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Re: AP studio art - concentrations


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Aug 10 2001 - 14:29:55 PDT

> Subject: AP studio art - concentrations
> Hi -
> I asked this question to the AP list and only got one response so now I will
> try the Getty. For the people who have been teaching AP studio art, what
> have been some of the concentrations themes that the kids have done?
> SOmeone mentioned "abstract", but I thought that was so broad - aren't they
> looking for a narrower focus? I'd appreciate if you all could let me know
> what your students have done in the past...

As I understand the "Concentration" this is the area where the student shows
growth and progression. The student chooses an area to "work through."
You can not assign this.
What you can do is guide the student to find a particular area that he/she
is particularly interested in. In the beginning of the year I give several
questionnaires to help them establish their likes and dislikes, what it is
that they pay attention to, what recurs often in their work, what art they
are attracted to and try to emulate,--- symbols, shapes, colors, marks that
they find they are using again and again. You need to try to find what the
individual interest is for the specific student. This is nothing that you
can dictate.
But you will find that their choices are very vague. So you look for some
commonality and you direct and guide. The themes of the concentration will
be as diverse as your students are. You need to start this early.

A few of the things my students did last year:
    I had two students that explored family relationships
        one did a series of paintings exploring her interaction with mom,
        dad, siblings -- she did 3 paintings then switched to making
        a book and finally a series of paper dolls ala Betsy McCall

    the other explored her feelings for her father through 4 different media
        it was basically the same composition but the media determined the
        overall effect

    another made 5 "lighting" designs

    an investigation of "art and war"

    another who translated "dog"
            i.e. a sculpture made from watches called "watch dog"

    one who most admired Chuck Close and did several portraits
    using grids but also incorporating his selection of various
    mark making

     my favorite was a student that investigated "gluttony"
    she had wonderful mixed media images, of especially women's obsessions
    with weight and food

The concentration is a very open category
and I have a little problem with it -- I really don't like putting my high
school students on this kind of path. My art education did not BEGIN until
I was well into my college time. I had "projects to do in high school" I
"thought" when I went to college. I think pushing kids to determine areas
of theme and investigation is much too premature at the high school level.
It somehow legitimates their immature observations.
Actually, I have a problem with the whole AP Studio Art program. I want to
think that becoming an artist is a slow, intelligent progress of intent and
if we rush teenagers through the process, give them credit for the stuff
that they should find their way through in a much more meaningful way...
what do we accomplish?

So, I guess I will continue to go to Graduate art shows and wonder what the
heck is going on. We rush and push and tell them that whatever they think is
art is art -- and they make crap!

Our districts adopt these AP courses and we feel compelled to take them on
I tell my students no matter what they get credit for I WOULD NEVER EVER

How absurd to think that I will reach a senior in my art class the way a
college instructor can reach them in their starting year. AP Studio is not
about the regurgitation of facts --- it's about developing and maintaining a
tradition of slow and careful growth. And I'm finding it harder and harder
to conform my students to what I know will be accepted standards when my job
in ART is to make them go the other way.

Does any one else see the dichotomy?

venting and on a roll