SCHS AP Studio Art teacher Neil Woodman stands at the front of the room, projecting the daily goals for his students. Students attentively listen to instruction before dispersing to gather materials.
AP Studio Art is a new yearlong course that is being offered to students. Throughout the class, students develop their art and design skills. Students create an art portfolio consisting of any 2D material to submit at the end of the year for evaluation by CollegeBoard.
“The purpose of it is for students to be able to make their own art and go through all of the steps,” Woodman said. “It’s the equivalent of a semester of college, a beginning college art class.”
Principal Gregory Shelby and Vice Principal of Counseling, Curriculum, and Instruction Tony Lam approved of its initiation after the art department discussed integrating an AP Studio Art class into the curriculum.
For the 2021-2022 school year, the AP Studio Art class and the Painting 1 class occur simultaneously.
“The class is divided, and it’s weird since it’s my first year ever doing this,” Woodman said. “You have to be conscious to say, ‘Okay, painting people listen to me.’ You can’t be lecturing the whole time because you have to talk to two different groups.”
The AP Studio Art class receives funds from SCUSD, helping to provide for basic needs and supplies, and various art mediums are utilized for the development of student work.
“I would think of it as a cycle of inquiry,” Woodman said. “You start off exploring. Then you practice a little bit and make some small sketches. After you do that, you can talk to people and you can make a big project. Once you do the big project, you reflect like, ‘Hey, is this what I really wanted to do?’ If you want to do something different, you go through that cycle again.”
In preparation for their art portfolios, students have to produce original ideas and prove an understanding of art and design materials and the processes behind them.
“They (students) are directing what they want to learn about. It’s much more self-directed. There’s definitely a freedom that they are responsible for,” Woodman said.
Senior Dana Choi said the freedom offered by the class has given her an opportunity to explore numerous art concepts. Choi has been able to find a healthy outlet to cope with her rigorous course load.
“I think that the class has been beneficial because it gives me a break from the stressful classes that I have every day,” Choi said. “You get to explore a form of creativity that you don’t get to explore in other classes.”
For junior Amelia Seifert, AP Studio Art has helped her expand on her artistic skills and learn from her peers.
“I think it’s beneficial to me because I can challenge myself creatively by thinking of things to draw and making my own projects,” Seifert said. “Most days are a work day, and sometimes we work in groups to share what we did with a description of our pieces to give each other feedback.”
AP Studio Art students who have experienced taking AP courses in the past have been able to support Woodman in his first year teaching a higher-level course.
“It’s my first AP class I’m teaching so the students will teach me things, and they’ve been really helpful in being nice and honest about it being my first time,” Woodman said. “It usually works out since they like art. It’s not work they’re trying to avoid; it’s work they want to do.”