A Closer Look: So Much Art

Emily Quan, Staff Writer

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Discipline and self-drive within art is the foundation of its success. Over the last three years, AP Art students have been compiling portfolios as a part of the rigorous AP Studio Art program. Many of the students have been with the art department for two or three years and have developed a personal voice as an artist, one which they hope to carry through careers post high school.

Foundation level courses teach the core skills. Art classes offered here at Paint Branch begin from the bottom up; starting with Ms. Aumitre’s foundations of art course and moving upwards to AP Studio Art. Other beginner courses such as Ceramics 1, Photography 1, Digital Art 1, and Painting 1, teach skills for different art fields. Art is broad; it isn’t just about how well you can draw. Each subgroup in the arts department teaches different technical skills but ultimately works up to the same goal: finding an artistic voice.

Having core skills in art allows the artist to continually produce work without getting hung up on technical details. It opens the students up to work confidently in any medium. This confidence is tentative and entirely up to the student; whenever the student discovers their passion in art, some message they want to convey or theme they want to pursue, they can drive themself. This drive is largely intrinsic and derives from outside influences. Whether it’s simply a fascinating aesthetic or a pressing social issue, creating art allows a student to speak in a way they may have never thought to before.

Having a strong foundation in high school before moving into an art program or any competitive field in college definitely gives an edge. Especially in creative fields; competition is high, and critiques are necessary. An artist’s work needs to be torn apart for the best parts to be revealed. As an artist you have to be receptive to that criticism. Going home and crying because the class ripped your art or your research or your performance to shreds won’t do you any good in the professional world. But if you do all your crying in high school, then you’ll be emotionally prepared for college.

The create-and-critique process exhibits the foundation of art: passion. Going on the AP Studio Art track is a massive commitment, and some of those who would love to be in the program simply don’t have the time. For those who love art, but don’t want to make a full commitment to the program, joining art club is a great option.

Art club is sponsored by Miss Cooper and Mrs. Salem. This year, the club is a combination of last year’s art club and photo clubs for the purpose of unity within the department. The club generally meets once a week to work on group projects and pitch ideas for new ones. This year, the club put together the portrait of our beloved Paint Branch Grandma, which is displayed in the cafeteria. Secretary of art club Alana Campbell and Miss . Cooper also created a documentary highlighting the life Grandma lived as a Holocaust survivor prior to coming to the United States well before she began volunteering her time here.

For the piece, the art club students each painted one piece of what would become a massive portrait of her. A beautiful effort with beautiful results. In a similar effort, art club students worked after school to design stickers for kids in the NIH children’s hospitals in DC and Bethesda.

Regarding the success of these projects, Miss Cooper says that “trying to find ways to use art in a meaningful way like with the sticker project and grandma project builds the school community. The core group of the club shows up and is doing neat things. The ideas we’ve had were fun and unique and it’s really going well in that way.” For the last few months, they’ve been working to put together the PB Coffee House and Open Mic Night.

Art club projects are largely student driven. The board meets to pitch the projects, Mrs. Cooper and Mrs. Salem set the dates, and the rest is up to the students. Their voices and vision shine through the end result. It focuses on another key aspect of art making: collaboration. In art club, members bounce ideas around and are able to create one cohesive and unified voice. They’re able to bring their own individual skills to a project to create a multi-faceted product. This sort of collaboration is essential in any field; not just art. Art is just more fun.

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