AP Art History: studying talented artists of the past and present

Arts

If you want to learn about the history of art, AP Art History is the class for you. This class, taught by English and Creative Arts teacher Heidi Hojnicki, is offered based on enrollment. The class studies art from 30,000 BCE to present day from all over the world, looking at it in context of how it was made and its significance to its time.

Of course, since it’s an AP class, Ms. Hojnicki has to follow a curriculum that prepares her students to take the exam in May. “It used to be that anything was fair game, but [The College Board] narrowed it down to 250 specific images you have to know inside and out,” she said. This means that students have to memorize everything about these 250 images. Specifically, with each work, students have to know four things: form, function, content, and context, and apply it to the multiple choice and essay sections of the exam.

Despite this, Ms. Hojnicki said that the class is very fast paced, as students have to learn so much in such a short period of time. The history aspect of the class comes when students are required to know the function and time periods of the pieces. “We spend time looking at how different cultures affected different art making, the way they influence each other, what changed in their art making when they encountered each other. “A lot of it was related to what was happening in the world at that time, whether it was colonialism, war, or trade,” she said. “Last time, the AP went well, so during the month of April, I held optional Sunday classes, so the students that prepared on their own got the fives. I was really pleased with how everyone did. There were no big surprises.”

Seniors Jenna Blocher and Madeleine Pelletier are both taking AP Art History and are very excited for the year ahead, especially for the museum trips. They describe Ms. Hojnicki as having a deep passion for teaching the class, making the rigorous class fun to be a part of. They also both agreed that the class requires deep analytical skills that the students apply to the art pieces. “I’m interested in art and I want to learn more about geography,” Madeleine said. As mentioned before, the class will eventually pursue a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and perhaps also to the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Ms. Hojnicki is also interested in doing an art history June term. “It’s an academic class. We don’t create art; we study it,” Ms. Hojnicki said. “Students who take studio art bring a lot of analysis skills already. They understand form, composition and things like that.”

The challenges that the course present are well worth the time and effort that one puts in. Especially because it is only offered with enough interest shown, students should take the opportunity to review the requirements and see how the class might fit their interests and what they want to pursue.

Overall, Ms. Hojnicki recommends the class to anyone who wants to be challenged in art history, or anyone who has an interest in either art, history, or both.