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OPINION: The Struggles of Art During a Time of Unpredictability
Leah Kessler

"What about viridian, do you need any of that?” 

"Where are all the X-Acto knives?”

"I am alright, I think. I will take some king’s blue, though.”

"Where’s the paper we put over the drawings?”

"Make sure you take a 6B pencil, too.”

"Check the bottom shelf.”

"Just gonna take this. Ooh, this too.”

"Hahaha look at my hands! Covered in charcoal. What? Where on my face?”

"Do we have to carry this portfolio bag around for the rest of the day?”

"I am so glad I’m a photographer.”

This is, more or less, how the final day of AP Studio Art went. It was madness. We scurried across the room, smacking into each other, carrying various drawing or painting paraphernalia back to our desks. We stuffed our works into giant portfolio bags and removed every reference photo from the walls. Many of us came back at the end of the day to collect our belongings. 

Now, over a month has passed since that mad dash. We have since set up “studios” in our bedrooms, our sunrooms, wherever we found space. The College Board provided us with a buggy website where we could compile our virtual portfolio. Our task was clear. We had the supplies. So why did so many of us struggle with creating new pieces or working on old ones? 

Anika Iqbal ’20 wrote, “I touched my painting once and thought I ruined it, haha. It’s just a tough time to be working under deadlines and making art about things that you’re not feeling right now.”

Max Montague ’20 is a photographer, and he had most of his pieces ready to go before we left school. Because of this, he says, “I have been doing nothing since quarantine.” Montague notes that he has felt little motivation to approach the writing portion of the portfolio.

In addition to uploading images, the College Board has asked us to write extensive explanations of our art and our overall theme, which they call a “sustained investigation.” 

"How are you supposed to express your emotions artistically if they have changed so much in the past month?” Iqbal asks.

In a more positive light, Kate King ’20 adds that art “should be filled with passion and independence, so I’m glad that I’ve gotten the space and time to explore that.”

Overall, many AP students are frustrated and uninspired. And can you blame us, when our worlds are so frustrating and uninspiring? This isn’t to say all are suffering from this same loss of creative drive. Gracen Ford ’20 has posted multiple updates on her Instagram art page that show her beautiful progress. 

The massive upheaval in students’ daily lives has taken a toll on artistic endeavors. We are limited in our supplies. Many of us are anxious, scared, confused, overwhelmed. In my personal opinion, with a global pandemic looming over our heads, it is difficult to make art to appease the College Board. It is difficult to look at the AP deadline and care about it when we are stressed and sad. It is difficult to create when we have no idea what tomorrow will look like. 

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