by Marieko Amoah, Staff Writer, March 2021

Nearly all artists have been grieving over what has been compromised by the pandemic. Visual artists who have taken their art to the AP level have missed out on much of the traditional process and showcasing. Changes to requirements and protocol have forced them to adapt. One major consequence is that AP visual art students – ceramics, drawing, painting, and photo – won’t get to showcase their work in Foster Gallery this year. 

Another major challenge for AP art students was navigating restrictions on their in-class studio time, as well as decreased meeting time with teachers and classmates. Safety guidelines greatly impacted how artists went about their work and concentration. “The hard thing for me was picking a concentration that would work well with COVID. I originally wanted to do portraits,” Celia Cheng (Class II) said. COVID safety even found its way into the concentrations themselves: Julia Reilly (Class II) decided to focus on masks in her AP studio art class. 

COVID protocol also brought about an increased amount of transportation for the pieces; “I have to take stuff home to do over the weekend, so I’m constantly transporting clay, which is pretty fragile,” Lexi Downing (Class II) said. Therefore, she decided not to use the wheel and do more slab building. Reilly decided to go digital, noting it would be much easier to bring her iPad between home and school. “You really have to think about what you have to bring home from the studio… you really have to plan ahead,” Reilly said. 

All three students noted that slower communication was a big challenge of doing AP art in a pandemic. “We have a lot less time to actually critique work with classmates and teachers. We also only have one [in-person] day to print [photos] and see them with Mr. Hirsch,” Cheng said. Since the class became so self-driven, AP art began to feel less like taking a class and more like a hobby. “When we have studio time, it’s nice; it feels like we’re actually taking an art class,” Reilly said. 

Lost opportunities for connection as a result of decreased meeting time is a deep regret for a lot of AP art students and teachers alike. “I would love to take this class to the MFA; there’s benefits to getting off campus and being together when it comes to developing chemistry among students. [It would be nice] if we could just have some experiences beyond the walls of Nobles,“ Visual Arts teacher David Roane said.  

There are certainly positives that come with change, and Roane is optimistic.  He thinks some changes have been beneficial for students: “These are things that as artists you are required to do; to be resourceful and to be resilient. It’s forced them to work even more independently which is what they should be doing as artists, as AP art students.“ He’s also learned to really embrace the abundance of online resources and use technology more. 

Cheng also echoed these same thoughts on the artist’s mindset, ”I really like seeing the evolution of my work and giving myself advice […] I have to create the path for myself,” she said. 

The slower pace and limited access to resources has also presented some benefits by it allowing for more flexibility and understanding. Students note that lower expectations lessen the pressure. “You have more time to focus on the artist’s statement,” Downing said. “Because we’re only sharing once a week, there are times where I can get away with shooting less often than I should,” Cheng said. 

So, at the end of a full year of pandemic art, here are some things to keep in mind as you look at the AP art show: “In Photo, you have to choose one single print, and I’ve taken thousands of photos this year. When people see them hung up, it’s definitely not an expression of their entire project. I encourage people to look for the smaller prints that might be put up around the school,” said Cheng. Remember, work will be displayed in the library, and make sure to come in on opening night!