AP Art Students Self-Reflect by Compiling Annual Portfolios

Drawn by AP Studio Art: Drawing student and senior Natalie Yu, this piece is titled “Smile! You’re on Camera,” which is the phrase that Yu explores in her art. Through her use of inverted images and a self-portrait, Yu captures the message that being on camera is something she fears rather than smiles for.

Every year, students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) art classes are not evaluated by their performance on a standard AP multiple-choice exam or their ability to answer a free-response question, but instead by compiling a 20-piece art portfolio reflecting a theme that each student selects at the beginning of the year. 

Giving students the opportunity to be assessed through their individual portfolios allows them to form their own perspectives on certain topics of interest while also offering them a chance to creatively express their opinions on their theme. As of now, 18 students are submitting their portfolios to be reviewed. 

For her portfolio, AP Studio Art: Drawing student and senior Natalie Yu selected a theme that would allow her to visualize her emotions when she encounters certain words or phrases such as ‘Smile! You’re on Camera.’  

“Most of the words I choose are common phrases, but I try to interpret them in a way that speaks more strongly to me and not what most people would generally see it as,” Yu said. “I wanted to create a portfolio that speaks more to me and how I can see the world in a different perspective.” 

I wanted to create a portfolio that speaks more to me and how I can see the world in a different perspective.

— Natalie Yu

Pursuing a theme as complex as this one prompted Yu to explore new distinct mediums she could utilize in her art, pushing her to take unanticipated risks, including her usage of animation. 

“With animation, I feel like I had to plan more deliberately because I had to make sure how long I wanted it to be and what specific movements I wanted as well,” Yu said. “I found animation was a lot harder to do than traditional drawings, but it is also a way for me to create stronger messages.”

AP Studio Art: Drawing student and junior Tera Chant has also taken advantage of this opportunity to explore a theme that is reflective of herself, which is something she does not normally pursue in her art, according to Chant. 

“For me, my theme or concentration is around the idea of time, and it sort of digs deeper into the significance of time and the application towards me and how I view time and how I spend my time,” Chant said. “Time is really important to me, and I always find myself rushing for time and not having enough time or having this urgency of needing more time. So, I feel like because it’s really relevant to me, it’d be like a good topic for me to explore through my artwork.”

Currently, Chant is working on a piece that shows her upbringing and how time has influenced her perception of herself.  

Along this journey, visual arts teacher Kearci Moir is a mentor and support system to students who are in the process of creating their portfolios. 

“I’m really lucky that I get to teach students for three or four years of their high school career and see them grow in this specific skill that they’re passionate about,” Moir said. “Being able to see them start freshman year and end senior year developing what they want to share with the world as well as finding that mode of expression is really cool.”

Portfolios for all AP art classes will be submitted by May 20.