Climate change. Mental health. Exploring cultures. Those are some of the themes that students in AP Art at Briarcliff High School have selected for their portfolios.
During the year-long course, students, who might know the difference between blue-chip art vs red-chip art, are required to create 15 pieces of art that are part of a theme, which they select in the beginning of the year.
“The paintings that the students create reflect that theme,” said art teacher Roxanne Ritacco. “While working on their portfolio they are experimenting, exploring and investigating.”
Students must also submit typed responses to prompts and provide information about how they investigated or experimented within their portfolio.
“There are two types of portfolios that students can submit: one is a 2-D graphic design work that might offer a message, either literal or metaphoric. The other type is a drawing, which focuses more on expressive ‘mark making,’” Ritacco said.
Ella’s theme references archways.
“I view archways as a metaphor for a new life, since they are passageways,” she said. “We are all graduating high school this year and will begin our new lives, so I have incorporated archways and gateways in all of my work.”
Ella works with mostly oil painting, but she has also done collages.
“I created a collage that features a portal and another that features windows,” she said. “I’m trying to show different angles, and that passageways and openings are where you least expect them. I also drew an abstract painting with steps going up to the sky.”
Ella plans to major in psychology at the University of Richmond, which she will attend next year, but hopes to continue doing art as an extra-curricular activity.
Coby’s theme is windows and how they shape our perception when we look through them.
“I always found windows fascinating,” he said. “We can see a different world and a different reality through them.”
One of Coby’s paintings is of the view seen from a car’s windshield on a rainy day.
“I like how the raindrops make the view distorted for the person looking through the windshield,” he said.
Annika selected Chinese cultures and traditions for her theme.
“I’m Chinese, but my parents are not, so I never had the opportunity to explore Chinese culture,” she said. “My piece shows common Chinese food that people eat on Chinese New Year. I want to show a sense of community, with everyone reaching for different plates on the same table. It’s also an extreme point of view – viewing down at the table from above. I thought it would be fun to experiment with this.”
Annika, who also illustrated women wearing traditional Chinese dresses throughout history, plans to major in art.
“I don’t know what college I will go to yet, but I hope to become either an illustrator or a sequential artist and work on comics,” she said.
Paige’s love of nature, and especially flowers, is apparent through her work. Her theme is environment, preservation and animal cruelty.
“I really like drawing flowers and nature, so I drew a meadow with flowers and a butterfly,” she said. “I worked on this piece all summer.”
Paige also did a collage about trash in landfills and is currently working on art depicting endangered plants.
“I chose specific plants that are endangered and I will add name tags to them, just to show how humans are studying them now and trying to preserve nature,” she said.
The extensive portfolios are sent to the College Board in May for adjudication, where each portfolio will receive a score.