Students follow their passion in AP Art

Mustafa Valika, Contributing Reporter


For many students, the art electives offered at York are simply fun and easy electives to take during a long day of hard classes. But to AP Art students, art means so much more than just a simple filler class. To these students, art means time commitment, dedication and passion, for which the AP Art classes allow them the time and resources to express in fully developed pieces of art.

Primarily, AP Art provides students with a chance to build a portfolio of art that they’re proud of. By giving these students a whole dedicated period to art, AP Art allows students to fully focus on the artistic themes and techniques that they want to pursue.

“The landscape and exposure blending or time blending theme that I chose was mainly because I’ve tried a bit of that in the past,” Kendall Dirks, an AP Art student practicing photography, said. “And I seemed to really like it, but I hadn’t really built up a full portfolio of that yet. And that’s kind of what I really enjoyed, so I just wanted to build up my portfolio with a lot more than I had in the past now that I had the time to dedicate to it.”

By taking AP 2-D Art and Design, Dirks was able to dedicate more time to photography in ways he couldn’t before. In this way, he’s able to spend time capturing and recreating the experiences he has being outdoors in beautiful locations.

“To me, photography is sharing the experiences that I have out on locations, since I generally do landscapes,” Dirks said. “So I just like sharing what it’s like to be outside at the most beautiful moments I can find anywhere I shoot, like Chicago and other landscapes. I try to make it so people kind of experience where I am.”

For other students, AP Art is a way to express an interest in something different or unique. Mallori Hecker, an AP Studio Drawing student, chose to focus on bugs in her work for her class.

“I’ve always liked bugs, and I would collect them when I was little,” Hecker said. “I’ve always just been interested in the environment and animals. And I also wanted to do something that was somewhat horror based, so bugs seemed like the perfect connection.”

On a more general level, AP Art allows Hecker and other students like her to create art that represents more than just their surface level interests.

“My art means everything that I’m going through right now,” Hecker said. “It’s everything that I enjoy and everything that I hate put together. It kinda shows my likes and dislikes in whatever I’ll put together.”

To allow AP Art students to really spend time focusing on their art, class periods tend to be more laid back and individually based. The teacher’s job is mainly to provide guidance and direction where needed.

“What’s fun for me is I get to sit down and have conversations with my students every single day about where they’re at in terms of progress,” Mrs. Kuharchuk, AP Studio Drawing teacher, said. “Maybe they’re struggling with an idea, or maybe they’re super excited about how this piece came out, or this new thing that they tried. So every day is me talking with them and working through their piece or working through their process and helping guide them in the best way I possibly can.”

It’s important to note that AP Art is not simply a blowoff class. With a rigorous course that includes many hard-set deadlines, AP Art requires a lot of effort and responsibility.

“You need to get stuff done,” Hecker said. “You have to have impulse control when you’re doing this because you might want to go spend five hours on your phone or watch tv or something, but you have to know that you have to make time for your art among other homework. It’s still very important, just as important as all your other homework.”

Mrs. Kuharchuk also acknowledges that a certain amount of pressure accompanies AP Art. However, she adds that her students’ passion and enthusiasm to create art helps them overcome the stress that comes with an AP class.

“It’s really their excitement for it,” Kuharchuk said. “It’s a rigorous class, and there’s also a lot of stress that comes with that just like with any AP class. But it’s their excitement to work on the next piece, or take a picture or reference for their next piece, or even just their ideas.”

For the past semester, all the AP Art students’ work has led to the Art Show this past week, which provides an opportunity for the students to showcase their hard work and passion to all the students at York.

“I think the Art Show is very important to all the people taking art classes because lots of people see what they’ve been working on for the past semester,” Dirks said. “A bunch of people give all the artists compliments on how they’re doing, and it’s good for all the artists in the beginner level classes to get a lot more exposure in the Art Show than they normally would.”

However, the Art Show has many real world applications, as students are taught how to prepare a summary of their work to put on display.

“Real world artists are actually putting their work up in galleries, or they’re actually submitting their work to be on display somewhere,” Kuharchuk said. “It’s kind of important that students get a little bit of a taste of that process and see what it’s like to actually do that and be a part of that.”

Looking to the future, AP Art is really all about providing opportunities for students to pursue their artistic passions in college by allowing them to form portfolios to submit to colleges. Students with a variety of interests and passions come to AP Art classes to create and accumulate pieces of work that reflect their career interests or passions.

“We’ve had other students come our way that maybe are really into fashion, or maybe they’re really into architecture or CAD drafting,” Kuharchuk said. “A fashion student might need to be able to show a variety of fashion pieces that they’ve constructed, and AP Art is gonna help you do that. Or a CAD student, or even an engineering student, might need to be able to show draftings, or drawing capabilities, and the AP Art element is gonna help them do that but also show their creativity from an artistic or design perspective.”

In the end, AP Art allows students to continue working and improving on their artistic talents. AP Art students find their purpose and motivation in their want to be the best that they can at what they love doing most.

“I continue with photo today because I just really enjoy the process of making an image look the best I can and trying new concepts as well,” Dirks said. “I like making art and trying to make it as best as I can, and I keep getting better. Nobody can really reach a peak, so I just try to keep improving.”