A Glimpse into AP Studio Art


Pieces from Senior Zander Faust’s sustained investigation on Christianity. Photos courtesy of Zander Faust.

Alex Antoniono, Staff Writer

The selection of art classes at State High is vast, and AP Studio Art is an opportunity for students to develop their skills, and pursue their artistic interests within the school. As part of this course, students are guided through the process of creating a portfolio to submit with the intention of qualifying for college credit. 

Maure Irwin-Furmanek has taught AP Studio Art at State High for eight years, in addition to Drawing, Master Studio, Commercial Design, Painting, and IB Visual Arts classes.

“In a nutshell,” she says, “AP Studio allows a student to create a portfolio of college-level work based on a sustained investigation of a personally chosen theme…Students document and share their investigation and experimentation.”

Irwin-Furmanek also discussed the positive environment created in AP Studio Art. 

“Students are able to work and create with their peers in the professional art-making process…sharing their ideas, personal experiences, and stories with one another in a judgment-free space,” she noted.

During this year-long course, students are tasked with creating 15 quality pieces for submission to the College Board at a chance of qualifying for AP credit. Their portfolio is developed around a key theme or a “sustained investigation”, often surrounding personal connection and experience. Irwin-Furmanek provided examples of successful themes from past students of hers. Some themes include religion, transitioning, introspection in solitude, connection to nature, childhood memories, and more. Once students have an idea of their sustained investigation, they have access to every art medium possible to bring their ideas to life. 

Catherine Frank, a senior, is currently enrolled in AP Studio Art because of her long-time interest in the arts. “I wanted to take AP Studio because I have always been super passionate about art, and I love having the time to just work on my paintings.”

Frank’s sustained investigation is focused on femininity. 

“I am attempting to show [the] chronological order of womanhood from childhood to being elderly. I also want to include subjects such as intersectionality [and] sexual assault.”

Senior Zander Faust was an AP Studio Art student last year. 

“From a very young age, I have always loved to draw. I recognized that talent and wanted to grow and improve my skills as an artist. I took art lessons as a kid and always excelled in art class through elementary and middle school,” Faust said in an email statement.

Throughout his junior year, Faust worked hard to produce his portfolio for submission based on a chosen sustained investigation.

“My overall investigation theme was Christianity and personal experience…My portfolio consisted of 12 original graphite pencil drawings and three process pictures.”

Students put a lot of thought into their sustained investigation and the creation of each piece of artwork. Their hard work throughout the school year often pays off. If their portfolio is scored as a four or a five, the student receives AP credit to take to college with them.

Irwin-Furmanek has many art students who graduate from State High to continue their education at top-notch schools. State High art students have been accepted into Savannah College of Art and Design, Maryland Institute College of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Penn State University, and the University of California, Los Angeles, to name a few.

Many AP Studio Art students go to college to focus on arts and major in a creative field. Other art students go to college to focus on an alternative area— majoring in architecture, graphic design, or science—while still including their interests in the arts as a minor.

“Students benefit from the skills gained in AP Studio,” says Irwin-Furmanek, “[and] apply [them to] their future endeavors albeit art or another field of study.”

Faust submitted his portfolio to the College Board in the spring of last year, receiving a five — the highest score possible — for his sustained investigation on Christianity. He plans to attend Penn State and major in architectural design, with a possible minor in art. The college credit he received for his work will be helpful in his endeavors. 

Frank, who will submit her portfolio in the spring, discussed her plans for life after high school and how she plans to use her credit if she receives a qualifying score.

“I’m hoping to use the credit for college since I am going into graphic design, and art credits will be super helpful for tuition and appearance.”

Frank hopes to make her way to Savannah College of Art and Design or Penn State for the graphic design program. As a past student of Master Studio, she strongly suggests looking into this class as a prerequisite for AP Studio Art. “I think students should 100% consider AP Studio,” Frank says. “Especially if you are a sophomore this year, I can’t recommend Master Studio enough. Both the classes are so enjoyable and stress-free while still being able to show people’s potential and intelligence through their art.”

Faust feels similarly: “The art classes at State High offer a great experience and I highly recommend the classes for students looking to learn and grow as artists. The teachers are wonderful and will help students reach their full potential…AP Studio tests your ability to not only create fine art but also grow as an artist.”

AP Studio Art fosters a positive environment for the creation of college-level artwork, where former and current students find success in the curriculum, and encourage new students to join in on the rewarding process.