a college in Mexico has always been in her thoughts, but she is also interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids.

In class, students are required to be working on a sketchbook piece, their concentration pieces, or other assignments related to the course.

Dani explained that she can find inspiration in “almost anything,” but the things that inspire her the most are everyday life experiences, movies and shows, other artists, and fashion.  She enjoys creating portraits of girls and adding modern and fashionable clothes to them.

Artwork by Dani Rodriguez
Artwork by Dani Rodriguez

“My most memorable moment when during my art classes has been working on my concentration,” Dani said. “Working on my series shaped my art style and I grew as an artist.”

From Allan, Dani has learned how to create a strong and balanced composition using a variety of different mediums.  

“This class has really prepared me for my future because I have learned to manage my time wisely and put a voice into my art,” Dani said. “AP Art Studio has also shaped my style and made me stronger [as an artist].”

Dani has mastered several skills through FHC’s art program and has gained a strong interest in the idea of art itself, which led to her decision of pursuing a career in illustration.

“I have had the joy of watching my students grow up,” Allan said. “Many students I have had have been in the program for all four years of high school. I have had the opportunity to watch several students grow not only as an artists, but also as people.”